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12 in 12 - J.D. Crowe

Posted by jeliyesil on Thursday, January 13, 2011

Inspired by the movie "Julie & Julia", I've decided to take on a project of studying the styles of 12 banjo masters in 12 months. The idea is to spend one month working on tunes, backup, and "feel" of  each of these players. After some input by a few respected players that I know, the list I'm taking on is:

   Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe, Don Reno, Bill Keith, Allen Shelton, Alan Munde, Sonny Osborne, Ralph Stanley, Bobby Thompson, Bela Fleck, Don Stover and Eric Weissburg.

The tools I'm using are:

      - .mp3s and software to slow down a tune (I'm using the Amazing Slow Downer, there are others out there)

      - my old LPs and the Griffin iMic to convert them to .mp3s

      - tabs if I've got them and can trust them, although I'm trying to do as much as I can without them

I'm starting today with J.D. Crowe. I chose him because I have a lot of his recordings, including some from some Jimmy Martin LPs, and also because he's one of my favorites. Not to mention the added bonus of cleaning up my timing!

My tune for today is "Nashville Skyline Rag" from Bluegrass Holiday. I've played this tune for years, but slowing it down and getting the notes that J.D. played was an eye-opener!  I had always played that first measure (after the pick-up notes) as: G Eflat E G E C G. But Crowe plays (I think): G Eflat E G D B G#. That changes the tune so that you could actually play an E chord over those last 3 notes, leading into the F chord coming up. I've never heard anyone do that, but it might be an interesting twist.

After that revelation, I next discovered that when Crowe rolls on that F chord, he always ends with a D note leading into that beginning lick again. That little anticipation is a nice touch, and adds to the bouncy feel of the tune.

The rest of the tune was close to what I'm used to with some nice little turns and twists here and there.

After I felt I had that first break of his down pretty well, I put the tune on up to speed and -- yikes! From my metronome, I clocked him at 140. I managed to play the tune cleanly at around 55% full speed, but getting up to 140 may not be reachable by the end of this month. I'll give it until February 15th, then move on. I'm more interested in getting his timing down.

If anyone out there is listening, let me know your thoughts/experiences on this tune!




1 comment on “12 in 12 - J.D. Crowe”

jeliyesil Says:
Monday, January 17, 2011 @7:01:48 AM

..oops.. this tune isn't from Bluegrass Holiday, it's from the Flashback cd. I think it was originally on "Holiday in Japan", sorry for the mistake...

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