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Blackberry Blossom/Bill Keith

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 1/13/2016
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: The first elegant melodic break to BB I heard was by Bill Keith on the Zap Records LP “Dobro and Fiddle,” by Kenny Haddock and Billy Baker (one of Monroe’s former fiddlers), released in 1967. He subsequently recorded it with the supergroup Muleskinner, in 1973. Bill’s breaks were delightful and stayed close to the melody, unlike the excursions into banjo noise practised by many of his successors, and they were played at breakneck knuckle-busting speed. For an example of the cleverness of his break, note how he used ascending scales in the first run-through of the A part and then descending scales in the second run-through. Brilliant. Catch the video of Muleskinner on youtube.com, to see a young and bearded Bill Keith playing some outstanding banjo on BB and a bunch of other tunes. The tab I have posted here is pretty close to the way I hear Bill playing it, and I give you two of his endings, the first from the Billy Baker recording and the second from Muleskinner. Note that the backup chord structure can be complex as in the tab and Muleskinner recording, or simple as in the Billy Baker recording. Either way it’s a great tune.

4 comments

Jack Baker Says:
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 @3:26:47 PM
Nice work Michael, we've covered just about everything there is in this song :-)...Jack

corcoran Says:
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 @6:41:52 AM
Thanks, Jack. Yes, we seem to be on the same page on this one, eh? Bill Keith was a brilliant banjo player and a brilliant person.

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