Skip to main content

5 Glory-Beaming Holiday Gift Ideas

As we did last year, here is a holiday gift guide for the banjo nerd in your life. Here are five glorious ideas for you last minute shoppers.

RELATED: 5 Glory-Beaming Gift Ideas for Winter Solstice & Other Holiday Celebrations

1. Field Recorders Collective 2015 Releases Box Set ($70)

Here, you have all five of the albums released by the FRC this past year: Maggie Parker "Hammons Family Songs & Music" (FRC713), Tom Fuller "Traditional Fiddling from Oklahoma & Texas" (FRC714), Dean Sturgill "The Spencer Branch Fiddler" (FRC710), Craig Johnson "Deep Woods & Hollows" (FRC711) and "Old Time Fiddle Music of Allegheny County, NC" (FRC712). The FRC is also selling gift certificates now.

RELATED: An Ohio Old-Time Connection

2. Old-Time Banjo Taught by Frank Lee ($29.95)

Even though I've been playing banjo for more than seven years, I've always wanted this instructional video from Homespun Tapes. I remember Mark Olitsky recommending it to me way back at one of his workshops at the now defunct Kent State Folk Festival. Not only does Frank Lee teach some great tunes in some funky tunings, he brings on the original Freight Hoppers for a number to see how to fit in with a string band.

RELATED: Freight Hoppers in Cleveland

3. David Bragger, "Big Fancy" ($12)

I have to admit I kinda stole this idea for a gift guide from David Bragger, but suggesting you buy his debut CD seems as good a way as any to make up for my theft. Bragger's Old-Time Tiki Parlour has been putting out some great music and videos this past year, and this album is a fine addition to any library. Bragger includes a great mix of old standbys and obscure tunes on banjo and fiddle, with accompaniment by guest musicians on fiddle, banjo, guitar, pump organ and bagpipes. If you've ever heard his playing, you know Bragger's album is well worth your time.

RELATED: In the Tiki Parlour with Dan Gellert

4. Joe Bussard Presents: The Year of Jubilo – 78 RPM Recordings of Songs from the Civil War ($11)

This latest release from Dust-to-Digital features 19 tracks culled from the collection of the legendary Joe Bussard, plus a 36-page booklet with essays and liner notes. Bussard ran the last 78 rpm label in the United States, Fonotone Records from 1956 to 1974, and has been a strong promoter of old-time music over the years. The compilation includes such luminaries as Ernest Stoneman, Buell Kazee, Da Costa Woltz’s Southern Broadcasters, Fiddlin’ John Carson and far too many more to list here. Go back in time with this wonderful gem.

5. Old-Time Herald Subscription ($26)

There is no better source for old-time music related news and features than this wonderful quarterly magazine. My subscription just lapsed, and I need to get it started back up. The current issue features Walt Koken's latest dispatch from the Highwoods Stringband archives, an interview with Alan Jabbour and an article about luthier Mark Ward by fiddler Christian Wig. That's one heck of a lineup.

RELATED: Master and Apprentice

If you have any suggestions, throw them in the comments or follow up the discussion on Facebook. Happy holidays banjo pickers!


Popular posts from this blog

Getting Blitzed with Tom Collins

A little more than a year ago, Salem, Massachusetts-based banjo player and teacher Tom Collins embarked on a yearlong project he called Banjo Blitz. The weekly YouTube series provided short banjo lessons on technique. Each video is about five minutes long, give or take, and presents a short pattern — or “ostinato” — designed to teach and improve a specific aspect of banjo playing.

The mission was to get the audience “to practice clawhammer in discrete chunks every day without the burden of trying to memorize tunes,” Collins says. He wanted to build skills rather than repertoire.

“Let’s take the tune off the table,” says Collins, who has been teaching banjo for 11 years. “Let’s focus on a simple, mantra-like ostinato that can train your body how to execute a technique properly, while training your ears how to hear it properly. Let’s also make it so that you can do this every day without it sucking every spare minute from your life. The big dirty secret about learning how to play an ins…

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…

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…