Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Melodic Clawhammer Banjo

Here's a mid-seventies out-of-print lp issued by Kicking Mule devoted to a then, new genre of clawhammer banjo, the melodic style. Since the folk revival of the 50's/60's there were two major schools of clawhammer banjo in the US. One, initiated by Pete Seeger, was mostly an adaptation of the older techniques of down-picking suited to accompany all kind of folk songs and the other was the traditional way of accompany the fiddler for Southern instrumental dance tunes. In the 1970's in New-York, a few players worked out a solo style of clawhammer where the banjo would play the complete melody of a tune whitout loosing the rhyhtmic drive of the instrument. Their repertoire would include a lot of Irish fiddle tunes, Reels, Hornpipes and Jigs along with the usual old-time Southern tunes. In this lp, the first devoted to the new style, we have the masters and creators of melodic clawhammer banjo reunited: Ken Perlman, Bob Carlin, Henry Sapoznik, Andy Cahan and one track by Dana Loomis. Ken Perlman is whithout a doubt the most important melodic clawhammer player here, not only for his amazing playing but also as a great teacher of the style. His instruction books and videos helped many players to extend the possibilities of clawhammer banjo playing. Bob Carlin is also a great player and teacher, but more oriented toward the traditional appalachian styles than Perlman. Henry Sapoznik was a major melodic clawhammer player in those days but he also studied classical banjo and initiated the Klezmer revival in New-York as well. Andy Cahan, like Carlin, is a folklorist and great player of the old-time Southern styles.
The tune selection on this lp is diverse and representative of the melodic style with an emphasis on Northern and Irish melodies. The guitar and piano back-up on many tracks is delicate and let the banjo be the lead instrument here.
Track list:
1.Greenfields of America Andy Cahan
2.Trip to Sligo Ken Perlman
3.French Canadian Medley: St Anne's Reel/Gaspe Reel Henry Sapoznik
4.Picking up tea leaves Andy Cahan
5.Bonaparte crossing the Rocky mountains Bob Carlin
6.Green Willis Bob Carlin & Henry Sapoznik
7.Sligo Maid Ken Perlman
8.Flying Cloud Cotillion Bob Carlin
9.Snowflake Reel Andy Cahan
10.Speed the plough Henry Sapoznik
11.Battle of Aughrim Andy Cahan
12.Ships in the cloud/Folding down the sheets Bob Carlin
13.Off to California Henry Sapoznik
14.Coleraine Andy Cahan
15.Fiddle Head Reel/Dubuque Bob Carlin
16.Flowers of Edinburgh Ken Perlman
17.Irish Spring Dana Loomis
18.Staten Island Hornpipe Henry Sapoznik
19.Chief O'Neil's favorite Andy Cahan
Download here (Lp in MP3 tracks)