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Bob Bell, classic banjo, Round Peak

Posted by raharris on Thursday, May 27, 2010

Visited with Bob Bell yesterday.  Bob is a North Jersey gem -- banjo player, collector, and historian.  He showed me some videos of classic banjo -- not classical, as in Bach, but classic as the three finger port jazz style played at the turn of the 20th century by Sylvester Ossman and Fred Van Eps.  I'm not interested in learning that style now, but it sure is fun to listen to.  Bob is a modest guy who is teaching himself classic banjo by ear and with sheet music (not tabs, mind you) and is very good.

Our conversation roamed here and there, looking at banjos, talking about history, construction, and styles. I'm looking for article ideas and it occurs to me that Bob would be a great author -- he is a banjo trove.  Someone here on the BHO had mentioned his name a year ago and I never followed up, for which I am now sorry!

We ended with a  discussion of Round Peak clawhammer style, which I had seen Bob Carlin doing not long ago.  Bob mentioned the Brad Leftwich book, and Buell Kazee on YouTube.  And of course the famous old albums featuring Jarrell, Creed, and the like.  Today while visiting YouTube on the subject I found three really nice videos from Fretlessfury, a BHO regular whose real name is Tom Collins.  Yeah, if I were named after a drink I'd get myself a nickname too ;-).  Another resource is the Art Rosenbaum book, Old Time Banjo which is out of print and last I checked was going for $60 on e-bay.  Got home last night and ordered both Leftwich and Rosenbaum, which I found at a more modest price.  Today I'll practice that
5-th string
-- probably take me all day to get something recognizable!  Now back to the Fretlessfury videos -- Thanks Bob!

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