The first, and probably the most important recording is The Art of the Five String Banjo. I was accompanied by Frank Hamilton whose incredible guitar accompaniments gave color and life to the album that it never would have had on its own.


1. The Rakes of Mallow

I have no idea where this tune comes from.  British Isles, probably.  I've known it as long as I can remember.

 

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2. H’kotsrim Guy Carawan taught me this tune when I was staying with him in Venice Beach, California in about l953.

 

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3. Green Corn In the late forties I had a cold water flat at 753 East 5th St. on the lower East Side of Manhatten.  At the time I was playing a fretless banjo I got from Peter Carbone of the Village String shop on Bleeker St. in Greenwich Village. I had been playing only about a year or so but was tired of the basic four beat 'bump ditty' strum I learned from Pete Seeger's playing. I was looking for a longer strum to use with the same material.  It would have to be an eight beat strum to fit. The second beat of the bump ditty strum is a rest unless you hammer down on the sixth of the chord (second fret, fourth string in the G tuning). I left the hammering finger down while I played the 'ditty'. I picked it off on the fifth beat.  On the sixth beat I plucked the fourth string open and hammered down on the second fret and picked off again for the 7th and 8th beats.  If you go to Billy Faier on YOU TUBE you will see a bearded fellow demonstrating this strum very slowly. It isn't me, but he's got it right. A few years later I was showing this strum to Frank Hamilton who commented, "You could sing GREEN CORN to that."

 

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4. Irish Medley: Gary Owen, MacLeod’s Reel, Haste to the Wedding This medley (God, I hate that word.  Its ugly.) was originally recorded starting out with HASTE TO THE WEDDING, which I learned from Allen Calvert in La Jolla in l953.  It was followed by GARY OWEN, MACLEOD'S REEL, and then a reprise of  HASTE TO THE WEDDING.  But Kenneth Goldstein, the producer and editor of the Riverside Folklore Series, excised the first statement of Haste to the Wedding without consulting with me.  This changed the slide into the first note of Haste to the Wedding from a small, but dramatic statement of completion into a meaningless frill.  Kenny also chopped the fades from a couple of other instrumentals on the album, again without consulting me.

 

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5. Yugoslav Kolo This was a small banjo exercise I made up.  Frank Hamilton said it sounded like a Yugoslav Kolo.

 

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6. High Barbary I first heard this sung by Fred Hellerman and Joe Jaffe at a Friday night get-together at Gabe Katz's in the late forties. 

 

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7. Spanish Fandango Woody Wachtel taught me this old banjo tune.

 

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8. Last of Callahan From a Library of Congress recording.

 

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9. Farewell Blues Can't remember where I heard it.

 

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10. Dance of the Spanish Fly I have always claimed authorship of this tune.  The basic idea, however, came from an L.P. of flamenco music which I heard in La Jolla in l953.

 

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11. Three Jolly Rogues One of the many songs I soaked up in my early days in the URBAN FOLK REVIVAL (UFR)

 

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12. Sailor’s Hornpipe I've known this tune from early childhood.  Probably from a POPEYE cartoon originally.

 

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13. Hunt the Wren I learned this from Jim Leighten of San Diego, California in l953

 

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14. Greek Dance Guy Carawan may have taught me this too.

 

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15. Darby Ram From a Bascom Lamar Lunsford recording.

 

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16. Lute Song for the Five String Banjo Written in l953 in La Jolla, California.  My first original banjo tune.

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