The debut tune I played for friends and family was 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken'. It was the first song I practiced at the beginning of my self-taught tablature journey. I would take my banjo on business trips and stuff a towel in the resonator so people couldn't hear me in the hotel rooms next to mine. It didn't sound like much of anything but ... one night it did and I was off to the races, ha.
Cripple Creek,, out of the red Pete Seeger book
I learned a tune while I waited for Dan Levenson’s fabulous “ Clawhammer Banjo From Scratch”. It was “Miss Ohio”, by Gillian Welch.
I’d played guitar, and arranging & playing this song allowed me to work on chords, time, using the 5th as a melody note, dynamic control, and sing with the playing. I returned to the tune often as I learned new techniques. I still love to play it.
Skip to My Lou, from Pete Seeger’s book, back when I was a callow stripling. That was a long time ago. Now I teach a very simple version of the tune in 3-finger style to beginners, just to get them started.
The first tune I ever picked on the banjo was Tom Dooley. I was eight years old.
I think the first song I ever played in public was Will the Circle be Unbroken. That was about a year later.
Go Tell Aunt Rhody out of Wayne Erbsen's original "ignoramous" book. Still like it. I still use that goofy, one-of-a-kind tabulature it had too. Wayne abandoned it, but I didn't.
Edited by - Eric A on 05/09/2021 18:17:35
Dad played guitar and sang to "Take this Hammer," and I learned the chords and played banjo in the background. That's the first song I played on the banjo. Several years earlier he taught me Roll in my Sweet Baby's Arms on guitar.
I believe the correct name is the Purdue Fight Song (?? Harvard??). But my neighbors sang it as "Beer, beer, beer for you and for I -- bring on the whiskey bring on the rye -- send somebody out for gin -- don't let a sober person in...we never stagger we never fall -- we sober up on wood alcohol -- while our loyal friends go marching onward to victory."
I was a 9 or 10 year old guitar pickin' boy, and a neighbor lady had one of those Framus type 5 string banjos and could sorta pick it out, and she taught it to me. This was in the mid 1960s.
When I got my own banjo of course I was stuck on the Foggy Mountain Banjo LP, as I should have been!!
Bill Rogers (Moderator)
Cripple Creek—Seeger yellow book.
"Herbert Haufrect's book "EVERYBODY'S FAVORITE SONGS had a lot of familiar songs in it, with tenor banjo chords in little block pictures above the words, so I could play them, sort of.
No one in particular stands out in my memory.
Will the Circle be unbroken or Cripple Creek ?
It was a very long time ago.
That's an easy one: 'O Susanna'.
Whenever I take up a new instrument, that's the first tune I plunk out to familiarize myself with the tuning.
If I had a Rooster. Pete Seeger. Sang it to my grandchildren. They liked and did not care of Papa made few mistakes.
Old Joe Clark for me, not long before Foggy Mountain Breakdown. That was somewhat difficult to learn while only having played for about 2 weeks.
yesterday, because all i had was a country gentlemen 8 track.
Banjo in the hollow was my first tune. But the very first lick i ever did on banjo even before that was the 10th fret choke lick al la Ralph Stanley.
Whatever is the first song in Janet Davis's "You Can Teach Yourself Banjo". May have been "Worried Man Blues".
I started with Scruggs style and my first tune to eventually magically emerge from that background of rolls was ‘Old Time Religion’.
Boil Them Cabbage Down from Geoff Hohwald's Banjo Primer. I still play that tune, just a different version.
Cripple Creek taught by a friend who lent me the banjo I used to start learning.
I knew i had to keep my roll going forward..and fast...
I only knew the one and knew the up the neck position g which i made with 2 fingers..
I had been playing a few weeks..going at it hrs on end a day...
It was about 2 in the morning and my father got up out of bed and came into the den. In his underwear where i was practicing on the couch with my banjo...
He had his d 41 martin in his right hand and sat down in the recliner across from me and said.." Sounds like you got er".. I said.." Yeah i like this tune but i don't know the name of it"..dad said " thats Cumberland gap son..
" start er again and ill second ya"....
It wouldnt be the last time that dad got up in the middle of the night to give me rhythm support...never once did he ever admonish me for banjo picking at all hrs of the day.
I started playing Scruggs style in 1964 or so. The first tune I learned was the "Theme from the Beverley Hillbillies." Mike Lawrence, the banjoist in the summer drama, The Stephen Foster Story, generously gave me lessons and let me hang out with him.
About 2000, my interest in banjo was rekindled and I tried clawhammer. Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Going Nowhere" opened the clawhammer doorway for me.
I played guitar in an old time band (1972) and started playing clawhammer (1973) to try and remember tunes as the guitar was not supposed to play the melody. When I started banjo, I had about 30-40 tunes in my head and used them. Just tried to find the notes, but more importantly, to get my right hand relaxed with the clawhammer motion. Among the tunes were the standards like Arkansas Traveler, Soldier's Joy, and the Melvin Wine tune Calhoun Swing.
"Boil Em Cabbage Down". When I started. there were some great instructionals that are no longer in print.
It was a Scruggs style version of the song that was from an instruction book by Paul Champion.
'Banjo Funny' 41 min
'Kel Kroydon KK-10' 1 hr
'Lines' 1 hr
'HC Dobson' 1 hr
'Levy's banjo strap' 2 hrs