Old Time Banjo
February 20, 2014 8:44 PM   Subscribe

I've been listening to a lot of Pete Seeger since he died. What other old time banjo players might I like? I'm not looking for fast rolls, finger picks, bluegrass style. I'm looking for frailing, clawhammer, and plaintive melodies. This sort of thing.
posted by phrontist to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Billy Faier does many styles.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:49 PM on February 20, 2014

William Elliott Whitmore does some great Seeger-ish banjo-work (I think - I'm not an expert). He flips between guitar and banjo, but here's a great example.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:23 PM on February 20, 2014

Pete Seeger does not really play a true old-time style. He doesn't play clawhammer/frailing. He sort of invented his own style, a pop/roots hybrid that is simpler than old-time and definitely far from the technical obsessions of bluegrass, and few old-time players endorse it. His banjo is an accompaniment to singing, not something meant to feature the instrument's voice itself. When I started learning to play roots banjo, the first thing I was asked to do was unlearn the "Seeger style" I had learned from his famous "How to Play the 5 String Banjo."

If you like his style, you wouldn't go far wrong just Googling things like "Seeger style banjo."
posted by Miko at 9:23 PM on February 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Tony Trischka
posted by cushie at 9:43 PM on February 20, 2014

Cahalen Morrison & Eli West
disclosure: used to play w/cm
posted by j_curiouser at 9:48 PM on February 20, 2014

Phyllis Boyens: The Last Old Shovel. Great, tuneful banjo solo about 1:30.
posted by Alaska Jack at 10:11 PM on February 20, 2014

You might like Stringbean. He was one of the last famous clawhammer before Scruggs style really took ever. He even played banjo in Bill Monroe's band and was eventually replaced by Earl Scruggs.
posted by Arbac at 1:03 AM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chris Coole, Fred Cockerham, Reed Martin, Cathy Fink, Clifton Hicks, Rob Stenson … to name but a few.

You're probably looking for "mountain modal" tunes, like Clarence Ashley's The Coo-Coo Bird. It's plaintive.
posted by scruss at 5:31 AM on February 21, 2014

You might also like Ralph Stanley.
posted by Shohn at 6:22 AM on February 21, 2014

The Kossoy Sisters' album Bowling Green may be right up your alley. Tim O'Brien, Dirk Powell and John Herrmann's album Songs from the Mountain is a good one too.

Adam Hurt is a very good clawhammer player. Bob Carlin as well - the old-time recordings he made with John Hartford are wonderful.
posted by usonian at 7:16 AM on February 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bascom Lamar Lunsford
posted by doctord at 7:52 AM on February 21, 2014

Yes, seconding Adam and Bob. Great players, and nice people too.
posted by scruss at 8:23 AM on February 21, 2014

Steve Martin

Ken Perlman

And if you go to banjohangout.org you can use the jukebox to listen to clawhammer (or any style) tracks people have uploaded. Some are perfunctory, some are brilliant. Selecting Top 100 should be relatively safe for quality.
posted by K.P. at 10:45 AM on February 21, 2014

Karen Dalton was great, and had an incredible voice too.
posted by aquanaut at 3:39 PM on February 21, 2014

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