Posts tagged ‘Woody Guthrie’

October 23, 2013

Banjos Everywhere

Last night, I watched “No Direction Home” one of the documentaries about Bob Dylan (and one of my favorite movies).  Although the movie is (of course) mainly focused on Dylan- it covers his musical background and influencers very well.  You see everyone from Hank Williams to Odetta.  It was interesting for me to see (this is the first time I’ve watched it since plunging into the banjo world), how many artists use the banjo in their work at this time. Of course, there are the “singer-songwriters”, like Dylan himself, but the folk movement (of course) included a lot of banjo.  Everyone from the Jim Kweskin Jug Band to The Weavers (of course) had someone picking at the banjo.

I may digress here, for a moment.  “No Direction Home” is one of those movies that makes me both overwhelmed by all the music that is in the world, as well as so happy that I will never run out of new bands and new musicians to discover.  It is so interesting to see all of the bands and solo acts that influenced Dylan, as well and who were around in the same era as him.  Although their music is more or less all part of the folk revival, they are all such diverse musicians and that’s what makes the movie great (and it doesn’t hurt to see numerous pictures & clips of Bob himself).  Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger are of course a part of the documentary, and it is nice to see Pete holding onto his banjo throughout his entire interview, the banjo such a part of him that they can’t be separated.  Perhaps someday, I’ll be heading in that direction, but for now, I’m still in awe of all of the amazing musicians of yesteryear as well as today.

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

September 20, 2013

This Land is Your Land

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I started learning a few basic songs on the banjo a week or after I got it.  I was learning from the Pete Seeger’s Book “How to Play the 5-String Banjo.” I was pretty excited to be learning from someone that I thought was a pretty amazing player (with an interesting life too!)  I had been to his 90th birthday concert when I was a freshman in high school, but had not fully appreciated the impact that he had made both politically and musically.

Skip to My Lou

Here he is playing Skip to My Lou.

The first song that I learned to play was “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.  Woody Guthrie is another one of those musicians that I have a certain reverence for.  Although the song is pretty basic, I was pretty happy that I was able to play the recognizable tune, and it also gave me something to practice my picking on.  Playing “This Land is Your Land” also makes me slightly nostalgic, when I was younger my dad and I used to bike by the railroad tracks near my house, and I was always worried we would get caught and get in trouble, but my dad assured me that is someone asked us to leave, we would simply sing “This Land is Your Land” and all would be well.

When playing the banjo (the 5-string) you have to hit the fifth string at a certain point in your picking pattern.  I am still working on this, and can only hope that by the end of the semester I am able to play in a more cohesive way.

While I am trying to learn some more songs on the banjo (I pretty much have down “The Crawdad Song” as well as “Skip To My Lou,” it is almost time for the banjo tour again. You should check it out!

Banjo Tour

I wasn’t able to make it to a show last year, and I’m not sure if this week will work for me either, however, it is certain to be a good time.

I’m hoping that this week I will be able to advance my playing skills… I haven’t been able to practice a lot since I got back to school, but I think I should be able to find more time soon!