Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Once, Twice

This is the third of the trio of songs I recorded with Mark Lawrence a couple weeks ago.

This one was written a while back though I keep rewriting bits here and there.

Here is the video...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Greensleeves (Written Arrangement)

Sort of one for the holidays ('What Child is This?' uses the same melody) this is Greensleeves.  A great melody that evokes courtly midieval imagery (at least to me).

Here it is in jpeg form...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Trixie and Wayne

Another original solo banjo tune I recorded at Mark Lawrence's famed Big in Japan studio.

According to my eldest so this song is sad.  I enjoy playing it a lot and if it is sad I suppose some things just are.

Here it is...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Recorded a few original banjo instrumentals with Mark Lawrence handling the audio at his Big in Japan Studio.  This one is a tune called 'The Wrath of Cairo' which I wrote for my son about 5 years ago.

Here's the video...

Here's the tab for anyone who wants to check it out...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I'll Be Home for Christmas (Written Arrangement)

Here is an arragement I came up with for 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' in C tuning.  I tried to get as much of the harmony from the piano part as possible while keeping to the banjos strengths.

Here it is (click to enlarge)...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Deck the Halls - Counterpoint Arrangement

Here is a quick arrangement I made of Deck the Halls.  Fairly counterpuntal in style and in the key of F (using open G tuning).  May post a video in the next while but for now here is the written arrangement...

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tishomingo String Band Album Launch this Saturday (November 8)

If you are in the Vancouver B.C. area this week my band is staging our album release show Saturday night at the China Cloud (524 Main Street).

Here is a video I shot yesterday with Mark Lawrence (the gentleman who recorded our album).  Just picking through 2 Tishomingo tunes and Cherokee Shuffle...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Strawberry Roan

My Gandpa's favourite song.  A fairly straight ahead instrumental pass.  The lyrics in this song are terrific but the melody also has a charm.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Study #3

This study covers the technique of playing steady eighth notes with the thumb and index on a low drone and adding double stops here and there without breaking the flow.  The trick is to keep the T I alternation going and add the M on the higher string when needed (right hand fingering is written for the first 2 measures).

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

Study #1

Here is a little study I came up.  Slow and simple for anyone looking for a break from breakdowns.

Click on the tablature to enlarge...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Upcoming Tishomingo String Band (that's my band) Album 'Dangerfield'

The trusty old band has finished up a new album and we are excited about sharing it.  Alot of banjo stuff and a pretty wide variety of influences on display from everyone in the group.

We sold some advance copies at The Chemainus Bluegrass Festival this past weekend but are planning a full on album release for mid September in Vancouver for anyone who might be interested.

Here is one track from the album we've uploaded to bandcamp.  It's called the Elsinore Rag and it's a tune I wrote...

Friday, May 30, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Exploring Dueling Banjos - Variation 1

Decided to play around with some variations on the IV - I - V - I progression (C - G - D - G in this case).

This is the main rolling part of Dueling Banjos, Bugle Call Rag and a few others.  I'm putting up the tab here now and might get some audio/ video happening later.

Here's the tab for Variation 1 (click to enlarge)......

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Concert Review - Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn at the Chan Centre (Vancouver, Canada)

Saw Bela Fleck (one of my heroes) and Abigail Washburn (someone I knew almost nothing of going in) this past Saturday at the Chan Centre and it was great.

I brought my 9 year old son whom I'm teaching banjo along and was somewhat unsure how much it would appeal to him.  He was a little annoyed by how long the introduction went on for but when Bela and Abigail came out and fired up the banjos he, and everyone else in the place, was all ears.

The twosome began with one of Abigail's originals and the delicately balanced sound they put out was near banjo nirvana (the state, not he band).  They went on to alternate between old time American and old time Chinese music with Bela's inimitable rippling and swooning 5-string somehow tying the whole thing together.

Abigail  loves the Chinese music and she sings it with a passion and grace that strips past any novelty aspects. Her voice was in solid form all night; very strong with just a little grit in an Emmy Lou Harris kind of way.

Then there was Bela.

I'll admit the one concern I had going in was that Bela might tone down his act for his new role as banjo duetist and I might not get to hear him really rip it up.  Turns out my fears were very much unfounded; Fleck was as close to full shred ahead as probably anyone has ever been accompanying an old time musician.  Not only did he provide dazzling breaks for Abigail's tunes but he treated his audience to a medley of unaccompanied themes from his banjo concerto 'The Imposter' as well as a new solo instrumental 'The Quiet Song'.

A couple paragraphs ago I described Bela's sound as inimitable.  This, and an almost surreal smoothness, is the quality that most struck me watching him.  As soon as he touched the strings he sounded like Bela Fleck. His darkness of tone, his particular phrasing and his note choices are all part of it, but that thing, that possession of a unique voice, is something I rarely find in banjo players and something I personally value and admire.
Abigail did most of the talking (introducing the tunes, thanking the so and sos) while Bela seemed more than content to sit back and enjoy, occasionally grabbing the mic for a one liner or comedic non sequitur.  They possess a certain familiar chemistry that is appealing and understated.

Overall great show.  I liked it, my son liked it, and everyone I met at intermission seemed to like it.  If you are within range of attending one of their concerts I highly recommend doing so.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

RIP Arthur Smith

Just found out Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith, writer of Feuding Banjos, died this week (April 3rd).  He packed quite a lot of living into his 93 years on this earth as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, radio host and TV producer and left an indelible imprint on popular music.

Hearing of his passing got me listening back to his original recording of Feuding Banjos and man oh man is it good!  Not only does it feature some beautiful high octane tenor banjo from Smith but it also contains some of Don Reno's best playing on the 5 string.  Unlike Dueling Banjos (the inescapably popular variant from the 1972 film Deliverance) where a guitar and 5 string banjo duke it out, Smith's original Feuding feels like a real competition (friendly I'm sure) with each player dishing out a seemingly insurmountable heap of licks and tricks for the other to top.

The contrasts of the 2 styles are on full display with Smith's tenor providing a truly devastating series of flatpicked runs leading into Reno's bright and ringing bluegrass rolls.  Makes you wonder why tenor/ 5 string duets are not more common.

Here is a clip I found of the original Feuding Banjos...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Early Mix of 'Dangerfield' from Upcoming Record

Couldn't resist posting this early mix from the new Tishomingo String Band record.  It's been a long time going so excited to hear it.  I also have the tab for this tune for anyone interested.