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The banjo reviews database is here to help educate people before they purchase an instrument. Of course, this is not meant to be a substitute for playing the instrument yourself!

7075 reviews in the archive.

Slow down software: Best Practice

Submitted by Bart Veerman on 2/8/2014

Where Purchased:

Overall Comments

For Windows (PC) computers - this package is open source freeware, in other words, it doesn't cost anything although donation are recommended.

I've had it on my machine for quite sometime and looked at it a couple of times. It was plenty good enough to recommend to my students. This week I needed to find the chords to song I wanted to learn so I fired it up and loaded the MP3 into it. By the way, it also lets you rip a track off a CD.

The slow down works flawlessly and maintains the proper pitch so you don't have to retune your banjo. You can flag a section, any section, of a tune and continuously loop that section until you figured it out. Of course it means you can also loop the whole tune if you want to play along with the whole thing.

As soon as you load a tune it starts playing and it took a while before it dawned on me that to resume the song after you click the pause button clicking it again is what does the trick. Kinda unexpected not to see a play button to click on - not a big deal.

You can also have it transpose the tune into another key by clicking add/subtract semi tones - if the original tune is in the key of Bb and you want to learn it it in C, no prob.

Yup, a marvelous piece of software that's a must for any student or tabber.



Overall Rating: 9

Hotmud Family: The Complete Vetco Recordings

Submitted by Bart Veerman on 6/22/2012

Where Purchased: CDBaby

Overall Comments

Hotmud Family - The Complete Vetco Recordings

Dave & Suzanne Edmundson & Rick Good.

One of my fondest memories was when I saw these folks at a concert in Carlisle, Ontario in the late [nineteen] seventies. They played a fabulous mix of bluegrass, old time & string band music. Their arrangements were incredible, especially Suzanne's lead vocals were outstanding. Rick's banjo playing was a real turn on, listening to him switch back on forth between three finger picking to clawhammer styles was just amazing. Seeing as I had just started to learn how to play myself I was mesmerized seeing and hearing him do that. Rick's been one of my banjo heroes ever since. I picked up one of their LPs, Years in the Making, at the time and it's still one of my all time favourites to listen to. I managed to find another ones of their LPs a few years later, Live as we know it. Borrowed one from a friend, Meat and potatoes and stuff like that, but that was it as far as getting any of their other ones around these parts of the world.

From time to time I tried to google them but nothing really turned up, until a couple of months ago that is. I found someone singing one of their songs on Youtube and figured it's time to google once more. Waddaya know, they now have a website and better yet, they rereleased their Vetco label albums on CD. Four albums on a double CD set and you can order them online. No brainer, and a few clicks later I started counting the days till the package arrived in the mail.

What a thrill to hear them again without all the snaps, crackles and pops on the old LPs and three of these albums I had never heard before - talk about yer treat for the day.

This set includes these four albums:

Till we meet again, or above
Stone Mountain wobble
Buckies in the briar patch
Years in the making

The thing of course, when will they be rereleasing their Flying Fish label albums and are their any I'm not aware of:

Live as we know it
Meat and potatoes and stuff like that

The Complete Vetco Recordings: this is truly amazing music - sooo worth the $25 for the double CD set.

Be sure to check out their website:

Overall Rating: 10

Mountain Therapy (Tim Custer): Natural Blend and Looking Back

Submitted by Bart Veerman on 2/19/2008

Where Purchased: Tim Custer direct

Overall Comments

Mountain Therapy

“Package in the mail for you.” I opened the big envelope that Tim Custer so kindly had sent me. The two Mountain Therapy CD's in it quickly found their way to the DVD player, I had heard a couple of Tim's tracks on his Hangout homepage earlier so I knew I'd be in for a treat.
After the first few seconds it became clear that “treat” was an understatement because the first thing that hit me: the tracks were not simply “please-let-us-get-through-them” renditions; these were complete arrangements bonding a group of top notch musicians into a unison you don't often get to experience.

The first CD I played was Mountain Therapy, Natural Blend. Lonnie Wellman provides a solid and tasteful guitar with just the right accents at the right places to spice up the rhythm. Marsha Wellman sees to it that the bass goes can do more than boom chicke boom. Wes Homner delivered beautiful and melodious sounds on the mandolin. Tim Custer's banjo playing was all over the place: happy, exiting, sad, sparky, dreamy and anywhere in between and then some. Vocals, simple, all of them sing. Marsha Wellman does an outstanding job. Highlights of Natural Blend to me were He Rode All the Way to Texas, Stolen Identity and Blood Stained Trail.

The second CD, Looking Back, featured Mark Miracle on the mandolin and his Jump and Stumble tune is sure to stump and fumble those trying to learn play this great instrumental. As a proper banjoey I was of course looking forward to Tim Custer's break in answer to Mark's challenge. Murmers of amazement, talk about banjo playing. Yeah, OK, so Tim, I'm going to need to a picture of your hands cause as near as I can tell you must have at least seven fingers on each. . . Highlights, besides Jump and Stumble - My Heart's Bouquet, Over the Rainbow and – heck with it, both CD's, they're all highlights.

All in all, tastefully real bluegrass. Check Tim Custer's Hangout page to listen to his music files and to find out how/where to order your own copies:

Overall Rating: 10

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