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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Holy banjo!

Mumford and Sons, Punch Brothers, Abigail Washburn, Bela Fleck, Sarah Jarosz? Seriously? Plus a freaking brass band? Totally amazing! And how adorable is it that Abigail clogs?

 

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It’s been a while since a lady banjo player has given us the pleasure of playing in Montgomery. But last Thursday, in the perfect way to encourage a beautiful spring weekend along, I got to see this north Alabama band. They are pretty great, and I would love to be able to check them out again. The singer plays banjo and ukulele (which is almost a sure-fire way to get me to love you) and has a beautiful voice. The entire band is really talented, and puts together some good music.

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She makes me swoon, plain and simple. Swoon! Not only does she play clawhammer banjo, but she plays clawhammer ukulele for The Figs, a very swoon-worthy band from Louisiana. But that isn’t even the half of it. Her voice, it is a honey-thick humid thing. I would kill to have her voice. Plus she is all lovely and tall in pretty summer dresses. It’s nearly enough to want to hate her, if she wasn’t so damn awesome.

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One of my favorite bands, who I try to catch anytime they are in the state, is Hurray for the Riff Raff. They hail from New Orleans, and I really love their sound. The singer’s voice is so lush and rich, and I love her banjo playing style. Add to the some really talented musicians on fiddle, trumpet, and accordion, and I am pretty darn smitten.

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The Carolina Chocolate Drops are awesome. They play thoughtful, inventive, fun old time music. They have a pretty deep understanding and appreciation for the African American tradition in old time music, which isn’t something most people even realize. Rhiannon Giddens is a beautiful singer who not only plays a mean frail on a banjo but plays fiddle as well. Check out Cornbread and Butterbeans, my kind of love song.

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Gillian Welch is known more for her voice than playing the banjo, but she will occasionally pick one up for a song. I actually wish she would play more of the banjo. It sounds pretty good in this song. Let me admit here that, I have no idea why, but I somehow don’t own any Gillian Welch. She has an amazing voice, and her music is a the perfect blend of modern stripped-down folk and old-time country. When I get my hand on a dollar, I am going to have to buy some of her stuff.

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As an aspiring lady banjo player, I always appreciate and look up to other lady banjo players. The style of banjo that I play is called frailing or clawhammer (That is as deep as I am getting into banjo semantics), which is much less prevalent than the bluegrass style played with metal picks. So finding women who play clawhammer style is kind of rare.  I have posted a video here or there, but I am thinking about doing a weekly lady banjo player post to celebrate all the talent, beauty, and inspiration.

Let’s kick things off with one of the most talented lady banjo players I can think of- Ms. Abigail Washburn! Not only does she play the banjo beautifully, but her voice is amazing. Here she is playing at the NPR offices. The first and third song are off her new album, and they totally blow me away.

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