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Bill Keith Review of Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo

Posted by Tom Hanway on Wednesday, June 11, 2014



by Tom Hanway (Mel Bay 95759 BCD and eBook)

Review by Bill Keith, published in Banjo NewsLetter (May 2000)

“With the publication of the Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo, Tom Hanway has produced a remarkable resource. Far from being a simple collection of tablatures, this book is the fruit of years of Tom's research, and reveals his in-depth knowledge of and love for Irish music. And this feeling is contagious; as I read through the pieces in the book, I found myself wanting to play them.

As Tom explains in the introduction, many of the fiddle tunes familiar to old-time and bluegrass musicians were brought to the United States by the first Irish and Scottish immigrants, and became a part of American musical culture. Many tunes such as ‘The Red-Haired Boy’, ‘Miss McLeod's Reel’, ‘Leather Britches’, and one of my favorites, ‘Devil's Dream’ had their origins in Gaelic music. And with more than one hundred tunes in this book, Tom tempts the 5-string player with many more tunes from the Celtic Diaspora.

For most bluegrass banjoists, many Irish and Celtic tunes have been challenging to learn because of their melodic and rhythmic subtleties. But with a carefully structured series of exercises on ornamentation and rhythmic back-up, Tom demystifies the complexities of hornpipes, strathspeys, jigs and reels, making them accessible and a pleasure to learn. And the complete glossary of musical terms will be invaluable to the serious student.

The CD that accompanies the book is a treasure in itself. For many people who feel intimidated when learning music from the printed page, hearing Tom play most of the tunes in the book may remove the final obstacle preventing them from diving in and discovering this wonderful music.

Hats off to Mel Bay for publishing this attractive volume, and especially to Tom Hanway for sharing this music with us.”

2 comments on “Bill Keith Review of Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo”

TigerbytheTailpiece Says:
Sunday, June 29, 2014 @8:54:23 AM

This is by far my favorite banjo book in my banjo library. I've listen to the accompanying CD so much that the print has completely worn off.

Tom Hanway Says:
Monday, June 30, 2014 @1:06:31 AM

Hey, Drew, thank you for the kind words!

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