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Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: Cm  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 3/8/2016
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: In memory of Bill Keith, whose recording of Duke Ellington’s Caravan on his 1976 album “Something Auld, Something Newgrass” introduced the tune to the world of bluegrass banjo and gob-smacked me when I first heard it. The tab is based on Keith’s arrangement, and it is mostly the way I have played Caravan for the last few decades. It is not a note-for-note copy of Keith’s version, but I did include a number of his nifty ideas, or at least my interpretation of them, that are worth examining. Note that in live performance Keith would start the tune with some appropriate noodling, and I have included a fragment in the tab. Note also that the Intro includes the banjo’s alternating between G7 and Ab Dim, whereas the backing instruments alternated between G7 and Ab7 throughout Part A of the tune. Finally, in his Outro to the tune Keith used a Keith tuner on the 4th string to go from D to C. If you don’t have a Keith tuner on your 4th string, you can just end it with a C note on the 2nd string 1st fret.


kmwaters Says:
Sunday, November 15, 2015 @9:30:12 AM
I can see the camels trotting over the sand now.

corcoran Says:
Sunday, November 15, 2015 @2:55:45 PM
You can see the camels, but can you smell them?

painter123 Says:
Saturday, March 4, 2023 @2:18:52 PM
Hi trying to get bill Keith banjo I can't seem to download it..just wondering if someone could send me a copy to UK ????.. regards James

corcoran Says:
Saturday, March 4, 2023 @2:28:47 PM
Hello painter123, do you have TablEdit on your computer? You willneed it to download and open the tab. Go to and download the free tab reader. Then you should be able to access my tab of Caravan.

flange5string Says:
Thursday, March 9, 2023 @6:55:47 PM
If you can find the Bobby Thompson tape that's on You Tube, you can hear where Bill picked up the basis for his version.

corcoran Says:
Friday, March 10, 2023 @2:11:18 PM
I can imagine that Bobby Thompson’s version inspired Bill Keith to work out his own version of Caravan, but Bill’s is distinctively different from Bobby’s, to my ear at least. Incidentally, I thought the Bobby Thompson tape used to be on, but it no longer seems to be there. However, youtube has the advantage that one can slow the playback down; so it is easier for figuring out the picking.

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