Over the past few weeks, I've slowly been recording an album of (mostly) original tunes (more on that here). This weekend I spent my banjo time playing a couple gigs with the pretty shaky string band (www.prettyshakystringband.org) and didn't really have a lot of effort left for recording : ) Therefore, I thought I'd take a week off from the album and take this opportunity to point any readers towards a couple really cool web resources that they may not have come across before.
First off, there are a lot of sites out there that you're likely to have come across before including:
Banjohangout (banjohangout.org) - source for all things banjo
Mike Iverson's site (www.bluesageband.com/Tabs.html) - where I (and many others) learned my first bums-ditty
Slippery Hill (www.slippery-hill.com) - the ultimate searchable database of fiddle tune source recordings
clawhammerbanjo.net (clawhammerbanjo.net) - home of the "brainjo" banjo lessons taught by Josh Turknett
Probably no surprises there - but hopefully you'll find something new if you keep reading.
Note: I don't really know any people who run these sites (though I did see Bob Browder at a couple jams in VA) and I certainly don't have a financial interest in any of these websites - I just kind of dig them and thought I'd share : )
Banjo meets world (https://banjomeetsworld.wordpress.com)
This is a banjo blog (complete with lessons, demos, recordings, etc.) that is, unfortunately, no longer being updated. The blog ran from 2008-2011 and has been left up as an archive - I'm not sure I quite realized it when I was starting this blog, but Banjo Meets World definitely provided some inspiration. In the FAQ section, Cathy Moore (the blog's author) points out that there is plenty of material out there for beginners, and she doesn't add to that pile - the stuff she posted certainly qualifies as "next level" banjo. Really love her eclectic tune choices, her focus on strange rhythms, and her posts about volume concerns with nylgut strings (its all in the bridge!)
"Get up in the cool" podcast (http://www.camerondewhitt.com/getupinthecool/)
As someone obsessed with podcasts, I was thrilled to finally find one that revolved around Old Time Music (and its pretty banjo heavy to boot)! Cameron DeWhitt, who is himself a pretty great banjo player, converses and jams with a variety of Old Time musicians - plenty you've heard of and some you likely haven't. The podcast started in 2016 and, while I've yet to listen to every back episode, I've definitely heard some great ones so far. I started by listening to interviews with people most readers would recognize (Adam Hurt, Brad Kolodner, Bertram Levy) but some of my favorite episodes have been those with people that may be less familiar, including some I saw around Clifftop last year: Brian Slattery, Bach Bui, Ludvig Drevfjall.
As an aside: Late one night at Clifftop, I listened to a jam where Brian Slattery was playing this indescribably squirrely minor tune with a cello, a bass and a guitarist...it must have lasted a half hour. One of my big Clifftop regrets is that I didn't ask for the tune name - kind of thought I'd never hear it again. But, it was one of the jam tunes on the Brian Slattery episode!! Its called "Lonesome Prairie" (do yourself a favor and go find Jon Bekoff's version on Slippery Hill on top of listening to the one that Brian and Cameron do)...and its just as amazing as I remember!
This is Bob Browder's site about banjo building in which he relates a lot of the wisdom he learned by apprenticing for Mac Traynham (who also taught Greg Galbreath how to build banjos and is therefore my banjo's grandad). The page is both thorough and beginner friendly - really a great resource for any level player or builder (as is the companion book you can buy at the site). If you've got a woodworking bug, or if you just want to understand your own banjo a bit better, this is a great place to start.
Well thats about it - obviously this list is not exhaustive (can any list of 3 things be exhaustive?). If you've got other suggestions for interesting sites people ought to check out - feel free to leave them in the comments. Next week I hope to get back "into the studio" (HA! - its a couple of chairs in my living room, upon one of which rests a microphone).