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...

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