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16. Taking Stock

Posted by Rob MacKillop on Monday, June 27, 2011

OK, it's been a while since I made a blog entry. I've been busy recording an album using two Deering Eagle II banjos - a tenor (the first one ever made) and a 5-string which I also use as a 4-string Plectrum banjo. The big decision was to only make it available as a download album, rather than a physical disc. The costs were just too high, and the expected sales just too low for the maths to make sense. The good news is that as a download-only album, it only cost me $39 to make - the fee for CD Baby to host it on their site and send it out to iTunes, Amazon MP3, and about ten other digital outlets. So far sales have been slow but steady. It seems most folk would still prefer a physical disc. Well, so be it. I just can't afford to do otherwise.

The recording is called ''Recital: The Art Of The Banjo 1910 - 1930'' and brings together my exploration of the early Plectrum and Tenor banjo publications. Many of the composers wrote originally for the 5-string 'classic' banjo, and some of the pieces are their own arrangements of their own compositions. There is great variety, from Gershwinesque harmonies and rag and jazz rhythms, to quotations from Mendellssohn. Some of the pieces are very introverted, such as Cammeyer's 'A Fireside Idyll' which is one of my favourite pieces. 

Some nice comments are coming in: ''Every banjo player should have a copy. It's THAT good!' Steve Caddick. ''Truly beautiful music in all ways.  Truly wonderful how you bring out the voice of the banjo.  Really Really inspiring!  thanks so much for sharing this with me and with all music lovers.'' Jason Smith. And a few others. All encouragement gratefully received. 

Mel Bay continue to say my banjo books will be out this year. I'll mention it when they are.

Next stop: a recording of the music of the Dobsons and Buckleys, using a fretless Boucher copy by James Hartel (a stunning banjo) and a fretted Ashborn copy (again by James) with the second fret split - the first string fret being closer to the nut, as on many banjos from this period, and also the Dobson/Fairbanks banjo by Luke Mercier. All in gut, of course.

I'm also returning again to clawhammer - a technique I've never felt comfortable with. But I'm making some progress, so we shall see...

8 comments on “16. Taking Stock”

Marc Nerenberg Says:
Friday, July 1, 2011 @8:41:23 AM

Your new album is downloading on ITunes as I write this. I've heard enough of your playing to know in advance I'm going to really like it! As far as it being downloadable only - I myself prefer that format - I don't even have a CD player anymore, except in the car. But I do miss liner notes - and this album looks like it could probably have some interesting notes about the sources and original contexts of the tunes. Maybe you could post a set of liner notes online. Hmmmm ... Maybe you already have - I didn't check your website.

Rob MacKillop Says:
Friday, July 1, 2011 @8:51:32 AM

Here you are: banjohangout.org/topic/209692 They are also on the CD Baby page for this recording. Hope you like it!

eyom22 Says:
Thursday, September 15, 2011 @2:39:22 AM

Hi Rob - saw Gordy on saturday and apologised for not making it to EBC yet - busy every time. If it's any consolation, I had my frailing method dismantled after 15yrs playing by scott ainslie (he was dead right). Took me a year to play again - just practising to lose old habits.

Think they've probably all come back again after another 10 yrs.



Rob MacKillop Says:
Thursday, September 15, 2011 @2:43:22 AM

Hi Wattie. Well, I hope you can make it to the next one. It would be great to meet up.


kirbonite Says:
Friday, January 18, 2013 @8:46:56 PM

Mr Mackillop, I am a big fan of your music but one thing that I can not tell about your early american music book is if TAB is included. I do know the basics of reading music but I'm lazy. I can't tell from the Mel Bay page. the image is so small. I can not tell if the bottom staff is TAB or the bass staff. thanks again for all the great music and instruction,

sincerely, Kirby

Rob MacKillop Says:
Friday, January 18, 2013 @11:26:10 PM

It's TAB :-)

Compass56 Says:
Saturday, November 2, 2013 @2:51:01 AM

You are developing, refining, and defining the banjo's essence as much as any one is these days--maybe as much as anyone has.

Rob MacKillop Says:
Saturday, November 2, 2013 @8:28:23 AM

Too kind, Tony, but appreciated.

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