In this, Tunetorial number 35, Dan "Clawdan" Levenson teaches Briar Picker Brown. It is indeed a festival favorite as well as a favorite jam tune. Buddy Thomas tells us that “a guy come throught the country come through the town… had a chin that looked like a briar and he played that one tune… so they called it Briar Picker Brown." This one is a must for all jammers!
Dan considers the source for this tune to be Buddy Thomas (yes, a fiddler) and Dan's version follows his melody. Two of his versions can be heard on Kitty Puss (Rounder recordings) and the Field Recorders Collective CD recorded live by Dave Spilkia and Ray Alden. Dan recorded the banjo version on his Boiled Buzzard CD "Fine Dining" some years ago which is still available through his website. Two other banjo versions Dan has enjoyed are Bob Carlin’s and another by Joel Mabus (though Joel reverses the parts).
This is tabbed out in Dan's newest book "Old-Time Favorites for Clawhammer Banjo" (MelBay 30224). Tab and standard notation with 2 cds of banjo and fiddle audio tracks.
In this lesson Dan plays the tune through a few times then breaks it down, adds a little more, shows a bit more, adds, subtracts, plays and does it again.