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Bluegrass Banjo in Ireland

Posted by Tom Hanway on Thursday, January 10, 2008

The traditional and bluegrass side of my banjo work in Ireland can be heard on a recent recording of the classic old-time tune, 'Sally Ann' and hinting at 'Sail Away Ladies', put online by Robert Mizzell, who sings 'Who's Gonna Dance with Sally Ann', the only known recorded country song to explore the subject of lynching.  The entire track can be previewed (free) or downloaded, here:  'Who's Gonna Dance with Sally Ann'.  Lyrics are found here, mentioning "strange fruit" - a reference to the Billie Holiday song about lynching, written by Lewis Allan (Abel Meeropol).  Listen to the words.

 

Also, go here to Robert's site to hear this and other tracks (some with banjo), with more to be added very soon.

 

(http://bebo.com/Profile.jsp?MemberId=4762729373&MID=2917502090)

 

What I enjoy about this recording is the blending of high-octane bluegrass fiddle (Charlie Arkin) and 5-string banjo with a Cajun dance rhythm (played at a traditional dance tempo).  Then, of course, there is Robert's soulful, gutsy, down-home singing style.  Robert is a Louisiana man and understands country dance rhythms. It's a very steady track and swings nicely.  That's why it was a hit single for Robert in Ireland and the UK.

 

Robert was thrilled with the bluegrass sound, and I've recorded several more numbers with him since 'Sally Ann', two of the most recent being 'Long Black Train' and  'A Friend in Need' - just scroll down - this tune is a promotional single for his new record.  Robert Mizzell is pure gentleman.



2 comments on “Bluegrass Banjo in Ireland”

stanger Says:
Sunday, January 13, 2008 @2:16:28 PM

thanks for this, Tom! I loved Mark's recording, but like this one even more... it really does have that solid Cajun swing, and the gentler approach puts even more impact to the lyrics. You did a very solid part, too... there's nothing like a banjo to keep things rolling when it's done right!

Tom Hanway Says:
Saturday, March 22, 2008 @9:15:32 AM

Wow, that's nice to hear.  Country records are unique challenges for a banjo player!  I love playing this stuff.  Playing in a rolling banjo style and having the right amount of drive and bounce to fit in with the rhythm track is key.  I really love this recording and I benefited from hearing fiddler Blaine Sprouse do it with the Dreadful Snakes, with Béla's break as a springboard.

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