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Inspired by "Boatman"

Posted by Stev187 on Thursday, June 14, 2007

I can still remember the first time I heard the tune "Boatman" on Mike Seeger's 1988 Fresh Old-TIme String Band Music.  I love that tune, I love that record, and that melody is inside me bad.  Back in the Frenzy Bros. I played that tune on the tinwhistle.  I still have my beat up old Shaw "D" whistle.

Today, while writing at work, I was listening to Old Time Banjo Festival (which is a great record, BTW) and came across Bob Carlin's only track on the CD-"Boatman."  What a gem.  He really is awesome.  What impresses me about this version is that you can hear him holding back and creating spaces.  There are places where you know he could get all "notey" and show off, but he doesn't.  He lets the tune breathe.  He is such a tasty banjo player.

At any rate, Carlin's version has inspired me to make this a solo banjo tune.  Currently Bob & I play "Dance Boatman Dance" in medly with "Tempie."  This is also a Carlin-inspired tune, as it appears on the 1988 gem Take Me As I Am with Bruce Molsky. 

[Note: if you're interested, a video of Bob & me playing that medly is posted in a previous blog, as are my reviews of those two great 1988 records mentioned above.]

I'll use this blog entry to update my journey into "Boatman."  I plan to mimic some of the phrasing Mike Seeger, Tom Kelly, and Alan Jabbour have on their version.  What a great combo: fretless banjo, fiddle, and tinwhistle.  In the meantime, take a listen to Carlin's version on this new record.

3 comments on “Inspired by "Boatman"”

frailin Says:
Thursday, June 14, 2007 @10:56:48 PM

Always been one of my favorite tunes as well.


vrteach Says:
Friday, June 15, 2007 @2:10:43 PM

One of my favorites, also. I learned my version from a Debby McLatchy record in which she sings words from the California gold rush "Seeing the Elephant". Because my tune matches her vocals & arraingment, I have to relearn it whenever I play with other folks.

ScottK Says:
Tuesday, June 19, 2007 @11:05:50 PM

I'm with you on Bob's playing.  When it comes to backing a fiddle, Bob's spare approach is what I aspire to.  But my favorite "Boatman" is Dan Gellert's on "Waiting on the Break of Day".  Dan is the man!  Scott

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