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Banjo versus TV: Week 53

Posted by jrjenks on Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s resolution ongoing plan to spend more time in 2008 on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 3/1/2009 through 3/7/2009.
Banjo 334 hrs, TV 311 hours

This week's big event is my annual (twice now!) trip to Shorty's Strickly Bluegrass Festival in East Peoria, Illinois. I'd gone to the festival last year and it was pretty nice to discover how much my jamming skills had improved.

Shorty puts on a great festival at the Stoney Creek Inn in East Peoria. The festival opens Thursday night with a Branson show; she brings in an act from Branson, Missouri. This year, as last year, the Branson act was Goldwing Express.

Other acts this year:


Stage acts run all weekend and there are jam sessions throughout the hotel. Last year I spent most of my time watching the acts and only a little time jamming. This year I reversed that, spending way more time in the jam sessions.

You should definitely come to next year's festival: March 4, 5, 6, & 7, 2010

Things I learned at this week's banjo lesson — mostly having to do with preparation for jamming at Shorty's:

  • It's time for me to replace my strings; especially #3.
  • We talk a lot about finding the melody and finding a solo for a song.
  • Scruggs style surrounds the melody with rolls. So one way to play a song, Scruggs style, is to pick a roll for each measure (or half measure) that starts on the melody note. So here are some of the rolls that you can use:
    this roll starts on string
    Forward-reverse roll 3 or 4
    Alternating thumb roll 3 or 4
    Foggy Mountain Breakdown roll 2
    Sonny Osbourne roll 1
  • Dave has me find the melody for She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain, which I (eventually) do. Except for the lowest notes, which are too low for my banjo.
  • Then I find the melody for Camptown Races.
  • I try to find the melody for Crawdad Song, but I have a very different melody in my head than Dave does and I'm not able to find it.
  • Here's a trick that Dave uses for Charlie on the MTA:

    That's moving from one inversion of the C chord to another, which is a good trick.
  • Here's the conversation thread: We talk about Twinkle Twinkle, which leads to Mozart, which leads to Mozart's highly-driven upbringing, which leads to stage moms, which leads to Dave telling a story about his studio recording business.

    Dave was recording a mother and her kids who sing harmony. Rather than arranging their physical positions around the microphones, he asked them to arrange themselves. Their arrangement? Mom in the front of the group to everybody's left, one kid to her right and the others in a row behind them. Just like they sit in the minivan. It's how they work.


Also in the last week:

  • A personal accomplishment: At Costello's Jam there was a song I'd never heard before but, by following the guitar chords, I played along and didn't miss a single chord. Yay me!
  • Tom Nechville of Nechville Music Products did an in-store event at the Different Strummer. In addition to showing off his really cool line of banjos, he offered to do setup work on the banjos we brought in, whether he made them or not. He made a few adjustments to my Oscar-Schmidt OB-5 banjo...
    • tightened up the head
    • changed the stock 1/2-inch bridge for a Nechville Enterprise Bridge
    • corrected a hard-to-find (for me, not him) buzz in the nut
    ...and it sounds SO MUCH BETTER.


Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog

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