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Banjo Friday 3

I mentioned in an earlier post that Earl Scruggs inspired me to take up the five-string banjo. I would imagine that he inspired many of us. I remember how excited I got the first time I heard "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." I knew I wanted to play just like Earl and rushed out and bought his guide to playing the five-string banjo. Here is an early recording, for those of you who have never heard it before:

Here is short article on NPR to explain just how revolutionary Earl's style of playing was. Earl brought the banjo into prominence, and his performances with Bill Monroe's band, The Bluegrass Boys, helped to create a new genre of country music called Bluegrass. However, it was another recording by Earl, playing with banjoist John McEuen from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, that really opened my eyes to other possibilities of the banjo. In this recording of "Soldiers Joy," Earl plays with his characteristic three-fingered style, while McEuen plays in the older clawhammer style. It's beautiful. The bonus is that you can hear the musicians chatting at the beginning of the recording about Uncle Dave Macon, another early banjo player.

This was one of the first songs I taught myself when I decided to learn to play in the clawhammer style. It's still one of my favorites.


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