Paddle Faster, I Hear Banjos


With a visiting pastor from England serving at my local church this month, I was thinking about what kinds of things he might enjoy learning about–of course some American style of music must be on the list somewhere between eating barbecue and seeing Rainbow Row in Charleston, and what’s more American than a banjo tune?

Actually, the banjo is of African origin, but through Dixieland jazz, bluegrass, and vaudeville era songs it has become either loved or hated as an integral part of much of our music. Even in film it has its place–quick, think of the “Dueling Banjos” theme song from Deliverance, I know you know it (and it’s where the joke in the subject line of this post gets its inspiration).

Here, then, is a quick video primer on some great banjo picking in various settings:

First, a triple banjo tune from Steve Martin, Bela Fleck, and Tony Trischka:

Here’s a more traditional clawhammer style picker from a festival contest in 2008:

And some more famous traditional tunes from David Holt and Doc Watson:

And finally, Harry Manx is Canadian but his banjo playing is part rock ‘n’ roll, part Indian groove–check out this Hendrix cover:

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