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Tuning for Josh Thomas' Roustabout

GUEST,bdatki 07 Jan 03 - 10:00 PM
Sorcha 07 Jan 03 - 11:01 PM
GUEST,bdatki 08 Jan 03 - 02:45 PM
GUEST,Tony Thomas 30 Aug 06 - 11:55 AM
GUEST 30 Aug 06 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Brian Vollmer 26 Aug 08 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,Guy de Chalus 02 Mar 10 - 01:28 AM
GUEST,http://www.autochip.hu 04 Mar 10 - 08:25 AM
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Subject: Tuning for Josh Thomas' Roustabout
From: GUEST,bdatki
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 10:00 PM

Hello,

I would like to know the tuning that is used for this tune. I have heard Mike Seeger perform it, as well as Bob Carlin in a live performance, but I don't have my banjo handy to try to figure it out. Thanks in advance,

Ben


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Subject: RE: Tuning for Josh Thomas' Roustabout
From: Sorcha
Date: 07 Jan 03 - 11:01 PM

Try this:
gCGA#D

G-minor variant

Mike Seeger, Roustabout ("Solo"). Seeger plays this on a gourd banjo, tuned down. He gives his source as "Josh Thomas of Hollins, VA, an exceptional blind black banjo picker and singer", who was recorded in 1970 by Cliff Endress.

From: http://www.banjo.ch/knowhow/stimmungen.htm


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Subject: RE: Tuning for Josh Thomas' Roustabout
From: GUEST,bdatki
Date: 08 Jan 03 - 02:45 PM

Thanks! Is this do-able on a modern open back banjo?


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Subject: RE: Tuning for Josh Thomas' Roustabout
From: GUEST,Tony Thomas
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 11:55 AM

I am one of the lucky people who have the actual original Josh Thomas recording. At the 2004 Banjo Collectors Gathering Mike Seeger showed me the banjo he believes Thomas used on these recordings.

Thomas played the tune on a fairly inexpensive RB from an off brand that had just been given to him by folk music enthusiasts at a local college. He had never seen a banjo with a non-skin head before, he says on the recordings.

He tuned his banjo in the equivalent of standard G tuning, although on these recordings he is about one step sharp, tuning the banjo closer to G sharp than to G.

However, he plays this song in C, not G. He also has the B string tuned about 1/4 of a step down from B. Mike has figured out how many cents this is, but I forget.

Mike performs this tune on a large gourd banjo tuned down like other gourd banjos, which is what he seems to like to use to record tunes by Thomas and other Black banjoists, even though the banjoists actually used steel stringed RBs in Thomas's case, or steel stringed open backs as in the case of Lucius Smith.

Since Mike recorded it, Allen Hart of Seattle has also recorded it on a steel string five string banjo.

It is really unfortunate that all of the many recordings that Josh made in 1970 have not been released on CD as of yet. One or two are on Cece Conway and Scott Odell's Black Banjo Songsters of Virginia and North Carolina. At the 2005 Banjo collectors gathering, Mike Seeger and Cece announced they are trying to get these recordings released. Anyone who wants to help can contact them.


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Subject: RE: Tuning for Josh Thomas' Roustabout
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 11:59 AM

Just to note, Thomas was recorded in 1970 by folklorist Cliff Eddress. There are more than 3 hours of recordings including much conversation by Thomas about his life, banjo playing, an dother topic as well as a number of blues, religious tunes, and banjo tunes.
As I said, only a few cuts have been released.

Unfortunately, Thomas who was in his late 70s at the time of the recordings died a month or so after this recording. He was a gem as a musican, and a rather wise and witty person--to use scientific language he was a cool dude who knew life from jump street!


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Subject: RE: Tuning for Josh Thomas' Roustabout
From: GUEST,Brian Vollmer
Date: 26 Aug 08 - 03:36 PM

Just did a search for Josh Thomas, and this discussion came up. Presently, I am listening and logging a field recording made by Cliff Endres of Josh Thomas in 1970 for Bob Fulcher. The banjo tunings for the songs on the tape are very interesting. Could these be original? I have never heard these sounds produced before.


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Subject: RE: Tuning for Josh Thomas' Roustabout
From: GUEST,Guy de Chalus
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 01:28 AM

I have a video with Mike playing this song. It made cry inside. This is my introduction to banjo music. He's plays in some minor key on the instructional DVD.

gDGBbD tuned banjo but he tuned it down to E minor (I think)
Someday, maybe I'll learn it.

Guy


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Subject: Tuningbox
From: GUEST,http://www.autochip.hu
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 08:25 AM

Unbeliavable sounds. I am glad I had the opportunity to see Mike playing live.


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