Skip to main content

New Old-Time Music Roundup

This seems like an especially fertile time for new old-time music being released. In addition to the Mark Olitsky and Cary Moskovitz album we featured recently, here are a few other new or upcoming notable albums.

Trevor Hammons & Benjamin Davis, "The West Virginia Way"
I recently received a copy of this album as a prize for answering a trivia question on the Banjo Hangout. It's a stunner. Trevor Hammons is the great-grandson of legendary banjo player Lee Hammons. Benjamin Davis has been playing fiddle for five years and has studied under Pam Lund and Jake Krack. Both grew up in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. They're playing fits together so well that you might be shocked to learn that both Hammons and Davis were 15 years old when they were recorded for this album. Fifteen! If I had a time machine ...

The 16 tunes include rousing renditions of "Juliann Johnson," "Bonaparte Crossing the Alps," "Last Chance" and "Falls of Richmond," to name a few, as well as Hammons Family staples "Three Forks of Cheat," "Shakin' Down the Acorns" and "Cranberry Rock."

Henry Barnes, featuring Dan Gellert and Deb Posey, "Cat Town"
I just heard about this recording from Dan Gellert via the Fiddle Hangout. I don't know much about the album, other than Barnes is a fiddler based around Columbus, Ohio. He will be an instructor at the Allegheny Echoes Summer Workshops in June. According to the biography listed on the event website, Barnes has played fiddle for more than 20 years and studied under West Virginia fiddler Bobby Taylor. He has won fiddle contests in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, and recently won the Ed Haley Memorial Contest and the Elmer Rich Memorial Contest. The 19 tracks feature an interesting assortment of tunes, including "Natchez," "Jonah in the Windstorm," "Bumblebee in a Jug" and "Everybody to the Punchin." Posey plays guitar throughout, and Gellert supplies backing on banjo for all the tunes except "Old Aunt Jenny," where he seconds on fiddle. You can sample the album at Bandcamp, with a purchase price at $9 for a digital download and $15 for a handsome CD package.

Stuart Brothers CD and DVD set
The old-time music community was saddened by the sudden death of Trevor Stuart in 2016. This recording, produced by the Old-Time Tiki Parlour, is the last by twin brothers Trevor and Travis as a duet. The release has gone to press, according to a recent email from David Bragger, and it should be for sale in the coming weeks.

The Skeleton Keys
Tricia Spencer and Howard Rains have been behind some of the most exceptional old-time music albums of the last few years. This music and art collaboration features the duo with a full backing band comprised of Charlie (ukulele) and Nancy (guitar) Hartness, Brendan Doyle (banjo) and Emily Mann (bass). The music will be accompanied by a 40-page booklet of artwork and notes to correspond with the CD. The project was the result of successful Kickstarter campaign and will be released by the Old-Time Tiki Parlour in the coming weeks.

There was also a recent Kickstarter campaign launched for the new project by Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton, so check that out if you're inclined to donate. If you're looking for other new old-time music releases, be sure to also check out the Old-Time Herald and the Banjo Newsletter. Please share in the comments if you know of other new old-time projects!

Comments

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…

The Ongoing Search for Ohio's Old-Time Fiddle Repertoire

Since the beginning of my journey into old-time music, I have sought to find a connection to my home state. After studying the recorded repertoire of a dozen old-time fiddlers who spent a majority of their lives in Ohio, I have compiled a master list of more than 300 tunes. By cross-referencing this list, there were 12 tunes that I identified as “common,” based on their appearance in the repertoire of at least three fiddlers. The results of my findings follow.

This is far from a scientific method or academic study. I do not claim to be a musicologist or folklore scholar. I welcome any feedback.

Common Tunes:
Arkansas Traveler BirdieCumberland GapDurang’s HornpipeForked DeerGrey EagleJune AppleLeather BritchesMississippi SawyerRaggedy AnnTurkey in the StrawWild Horse At some point I would like to put together a list of tunes that are unique to Ohio or have a particular connection to an Ohio locale, such as Lonnie Seymour’s “Chillicothe Two-Step” or Arnold Sharp’s “Anna Hayes.” However,…