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Bleaching Bones

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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- Play count: 388

Size: 4,527kb, uploaded 2/17/2010 6:21:33 PM
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An original song. I stumbled upon the music, noodling around one day, and played it for my wife and asked her what it made her think of. She said, "a woman riding across the desert, pursued by many people", so that's what I wrote the song about. This live version was unrehearsed (I had shown the song individually to the different players, but we had never tried it together), and probably has too many musicians...but it was cool to hear such a full arrangement of a song I usually play alone.

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Boots, Boots

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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- Play count: 168

Size: 1,971kb, uploaded 3/9/2010 9:21:12 PM
Genre: Unknown/None Chosen / Playing Style: Unknown/None Chosen

Bela Fleck's latest recording brought to mind this little banjo/kalimba tune I recorded in 1985. The kalimba (thumb piano) I used is quite a large one with 18 tongues, that came from Botswana. The song was in some odd key like D flat (I don't actually remember now which key) and picked up the kalimba with the thought of using it on another song, but I played the tape of this song by accident and the Kalimba, surprisingly turned out to be in tune with it. The sound is filled in with hand-claps and vocal harmony (sung by Ivy Lerner). Tis is from my long out of print kid's album, "That Lion!".

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Charlie and the School Bus

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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Size: 3,713kb, uploaded 3/9/2010 9:28:19 PM
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A swampy blues about a school-bus eating alligator. Cajunesque fiddle by Michael Jerome Browne. Banjo, vocal, harmonica and washboard by me. Another cut from my out of print kid's album from 1985.

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Cocaine

Posted by Marc Nerenberg, written by Dick Justice

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- Play count: 336

Size: 3,411kb, uploaded 2/26/2010 4:22:24 PM
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Recorded in the late 1970's by the band I was then in, Armadillo Brand, which consisted (at the time of this recording) of myself, Michael Jerome Browne, and Bill Russell. I'm pretty sure Michael was still a teenager at the time. He learned this song from an old 78 by Dick Justice (Michael had an incredible collection of old blues 78's that was unfortunately destroyed in a fire, along with a bunch of his instruments). Michael singing and playing the guitar and I'm playing some blues noodling on the banjo, and adding a little vocal harmony and punctuation from time to time.

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Electric Banjo (clawhammer/slide)

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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- Play count: 349

Size: 7,064kb, uploaded 2/17/2010 6:35:43 PM
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I had just had a pickup installed in my banjo, and I wanted to try it out. I plugged it in to a little amp with a lot of distortion and echo, and cranked up the volume, and then played along with a drum machine in an electric piano. I was astounded at the sounds coming out of my banjo...so I recorded it. This song has words, but I was playing it too fast, and too erratically to sing. I was just enjoying the sensation of of hearing my old-timey sound totally transformed.

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Father and Son

Posted by Marc Nerenberg, written by Antoine Martel

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- Play count: 143

Size: 15,187kb, uploaded 3/29/2013 8:01:22 AM
Genre: Other / Playing Style: Other

I sing the part of the "father" on this (first and third stanzas) while Antoine Martel sings the part of the "son" (second and fourth stanzas). I also play the harmonica and banjo. The banjo is not very prominent in the mix; it comes and goes. In this context, it's just another flavour, but it's there - adding a little spice. Overall, I'm very pleased with how song this turned out. It's from Antoine Martel's new album entitled "Coughdrops in Autumn", released on 28 March 2013 (available on ITunes etc.).

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Guabi Guabi

Posted by Marc Nerenberg, written by George Sibanda

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Size: 2,588kb, uploaded 2/17/2010 6:15:54 PM
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From my long out-of-print children's album "That Lion" (1985). This is a song from East Africa, recorded in the 40s or 50's by George Sibanda. My uncle had this on a 10" record called "African Guitar Music" when I was a kid. This version has 8 tracks recorded in 1 take each, all me (2 banjo, 3 vocal, 3 hand claps). I had this arrangement in my head, but had no idea whether or not it would work until it was recorded.

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Home Before Dark

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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Size: 2,188kb, uploaded 3/9/2010 9:32:44 PM
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An interesting (I think) use of clawhammer banjo as strictly a percussion instrument - by gently holding my left hand on the strings - so all you hear is the clippy-clop sound of the right hand. Two dulcimer tracks and several vocal tracks fill out the mix. Ivy Lerner sings harmony. From my out of print 1985 kid's album "That Lion!".

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I Shook Hands With The Devil

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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Size: 6,286kb, uploaded 2/17/2010 6:09:49 PM
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I wrote this blues after reading Romeo Dallaire's book "Shake Hands With the Devil" about his experiences as head of the UN forces during the Rwandan genocide. It's written from his perspective. It borrows heavily from two Robert Johnson songs "Hellhound on My Trail" and "Me and the Devil". The fiddle part is played by Catherine Planet. This is an example of slide banjo. It's played in E on a long-necked banjo.

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It Was an Ordinary Day

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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- Play count: 109

Size: 3,900kb, uploaded 2/17/2010 5:49:54 PM
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An original song of mine. From a live concert, with my niece, Laura Nerenberg, on violin. Since she lives in another city, I sent her a few MP3s by email and then we played the songs in concert with no run-throughs at all. I heard her violin parts for the first time at the same time as the audience. For this one I had asked her to "play something jazzy". To me, she seemed to channel Stephan Grappelli. I was mightily impressed with her playing.

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John Henry (The True Story of a Steel Drivin Man)

Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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Size: 5,034kb, uploaded 4/7/2010 10:53:10 AM
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Played on my 1909 Fairbanks tuned eAEAE, with the first and fifth strings being the same note. The tuning is possible without risk of breaking the first string because I keep the Fairbanks tuned a tone and a half low. The banjo, however, is capoed at the 3rd fret, but the fifth string is not raised correspondingly - which is what I generally do, i.e. leave my fifth string as an E no matter what tuning or capo position I am using on the other strings thus: eCGCG. I recorded this about a year ago, just after having developed this version. While many of the lines are traditional, a little more than half of the lyrics in this version are my own, based on the book: STEEL DRIVIN' MAN - JOHN HENRY - THE UNTOLD STORY OF AN AMERICAN LEGEND (Oxford University Press, 2006), by historian Scott Reynolds Nelson, who believes he has found the real historical John Henry. While there is much dispute between different historians who each think they’ve found the actual guy, I think this one is a compelling story about real people that takes place shortly after the Civil War.

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Joie de Soldat (Soldier's Joy)

Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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- Play count: 541

Size: 3,105kb, uploaded 2/26/2010 4:12:10 PM
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This recording from the late 1970's is by Armadillo Brand (myself, Michael Jerome Browne, Bill Russell). Michael found the words...I have no idea where. (He was a teenager at the time, and a real musical scholar...which he still is. He's now a highly respected blues and old time player on a plethora of instruments). We sing them first in French, and then in English. We used to play this on the street quite a bit...we could go on for 20 minutes with this...it was always different every time we played it).

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Le Reel Carignan

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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Size: 2,471kb, uploaded 3/4/2010 3:20:24 PM
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Played on a fretless Dobson, strung with kitchen chord (for trussing up a chicken)...which is much like the fishing line I've seen banjo like instruments strung with in Africa...so I figure this is a really, really old time sound (at least that's my speculation). This tune is a derivative of Old Joe Clark...that is, when I was first learning to play, I tried to figure out how to play Old Joe Clark, and came up with this instead. I liked it, so I sang the words to Old Joe Clark over this rather distorted version of the banjo part. One day, a set of words occurred to me about fiddler Jean Carignan, instead of banjo player Joe Clark, and included the blind horse that figures in one of the original verses. Oddly enough, the words popped into my mind in French, and I then translated them into English. I wrote this song standing at the bar in a restaurant, and a Japanese tourist with a camera hanging around his neck watched me write it. He asked what I was doing, and I said, "writing a song". When it was finished, he asked me to hold it up and smile while he took my picture! (Maybe he was hoping I'd become famous one day!)

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On the Street Again

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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Size: 4,635kb, uploaded 3/4/2010 3:37:16 PM
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Probably the oldest of the songs I've written that I still occasionally perform. While some small details may have been changed to make it fit neatly into the structure of the song, this song essentially tells the true story of the first time I actually played in front of strangers...on the street at Mardi Gras in New Orleans in 1970. I actually made up this chord progression with a completely different set of words about something else, that I later abandoned. I really liked these chords, though, so I used them again.

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Photos of the Family

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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- Play count: 89

Size: 6,155kb, uploaded 2/17/2010 7:03:03 PM
Genre: Unknown/None Chosen / Playing Style: Unknown/None Chosen

The idea for this song first came to me as an idea for a character for a movie. I realized I would never make the movie, so I wrote the song instead. It's played on a 1909 Fairbanks tuned eAEAE but capoed at the fifth fret, so it becomes eDADA, which is a tuning I worked out specifically for this song, but I've since used it for a lot of stuff. My playing on this is a sort of modified clawhammer, or clawhammer with added other stuff. The violin is played by my niece, Laura Nerenberg. I sent her MP3s to work with, and was hearing her part for the first time at the same time as the audience, here.

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Ragtimeoid

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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- Play count: 99

Size: 2,076kb, uploaded 3/6/2010 10:33:18 AM
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A little ragtime-like chord progression I was fooling around with one day, that I thought I might set words to. I recorded it so that I wouldn't forget it. Then I promptly did forget about it completely...never played it again...can't really remember what I was doing, what tuning or anything (though I'm sure i could figure it out if I tried). I think it would sound good with a fiddle and a bass...but it no longer tempts me to put words to it. You don't hear that much clawhammer ragtime, so I thought I'd post it.

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Sarah Elizabeth Ward Sullivan Silver

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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Size: 5,471kb, uploaded 2/17/2010 6:29:25 PM
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An original song from my long out-of-print children's album, "That Lion" (1985). The name in the title is that of a real little girl that I knew at the time I wrote it. (Her parents had divorced and her mother had remarried, so she carried her mother's surname, along with those of her father and step-father). The rhythms of the banjo are so eccentric in this song that two differen guitar players tried to follow me unsuccessfully. But oddly, one had no trouble with the verses, but couldn't get the chorus, and the other had no trouble with the chorus, but couldn't get the verses. So I cut back and forth between the two of them in the mix. It sounds like one guitar though, to me.

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The Fox

Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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Size: 7,299kb, uploaded 2/17/2010 5:56:19 PM
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This is my version of an old traditional song. It's from my long out-of-print children's album "That Lion!" This version was probably subliminally influenced by Pete Seeger's version of the Cumberland Mountain Bear Chase that appears on his record Birds, Beasts, Bugs & Bigger Fishes, of which I still have my autographed 10" LP version I got as a kid. That record is probably the reason I took up the banjo in the first place. The guitar playing on the song is by Michael Jerome Browne. The harmonica playing is by me.

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The Owl

Written/Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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- Play count: 288

Size: 3,877kb, uploaded 6/27/2010 8:48:39 PM
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Recorded in 1985 for my kid's album "That Lion". Somewhat prophetic, I find, listening to it today. Original song, banjo and vocals by me, violin and bass: Joel Zifkin, back-up vocals: Ivy Lerner.

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Won't Git Drunk No More (A.K.A. Old Plank Road)

Posted by Marc Nerenberg

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- Play count: 376

Size: 2,062kb, uploaded 2/26/2010 4:03:47 PM
Genre: Unknown/None Chosen / Playing Style: Unknown/None Chosen

This rather wild version of Old Plank Road (learned from Uncle Dave Macon) substantially alters the meaning of parts of the song. It was recorded sometime in the late 1970's with a band called 'Armadillo Brand', which (in this incarnation) consisted of myself on banjo, harmonica and percussion, a teen-aged Michael Jerome Browne on guitar and fiddle, and Bill Russell on guitar. We all sang. We did an odd repertoire that consisted of Appalachian music, Blues, Cajun music and some Quebecois music.

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