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May 20, 2022 - 4:01:29 PM
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20 posts since 10/29/2020

Hey banjo peeps.

I am a beginner banjo player (2 years fingerstlye) and (1 year clawhammer) . I recently set up a band just for fun with 2 friends. One is a classically trained violin player, while the other is a guitarist.

Being British, my friends are somewhat alien to the world of bluegrass and old time and so introducing them to music that they A. like and B. isn't too difficult to play hasn't been so easy.

I'm wondering if anyone could recommend songs that would be good for a bunch of beginners using these 3 instruments. We already play (dare I say it...) Wagon Wheel and while not rally bluegrass it obviously ticks the boxes as it is simple, and for people who haven't heard it a million times, it is catchy and fun.

We are working on Will the Circle Be Unbroken at the moment, but not sure where to go from there. Any suggestions would be great!

Here is a link to our 5th practice session (quite rough around the edges, but so you can see the level we are at). Be kind, it is all for fun!

youtube.com/watch?v=jPC_IRAofkw

Thanks,
WPFM

May 20, 2022 - 4:13:43 PM
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lapsteel

Canada

765 posts since 8/13/2015

One option you may consider is perusing some of the mp3s and videos on BHO…….

May 20, 2022 - 4:16:37 PM
Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

27358 posts since 8/3/2003

Try playing some vocals instead of instrumentals. They're easier to learn, easier to play and you can sing along with them. Most any 3 chord vocal song will work for that trio of instruments.

May 20, 2022 - 5:28:17 PM

349 posts since 11/9/2021

Is that Sheet music?

May 20, 2022 - 5:32:41 PM
Players Union Member

TN Time

USA

282 posts since 12/6/2021

Very good. You are on your way!

Robert

May 20, 2022 - 6:15:21 PM
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2775 posts since 5/2/2012

I agree with Robert....you are well on your way. Very enjoyable listen.

What came to my mind was the Parking Lot Pickers books from Mel Bay. Versions for all 3 of your instruments, includes basic melody, audio samples (so your bandmates get an idea of what the tune sounds like). Check out the Mel Bay site for the song list and samples.

You might have your violinist look at some youtube videos on fiddle backup. Yep, she's a fiddle player, not a violinist when she is playing with your group. It appeared that she didn't do a whole lot other than her break/solo. Not a criticism, but some fiddle backup would give your music another "layer" of complexity. Even the simple offbeat "chuck" will keep her involved and add something to your group sound. '
Good luck with this venture!!

May 20, 2022 - 6:34:08 PM

5291 posts since 5/9/2007

I recommend “Bile ‘dem Cabbage Down” in the key of D.

Great tune for the fiddler to be … can employ all four strings (double-stops galore) in standard tuning.

Old time tunes don’t usually involve singing.

Singers quite often look for keys that match their vocal range and that can sometimes “throw a monkey wrench into the works”.

Edited by - mrphysics55 on 05/20/2022 18:34:35

May 20, 2022 - 6:50:38 PM
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13304 posts since 6/2/2008

Good start.

You can find repertoire on your own. Listen to music. Scour the Web. YouTube is a great source. Find other songs that aren't bluegrass that you can play. You'll figure out quickly enough if you can play them.

The guitar player's stutter rhythm has to go. He should watch videos of pro players in acoustic groups. Then ask why no one else is playing that way.

You guys don't have a bass, so guitar is responsible for the rhythm. That means steady. Solid.

May 20, 2022 - 11:34:07 PM

406 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by woodpekkerfrommars

Hey banjo peeps.

I am a beginner banjo player (2 years fingerstlye) and (1 year clawhammer) . I recently set up a band just for fun with 2 friends. One is a classically trained violin player, while the other is a guitarist.

Being British, my friends are somewhat alien to the world of bluegrass and old time and so introducing them to music that they A. like and B. isn't too difficult to play hasn't been so easy.

I'm wondering if anyone could recommend songs that would be good for a bunch of beginners using these 3 instruments. We already play (dare I say it...) Wagon Wheel and while not rally bluegrass it obviously ticks the boxes as it is simple, and for people who haven't heard it a million times, it is catchy and fun.

We are working on Will the Circle Be Unbroken at the moment, but not sure where to go from there. Any suggestions would be great!

Here is a link to our 5th practice session (quite rough around the edges, but so you can see the level we are at). Be kind, it is all for fun!

youtube.com/watch?v=jPC_IRAofkw

Thanks,
WPFM


Hi There,

There's a ton of stuff out there on YouTube that might fit your needs. Try searching Google and YouTube for "Fiddle Tunes" "Celtic Music" "Banjo & Fiddle" "Old Time" "Sea Shanty" You'll be amazed at what comes back at you.

May 21, 2022 - 5:27:14 AM

4227 posts since 3/28/2008

Pete Wernick has assembled two playlists--one on Spotify and one on YouTube--of widely known bluegrass and bluegrass-compatible material. You can find out more on his web site: wernickmethod.org/jam-favorites.

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May 21, 2022 - 8:32:38 AM
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20 posts since 10/29/2020

Hi all,

Thank you so much for the kind words about our dumb little video. That is really encouraging and I will be sure to pass on the constructive critisim as it will really help us impove.

Thank you also for all the ideas on what to search for and songs we might be able to play. I have a few ideas now to take forward.

I love the banjo community. It is always so friendly and encouraging!

Pick on!

May 21, 2022 - 11:29:03 AM

2865 posts since 4/5/2006

Where in the UK are you?

Seeing as how this post is in the Bluegrass (Scruggs) Style forum & the  OP is playing a 5-string resonator banjo, I have to agree with Ken's comment on your guitar player. No fancy Folk/Country strumming, just steady boom chuck bluegrass style rhythm, with simple runs leading into/out of chord changes & a Lester Flatt run (!) ending. And yeah, the violinist could use some fiddle exposure.

To your credit, everyone is keeping time, although to my ear, the music lacks cohesion. In addition to the materials suggested, & I would also suggest 1000 Fiddle Tunes.

My wife & I visited the UK, on a traditional music tour, with our instruments (dobro & banjo). We jammed with local musicians all over the UK. We found most all pubs had regular amateur jam sessions. You may find a wide variety of instruments, but fiddle players make it all worthwhile.  

May 21, 2022 - 2:10:59 PM

4666 posts since 12/6/2009

keep going like that and you'll be just fine. it had a warming sound.

May 21, 2022 - 8:22:38 PM
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13304 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by woodpekkerfrommars

Thank you so much for the kind words about our dumb little video. . . . Thank you also for all the ideas on what to search for and songs we might be able to play. I have a few ideas now to take forward.


The great thing about banjo, fiddle and guitar being musical instruments is that they can be used to play music from any genre. If you want to play non-bluegrass songs in a bluegrass style, that's a legitimate musical choice and one that many bands before you have made. My 1980s bluegrass band did that.

You can also just play non-bluegrass songs in whatever style is most comfortable and natural for you and your bandmates and let the sound of fiddle and banjo impart their character.

For an example of this, search out videos of the American band Love Canon. Their act is they play 1980s rock music on bluegrass instruments. For a lot of their repertoire, they play very straightforward covers that capture the sound of the originals. For others they might go for signature riffs but otherwise not try to copy the original. In their live show, they do maybe a couple actual bluegrass songs, but the rest is all 80s covers.

Not saying you should do the songs they do. Just saying you can choose any songs that appeal to you and that are within your ability to play as a group. If you want to mix bluegrass with non-bluegrass that's a great way to come up with your own sound.

Have fun. Enjoy. Good luck.

May 22, 2022 - 5:39:50 AM

1168 posts since 1/26/2011

Here’s a few three chord songs that are kind of similar to Will the Circle.

Man of Constant Sorrow
I Saw the Light
I’ll Fly Away

Also, you might want to get the Bluegrass Facebook. Lyrics and chords to a bunch of different bluegrass songs you can try,

There’s a pdf version here:

https://cvls.com/product/bfb/

It's also available on Amazon UK.

Your Wagon Wheel sounds really good.  Something the fiddle player could add immediately for backup is a light chop on the off beat.  Here's a video showing how:

https://youtu.be/pWR-9r-7uZM




 

Edited by - jdeluke137 on 05/22/2022 05:48:32

May 22, 2022 - 11:10:21 AM

13304 posts since 6/2/2008

I'm at a small festival right now and a local bluegrass band is playing "Shine" from Collective Soul. They do it slow/moderate tempo like the original then break into a fast bluegrass instrumental section, back to moderate then fast instrumental to end. Very clever

It was their set ender.

Tray Wellington next.

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