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Apr 23, 2024 - 7:18:42 AM
125 posts since 3/16/2014

Hi folks!
A few nights ago the string band i play with performed for a college aged audience. They were a great crowd and danced every chance we gave them.
At one point we were requested to play Cotton Eyed Joe which is simple enough to wing (tho we played it out of D just because we were already tuned there). But, it's a song that we hadn't ever thought to play in the 12 years we've been playing together!
So i wonder what else might be 'popular' with the general public? Or is Cotton Eyed Joe the 'Freebird' of string band music??

Apr 23, 2024 - 7:28:46 AM
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RioStat

USA

6281 posts since 10/12/2009

People always ask me to play "Far, Far Away and Softly"..........I'll have to learn that one !! smiley

Apr 23, 2024 - 8:07:09 AM
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1676 posts since 11/10/2022

Well, from 2015 to 2020 Cotton eyed Joe was remixed to the dance club by manay artists....hip hop style. Your crowd may think you converted a Dance mix into "Country". Most that age have no idea it even existed before 2015.

I started getting asked to play that tune in 2018 A LOT. Started asking questions.

 

https://m.youtube.com/shorts/o-hV_A6jTM8

Edited by - NotABanjoYoda on 04/23/2024 08:12:40

Apr 23, 2024 - 8:17:36 AM
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KCJones

USA

2993 posts since 8/30/2012

That Cotton Eyed Joe dance remix has been around since the early 90s, I remember basketball teams running out to it in high school.

Usually the common requests are "deliverance" or Man of Constant Sorrow if I'm lucky.

Apr 23, 2024 - 8:27:47 AM
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1676 posts since 11/10/2022

Yep, came out in 1994 and hit mainstream club scene ... again ... in 2015 with remix after remix after remix. Point is young ppl think thats the OG. I was 28 in 2015, partook in the fantasy. Many of my friends still think Im full of it...which I usually am.

My band gets Hotel Cali and Cem Gates often.

Apr 23, 2024 - 9:19:32 AM
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51 posts since 9/8/2017

'Round these parts, it's "Rocky Top". (I know it's heresy here, but not exactly my favorite...)

Apr 23, 2024 - 9:48:11 AM
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15205 posts since 6/2/2008

I'd expect Wagon Wheel to be the Freebird of acoustic/Americana music for the college set (though today's college kids were pretty young when that came out).

With Beyoncé's country album "Cowboy Carter" currently topping the charts, you might want to do some Googling to find out which songs from it are most popular and then work up your own arrangement.

If I were still playing in a bluegrass band I know that's what I'd be doing -- even though seeing a bunch of old guys covering Beyoncé might look funny. My 1980s bluegrass band took a big part of our repertoire from outside the bluegrass canon. The rock and pop songs we covered were already old by then, but idea is the same.

Have to agree with KCJones: Man of Constant sorrow is a crowd pleaser. String band can definitely do it. Doesn't have to come out bluegrassy.

Edited by - Old Hickory on 04/23/2024 09:50:18

Apr 24, 2024 - 7:53:38 AM

125 posts since 3/16/2014

All great comments! Thanks..
And yeah, after thinking on it, it does seem silly for me to think there would be many 'requests' in the field of Old Time. Short of playing a very select crowd..
My wife plays guitar and sings in the band and is always trying to suggest modern pop songs for our old time band which i love the idea of but struggle pulling off on the banjo. But i also love the idea of modernizing old time songs which is more straight forward.
It has always seemed a great idea to have 1 or 2 modern songs to perform in an old time style. Carolina Chocolate Drops, Hit 'em Up Style comes to mind..

Apr 24, 2024 - 7:19:37 PM
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3863 posts since 10/17/2009

Advice I got decades ago, similar to this question...

Why did they hire you? Is the event you're specifically chosen/hired to play, supposed to be the unique music you play? ... and that's what folks are coming to hear, what you play well? If they wanted or expecting whatever other pop hit music, wouldn't it make sense for them to hire folks who do that well, like a cover band? Or just a DJ or jukebox?

I have found worked well, most folks don't care that we don't play "hits"; esp with trad or old-time music they are there precisely because unfamiliarity, it's different to pop hit music... not expecting that; and more interested in what we play well, and experience it has to offer.

FWIW, many of the songs folk mention... for some idea of "popular" or they recognize...  might not really be that well known to that crowd; esp college aged - Rocky Top, Cotton Eyed Joe, Man of Constant Sorrow, Deliverance (dueling banjo); Hit 'em Up Style, Turkey In the Straw, Ashokan Farewell, even  Freebird, Hotel Cali and Cem Gates... are a bit of okay boomer laugh

Nothing wrong playing those...if they are good songs, and could work up work up awesome version for band, but probably should stand on it's own merit (not simply idea of familiar)

Edited by - banjoak on 04/24/2024 19:31:55

Apr 25, 2024 - 3:43:28 PM
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6304 posts since 3/11/2006

Honeywagon - When I Come Around Green Day cover (youtube.com)

Go to the above and you can listen to mor Bluegrass covers of Green Day if that suits.

Apr 26, 2024 - 5:25:04 PM
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3863 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by plunkyjunkie

All great comments! Thanks..
And yeah, after thinking on it, it does seem silly for me to think there would be many 'requests' in the field of Old Time. Short of playing a very select crowd..
My wife plays guitar and sings in the band and is always trying to suggest modern pop songs for our old time band which i love the idea of but struggle pulling off on the banjo. But i also love the idea of modernizing old time songs which is more straight forward.
It has always seemed a great idea to have 1 or 2 modern songs to perform in an old time style. Carolina Chocolate Drops, Hit 'em Up Style comes to mind..


The idea of requests is pretty odd in many situations. Except for most requested song "Happy Birthday" - obvious reason the request that.

Part of what to think about is how to handle requests... IMO starts with what are they really asking for. Again, not sure if playing a tune you don't really know, do well, haven't rehearsed or played in 12 years, try wing it... is best option to please the whole audience.

Something to keep in mind, at least in my observation, esp in traditional world; most often the requests has to do with a person want's to essentially name drop... express something that they are familiar to the music or something. Esp if it has a banjo, some "know what banjo music is, like it"- What they are after is some acknowledgment to that. So if want to make them happy, don't have to play the tune/song, just some thumbs up, nod and wink, kudos, praise; so that they feel acknowledged. They are generally not disappointed or annoyed or really care if you play it or not. There are lot's easy stock responses that can come up with. They probably don't want a lesson to be corrected.

There was mention of some others.

Cotton Eyed Joe. There's a popular choreographed line dance version of that; they might be asking so they can "dance" that specific line dance. (BTW, not just any OT version).

Wagon Wheel. There is something about that song; It's one of the few songs that has some fairly recent familiarity as in some genre has a banjo... but request not just to listen; they really like to sing along, at least the anthem like chorus; so one of the few they can request for that. (even sometimes if Irish musicians?). Sometimes can even enlist person from the group requesting; to sing the lead. All in good fun. Might be some other fairly recent folkie sing along songs like that (Hey Delila, and that Hey Ho song?)

Of course if playing a special event, like wedding... good idea to work out ahead special requests; like for the march or first dance (make the bride happy).

-----------

The other direction of this discussion, rather than requests... taking some song from another genre and making it say Old-time stringband; with maybe idea of popular familiar connection.

I agree music from other genres can potentially make good interesting old-time (or other) songs. That said, it doesn't actully come across to that audience they way expected; they can also come out a bit too contrived, trying to hard to plaes, and seem a little cheezy (i've been plenty guilty of that). It's kind of like back in the day, a Lawrence Welk playing some of that rock music that popular with those young folks like. Despicito is really easy tune to play... but.

Another aspect is if goal is about trying to connect with familiar... it's really that familiar? Besides generation gap of music familiarity; one thing about younger generation audience, is that they often consumed music differently, not so much shared whole album nor top 40 radio experience... and much more diverse. Not all of them listen to or like Taylor Swift, or Beyonce. Or in example of Green Day, how many would connect to any random song from band? Might recognize "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" maybe.

(not that that GD example wasn't a interesting song, but does it really accomplish the goal?)

Edited by - banjoak on 04/26/2024 17:27:12

Apr 27, 2024 - 1:03:22 AM

martyjoe

Ireland

516 posts since 3/24/2020

I usually announce at the start of a gig ā€œ I only play requests when Iā€™m asked.ā€

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