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Posted by Mr. Disco on Thursday, November 1, 2007

Go ahead and write a banjo book.  I'll probably enjoy it.  The second greatest book ever written may be

Janet Davis' You Can Teach Yourself Banjo

It lives up to its title.  I've never found a bad banjo book.  Other good ones I've enjoyed:

  • Tony Trischka and Peter Wernick -- Masters of the 5-String Banjo in their own words and Music
  • Earl Scruggs -- Earl Scruggs and the Five-String Banjo;
  • Bill Evans -- Banjo for Dummies;
  • Janet Davis -- Famous Banjo Pickin' Tunes, Banjo Handbook, Back-Up Banjo, Banjo Scales in Tab, Christmas Songs for the Five-String Banjo;
  • Butch Robins -- What I Know 'Bout What I Know
  • Bob Black -- Come Hither to Go Yonder 
  • Tony Trischka's -- Bill Keith Banjo

 Top 10 Reasons I shouldn't've read Butch Robins' What I Know 'Bout What I Know:
10. Mr. Robins disclosure naming names of those that partook in illicit recreational drug use with him is galling. I learned too much.
9. The editing or lack thereof in this book is monumental. Horrible editing is a real hurdle to enjoying good writing.
8. Mr. Robins describes his failed marriage and parental shortcomings in a manner that makes me regret my own shortcomings. I may have dropped so much acid that the first page of today's news could be printed on the blotter, and I usually try not to dwell on it.
7. This book is Fear and Loathing in The Bluegrass Boys and I really didn't need any more Hunter S. Thompson influences darkening my soul.
6. Mr. Robins describes his withdrawal from his wife and son and it's a wicked reminder that inebriation and hallucinogens are not the best peers to parenthood.
5. Mr. Robins recounts numerous heartbreaking descriptions told with candor of the physical and social tolls paid for being high, drunk, or tripping. Deev, I feel your pain. The stories gave me the blues.
4. Bob Black's Come Hither to go Yonder is everything I'd really anticipated Mr. Robins book would be. It's very well prepared and edited. It is the book I should've read first.
3. The Butch Robins chapter in Masters of the 5-String Banjo has my favorite story in the book -- one that will stick with me --about playing for kings (I won't ruin it for those unfamiliar because it's a gem.) This book ain't that.
2. Though the candor of the book leaves a cautionary imprint on the reader it just ain't as uplifting as his music: and I should've just bought Mr. Robins' music first.
1. I really liked it.

3 comments on “Books”

BanjoDiva Says:
Thursday, November 1, 2007 @8:05:47 PM

Hey Disco.  I just read BJD by Bill Evans and must say that it was exceptionally well done.  I wish I'd had it when I first started banjo a year ago.  I notice that you don't have Masters of the 5 String on the list -- that's a must own for every picker.  Its expensive though.

Mr. Disco Says:
Friday, November 2, 2007 @8:04:59 AM

Thanks Diva.  I guess I've been working my way around to getting the Masters...  Another few books I'd like to look at (because I like are Butch Robins What I Know 'Bout What I Know, Complete 5-String Banjo Player (also Mr. Trischka), and Nickerson's Banjo Encyclopedia.  Honestly, I need to go back to listening to the Bill Evans Plays Banjo CD I got from him also.  I caught myself reading the Bill Evans book when I would otherwise have been playing the banjo.

budbennett Says:
Friday, May 2, 2008 @8:43:13 AM

i love butch robins!

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