Es werden Posts vom 2010 angezeigt.

Merry Christmas

... to my dear readers.
You will not find a banjo on this photograph, but at least the Santa is from Crisfield, Maryland.

Jamming All Night and Day Long?

Katrina (die mit dem Klarinetten-Kapo) hat herausgefunden, dass die Villa in Friedrichsort Ende Februar ein freies Wochenende hat, in das wir uns einbuchen könnten. Nun ist zwar der Winter evtl. im Februar noch nicht vorbei und ob sich bei der gegenwärtigen Schneeflocken-Phobie in Norddeutschland jemand auf die Räder nach Kiel macht, könnte fraglich sein.
Aber: Wir könnten eine Art Zwischen-Retreat veranstalten. Eine Multi-Session mit integrierter Orchesterprobe, Impro-Einlagen und evtl. Dixie-Jazzeinlage? Dazu spielt der Kochklub auf Töpfen und Tellern?
Habt Ihr Interesse? Vieleicht könnt Ihr, die Ihr Interesse habt, Euch mal ganz gegen unsere bisherige Gewohnheit schnell bei mir melden, damit ich bald abchecken kann, ob sich der Aufwand lohnt. Sonst ist das weekend weg.
Zeiten und Dauer sowie die - geringen - Kosten kann ich erst ermitteln, wenn ich weiß, ob überhaupt jemand Lust hat.
Frail on! 

Die Villa

Internet Radio

As a proud owner of a new Android smartphone I checked out It´s amazing how many stations you can find with this app. There even is a button to search for special items. Of course I typed "banjo" and immediatly had lots of stations with banjo music. Wow!
Now I need a special app to give me two more nerd-hours a day so I can use the smartphone appropriately.


Dixieland jazz always was fun for me to hear but never got my real attention. Maybe this is going to change? Yesterday I joined a group of very likeable guys and we tried the jazzy way.
The soprano sax had the idea, called the baritone sax, the trombone and the tuba and then - happy me - gave me a call, thanks to this blog. They needed a banjo. I took my five string and on we went. We had sheet music and started to play immediatly not always crowned with succes, but had lots of fun - and we are going to continue!
Until next month I will have to learn chords like Cmi7 and Ebmi7 . At this moment I am not sure I have an idea about the chord fingering, but I am confident to learn. The MelBay "Banjo Chord Encyclopedia" will help. There are things (are those real chords?) like"EbAug5th", also known (don´t know to whom) as Eb9#5 or Eb9+5...  But in the end it´s just four fingers put on the fretboard -somewhere or other. Didn´t know the tune "Avalon" before, but …


Unser Orchester-Abend am letzten Donnerstag war wieder eine reine Freude. Nachdem wir uns durch Broyges Tants und Barley-Wind gekämpft hatten, gabs noch Gelegenheit für ein paar Oldies but Goldies wie "Will the Circle" und dergl. Gekrönt wurde der Abend dann bei Apfelschorle und Wasser (mancher durfte ja Bier trinken...)  und leckeren Speisen in unserem "Stammlokal".
Das nächste Treffen ist für Ende Januar geplant. Ich werde noch ein paar Terminsvorschläge doodlen.

Mark Twain

M.T. is often quoted with the following sentence:
"A gentleman is a man who knows how to play the banjo, and doesn't!"
Shame on him for this!
But I could not find the novel, short, storie or letter where he REALLY writes this. On the contrary it is said that this quote is used with lots of instruments, not only banjo. So may be he was a good American - and loved banjo?
Don´t know.
But I promise a free mp3 of  me playing "Cripple Creek" to the first person who can authenticate this quotation to me. Guaranteed!

May this promise could be a reason not to call for this give-away?


Morgen ist (endlich) wieder Orchesterprobe. 18:00 Uhr in Hamburg-Winterhude. BitteCapo, Bleistift und Razzefummel nicht vergessen.
Da werde ich auch was über das für nächstes Jahr geplante Dublin Retreat erzählen.

No Banjo ...

... but some Scottish music in the end ;-)

Mandolin and Slide Guitar Wanted

A few days ago I stumbled over an old Leonard Cohen song: Bird on the wire. It´s from the 1969 album "Songs from a Room" and I remember having heard (and loved ) it when I was a student.
Today I could not help but giving it a try. At certain moments my voice is not really finding the right note (too high for me?). But I think our Transcontinental Jam Session could add some more instruments as mando and slide guitar. Please play a little louder at the - well, let´s say - "strange" moments of my singing and by such cover the wrong notes...
Although the original song is in A I play it in G. Mine is in 4/4. Didn´t L.C. play it in 3/4? But Willie Nelson (on the CD "Tower of Songs") definetly uses 4/4 so I chose this way too. Bird on the Wire with guitar and banjo.
I really would love to hear some mandolin and slide guitar to it.

Banjo Orchester

Wir wollen uns am Donnerstag 25.11.2010, 18:00 Uhr in HH- Winterhude treffen. Auf dem Programm stehen die beiden Hits vom letzten Mal: The Wind that Shakes the Barley und Broyges Tants. Auch Neulinge sind sehr willkommen. Schreibt mir, wenn Ihr Interesse habt.
Übrigens will uns Andreas am 25. einige seiner  Schmankerln zeigen, z. B. ein Cello-Banjo 6-String mit 5th-string (also 7 Saiten???).

Next Year in Dublin

The Retreat Guys had a terrific weekend in Newcastle, so I was told.
That is why Alan tries to find enough guys who would like to come to Dublin for the next retreat in 2011 - to continue the series which began in Crisfield USA, spilled over to Sheffield UK, then to Kiel and now to Newcastle - Banjo rules the world!
If you my dear reader have the same ideas about Dublin as me ("You say Dublin, capital city of the motherland of folkmusic? Where it all - at least my personal love for folkmusic- has its origin? I mean, you know The Dubliners? Have to go there!") go either to UKfolkies or drop me a line so I can tell Alan.
The more the better!

Newcastle Retreat

Last week banjo ruled the world - well, at least nearly parts of Europe. On Crete I met the Headless Frailer and we sang and played under the bright greece sky. In England the guys from the Newcastle Retreat  met at some spooky venue which can be seen here. Obviously they had a great time.
The next All-Over-Europe-Retreat will happen next year in Dublin - hometown of folkmusic. I`ll give my eyeteeth to join them.

Banjo Orchester

An die bisherigen Mitglieder bzw. Interessenten des Banjo-Orchesters habe ich jetzt per Email neue Terminsvorschläge geschickt. Auf dem Programm stehen immer noch "The Wind thats Shakes the Barley" und "Broyges  Tants". Wir würden auch noch weitere Mitglieder aufnehmen...

October Is the Month of Courting and Wedding

Not sure when exactly but in a few days my banjo inspiration :-) will marry his Amy. The wedding will take place in Virginia and I am not sure which activities are planned for this great day. But if they would marry in Germany, they surely would have to do the wedding dance, normally a Wiener Walzer, Vienna Waltz. This can be pretty fast. As me and my banjo are concerned, we like it slow. So Martina (aka Katrina with the clarinet capo) grabbed her guitar and I grabbed my banjos and we thought of Fred My Connel´s Threestep beeing a nice slow tune. From now on we call it (at least in Kiel :-) "Patrick´s and Amy´s Wedding Waltz" :-)))
I took the courage to do some sort of improvisation down the fretboard (just wanted to tell you so you know what those bleeping sounds in the second part mean).
Anyway, if Patrick and Amy will dance to the tune or not: We  wish them a "happily ever after"! Many, many good wishes go to Virgina!
They can waltz here.

Just learnd now: the…

The Magician

Today I saw a tarot magician card which had the general meaning of creative power and mastery (so I was told): "If you can dream it, you can make it."
As I always dreamt of being a fabulous banjo player, I´ll tell you as soon as tarot comes true...

Frank II

In case somebody wants to play the guitar in addition to the banjo in "Frank McConnell`s Threestep" Martina, aka "Katrina with the clarinet capo", found out the chords:

Capo 2nd fret
G G C C G G D D (A-part, first run)

G G C C G G D G (A-part, second run))

C C G G B7* e A D (B-part, bridge)

G G C C G G D G (A-part again)

B7 * = B7 without f# (i.e. first string open)

Have fun!

New Tune

On a rainy day (the only, I swear!) during my holidays I thought I could give one of my favorite tunes a try. I first heard it on the CD "Transatlantic Jam Sessions 3/1": "Frank McConnell's Threestep". It´s on Youtube too. This CD is a bounty for beautiful tunes, as are the others in this serie.
Here is my humble rendition.
Now that I´m a new user of TablEdit, I tried to write down the tablature. At some points I couldn´t find out the exact note values (especially at the end of part two) but more or less the melody should resemble the original tune.
I play it in open G with capo up two frets (5th string also, although the tune works well without even hitting the 5th string). So the tune is in A major.
I uploaded two versions of notation: the banjo tablature and the pure notes for other instruments. You can download the FREE TablEdit File Viewer here.
If you find it easier you may donload the rtf-files for banjo or melody only which can be opend by most progra…

Other Instruments

The banjo is not on the list of the most favored instruments in the world as I was told by female members of my family ...
But there is one more on the other of list of the most disliked instruments: The Vuvuzela.

Sorry for the commercial in the beginning. It´s only 10 seconds.


Heute habe ich erfahren, dass vom 1. bis 3.10.2010 in Aschau am Chiemsee ein Banjo-Camp stattfindet mit Workshops, Sessions etc. Es werden einige Größen der Banjo-Szene dabei sein. Auch soll es einen Clawhammer-Workshop geben. Das macht den Mund wässrig. Obwohl es ja nicht so richtig Norddeutschland ist, wollte ich es doch auf diesem Blog vermerkt haben. GuckstDuhier

The Twang Gang, aka Die Gebrüder Twang

hitze in kiel dauert an, zu schlapp zum posten, aber die twang gang hat ne lobende erwähnung verdient.
sie haben am samstag an der hörnbrücke ein gutes konzert abgeliefert. solider bluegrass von little maggie bis rocky top mit dobro, harmonika, mandarine, wollte sagen mandoline mit gesang, gitarre, 5string-banjo (mostly scruggs style) und bass. es waren (fast) alle standard-hits zu hören und ein paar, die ich noch nicht kannte (ischa kein Wunder, so groß ist meine erfahrung ja nun auch wieder nicht).
angenehm zu sehen und zu hören war, dass alle mit sehr viel spaß bei der sache waren und nicht so verbiestert ernst altehrwürdiges liedgut präsentierten, wie das manchmal anderswo vorkommt. die launigen ansagen zwischendurch erfrischten das in der sonne bei alterswasser und bratwurst sitzende publikum – auch wenn nicht alle glaubten, dass die sechs gebrüder Twang born and raised in kentucky waren (der verdacht, es könnte sich um kieler jungs handeln, wurde im laufe des nachmittags immer s…

Bluegrass in Kiel

zu heiß zum bloggen. deshalb kurzfassung. morgen um 14:00 (zur *#*%&#-mittagshitze) spielt die Twang Gang aus Holstein beim Brückenfestival an der DreiFelderZugKlapp-Brücke an der Hörn. Da muss ich hin. Wenn die Hitze (angeblich sind bis zu 38° zu erwarten) mich nicht umbringt. I will leave my hat on.

Old Times

When I began to adore the Beatles and and the Dave Clark Five (anybody remembers them?) and disgusted the Rolling Stones (stupid me) there were guys who made the real thing. Thank God I jumped up the train later on. A French/German tv station broadcasted a wonderful movie last Thursday about the glorious days. You can see Joan Baez, Buffy St. Marie, Pete Seeger and lots more (I think Dylan too, couldn´t watch the whole movie up to now).GuckstDuhier

Just watched Peter, Paul and Mary at 43:13 min. on that movie. I nearly was moved to to tears. This song really plucks your heartstrings - if performed like they did. See Mary clenching her fist.

Sicherheit im Straßenverkehr

Gerade habe ich folgende Nachricht erhalten:

Das Kraftfahrtbundesamt teilt mit:

Gestützt auf §§ 17, 25, 23 I Nr. 3b STVG, 1, 2, 3 StVO wurde auf Initiative des Landes Berlin eine BundesVerordnung beschlossen, um durch Abschreckung mehr Sicherheit im Straßenverkehr zu erreichen. Die VO soll schon einige Tage in Kraft und angewendet worden sein. Man erhofft sich, dass Verkehrsrowdies so von jedem erkannt und verachtet werden.

Fahrzeugführer, die innerörtliche die höchstzugelassene Geschwindgkeit um mehr als 15 km/h überschreiten, werden neben Punkten in Flensburg auch noch verpflichtet am linken Seitenfenster ihres Kfz einen beweglichen Stoffstreifen der Farbe rot anzubringen, der oben einen schwarzen und unten einen gelben Streifen aufweist.
Bei mehr als 20 km/h-Überschreitung muss der Streifen beidseitig getragen werden.
Mehrfache Geschwindigkeitsverstöße werden mit der Verpflichtung geahndet, einen gleichfarbigen Slip über die Seitenspiegel zu ziehen.

Schland, o Schland

Bei der H…


Last Thursday our newly built "First North German Banjo Orchestra" had it´s first rehearsal. We should have been nine banjos. Unfortunatly there were some cancellations (hopefully those guys will be with us next time) so we were just five banjos and one G-instrument (it´s name will not be mentioned on this banjo blog :-)))
We had lots of fun and will continue to learn that
rhythm is it
timing is it
practicing is a must
practicing with a metronome is obligatory (at least some times).
It is astounding that we started each tune Andante and always ended up Allegro.
We will work on this - some of us with a metronome.
Here is how we gave a try to The Wind That Shakes The Barley.
Next meeting will be announced on this blog.

Today ´s the Day

Vorgestern die á capella-Band Basta (war sehr schön) auf der Krusenkoppel, gestern Gustav Peter Wöhler (war wieder einzigartig toll) auf der Krusenkoppel - und das ist noch steigerungsfähig:
Heute abend konstituierende Versammlung des "Ersten Norddeutschen Banjo-Orchesters von 2010"!
Wahrlich eine musikalische Woche.
Ich bin ja neugierig, wer heute abend alles kommt. Bisher habe ich mehr Zusagen als Absagen ...


Am Donnerstag spielen Dänemark - Japan und Kamerun - Niederlande,
aber da ist ja wohl keine Konkurrenz für unser Banjo-Orchester, oder?
Ich verschicke an alle "Mitglieder" die genaue Adresse für unser Treffen per Email.


Am Freitag ist wieder Bluegrass Open stage im Live in HH, Fruchtallee. Gute Gelegenheit für alle Orchester-Mitglieder, sich zu treffen und Einzelheiten für die erste Orchester-Probe am 24.6. abzusprechen.
Wir seh´n uns!

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

... ist nicht nur der Name des Stückes , welches die Mitglieder des "Ersten Norddeutschen Banjo-Orchesters von 2010" (hoffentlich) gerade fleißig einüben, damit wir es am 24.6. in HH zusammen spielen können (s. den Eintrag in google-groups) -
sondern auch der Name eines Filmes über den irischen Osteraufstand, der morgen um 20:15 Uhr auf Arte gezeigt wird.
Also für 9 Norddeutsche Banjoisten Pflichtprogramm (obwohl in dem Film wahrscheinlich nicht ein einziges Banjo vorkommt) - jedenfalls für die, die nicht zu Uncle Earl fahren, wie leider der Autor dieses Blogs.

Uncle Earl

Diese junge Old-Time-Band ist gerade in Deutschland auf Tour. Selten genug kommt so was Erstklassiges bis in den hohen Norden. Diesmal leider auch nur bis Stuhr bei Bremen. Aber wer in der Nähe ist, sollte die Mädels nicht verpassen. Einzelheiten der Tour

20. May 2010 20:00 Ratssaal, Stuhr (Bei Bremen)
21. May 2010 20:00 Aula der Emsschule, Leer
22. May 2010 16:00 Jazztime Open Air Festival, Hildesheim
23. May 2010 20:30 Hamawe Roots Festival Virton, Belgium

sind bei zu erfahren.

(Ich wage es kaum zu gestehen: Ich krieg einfach nicht den rechten Teil des Videos in den blog gezwängt. Ihr müsst deshalb mal kurz zu youtube gehen (auf den Film doppelt klicken), um die ganze Band zu sehen).

Not Unplugged ...

.. but astounding.
You need a lot of musical (and technical) talent to do this.
Question is if there are other ways to apply your talent :-)

1. nichtöffentliche Probe des 1. Norddeutschen Banjo-Orchesters

Das Bluegrasse Open Stage gestern abend im Live in HH "was a blast". Es waren viele sehr gute Musiker da, die den Laden gerockt haben. Und diesmal auch viele Banjos - mit ihren Herrchen.
Am Ende haben wird einen ersten Termin ausgeguckt für unser Orchester iG ("in Gründung"). Am Donnerstag 24. Juni 2010 in Hamburg-Winterhude. Genaue Adresse wird noch bekannt gegeben. Wer gerne dabeisein möchte, aber partout gerade an diesem Abend nicht kann, mögen mir mailen. Zur Zeit ist das nur ein Vorschlag. Der Raum ist jedenfalls an diesem Abend frei.
Für die Outsider: wir sind z.Zt. ca. 8-9 Leute.
Für die Insider: Was und wie wir spielen, können wir in der Google-Gruppe diskutieren. Also einloggen und mitreden, Damen und Herren!


Wie jederman weiß, findet morgen, Freitag 7.1., im Hamburger "Live" ab 21:00 Uhr wieder der Bluegrass-Abend statt. Vielleicht wäre das eine Gelegenheit, für evtl. noch nicht gemeldete Interessenten das Orchester-Projekt bei einem Bier oder Wasser zu besprechen?
Ich werde versuchen zu kommen und es wohl auch mit 90%-iger Chance schaffen (habe vorher noch einiges am Nachmittag/Abend zu erledigen).

Hoffentlich sehn wir uns! Falls ich doch nicht da sein sollte, wendet Euch an einen der dortigen Banjo-Spieler. Mindestens die Leute vom Banjoree kommen bestimmt.


Einer Reihe von norddeutschen Banjo-Freunden habe ich den folgenden Text als Email geschickt. Ich kann nicht ausschließen, dass ich einige vergessen habe, deren Email-Adressen ich evtl. verwurschtelt habe. Deshalb hier der Text "an alle":

Es fing damit an,
dass die Jungs vom Banjoree plötzlich ein Cello-Banjo verkaufen wollten (sie hatten den Vertrieb neu übernommen). Dann sah ich eins bei Jerry anlässlich des Treffens mit Andy Rubin. Jetzt habe ich selber auch eins. Und finde, der tiefe satte Ton (Cathy Moore nennt ihn „deep and growly“ auf einem ihrer youtube-Videos) ruft geradezu nach einem großen Banjo-Ensemble. Als ich dann noch in dem sehr empfehlenswerten Buch von Karen Linn „That Half-Barbaric Twang“ die alten b/w Photos von Banjo-Orchestern sah, in denen natürlich immer mindestens ein Cello-Banjo vertreten war, wusste ich, was mein Cello mir sagen wollte (mit seiner tief brummenden Stimme): „Bring mich zu meinen Freunden, den anderen Banjos.“

Und es keimte in mir de…


Morgen ab 22:00 Uhr moderiert unser Banjo-Freund Uli wieder seine Sendung auf dem Offenen Kanal Kiel.
Sie ist auch als webstream zu empfangen:
Diesmal hat er sich den Titel "Blumen" gewählt. Ob da auch die Wildwood Flower kommt?
Die Sendung wird wiederholt am
28.4.10 um 10:00 Uhr
14.5.10 um 21:00 Uhr livestream unter
19.5.10 um 18:00 Uhr livestream unter

1. Kieler Banjo-Orchester?

Während ich dieses interessante Buch lese
 (published by University of Illinois Press)

geht mir eine merkwürdige Idee durch den Kopf.
Könnte sich nicht ein kleiner Haufen norddeutscher Banjospieler vom 4- string bis zum 6-string einmal im Monat treffen, um verschiedene Stücke für "großes" Banjo-Orchester einzustudieren? Wir könnten vorher Tabulaturen oder Noten rummailen, jeder überlegt sich wie und welche Stimme er spielen will und wir verbinden alles zu einem großen Furioso, wenn wir uns dann treffen. (Wo weiß ich auch noch nicht, aber in Gemeindezentren, Kirchengemeinden - oder Kneipen - würden wir uns dann mal erkundigen müssen. Vielleicht hat jemand ne Idee? Die Ostsehalle würde ich fürs erste Jahr erst mal ausschließen.
Eventuell könnten wir sogar virtuell proben, indem wir uns unsere Aufnahmen zumailen, damit wir gegenseitig  nen Eindruck bekommen, was da gespielt wird.
Durch mein Cello-Banjo ist schon mal der untere Bereich abgedeckt (ob tonal oder qualitativ gemeint …

Crete? You Mean Crete?

The idea of making music on one of the most beautiful islands in the world (up to now I know Fehmarn and only a few others, so this may not be reliable :-))) is challenging. As I will be visiting Crete this year (and meet you again, Yannis, if there´s a chance) while others go elsewhere, sobb, I surely will not make it a second time to Crete this year. But if there are more guys interested in trying something crazy (I mean: Going for Crete to play banjo... if that´s not crazy...) we could try some long term planning...

Banjo Crazy

Banjoists do it everywhere, even on Crete? (see comments to the last posts)
I  wonder if there ever will be more than two banjos on Crete at the same time (Yanni´s and mine) but if we could organize a group of frailers who want to spend a few days on lovely/wild Crete, there should be a way to find a place there where banjos are welcome, huh, Yannis?


Here´s my new baby:

Isn´t she lovely? (It must be a she, she´s so beautiful :-)

I´m realy not sure if  I prefer to play it in clawhammer style or  just finger-picking like any bass-instrument. Both has it´s charme tmho.

Here´s some clawhammer: Walking in the Parlour (Double C-tuning, Capo II), Betsy Likens (same)*, Spanish Fandango (G-tuning) .
More practice will lead to clearer notes (hope so).

By the way: I found out that my loudspeakers which came with the PC don´t give the real sound. Earphones work better for me: the sound is clearer and not so muffled as with my speakers.
If you want to hear the real sound, (or want to try it yourself) you must come to Kiel, I´m afraid. Let´s jam together.

*Sorry, my mistake: Betsy Likens is in sawmill tuning.

Not so good news

Unfortunately we won´t get the Villa in Juli as they gave it to others who came first. So there will be no retreat on July 10th this year :-(((

They promised us to let us know if there are any cancellations in the future, so we might get another weekend.

Got It !

Yesterday I drove to Hamburg and picked up my new baby from the banjoree guys. It´s loud, it´s deep, it´s a real beauty: My new cello-banjo. (I`ll post pics next days.) I learned that America and Europe had lot´s of banjo orchestras at the beginning of the last century. And all those orchestras and bands had at least one cello banjo (if not a bass banjo too). Nowadays a guitar or even an upright bass adds the deep flavour to folk and bluegrass bands. But to hear the cello banjo solo or in a band really is pure joy and happiness - to me. When in Hamburg last December at the Andy Rubin workshop I had the chance to try the host´s cello banjo that evening. And could not forget it´s sound. Then I found Cathy Moore´s video on youtube – and thought I would never be able to play it as clean and rhythmically correct as she does – but nevertheless decided to give it a try.
It´s tuned one octave deeper than the normal five string, has a fret board nearly as wide as my guitar and fat nylon strings o…


Well, not now, but it looks like on Saturday 10th of July the Villa in Kiel Falkenstein could be free for us. Martina, aka Katrina with the clarinet capo, der gute Geist der Villa, will find out if we can meet there that weekend. It may not be worth a long journey as it's only one night - and one morning - for music. But at least the German frailers should think it over. Didn't we talk about how wonderful it could be there at the beach in the summer? So this is your chance. We could play GG's Summertime there (with clarinet!).
Drop me a line if you think you could come. We will try to make a booking, if there`s more than let`say two more who are interested. Many more are welcome!

Sandy Boys

On Monday two (out of four in total) Kiel frailers met again to pick some tunes. When I told Blacky about my "comfort" (see my posting from last week) he looked like becoming a little jealous - of course he would never admit this (right, Blacky?) ...
And we had a lot of fun when trying to play some tunes out of "Counterpoint" by M. J. Miles, although we (i.e. I) made so many mistakes that we decided again to give it a little more practicing. It turned out to be a pain in the ... to follow the metronome. But we both know that using a metronome is essential. (I rember having read an interview with Sting who told that he learns EVERY new song/tune with a metronome).
We ended up in frailing happily together some "classic" tunes. And recorded "Sandy Boys" - I present it to the www in spite of some mistakes... The file only reflects half the fun we had while playing.

To hear a real haunting version of Sandy Boys go to the "Crooked Jades" and…

Banjo Gloves

Found this advice on an website about classical banjo, first published in "Banjo World July 1899":
A. Of course some people's nails are naturally stronger than others but nails can be much strengthened by more attention being paid to them.
Q. How is that done?
A. Nails that are very brittle and thin can be strengthened by regularly filing them with a very fine nail-file (used by manicurists), and by rubbing some softening substance into them at night.
Q. Can you give me a recipe, as many of my friends will be glad to know of one?
A. Wash the hands in very warm water at night, push back the skin gently at the base of the nail, and rub the following preparation well into them: lanoline, one ounce; vaseline, half an ounce; olive oil, ten drops. It is a good plan while trying this remedy to wear sleeping-gloves, but it is not absolutely necessary, of course.

 I am happy playing clawhammer - no need for gloves.

Me, Myself and I

As you, my dear - one and only? - reader may have noticed: I am a fan of Michael J. Miles CD "Counterpoint". Highly recommended! I could not help trying "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" again and again. I even worked on the harmony line.

So on I took the earphones, plugged in the Zoom H2, grabbed my Saga banjo (renaissance head, medium gauge steal strings, blue moon pillow inside the pot, Fred Kelly pick), stumbled across the mic´s cable and tried the tune several times in a row. This is what came out: Multitrack.  I really could not stop playing...
I love the tune. Gives me comfort when thinking about the Newcastle retreat which I will be missing. (Although I am pondering on an "extra comfort" - stay tuned, I´ll tell you next week ...).

M. J. Miles Again

After the last days frustration because of the date for the Newcastle retreat (frustration was enhanced by an influenzal infection), I thought I could frail the sorrow away by trying one of the tunes in Michael J. Miles tablature book "Counterpoint". The CD and the book are a real bonanza for wonderful tunes. He writes, that learning "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" made him a banjo player forever. Although I started with Cripple Creek, I love his way of clawhammering the banjo and thought I could publish it as a contribution for the Transcontinental Jam Session (which seems to have lapsed so far). Any instruments welcome. Its just an ordinary C F G chord progression.
The banjo is tuned in double C (gCGCD´). Feel free to join "The Wind that Shakes the Barley".

Next European Retreat

While the American guys are waiting for the Crisfield Retreat to come, European Folkies now begin to count the days until October 15th. Steve from Newcastle booked a venue for the weekend Oct 15th - 17th this year. If the place is as beautiful as his website the jam will be a blast. I´m so sorry to say that I will not be able to join as thats the time of my family holiday (all booked). *#°~+&%$****************

Banjo Duet

Last week a Kiel banjo friend and me tried to rehearse Michael J. Mile´s "Suite De Schottische" with two banjos, as there is a booklet with tablature for his wonderful CD "Counterpoint". It´s got a melody line and a harmony line.
We decided that we have to practice a little more on it...

But it turned out that we both knew "Ragtime Annie". He played a David Holt version in double C tuning, I did what I learned from the two Pats and this is how we two sound together: Enjoy.

Snow everywhere

From a Twitter conversation:

"Kiel looks like Fargo! And there will be blood, if those f* drivers continue driving like inglorious bastards."
"sounds like no country for old men"
"o sister spring, where art thou?"

To be continued?

Statt Kaffee

Heute abend 20:30 h wieder Folk-Session im Statt-Café, Kiel.

Klezmer Again

We gave Broyges Tants a try again. This time it´s Clarinet (Martina) and Saga Banjo with ren-head, medium steel strings, noknot tailpiece and Fred Kelly pick.
Hope you enjoy.

Banjo Clips

A friend from Kiel posted 10 banjo clips on his blog. The subtitle means something like: "Sooner or later everbody gets the banjo kick".
I think the session backstage at the Grand Ole Opry reflects exactly what I like most in banjo playing (despite the lady with the banjo - or is it because of?).

Irish Jig

Last thursday Martina and I managed to record "Donnybrook Fair" with less mistakes than the week before. So we dared to record it.
The first part shows our practicing speed. Very much too slow for an Irish jig, but that´s how beginners are supposed to play while learning :-)))
Second part is double speed and sounds more like the speed they do at the Irish session in Kiel. BUT: I faked it. We played this piece twice in a row same (slow) speed and I then used Audacity to speed up the second part. That´s about the "real" speed, we are looking for.
It´s a long way to Tipperary...

I played the banjo part in clawhammer style. A jig is written in 6/8: So I (tried to) give the accent on the one, played a pull off on the two, bumped the three, bumped the four again, hammered (or drop-thumbed or pulled off ) the four and so on (wherever it was possible to me). By such the typical 6/8 rhythm can be accomplished, at least if you can ... (See Mike Iverson for more details).

Where the Banjo Came From

Just after having heard the radio show I mentioned yesterday I came upon a very interesting thread on the hangout about the origins of banjo.

Die Sendung im Deutschlandfunk hat u. a. sehr viele unterschiedliche Banjo-Spielarten (jeweils nur kurz) vorgestellt - und eben die Geshichte des Banjo. Leider kein Wort über die Anzahl der Saiten der frühen Banjos, keine Wort über Mr. Sweeney, der anscheinend nicht die hohe 5. Saite dazuerfunden hat sondern evtl. nur unsere tiefe D-Saite als 5. hinzugefügt hat (s. Hangout-Thread). Und kein Wort über up-picking, downstroke oder gar clawhammer/frailing. Trotzdem eine interessante Sendung. Wer sie verpasst hat, sollte mal versuchen, sie auf der Seite des Deutschlandfunks als podcast zu finden. Ich habe sie aber auch aufgenommen.

Banjo im Radio

Morgen (ja, schon morgen) gibts ne Banjo-Sendung im Radio. Hoffentlich verpass ich es nicht, sie aufzunehmen.
„Von Afrika nach Amerika und zurück, Die Odyssee des Banjos von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, Von Christoph Wagner“ am Sonntag, 31.01.2010 · 15:05 Uhr im Deutschlandfunk.

Transcontinental Jam Session, Redux

Martina (aka Katrina with the clarinet capo) got a new instrument, a low whistle (in D). Wonderful sound it has! We tried an irish jig in 6/8th time, but got lost so often that I rather spare you such a piece. (We ´re working on it.)

But how funny is this: The next day I got an email from Dick from Scotland who bought himself a D-whistle too. He recorded "Ashokan Farewell" and invited me to join in.
This is what I accomplished after two hours of recording: Ashokan Farewell with low whistle and banjo.
And if you, my dear reader, want to join the band: You´re welcome!
PS: I tuned the banjo to 445 Hz which seems to fit the whistle better.

Walking in the Parlour

The double CD "Banjo Gathering" has lots of beautiful tunes. From the beginning I liked "Walking in the Parlour". Now I am ready to present it to my dear (one and only?) listener. You can find the tab at the Banjo hangout. It´s fun to snap the 5th string twice in the beginning. I like that bang, hope you too. This seems to be a good lesson to practice your double thump. In fact there´s only two notes which are fretted with your left hand. All the rest are open strings. So you can concentrate on the right hand. Next step would be to throw in an extra brush here or another double thump there. But I´m happy with this version of Walkin´ In the Parlour right now.
Double-C-Tuning, Capo 2nd fret, ren head, nylgut strings, blue moon pillow, nail pick, Saga banjo - lot´s of fun.


There may be a need to learn some wedding music in case it is needed in special occasions, ok, Yanni? For those who like to hammer on "Broyges Tants", here is the tab. Andy Rubin kindly gave me permission to publish his arrangement.
Unfortunately I have no tabs for the Wedding Marches, but it´s easy to frail them in open G-tuning. Runs by ear.

The Eternal Quest 2(~

Missed the Bluegrass Session in Hamburg last friday because of Daisy. Instead I tried a new setup for my Saga.
Broyges Tants
Now it´s a Renaissance head with nylgut strings. I even (tried to) tune the head to Bb. The sound is best to me with a pillow inside the head. I use a Fred Kelly pick on my frailing finger (still the nail issue). With pillow I avoid the ringing resonance and achieve a sound which to me is old timey enough - for the time being.
Unfortunately the frailing feeling differs from that with steel strings. Nylgut is a lot softer.
Let´s see what comes next...
Btw: Montag ist wieder Folk Session im Statt-Café.


Sitting with Jerry in his studio in Hamburg, northern Germany, together with 11 Germans and playing with Andy from Sacramento, USA, the Israeli National Anthem (Hatikvah - Hope) on 12 banjos was kind of , well, special.
This tune is very similar to the „Vltava“ by Smetana, surely he had heard the tune being played by some Klezmorim (for wikipedia go here) - or was it vice versa? Or both of them have worked on an even older tune? Who knows, I don´t.
Anyway, it's Eastern European music material that can be played with American banjos too. It's been a lot of fun! Every now and then even the 5th string was part of the melody, which happens very rarely in the Appalachians, I think.

My favourite piece this evening was "Broygens Tants" (the "dance of the parents in law“). We have learned from Andy that the klezmers in the old days in Eastern Europe were people from the lower classes, earning their living with mostly wedding music. For the "Broygens Tants" …

Klezmer Workshop

Andy Rubin gave us a wonderful evening.
Here is the "First Hamburg Klezmorim Banjo Orchestra", conducted by Andy Rubin, playing "Broyges Tants".

More to come.