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Banjo is more than clawhammer?

Posted by rrode on Tuesday, April 23, 2013

As you might gather from my profile here, my playing to date is exclusively clawhammer-style.  When I started I tried three-finger but somehow the clawhammer just felt more natural.  Musically I am more drawn to the more modal tonalities, and more vocal tunes.  Hard-core, high-energy bluegrass just doesn't do-it for me. 

Lately I've been feeling a little stylistically limited, and have started exploring some finger-picking styles.  Especially when 3 finger bluegrass folks, like Steve Martin, start recording more clawhammer style stuff.  I picked up an old Hedy West record album - Volume 2.  And the liner notes (which is part of what makes these old LPs so wonderful!) led me to the playing of Obray Ramsey.  He plays in a 3 finger style, but with more of that old-time mountain sound that I find so compelling.  So I've added a couple of 3 finger style tunes to my NEW grouping and have started working on them.

You will probably find it difficult to find Obray's recordings -- at least I did.  The album referenced by Hedy is long out of print.  Copies of the album are available, but at collector-level pricing ($50+).  But thanks to the internet you can find copies here:

http://allensarchiveofearlyoldcountrymusic.blogspot.com/2010/09/obray-ramsey-blue-ridge-banjo.html - Obray Ramsey Blue Ridge Banjo
http://allensarchiveofearlyoldcountrymusic.blogspot.com/2009/09/obray-ramsey-sings-folksongs-from.html - Obray Ramsey sings Folksongs from the Gateways to the Great Smokies



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