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Erynn Marshall, Mark Olitsky, Doug Unger: An Old-Time Smorgasbord in Peninsula, Ohio, for Music on the Porches, Sept. 23

Old-time music and banjo fans alike would do well to aim their GPS units toward Peninsula, Ohio, the historic village nestled in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron. This Saturday is Music on the Porches, which features a number of musical acts playing all around town, starting at 11 a.m. 
The showcase event is Saturday night at the G.A.R. Hall, an evening concert that will feature fiddler Erynn Marshall and multi-instrumentalist Carl Jones, the married old-time duo based in Galax, Virginia; followed by Sean Watkins, formerly of the progressive bluegrass band Nickel Creek; and finally headliner Tim O'Brien, who has recorded with everyone from Steve Martin to Dirk Powell, including the excellent "Songs From the Mountain" album with Powell and John Herrmann (one of my all-time favorites). Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with Marshall and Jones set to start at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online via Eventbrite
But wait, that's not all! 
Marshall wi…
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Doug Unger to Host Clawhammer Banjo Workshop at Blue Sky Folk Festival, Sept. 16

Master banjo builder Doug Unger will be presenting a clawhammer banjo workshop Sept. 16 at the Blue Sky Folk Festival, in Kirtland, Ohio. Unger is a former Kent State University art professor and an Ohio Arts Council grants and fellowships recipient, as well as an accomplished banjo player in his own right.

Unger will be leading a clawhammer banjo workshop with Paul Kovac under the "Small Tent" from 2 to 2:45 p.m.

Established in 2010, the Blue Sky festival is hosted at the East Shore Unitarian Universalist Church on Chillicothe Road in Kirtland. The event features concerts, workshops, community jams, family crafts and other fun activities. Tickets are $15 at the gate or $12 if you purchase online. Get a $3 discount at the door if you bring and instrument to join in the various jam sessions. Youths age 12 and under are free.

Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. With multiple indoor and outdoor jam areas and an inside main stage, visitors will have plenty o…

The Year of Ward Jarvis: Tomahawk

My latest Ward Jarvis tune is "Tomahawk." Jarvis learned this tune from Tommy Jackson, either on record or radio, according to the field recordings David Brose made in the 1970s. Jackson was a prominent Nashville session fiddler during the 1950s.

The tune appears on Jackson's "Square Dance Tonight" album, released in 1957. Jarvis can be heard playing it on the Field Recorders' Collective album (FRC402), from the recordings of Jeff Goehring. Brose's recording of Jarvis can be heard on the Slippery-Hill website.

Jarvis plays "Tomahawk" in AEAE tuning and is credited for making the tune old-time. There's another variant usually attributed to Missouri fiddler Bob Holt, available on the 1998 Rounder release "Got a Little Home to Go To."

I took my first crack at "Tomahawk" on June 18. Below is my first attempted recording of the tune, which is only twice through because of a major flub in the third repeat of the A part. (Here…

Stuart Brothers Collection Now Available

About a month and a half ago, GBB reported that the Old-Time Tiki Parlour was at work producing a CD and DVD set on the Stuart Brothers. Well, that collection is now available, as you can plainly tell by the video above.

Trevor and Travis Stuart were renowned for their banjo-fiddle duets until Trevor's tragic death in March last year. The previous May, however, Tiki Parlour founder David Bragger recorded the duo for what has turned out to be the brothers' final release. The CD/DVD set contains 23 tunes played in their traditional North Carolina style.

Right now, the Tiki Parlour is running a sale, so you can pick the Stuart Brothers set up for $20.

It's also worth noting that the Tiki Parlour also recently released The Skeleton Keys collection, featuring Tricia Spencer and Howard Rains, along with Charlie Hartness on ukulele, Nancy Hartness on guitar and Brendan Doyle on banjo. The group plays 17 tunes that are accompanied by a full-color, 40-page booklet of illustrations…

The Year of Ward Jarvis: Tune Collecting

Ever since embarking on my Year of Ward Jarvis, I've made a concerted effort to collect as many recordings by him and by those who were influenced by him.

I already owned the Field Recorders' Collective release (FRC402) of tunes collected by the late Red Mule String Band fiddler Jeff Goehring in the 1970s. And as mentioned in a recent post, I received digital copies of the David Brose recordings from some charitable folks at the Fiddle Hangout. The files also included the associated albums Brose produced "Rats Won't Stay Where There's Music" (1979, Ohio Folklife OF-1003) and "Traditional Music of Central Ohio" (1979, Ohio Arts Council TALP-001).

I'm still looking to acquire physical copies of these albums, as well as "Visits" (1981, Heritage Records), produced by Ray Alden. I believe that would complete my collection of the recordings made of Ward Jarvis. I have not heard of any others.

In the meantime, I've also tried to collect …

The Year of Ward Jarvis: Icy Mountain (UPDATED)

Three months have passed since I provided my last update on my "Year of Ward Jarvis" project. As you may recall, I targeted six tunes to learn by Athens County, Ohio, resident and West Virginia native Ward Jarvis. The first one I learned was "Head of the Creek." Next up is "Icy Mountain," another AEAE tune.

My source recordings were from Jeff Goehring via the Field Recorders' Collective and from David Brose via some kind folks at the Fiddle Hangout. I also referred to the notation from the Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes and a YouTube video by David Bragger.

I took my first crack at "Icy Mountain" back on April 22, but I didn't really focus too hard on learning it until mid-May. I struggled with it for weeks, but then my progress took a major leap on June 6. I feel like I finally have a handle on the full tune, though I’m still working out some kinks in the B parts.

A quick banjo note: I have also figured out both &quo…

Postcards: Just the King and a Banjo