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Recommendation: Get Up in the Cool

Sorry for the monthlong gap between this and my previous post. I do have some upcoming stories in the works that should prevent a similar hiatus in the next couple weeks. I've also written some reviews for The Old-Time Herald, which should appear in the next issue. For now, though, I'm here to steer you to a wonderful old-time music podcast I've recently discovered.

Get Up in the Cool is a weekly podcast hosted by banjo-player Cameron DeWhitt, who I believe is an Oregon native but now is based in the Washington, D.C., area. That's just what I've gathered from my listening to past episodes.

The podcast typically revolves around an interview and jam session between DeWhitt and his guests. Recent participants have included banjo builder Brooks Masten, melodic clawhammer master Ken Perlman, fiddler Chirps Smith and many more. He's also interviewed a few musicians with Ohio ties, which certainly caught my attention, including David Bass, Nikos Pappas, Hilarie Burhans…
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Clawhammer Picks and You: A Review

Clawhammer picks are a useful tool for increasing volume or to overcome fingernail challenges, such as broken, too short or weak nails. There are all sorts of commercial and homemade solutions available for banjo players, but it can be difficult to decide which options to choose. Thankfully, I've already done some of the work for you.
Just to be clear, I prefer my natural fingernail for frailing. However, there was a time when I experimented with regularly using a pick, and there are instances now where I find that a pick is necessary. Today, I'll take you through the five options I've tried. These are all available online at prices ranging from about $1 to $13.

Reversed/Reshaped Dunlop Pick ($0.75)
This was the most common suggestion before other companies started addressing the gap in the clawhammer pick market. Take a bluegrass pick, flatten it out and wear it backwards. The problem is that it's hard to get the fit right. While Dunlop picks are cheap and readily avai…

A Second Year of Ward Jarvis

Over the past couple weeks I have been reflecting on my fiddle and banjo playing in 2017 and trying to determine what my path will be this year. So, I hope you're not tired of Ward Jarvis.

Considering I made it through only four of the six tunes I planned to tackle last year, my first Year of Ward Jarvis project seemed incomplete. I didn't want to just leave those tunes hanging. However, I also feel my repertoire is lacking in the more common tunes played in old-time circles, so I want to work on some old chestnuts.

My focus will be on common tunes I've found among influential Ohio fiddlers from the mid-20th century. I've compiled a list of fiddlers and their repertoires, and determined "common" tunes to be those played by three or more people. I then looked to see which of those tunes I have recordings of by Ward Jarvis.

This year's tune list is:
"Three Forks of Reedy""Leather Britches""Forked Deer""Grey Eagle" As y…

Milestone: Five Years of Fiddle

Happy New Year, banjo friends! Welcome to 2018. I hope the holiday season was kind to you, and you had ample opportunity to play that five-string, or at least hear some good banjo music.

Each new year brings the promise of rebirth. We all create goals or make resolutions to help start off the year right. I'm no different. For me, though, Jan. 1 also marks an anniversary. It was on that date five years ago that I started playing the fiddle.

I bought my fiddle from my friend, Guy, who was also a big help over the years with numerous pointers. I got a decent carbon-fiber bow and started sawing my way through various instructional books and videos, including from Brad Leftwich, Bruce Molsky and Erynn Marshall.

Last year, as you know, I broke away from the instruction materials to learn tunes from the repertoire of Ward Jarvis. That project has gone a long way toward developing my abilities. However, I know I have a lot of work yet ahead of me.

As Dwight Diller once said, "It take…

The Best Glory-Beaming Banjo Posts of 2017

Well, folks, the New Year is upon us. I hope you have enjoyed the holiday season. Thank you all for reading my blog throughout the year, despite my sometimes lackadaisical frequency. This is a hobby,
and I appreciate all of your support. Keep in mind, we do have a Facebook page. Join us there to keep the conversation going. I look forward to what is to come in 2018.

For your enjoyment, here are the Top 5 Glory-Beaming posts of 2017:

The Year of Ward Jarvis: Learn how I decided to put together a project to learn the repertoire of the great Athens County, Ohio, fiddler.Review: Olitsky and Moskovitz Weave Beautiful Banjo Harmonies on "Duets": A look at the banjo duets album, released earlier this year by two great players.New Additions to My Old-Time Record Collection: An overview of my budding old-time vinyl collection, including Tommy Jarrell, Ed Haley, Roscoe Holcomb and more.An Old-Time Smorgasbord in Peninsula: A preview of the wonderful Music on the Porches event in Penins…

Vinyl Hunter, Part 7: An Omission

For whatever reason I forgot to write about one of my vinyl purchases earlier this year. As you know, I've been working on building my collection of old-time music on LP. Back in July, I learned that Mike Seeger's record collection was being auctioned off on eBay.

As you can imagine, there were quite a few albums that I coveted, including a copy of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. However, the prices on some of the more collectible items skyrocketed beyond my checking account. But there was one record that I kept a close eye on. 
The album I managed to buy was Visits, a compilation put together by Ray Alden and released on Heritage Records in 1982. The double album is split between "The Old Timers" and "The Young Musicians." It features the likes of J.P. Fraley, Fred Cockerham, Doc Roberts, Esker Hutchins, Mose Coffman, Burl Hammons, Buddy Thomas, Melvin Wine and Ward Jarvis. 
Alden was the founder of the Field Recorders' Collective, an…

The Year of Ward Jarvis: A Look Back

In January I dubbed this the "Year of Ward Jarvis." My intention was to start learning the repertoire of what I've come to call the Ohio River Valley Fiddlers, primarily those old-time musicians who lived in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Starting with the repertoire of Jarvis, an Athens County, Ohio-based fiddler, I identified six of his tunes to learn from the field recordings by Jeff Goehring and David Brose.

Those tunes were:
"Head of the Creek""Icy Mountain""Tomahawk""Pretty Little Indian""Three Forks of Reedy""Cattle in the Cane"Goehring's recordings of Jarvis are available via the Field Recorders Collective. Brose produced two LPs that included Jarvis and his family in the 1979, Rats Won't Stay Where There's Music and Traditional Music from Central Ohio, both of which are now out of print. I received digital copies of these recordings through generous members of the Fiddle Hangout.

I decided…