Thursday, September 2, 2010

Banjo and Bluegrass Music


The San Francisco Public Library's Green Stacks is a program to promote greener living in our community. What could be greener than going off the grid, sitting on your front porch, picking up a banjo and playing bluegrass music?

The Library has a number of songbooks of contemporary banjo music, as well as instructional material for learning the instrument. Starting Bluegrass Banjo by Robin Roller is a good place introductory method book.

With the Parking Lot Picker's Songbook: Banjo Edition you can learn the standards of the banjo repertory including song made popular by Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, Doc Watson, and many others.

The Peter Rowan Songbook is a collection of songs by this well-known folk revivalist. Rowan also participated in the bluegrass "super-group" Old & in the Way, which has included such luminaries as Jerry Garcia, Dave Grisman and Vassar Clements. The Old & in the Way: Banjo Songbook includes transcriptions of Garcia's banjo solos.

Béla Fleck's The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales From the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 2 includes tablature transcriptions of the music of this Bay Area banjo virtuoso.

The latest treat we have for the banjo aficionado is The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo by actor and comedian Steve Martin, and transcribed by banjo great Tony Trischka. Martin's recording of these songs won the Grammy Award for Bluegrass Album of the Year in 2009.


If you're looking to put it all together with your unplugged friends, the library also offers Best of Bluegrass: 10 Must-know songs Arranged for Fiddle, Mandolin, Banjo, Guitar, Dobro and Bass.

Bibliography:

Béla Fleck's The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 2 transcribed by Ian Perry (Homespun Tapes, 2002)

Best of Bluegrass: 10 Must-know Songs Arranged for Fiddle, Mandolin, Banjo, Guitar, Dobro and Bass, music transcriptions by Pete Billmann (Hal Leonard, 2006).

The Crow: New Songs for the Five-string Banjo by Steve Martin & transcribed by Tony Trischka (Homespun Tapes, 2009).

Old & In the Way: Banjo Songbook, transcriptions by Alan Dalton (Alfred Pub. Co., 2005).

Parking Lot Picker's Songbook: Banjo Edition by Bill Evans & Dix Bruce (Mel Bay Publications, 2007).

The Peter Rowan Songbook, music transcription, Leo Cavanagh (Homespun Tapes, 2005).

Starting Bluegrass Banjo: The Definitive Step-by-step Guide to Playing 5-string Bluegrass Banjo by Robin Roller (Oak Publications, 2007).


Black and white banjo images from Catalogue of Musical Merchandise (C. Meisel, 1894).

1 comment:

Lisa Weddle said...

You know, I HAVE been seeing quite a few banjos around town lately! :) The Crow is great, picked it up (at the library) just a few weeks ago!