There's a very pretty song I heard called before the cold wind blows done by Blue highway. There is no banjo in the song. Starts me wondering are some songs just not fit for the banjo ? Or can a break be made up? It seem slow songs like this is a challenge at least to me.
In my opinion, most any song, fast or slow, can be played by the banjo. You may not be able to make it sound "bluegrassy", but if there's a melody, you can play it on the banjo.
Slow songs can be played on the banjo. Try using chord melodies rather than licks and/or rolls. Try finding arpeggios that fit the melody, do slides into a melody note or hammer ons. Don't be afraid to use a rest (no picking at all) if it works in the song.
There are all sorts of ways to play slow songs, just noodle around and see what you come up with.
Thanks for the heads-up on that one, Dave! I had a listen to it on YouTube, and it downright compelled me to grab my banjo and play along! Chord structure is simple - F, C, C7 and Bb is all you need - and keeping a leisurely 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & can be done with "slow rolls" and arpeggios with the occasional down-strum. Easy!
OK, we're on the bluegrass forum here, so you guys are tuned to open G and have finger-picks, right. That would complicate things a bit. I'm in classic gCGBD tuning (where the key of F major is the second-easiest key next to C major) with bare finger-nails.
My test for when a song is right for the banjo is to try to sing it “in banjo.” You know — kind of a “Bum de baba daba bumpa dumpa de ba daba” sort of thing. I feel that if I can sing it in banjo, I can play it on the banjo.