Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity

Related threads:
Pete Seeger - resources (12)
The Power of Song film in Japan / Pete Seeger (17)
New and Improved Pete Seeger Website! (5)
Pete Seeger film/DVD: The Power of Song (28)
Pete Seeger Live '57 (4)
Pete Seeger Banjo (5)
Pete Seeger's FBI File (10)
Obit: Pete Seeger (1919-2014) (220)
Biography: Pete Seeger vs. the Un-Americans (25)
Seegerfest - FREE !!!! (5)
Pete Seeger Biography Thread (5)
Pete Seeger Commemorative Poster (1)
Pete Seeger as a guitarist (31)
Pete Seeger MDH Records (LP's) (6)
Obit: Penny Seeger (1943-1993) (21)
Tappan Zee Bridge/Pete Seeger (11)
Pete Seeger on CNN. rare film (15)
Forgive my ignorance-is Pete Seeger still alive (35) (closed)
Pete Seeger wrinkles the brow of HUAC (22)
Obit: Toshi Seeger Passes (9 Jul 2013) (31)
Pete Seeger on NPR & new album (14)
Pete Seeger Steps in for Arlo (4)
Colbert Report with Pete Seeger--6 Aug 2012 (24)
Pete Seeger book: '... His Own Words' (2)
Review: S-F set: Pete Seeger at Bowdoin 1960 (1)
Happy Birthday Pete Seeger (24)
Pete Seeger's Axe- fact or urban legend? (41)
Pete Seegers Rainbow Quest (27)
Pete Seeger - 92nd birthday (25)
Pete Seeger Birthday (born May 3, 1919) (21)
Pete Seeger Audio Documentary (5)
Pete Seeger's Power of Song-PBS, Feb 27 (88)
Pete Seeger Sundays (4)
Happy! - May 3 (Pete Seeger born, 1919) (17)
Learning the Banjo From Pete Seeger (93)
Pete Seeger and Wolf Trap on PBS (10)
Seeger genealogy (51)
Seeger Book: Where Have All The Flowers Gone (4)
Pete Seeger on Saipan? (3)
Pete Seeger 90 broadcast (5)
How can one meet (or write) Pete Seeger? (38)
Pete Seeger: Nobel Peace -Updated-deadline Feb1! (103)
Video Req: Pete Seeger & Arlo Guthrie @ Saratoga (4)
Pete Seeger - 1st Distinguished Alumnus (3)
Pete Seeger documentary project (7)
WFDU-Pete Seeger - The Power of Song (5)
Article on Pete Seeger (6)
Hear Your Banjo Play - with Pete Seeger (15)
Wikipedia Entry about Pete Seeger (3)
Review: Pete Seeger in New Yorker Mag (6)
Seeger's swan song? (68)
Pete Seeger's last concert (175)
Seeger unannounced appearance! (33)
MANY VOICES with Pete Seeger 1/28/05 (34)
Happy Birthday Pete Seeger (12)
Pete Seeger's 85th birthday (22)
Happy B-Day, Pete Seeger (23)
Action in the Auction - Pete Seeger Book (9)
Need more gentle folk like Pete (Seeger) (8)
Pete Seeger Banjo Book Movie (4)
Pete Seeger's pseudonym (55)
Pete Seeger's Banjo - Lost, then FOUND (17)
Rescheduling of Pete Seeger Palltak Trib (1)
Pete Seeger Tribute on Paltalk (15)
Possible Pete Seeger concert on PalTalk (16)
Pete Seeger to play at Common Ground (7)
BS: Pete Seeger, Israel and non-violence (8) (closed)
pete seeger uk concert (2)
Pete Seeger on WFDU (7)
Pete Seeger & Tom Chapin (6)
Pete Seeger in Virginia! (4)
Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie 'Together' (9)
Pete Seeger's Banjo: The Real Story (11)
Who kws Pete Seeger,& does he kno of MC? (12)
Pete Seeger's banjo -- RETURNED (101)
Pete Seeger's Got Lyme's Disease (25)
Quintessential Pete Seeger Recordings? (13)
Pete Seeger's banjo on eBay (42)
Pete Seeger's Banjo Stolen (August 2000) (32)
Pete Seegers Banjo stolen (17)
Pete Seeger's Birthday - 81 today (45)
Quick Query: Pete Seeger Experts!? (7)
Pete Seeger on 'The Connection' (2)
Anthony Seeger: Dangerous Songs 2/23 (3)
Pete Seeger at Fort Benning, GA (7)
Celebrate Seeger--May 16th event (1)
Pete Seeger, new album! (1)


Rick Fielding 11 Jul 03 - 10:02 AM
Deckman 11 Jul 03 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 11 Jul 03 - 10:25 AM
banjoman 11 Jul 03 - 11:06 AM
JedMarum 11 Jul 03 - 11:23 AM
Mark Clark 11 Jul 03 - 11:29 AM
M.Ted 11 Jul 03 - 11:53 AM
Deckman 11 Jul 03 - 12:23 PM
fretless 11 Jul 03 - 12:36 PM
DADGBE 11 Jul 03 - 12:43 PM
Deckman 11 Jul 03 - 12:50 PM
fretless 11 Jul 03 - 01:10 PM
Lane 11 Jul 03 - 02:12 PM
Peter T. 11 Jul 03 - 03:29 PM
John Hindsill 11 Jul 03 - 04:59 PM
Rick Fielding 11 Jul 03 - 05:44 PM
Frankham 11 Jul 03 - 07:38 PM
Steve Latimer 12 Jul 03 - 11:02 AM
Rick Fielding 12 Jul 03 - 11:05 AM
Peter T. 12 Jul 03 - 11:27 AM
JenEllen 12 Jul 03 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,sorefingers 12 Jul 03 - 01:11 PM
Rick Fielding 12 Jul 03 - 03:36 PM
EBarnacle1 12 Jul 03 - 04:17 PM
Deckman 12 Jul 03 - 04:47 PM
Dani 12 Jul 03 - 09:38 PM
Jeri 13 Jul 03 - 02:55 PM
JedMarum 14 Jul 03 - 01:19 PM
Frankham 14 Jul 03 - 01:29 PM
Peter T. 14 Jul 03 - 02:10 PM
Rick Fielding 14 Jul 03 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 14 Jul 03 - 02:38 PM
Mark Clark 14 Jul 03 - 04:00 PM
kendall 14 Jul 03 - 04:12 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 14 Jul 03 - 05:00 PM
Deckman 14 Jul 03 - 05:08 PM
PoppaGator 14 Jul 03 - 05:21 PM
Rick Fielding 14 Jul 03 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 14 Jul 03 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 14 Jul 03 - 05:36 PM
JedMarum 14 Jul 03 - 05:42 PM
Frankham 14 Jul 03 - 05:58 PM
Deckman 14 Jul 03 - 06:37 PM
Peter T. 14 Jul 03 - 07:02 PM
kendall 14 Jul 03 - 07:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Jul 03 - 08:20 PM
JedMarum 14 Jul 03 - 08:47 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 15 Jul 03 - 12:01 AM
EBarnacle1 15 Jul 03 - 01:40 AM
chip a 15 Jul 03 - 10:44 AM
JedMarum 15 Jul 03 - 11:02 AM
Jeri 15 Jul 03 - 12:02 PM
Uncle_DaveO 15 Jul 03 - 12:12 PM
Amos 15 Jul 03 - 12:52 PM
kendall 15 Jul 03 - 01:17 PM
clueless don 15 Jul 03 - 01:42 PM
Candyman(inactive) 15 Jul 03 - 01:50 PM
GUEST 15 Jul 03 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 15 Jul 03 - 02:30 PM
Peter T. 15 Jul 03 - 02:42 PM
Amos 15 Jul 03 - 02:43 PM
Deckman 15 Jul 03 - 03:00 PM
greg stephens 15 Jul 03 - 03:10 PM
chip a 15 Jul 03 - 03:28 PM
Mark Clark 15 Jul 03 - 06:54 PM
Rick Fielding 15 Jul 03 - 07:12 PM
Frankham 15 Jul 03 - 07:36 PM
Peter T. 15 Jul 03 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 15 Jul 03 - 09:22 PM
Amos 16 Jul 03 - 12:17 AM
JedMarum 16 Jul 03 - 10:32 AM
Rick Fielding 16 Jul 03 - 11:31 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 16 Jul 03 - 06:55 PM
Art Thieme 17 Jul 03 - 01:40 AM
chip a 17 Jul 03 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Jul 03 - 11:52 AM
Art Thieme 17 Jul 03 - 12:22 PM
Art Thieme 17 Jul 03 - 12:26 PM
Amos 17 Jul 03 - 12:46 PM
Deckman 17 Jul 03 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 17 Jul 03 - 01:24 PM
Mark Clark 17 Jul 03 - 01:31 PM
chip a 17 Jul 03 - 01:51 PM
Deckman 17 Jul 03 - 01:56 PM
EBarnacle1 17 Jul 03 - 03:41 PM
Frankham 17 Jul 03 - 04:11 PM
GUEST,Martin gibson 17 Jul 03 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Jul 03 - 05:32 PM
Jeri 17 Jul 03 - 06:03 PM
Rick Fielding 17 Jul 03 - 08:05 PM
MAG 17 Jul 03 - 09:24 PM
Art Thieme 17 Jul 03 - 09:38 PM
Deckman 17 Jul 03 - 09:53 PM
Frankham 17 Jul 03 - 10:00 PM
Amos 17 Jul 03 - 10:17 PM
ex-pat 17 Jul 03 - 11:24 PM
Deckman 18 Jul 03 - 12:11 AM
Art Thieme 18 Jul 03 - 12:19 AM
JedMarum 18 Jul 03 - 12:37 AM
JedMarum 18 Jul 03 - 12:44 AM
JedMarum 18 Jul 03 - 12:47 AM
Rick Fielding 18 Jul 03 - 01:01 PM
Candyman(inactive) 18 Jul 03 - 01:16 PM
Deckman 18 Jul 03 - 01:17 PM
Amos 18 Jul 03 - 01:27 PM
JedMarum 18 Jul 03 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 18 Jul 03 - 04:26 PM
Amos 18 Jul 03 - 05:48 PM
JedMarum 18 Jul 03 - 08:00 PM
Deckman 18 Jul 03 - 08:40 PM
EBarnacle1 19 Jul 03 - 08:50 AM
Rick Fielding 19 Jul 03 - 10:18 AM
Deckman 19 Jul 03 - 10:25 AM
Art Thieme 19 Jul 03 - 07:13 PM
Joe Richman 19 Jul 03 - 08:51 PM
Deckman 19 Jul 03 - 08:54 PM
Rick Fielding 20 Jul 03 - 10:49 AM
Joe Richman 20 Jul 03 - 03:05 PM
Steve Latimer 20 Jul 03 - 05:30 PM
Rick Fielding 20 Jul 03 - 05:41 PM
Steve Latimer 20 Jul 03 - 07:50 PM
Deckman 20 Jul 03 - 07:53 PM
GUEST 21 Jul 03 - 09:53 AM
Art Thieme 21 Jul 03 - 09:53 PM
GUEST,frankham 22 Jul 03 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 23 Jul 03 - 11:29 AM
JedMarum 24 Jul 03 - 12:23 AM
GUEST 24 Jul 03 - 09:13 PM
Amos 25 Jul 03 - 12:11 AM
EBarnacle1 25 Jul 03 - 12:34 AM
Rick Fielding 25 Jul 03 - 09:39 AM
GUEST,Frankham 26 Jul 03 - 09:30 AM
Rick Fielding 26 Jul 03 - 10:20 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 10:02 AM

I've been playing "pete Seeger's American Favourite ballads Vol 2" (from Smithonian Folkways) lately and I'm one again struck by how well he plays the banjo. These cuts are from the fifties when he was still at the top of his game and I'm wondering has anyone else done any deconstruction on his style?

Naturally his political situation (and songs) have taken almost all the notice away from his picking skills, but boy, even though he insisted on only one take per song, the sublty, taste and occasional flash just to keep your eyebrow's raised are there.

His accompaniement to "House of the Rising Sun" is superb (although a friend of mine...supposedly musical... said "That's pretty awful isn't it? (!!)

His even earlier album "Goofing Off Suite" (from perhaps 1952) was simply stunning (remember the two part Beethoven?) and in sheer skill rivaled anything anyone else has done since.......but I guess when your America's favourite Commie Subversive folksinger nobody notices a finger busting three minute tremolo.

I saw him first in the mid sixties and he'd already started to lose the subtleties but boy, from '49 to 59' this guy was simply the best.

Like many others I idolize Pete, he's my all-time hero, but does anyone wanna talk about the nuts and bolts of his style?

Cheers

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 10:13 AM

Rick ... His "Goofing Off Suite" is simply superb. It's Pete at his best. I'm going to PM you about it. CHEERS, Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 10:25 AM

From '49 to '59 this guy was simply the best?

I think Earl Scruggs was in his prime also and influenced way more players.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: banjoman
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 11:06 AM

Agreed - probably one of the best although his method, according to Pete, was something you either got in five minutes or twenty years.
Difficult to analyse individual playing styles as I've come across so many. If you try to slow them down or pick them apart, you lose the style anyway.
Once met Pete at a fog bound airport (early sixties) entertaining the delayed passengers - but thats another story.
Keep picking


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 11:23 AM

RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity? I've never heard much of Pete... I guess I'll need to correct that. I've always liked Pete and what I have heard of his music, but I've listened only from "afar." As a "would be" banjo player myself, I really need to correct that, don't I?

I've said before on Mudcat, what a surprise it is to me, a guitarplayer - to learn about the banjo. It is a beautiful instrument - with some damnable shortcomings, but it is capabale of some amazing subtleties ... listening to Chris Coole and Arnie Namenson carefully, as I have - and other banjo greats in passing - I've really begun to understand what a wonderful instrument it is.

I've only cracked the surface, as a player - but am enjoying it immensely! I'll find Pete Seeger's American Favourite ballads Vol 2, as you mention, Rick - and listen with care. Thanks for the comments.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Mark Clark
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 11:29 AM

Couldn't agree more. I used to wear out the grooves on those same records. It was just unbelievable. And I think Pete's adding those three frets at the headstock was at least as innovative as Scruggs' invention of the "D" tuners. The extra frets made it much easier to play in B, E and F.

Being a city kid in a family where country and hillbilly music wasn't highly regarded, I heard Pete's banjo playing long before I ever heard Earl's. Pete was my ideal of the way a banjo should be approached. It took many years of exposure to learn to value Scruggs style as highly.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 11:53 AM

Back during the 50's and 60's, the prevailing technique for   banjo pickers was "Seeger" style(but mostly for accompanying)--early on,many of the "Hootenanny" generation of banjo pickers hadn't even heard of Earl, and later on a lot of the "protest" generation associated him with the "Beverly Hillbillies"--Tastes changed--and now "Scruggs style" is the only banjo picking that a lot of people have heard--


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 12:23 PM

I'll tell a very funny story (to me anyway) about Pete's banjo. I met him about 57. During his stay here, he told me try his banjo on. And "try it on" was the perfect phrase, as it was enormouse and very heavy. And with that extended neck, all I could do was laugh and say how foolish I felt. My arms were spread so far apart I felt like a scarecrow. And true to his gentle nature, he was very encouraging. After he left, I did get a small banjo, but I've never felt competent with it! CHEERS, Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: fretless
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 12:36 PM

Rick is right. Pete was a superb banjo player in his prime, although I've always preferred his Darlin'Corey to the Goofing Off Suite. Fortunately, we no longer have to chose between the two since they have been reissued by Smithsonian Folkways as a combined CD: http://www.folkways.si.edu/40018.htm. As to Pete vs. Earl, that's an apples and oranges sort of comparison that speaks more to the variability of the banjo (yeah, yeah...we know the joke: the full range from a to b) than it does of the comparable influence of these two musicians.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: DADGBE
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 12:43 PM

He developed his 'bum-diddy' sound without resorting to the usual frailing style. His right hand movement is an up stroke with the index finger then an index finger downward stroke on the back of the nail followed by a thumb stroke.

I've never seen him use fingerpicks or found anyone who could adapt Seeger style to work with picks.

On "The Goofing Off Suite" he sometimes used a three finger technique closer to his guitar style.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 12:50 PM

As I recall, his "bum diddy" strum has been called "Mountain Picking." I remember that, early on, Bob Gibson got this down solid and used it as his basic song accompaniment. Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: fretless
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 01:10 PM

Regarding Pete's use of finger picks, there's a section in his How to Play the 5 String Banjo that implies (or perhaps says outright -- the book is at home and I'm currently not) that he used them for the index, middle, and ring fingers on his right hand. Nothing on the thumb or pinkie fingers, though.

He used a variant of traditional frailing as well as the up-pick bum-diddy, but when he frailed he used the back of the nail on his middle finger rather than the index finger.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Lane
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 02:12 PM

Thanks for making me think back to Pete, Rick. My hero, as well. I've seen him a few times and met him once...what a fine man and musician.   I tried to learn his frailing style from the "How to Play the 5 String Banjo" years ago and failed - wish I still hand the book, and a banjo! His 12 string work was good too.. I just heard Kotke do his "Living in the Country" the other day.... I'd like to learn that one.

Cant tell you much about Pete's banjo - except what is always written on the head, as of course you know: "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender"   And so it does.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Peter T.
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 03:29 PM

Does anyone know why/how he started on banjo? (I am sure it is in his autobiography, but I don't have a copy). yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: John Hindsill
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 04:59 PM

While review my posting to the 100 Best Folk Blues Album which was resurrected here earlier this week, I noticed that my favorite (of 10 listed) was The Goofing Off Suite.

On one of his albums, perhaps the Bitter & the Sweet, Seeger credits his brother, Mike, as being the better banjoist. Well, maybe.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 05:44 PM

Thanks for the feedback.

Hmmmmm Earl Scruggs and Pete eh, Martin Gibson? I'd have to differ with you on that. Pete started playing College concerts in the forties and continued right up til a very few years ago. I don't think Louise Scruggs booked the band into Vanterbilt til wayy into the sixties. I'd have to think that Pete influenced ten or twenty times as many players as Earl did. Earl is the most exciting player I ever heard and I was lucky enough to see him (in Montreal) just before the band broke up. Many serious players had written him off by then because of his personal problems (terrible wreck) and some timing problems, but I was in Heaven. I had to put up with the Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat junction shit but Lester had simply refused to sing the Dylan songs that Louise was trying to force him to do cause they were "folky".

Also the styles and instruments are soooo different. A Granada and a Tubaphone with a long neck couldn't be more dis-similar. It would be like adding the lightning fast brilliance of Harry Reser on his Orpheum Plectrum. They were ALL the best in their styles.

Pete learned to play after hearing Bascom Lunsford in 1939. Prior to that he played pop songs on a tenor.

My fave Seeger 'accompaniement'? "Come all ye fair and tender ladies". One take.....some mistakes...wonderful.

Have to agree with Fretless. He always used two picks and a ring finger 'frailer' pick.

"The Bitter and the Sweet". Played that a thousand times. Mike is NOT a better player....he's a different player...but damn good!

Jed Marum has a very unusual style of playing....works great.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Frankham
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 07:38 PM

Hi y'all.

What needs to be mentioned here is that Pete Seeger introduced the Scruggs style to a lot of city kids when they didn't know about Scruggs. Kids like Roger Sprung, Erik Darling, Dave Guard and others. Tom Paley introduced Hobart Smith to New Yorker folkies but Pete showed us city kids about Scruggs.

My friend Erik Darling and I concluded that no one is able to do the basic Pete Seeger strum as well as Pete himself which consists of a lead with the index finger up picking and a brush down with the middle and ring fingers. He makes it dance and come alive. Pete also introduced something that no five-string banjo player had done before him. That is, counter lines in the accompaniment of a song that represented bass lines in counterpoint to the melody. The old timers always picked the melody tune they were singing. His accompaniments were so innovative that they spawned a raft of similar banjo pickers such as Dave Guard,Bob Gibson,Bill Faer so and many others. He also developed the "whamming" style of banjo playing which was suitable for song leading.

Pete used to play with finger picks and he created an exciting banjo sound that audiences responded to with contagion. He could really rev a crowd up with that. He certainly did in the early days of the Henry Wallace campaign in which he and the Almanacs put so-called "protest" music on the map.

Scruggs turned the banjo into a virtuoso solo instrument but Pete was the first master of song accompaniment. Three influences would be the first banjo player he ever heard, Aunt Semantha Baumgartner at the Ashville Folk Festival, Bascom Lamarr Lunsford who was the entrepenuer of the Ashville Folk Festival and another banjo player and retired coal miner from Hamilton, Ohio by the name of Pete Steele who played banjo up-picking style like Pete. His sister Peggy picked up Pete's style as well and could play beautiful five-string accompaniments to songs. Pete and his half-sister brought a level of musicianship to the banjo which it didn't have before. This banjo sound spawned the sounds of all those folk groups from the Revival from Limelighters, Kingston Trio, Highwaymen etc. etc.

Scruggs may have influenced a lot of pickers from the South but Pete did it in the North. Actually Earl was one of the main known influences but Don Reno deserves an equal footing with Scruggs but because he was in the army he didn't get the same publicity.

Earl is still fabulous though and what a nice guy!

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 11:02 AM

I hadn't heard much Pete Seeger and what I had heard relly didn't do much for me. It was mostly the "Where Have All The Flowers Gone" type of stuff. But one day I was listening to the Folk show on CJRT and they played Pete doing a live version of East Virginia Blues. I thought it was magnificent. I still haven't heard much more Seeger, I am more of a Bluegrass fan and most of my listening is Earl or Ralph Stanley.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 11:05 AM

Thanks to Frank for filling in a lot of the other players surrounding the epicenture. A great transitional player was Bill Keith who transcribed Scruggs Playing in the sixties, A LOT of Northerners got the style from that. This incredible book almost didn't happen.....Louise's lawyers had to settle a lawsuit on the courthouse steps, rewarding Keith for all the work he'd put into it! Glad they did!

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Peter T.
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 11:27 AM

Anyone know if Pete ever did any "African roots" searching? (NOT WIMOWEH). It seems like the sort of thing he would do. I have been reading some of what one critic calls "the big books of claims" about the links between Malian/Senegalese ngongi instruments and griot singers, and the banjo (Samuel Charters, Eric Charry, Banning Eyre), and while it is all murky, it does seem like the sort of thing Pete might have an interest in.

yours,

Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JenEllen
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 01:06 PM

Searching for what, exactly?
I seem to recall he spent a lot of time and money working with and supporting the Xhosa Organization in SA, and also recall he took part in a PBS musicology series --wonderful thing-- playing African instruments (even tried Tuvan throat singing, but that's another continent entirely). And didn't he also write Abiyoyo? I think the white boy is sufficiently sure of his roots.

Thanks for the information, everyone, this has been a fascinating read.
~JE


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 01:11 PM

The lame praising the dead!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 03:36 PM

Huh?


Pete broght Mwanga Jean Bosco to our attention, and certainly don't forget "Here's to the Couple" from the Political folksinger Josef Marais.

It just occured to me that this actual MUSICAL thread has gotten over twenty responses!

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 04:17 PM

If you would like to hear Pete playing Pete. He participates in Stone Soup's new album, River of Life. David Bernz (1/3 of the group) was brought up around him and, when they play together, it sounds like Pete playing a duet with himself.

After listening to this album, I told David that I would have actually paid for it. It's that good.

I tried to make a clicky for their web site but when I tested it, I got the infamous "This page cannot be displayed." It may be that the link is under construction, so try http://stonesoupfolk.com/. Perhaps it will work for you.
The link seemed to work fine, so I blickified it. --JoeClone


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 04:47 PM

Rick ... I'm not at all surprised that you've received 20 solid posters here. Why not: you've got a solid subject involving an ICON, and the person that started this thread is also an ICON. CHEERS, Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Dani
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 09:38 PM

I have "How to play 5 string banjo" and will be happy to share with anyone who wants. I've accepted that I won't learn from a book, much as I'd like to.

Pete inspired me to so many things, but especially he has made me LOVE the banjo. I acquired and had rebuilt a beautiful old heirloom ('nother story) but have not learned to play (though I've tried your excellent tips, Rick) because I need someone with me to help and encourage, and in these parts the only banjos ringing are playing old-time, and only that. I've told several people who offered to teach me that I want to play "the way Pete can play". Did that blow it for me?! They ran scared!

Dani


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Jeri
Date: 13 Jul 03 - 02:55 PM

Dani, there's a tape that goes with the book. I don't know if it would be of help, but at least you can hear what the stuff in the book's supposed to sound like.

Another good thing (maybe) that came out of this thread: I got my banjo out and put new strings on it. Now, I shall go through Pete's book with it. One thing about Pete: he not only is a wonderful player, but he's also great at explaining how to play. Teaching ability is, I think, a much rarer skill, but one mostly unvalued by those who aren't trying to learn.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 01:19 PM

... so I ordered Pete's "American Favourite Ballads Vol 2."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Frankham
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 01:29 PM

Hi Peter T.

Pete did extensive "African roots" searching. On our our "Nonesuch" album for Folkways we did a Pete transcription of a tune from the Ituri forest Pygmys. It was done on Mbiras and Pete transcribed it for two banjos.


Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 02:10 PM

Thanks Frank, that is amazing! What on earth is the album called, I would love to hear it (is Nonesuch the name, or is that the record company label?). Who is "our" at that point? yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 02:18 PM

And a wonderful tune it is Frank. Where'd ya get the "Dirty ragged pants" verse from? NOBODY sings it. Did Jimy sing it? Did you get a lyric sheet or learn it from the horse's mouth?

Final question. For 40 years I was never sure if you (my album copy came from a used store and the notes were gone) sang "Figurine" or the more rural sounding "Finger ring" on "My Home's Across the Smokey Mtns."

Boy that's one damn fine album, and I'll bet there were very few re-takes!

Thanks

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 02:38 PM

As banjo players go, Pete Seeger had impact, but mostly on old folkies. Earl Scruggs took the banjo to a whole new culture and will long be remembered as the true master.

Three finger picking Scruggs style will long be played and remembered than bum-diddy.

I am not discounting Seeger's playing or his ability. If anything, Dave Guard probably exposed more people to folk banjo playing and had greater impact than Seeger. It was his playing on those old Kingston albums that made people take notice of the banjo. Seeger never sold millions of records like they did.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Mark Clark
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 04:00 PM

I don't mean to diminish Dave Guard's significant influence but as I recall, Pete was selling millions of records with The Weavers before Dave Guard could even spell banjo. Today, I think of the banjo primarily as a bluegrass instrument but if it hadn't been for Pete and the people he influenced, I'd never have gotten far enough out of my city kid mode to even hear a five-string banjo.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: kendall
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 04:12 PM

Back in 1969 I had the pleasure of spending an evening with Pete Seeger and Gordon Bok. Pete gave me my first banjo lesson.
And, I first heard the Weavers when I was a teen ager,(hardly an old folkie) and they got me hooked on folk music. Buryl Ives got me interested, but the Weavers hooked me.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 05:00 PM

My educated guess is that the Weavers sold a fraction of what the Kingston Trio sold, as the trio were Capitol records second biggest act of all time, the Weavers were of the pre-baby boomer generation and their fans were dwarfed by the trio's fans in sheer numbers. More people heard Dave Guard and learned that Pete Seeger and the Weavers even existed because of those big Kingston Trio days. Just like Martin guitars was carried for years by the Trio, more people got turned on by the banjo and sought out people like Earl Scruggs because of the Kingston Trio, not Pete Seeger.

I am not saying that the Kingston trio were the greatest thing that ever happened and that a) no Weavers, no Kingston Trio, and b) no Pete Seeger, no Dave Guard, but the Kingston Trio touched much more people in sheer numbers alone, hence their more important influence in the popularity of the banjo.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 05:08 PM

While the trio reached more people in sheer numbers alone, as you say, numbers aren't the entire story. The words quality and integrity must also be considered. Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: PoppaGator
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 05:21 PM

Going back to the top and re-reading Rick's original post, one of the points he seemed to be making was that Pete's virtuosity, as well as his contribution to his instrument's populatiry, have both been largely under-appreciated.

The fact that larger numbers of listeners were first introduced to the banjo by other players does nothing to contradict that observation.

I've never been deeply involved with the banjo -- I bought one years ago and sold it within a year or less, recognizing that I had my hands full with one instrument, the guitar -- and I always regarded Pete Seeger primarily as a singer, scholar, and instigator, with no real appreciation of his skill and contribution as an instrumentalist. From now on I'll be listening much more closely, with a new perspective, thanks to this discussion.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 05:21 PM

Well, you've made your point about the sheer numbers Martin, but don't forget that all those doddering ol' folkies were fresh-faced young 'would be socialists' when they first saw Pete at the early events in the early forties....ALSO.. there were THOUSANDS of banjos already out there abandoned from the first revival and ready for re-sale when Pete did his pied piper thing.

I'm of the opinion that although Earl directly sold banjos and his own instruction book, the REAL boom came in the seventies and then dipped off until Alison Krauss, and the Dixie Chicks turned it into a 'pop' thing.

BUT... I just thought of something, how many banjos do you think Ralph Stanley has sold through the "oh Brother' concerts?

I watched Ralph and Earl, two of my most revered heroes, on TV last year, and it was so sad I had to turn the set off. Why couldn't they just have interviews and clips from the fifties when they were white hot? Neither tuned their own instruments, and Earl's hand shook so badly he barely got through CRIPPLE CREEK(!!). They both looked very out of it. Earl played you are my flower but they gave him (GET THIS) some fucking el-cheapo Japanese Martin-copy that had obviously not been set up or even played. It was awful, and I wonder if anyone even noticed....just sat there dumbly and said duh, uh huh, yup that's Earl, that's great. Wanted to puke.

Yah, I care about details.

Cheers

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 05:23 PM

Deckman,

How typically pompous.

I see absolutely no lack of either. Your arguement is dated.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 05:36 PM

Rick, you've twisted the discussion. Go back to where you started. You started it by saying Pete Seeger in his prime was the best. Now you're ripping Earl and Ralph as old men.   Earl Scruggs is an octogenerian and most have diminished skills at that stage, or at least a bad day. I think just to see him hold a banjo at this stage in his life is breathtaking. He just won a grammy award, and is on a cut on the new Marty Stuart album where he sounds just fine, and is on a new IMAX movie produced by Gary his son. Fact is, he is still quite visable and gets the respect he deserves for being so influential.

Where's Pete?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 05:42 PM

Got the Pete CD today and have been listening. I can see I'll be listening, and learnng s lot.

I see where Pete's virtuosity is, or was ... I suppose. I especially love Sally Ann - that may be where I start learning.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Frankham
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 05:58 PM

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your interest. Nonesuch is the name of the recording by Folkways. It is Pete Seeger and I doing instrumental folk music.

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your kind words. I know that Pete learned it (Battle of New Orleans) directly from Jimmy. It probably didn't make it to the Johnny Horton version.

It would have to be "finger ring". Figurine is pretty good though. A nice mondegreen. :) "Where's that Mondegreen I gave you!"


Thanks so much for your nice comments about the album. It was pretty much a jam session. Only thing we sort of worked out was Meadowland and I don't think we played it the way we worked it out.

Martin, Pete had impact on many old folkies and that's why the Bluegrass movement took off in the North. I was around Washington Square in the early fifties and saw Pete promote Earl Scruggs in that community.

Actually, Scruggs got a lot of publicity but Don Reno was his equal in technique and in musicality. Reno never had the impact because during the crucial revival period, he was in the army.

You say,
" Earl Scruggs took the banjo to a whole new culture and will long be remembered as the true master."

The idea that Earl Scruggs will be remembered as a "true" master seems a bit pedantic to me. It seems that this is what is happening in the Bluegrass community these days. Bill MON-roe and Earl are lionized to the point of disregard as to where they may have picked up their artistry. The "true" masters have been consecutive, historically and one builds their technique on the shoulders of their antecedents.

Actually, bum-ditty has been the staple of many Appalachian style banjo pickers for years. It is being remembered right now with the artistry of clawhammer specialists who are as every bit as musical and exciting as bluegrass banjo pickers.

The Weavers may not have sold quite as many records as the KT but for their time, they might have sold proportionately the same. Remember that the music business was going through a down-turn in those days in general. The "crooners" were going out of business and the "rockers were just starting to come in. The Weavers popularized "On Top Of Old Smoky" and "Goodnight Irene" which in that time was as significant in terms of record sales as "Tom Dooley".

There is no one true master of the banjo. There was a time when Eddie Peabody was the crown prince of the banjo and many people knew him. He is still considered one of the "true masters" by the four-string banjo crowd. SAme goes for Perry Bechtel.

This isn't meant to denegrate Earl at all. He was one of the most consistent in his rhythm. If you slow his records down, his playing is metronomically precise on the beat. Not wobbly at all. He is sort of the innovator of the style but then there's Reno. BTW, the Stanleys were playing early on too. They were not marketed as well as Scruggs but they were and are wonderful.

History shows us that different banjo styles go through phases. Bluegrass is in now but some other style will eventually come along that changes the picture as did Fred Van Eps, Peabody, and others.
It may bet that people will be saying the same thing (True Master) about Fleck, Keith and others.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 06:37 PM

Oh my GAWD ... my pomposity is showing. I just hate that when it happens! Frank, I'm really enjoying your input here. I think that one of the things that is happening is a speaking to the 'continum', or the sequence of events. And as you said so well, those that followed built on the skills, and teaching, of their predecessors. Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 07:02 PM

I wonder why Pete picked on the mbira to copy and not some of the ngongi music or kora music which are usually spoken of as the ancestor of the banjo. Still.

I have got to hear this album: mbira is unbelievably hard to play. What on earth were you using for time signatures, Frank?

yours,

Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: kendall
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 07:24 PM

I think it was Frank Profitt who said "I'd like to be able to play banjo like Earl Scruggs, then, not"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 08:20 PM

It always puzzles me why so often people seem to feel that admiring one person has to mean disparaging someone else, and admiring one style means despising another style.

Myself I'd always prefer to listen to Pete Seeger and musicians who've modelled their playing on him, but that's a matter of temperament more than anything.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 08:47 PM

It seems obvious to me, virtuosity has no conection to market share - that ought to be especially obvious to the Mudcat crowd.

Of course I see the virtuosity of Scruggs - and respect his ability to win market share - but the discussion started out with comments on Pete's virtuosity. Nothing to take away from Scruggs or other masters -

Thanks Frank - for the historical context. I guess I am too young to remeber much of that from first hand experience - but my Mom always loved Pete Seeger - so I heard some of thos esongs growing up. I have tpo admit, when I thought of banjo as a kid, I always thought of Pete Seeger first - later, when the Beverly Hill Billies were on TV, I knew there was another kind of banjo - it looked different, and played like wildfire, always seemed to have some fast strumming guitar player and a manso player not too far away - wher Pete would skate on their on the song ice with just a banjo, and his head held high in song.

Didn't seem like the same instrument to me.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 12:01 AM

Agree with most you said, Frank but excitement of who's picking and in what style is still reserved to individual taste.

Deckman, nice tap dance around your pomposity.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 01:40 AM

"Pete had impact on many old folkies and that's why the Bluegrass movement took off in the North. I was around Washington Square in the early fifties and saw Pete promote Earl Scruggs in that community."

Pete's influence goes far beyond his virtuosity or its lack. Several times, when I was organizing festivals or concerts and I asked him for a showup, he demurred, suggesting one or another rising performer. Many of them became friends; I performed on several of their albums. While few of them have the stature that Pete has, many of them are still excellent performers who earm [almost] enough to live on.

Kendall, was that the concert in Orono where Gordon and Pete performed in 1969? I was in the audience that night. I wonder whether Gordon's career would have been as illustrious without Pete's quiet influence.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: chip a
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 10:44 AM

Pete's playing is much more than the so called "Seeger style" of bum-ditty, bum-ditty with the hand suspended and the combination up picking and downward brushes. He can up pick in two and three finger styles and he can down pick in traditional styles as well. Listen to him play Coal Creek March if "lightning fast, hard as nails" banjo is your thing.
Virtuosity is defined as outstanding skill. I don't think virtuosity in a musician necessarily means a proliferation of flaming note runs or extreme technical ability. Technical skill is virtuosity of one kind and on an instrument, may or may not even be "musical".
I do think Pete is a virtuoso in the technical sense but where he shines is in the "musical" sense.
I feel the same about Earl. Just different styles from people with different backgrounds and different tastes.
The musician who can take a musical idea and turn it into sounds that convey that idea clearly to someone else is probably a virtuoso.
Just my two cents.
Chip


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 11:02 AM

right on, Chip!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 12:02 PM

Chip, I find I have a lot to learn about Pete, so this thread is obviously doing what it's supposed to. Pete's virtuosity is also obviously overlooked if people only think of 'bum-titty' when they think of him. (Not ragging on anyone because I've been in the 'Pete=bum-titty' crowd myself.)

I'd heard other players and groups before Pete, but their music didn't grab my attention like his did. I didn't have a clue about playing then, and had no real idea how to appreciate skill. What I COULD appreciate was that he could do quite a few things well. I appreciated that he didn't care so much for 'flash' - he wanted to make the music sound good and he wanted other folks to love it. Still does. Anyway, it's probably because of the fact he didn't seem to care about being a virtuoso that people haven't seen him as one. It's something you have to listen for. You have to pay attention.

I can see a CD or two in my future...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 12:12 PM

Chip said:
I do think Pete is a virtuoso in the technical sense but where he shines is in the "musical" sense.

Hear, hear! In listening to his various LPs those many long years ago, I was always forcibly struck by the man's wonderful taste and judgment in his music.

Dave Oesterreich


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 12:52 PM

Martin,

You are mistaken on the subject of quality. While the Kingston Trio had a fine polish and a good dollop of showmanlike veneer, and even technical proficiency, they missed on the more important elements that make live folk music worth listening to. Listneing to them perform "Tom Dooley" and listening to the perform "Scotch and Soda" was six of one and half-a-dozen of the other -- smooth, slick, neat, harmonious, and vacuous. That's just the way the KT did things.

Listen to Frank Warner play Tom Dooley. The difference is so resonant, so palpable, and so penetrating as to be inescapable to any but the tinnest of ears.

Regards,

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: kendall
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 01:17 PM

I don't remember if that was the U of M in Orono performance, could be
though.
As far as Gordon's "career" goes, he has worked AGAINST being famous. He just wants to share what he has without being too noticeable. Fame and fortune doesn't interest him.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: clueless don
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 01:42 PM

Not adding much to the thread, but I wanted to throw in a memory. I saw Pete (as if I know him well enough to call him by his first name!) play at the University of Maryland back in the late sixties. He did a song that I assume is called "Get Back" (has the chorus "If you're white, it's all right, and if you're brown, stick around, but if you're black, oh brother - get back! get back! get back!") He introduced the song by claiming that he was not a "good blues picker", but he then proceeded to play some banjo that sounded mighty good to me! It also made me wonder who WERE the "good blues pickers" on the banjo.

Did he ever record that song?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Candyman(inactive)
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 01:50 PM

Clueless Don,

It's a Big Bill Broonzy song called "Black, Brown and White."

Pete Seeger's recording of it is included on "Songs For Political Action," a 6-CD boxed set on Bear Family Records.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 02:05 PM

Here's a recent picture of Pete:

http://www.woodyguthrie.com/Okemah_London_House.htm


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 02:30 PM

Amos

You sell the Kingston Trio short and your arguement reads like something out of a 1961 issue of Sing Out. I'd say, get over it, already. You never do mention what they are missing. What's wrong with showmanship? What's wrong with entertainment? What's wrong with technical proficiency or good harmonies? I'd say it moves everything up a notch.

I'll take all of that and "smooth, slick, neat, harmonious, and vacuous" over so called authentic folksingers who bray and bleat in the name of authentic and die in poverty and obscurity. Personally, I'd say Frank Warner should have got a new agent.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 02:42 PM

If any of you are interested in the tired argument over the Kingston Trio, there is a wonderful interview on the Secret Museum of the Air (find it on google) with John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers, towards the end of which he takes a Charlie Poole song and plays subsequent versions of it, all the way up to a Kingston Trio travesty. He deadpans after: that is everything we were fighting against.

yours,

Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 02:43 PM

Okay, Martin. Guess it depends on what you are looking for in your entertainment. Puff the Magic Dragon as the ultimate folk song never rocked my boat, and I personally prefer folk music that at least captures some of the effort and emotion of those who lived the tale. In my view, that's what it is for -- the remembrance of human life at its most memorable. Purèeing it for mass consumption just somehow takes all the fiber out. This may be dated point of view, but it isjn't a jaded one; I don't see why that should make it any less real -- it is certainly real to me. Your expression of "braying and bleating" just tells me you have an ear of tin. What the Kingston Trio is missing, since I didn't make it clear, is the authority of the songs they sing. I grant you this is a higyly subjective sense. Rick Fielding, Art Thieme, Seeger, Woody, even the hotshot Bobby Dylan, manage to construct reality with their voices that resonates with experiential authority. To my ear, the KT failed to do this.

But I don't mind if we disagree -- let's just agree to disagree.

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 03:00 PM

SHEEUH! I thought this thread was about Pete's banjo playing! Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 03:10 PM

Great to hear people appreciating Pete Seeger's banjo playing.And there's nothing wrong with bum-titty, it is THE world rhythm as far as my experience goes, and it is astonishing how many different takes there are on it.
   You can't really compare Pete Seeger and Earl Scruggs. They are just too different. Hear a Scruggs record, and you hear banjo-playing. Why not, that's his thing and he's a master. Hear Pete Seeger, and I dont think you hear banjo-playing. i don't you really hear singing either. you hear Pete Seeger's world philosophy and sense of history. And the main thing he expresses that with is his love of music. he doesnt say "hear how well I play and sing this song". He says "I love this song and I'd like you to hear it so that you can love it too. And while you're at it, love the people who made it up, too". Well, that's what he says to me, anyway.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: chip a
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 03:28 PM

Well put Greg!

"I love this song and I'd like you to hear it so that you can love it too. And while you're at it, love the people who made it up, too". Well, that's what he says to me, anyway.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Mark Clark
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 06:54 PM

Peter, Thanks, I found the archive…
October 21, 2001: Old interview on WBAI with John Cohen (New Lost City Ramblers) by Estelle Wade
and you're right, the KT version is truly offensive. The sequence you referenced starts at about minute 20. Now I'll have to go back to hear other Secret Museum of the Air archives.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 07:12 PM

I AM SO IMPRESSED!! Jeez, 65 posts on a TECHNICAL thread about Pete Seeger's pickin'! And all we had to do was add a little sex and violence! Ha ha!

Anyway, back to my original point, I have to agree with CBS (the network, way before the blacklist and the record company,) when they called Pete Seeger the World's greatest Banjo player in their newspaper adds.

My opinion was based on his

VARIETY
SUBTLETY
BREADTH OF REPERTOIRE (Classical to pop)
NUMBER OF KEYS USED
....and my own enjoyment of the album "Goofin' Off Suite".....plus being able to play eighty percent of this stuff, along with Scruggs style, and knowing how damn hard it is! (I knew by 16 there were Seeger and Scruggs licks I'd simply never have the sppeed for)

Anyway, who cares, but thanks for the arguement.....better than anything on Dubya's IQ.

P.S. My views on people who are forced to play when they're way beyong their prime are well known around here....that Damn Nashville network has done it before, and so has PBS with SOME of their nostalgis stuff. So sorry Martin, yer probably right but we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

Cheers
to
All

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Frankham
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 07:36 PM

Hi Bob,

Agreed! Earl Scruggs himself has great admiration for Pete and his playing. It's a problem usually of a 'tude creeping into the music. One musician assumes a god-like proportion when this is not necessary.

Hi Peter T.

The music of the Ituri forest is quite suited to contrapuntal banjo.
The time signatures are probably a form of 12/8 which is consistent because of it's potential for counter rhythm. My part was quite simple. It was a series of three eighth-note intervals of fifths played with an emphasis of 3/4 time. Pete played the contrapuntal lead part over it.


Re: The Kingston Trio

The Kingston Trio were popular music stars and they were entertaining.
It has to be categorically stated however that if it weren't for Pete Seeger, they would have never existed. Just like Dizzy Gillespie said about Louis Armstrong, "No Louis, no me." They operated in a different world of aesthetic values. It's not fair to compare apples and oranges. But everyone is entitled to their preference.

The most significant aspect of Pete's musicality is that he is a superb accompanist and his playing highlights any song he undertakes to perform. Not many banjo players can do this. It's almost like a classical guitar accompaniment for art songs. Every Seeger note is in place and significant as part of a larger picture of instrument and voice. One of the classic examples of this is the early 10" record of Darling Corey. These accompaniments are gems of musicianship. Sure, some are simple but that's the art. He plays the right notes all the time.

There is another side to Pete Seeger. His ability to make other performers sound great. Check his backup for Big Bill, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, his work with the Weavers behind Ronnie Gilbert and Lee Hays, his early work with the Almanac Singers, Arlo Guthrie and the recordings (limited) that he made with Jean Carignan. I've played with a lot of folk musicians in my time and I can say that jamming with Pete is one of the most satisfying musical experiences that I've had for the above reasons.

My only regret about Pete is that he didn't make more recordings of just him alone doing his arrangements sans audience participation.

Also, if you want to hear a good banjo accompaniment in the Seeger style to folk music, there is the album "True Religion" by Erik Darling. It should be re-released on CD and I'm not sure that it has been. Of all the Pete followers, IMHO, I think Erik's banjo captures it best.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 07:58 PM

Thanks Frank. A privilege to share electrons with you. yours, Peter T.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 15 Jul 03 - 09:22 PM

Some of what has been written I do agree with, don't get me wrong, but a tin ear I do not have, Amos. Personally, I would say all who can stand to listen to Bob Dylan sing have tin ears, but not ones who enjoy smooth harmonies or like their folk music served without offensive, authentic body odors direct from Appalachia.

As for John Cohen's fighting, I also say give it up, and be glad the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary and such sold MILLIONS of records that turned on many to American folk music and bluegrass music so that people just might realize there was a bigger world out there. The dissing of the folk scare groups is such a tired, old, outdated arguement.

My arguement was not against Pete Seeger and all he has done, but that quite frankly, more people heard Dave Guard play the MTA and that he in turn exposed much more people to the banjo.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 12:17 AM

There's no question about the numbers, for sure. Sorry for being a bit sharp. We're talking about two entirely different qualities, of course -- and they won't compare easily, natrurally, like apples and oranges again. I am still a little perplexed at this concept of statements growing dated, though. If the facts haven't changed, what the hell diference does it make when something was said? Consider the songs of David, for example. That is the primary virtue of many folk songs. But let's drop that side of it. Its probably a dated argument.

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 10:32 AM

Frank - I love your comment that Pete has the "ability to make other performers sound great." This is one of the marks of a great musician and it is one I truy respect.

A few weeks ago I met a very talented woman who plays string bass. I saw her playing with some pretty good local fellows and they were trying to play a song the trio didn't really know - well bass wasn't a very important part of this song, but when she saw the other two struggling, she changed her style of play, provided a very strong structure for them and never dropped her vocal harmonies. The audience never noticed - and she carried them right through. Graceful and powerful as you please. The mark of a fine musician.

I've seen the trait before and I am not surprised that you see it Pete. Thanks for the insights.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 11:31 AM

By the way folks, there's another guy who picks pretty good and can make other folk sound better.

Frank Hamilton.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 16 Jul 03 - 06:55 PM

I almost wish I had left this thread alone so that Rick's praise of Frank H (with which I totally agree!) could stand alone, but I gotta spend some time agreeing with those who praise Pete S.

1) He could do bum-titty better than ANYBODY else I know, and used that strum to back up an astonishingly large number of songs. Very well.
1a) the only other person I know who REALLY got into the bum-titty strum was the late Peter Colby of Brockton MA, who used it to back up contradance fiddle (and accordion).

2) he could play any number of other styles very well: frailing, up-picking, various three-finger styles; about the only thing I've never heard him do is Charlie Poole's style (as a Poole freak, I listen for it) and had a gift for finding exactly the right style to express what he wanted to.
2a) somebody pointed out that accompaniment to "come all ye fair & tender ladies" from Darling Corey-- agreed. WOW.
2b) some of his experiments on Goofing Off Suite-- just thinking of them in the first place was a wonderment, then DOING them. . .
2c) on the various American Favorite Ballads (didn't it get up to volume 4?)-- the accompaniment ALWAYS fit the song being sung. WOW.
2d) and he had a gift for making OTHER people sound wonderful, as has been pointed out already

3) Where I disagree with Rick: he cites "number of keys used" as a point in Pete's favor-- not sure this is relevant. With a long neck banjo in G tuning you can play in any key from E up to C; in C tuning from A to F; you pitch the song where it suits your voice once you've learned this is a good idea.
3a) but Pete COULD play well in any number of tunings; can't even count all the tunings he used on Goofing Off Suite alone!

4) I wonder if anybody else of my generation (tried to learn banjo from the YELLOW edition of "How to Play. . . " starting in 1960) had the same experience I did: the "basic strum" bum-titty was one I found to be a musical dead end! I played basic strum for about two years anhd had a great deal of trouble unlearning it when I learned to frail-- IMHO you can do everything with frailing that you can with bum-tty and it's a lot more versatile once you get into double-thumbing and moving the thumb off the 5th string. And the 2nd edition's description os Scruggs style-- ouch! (by the time the 3rd edition and its red cover arrived-- MUCH better!)

5) to summarize: a wonderful musician and, not unmindful of Earl Scruggs and Don Reno, probably the best banjo player of his generation. Not a bad guitar player (6 and 12 string!) or mandolin player either! ANd I will always be grateful to Seeger for that little squib in that book I just complained about mentioning the late Paul Cadwell, classical banjo player who I was sure had three hands, until I actually met him.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 01:40 AM

I've started writing a polemic for this thread several times tonight. I've deleted them all.

All I can say is that Pete Seeger has been a bright beacon for me, musically and socially, over all the years. Following his leads has made me a much better human being. In all that time, he has never ever developed the proverbial feet of clay. The Kingston Trio has, on the other hand, has given me nothing except a true realization of how I NEVER want to present American folk songs and ballads. The only positive thing they showed me was that wearing vertical stripes is more slimming than wearing horizontal ones). For that I take this opportunity to thank them heartily. Pete's banjo style is one I emulated and sought to make a bit more old-timey over those same decades. It was perfect for the big story songs I loved so much. Now that I can't pick worth a steaming turd any more, the good old open-G tuning and Pete's basic strum keep me keeping on albeit with a diminished spinal cord (or chord).

I can now see that I got past the K.T. the moment I leared to play my fourth chord. Pete is simply the best--pure taste--never lost the story to the glitz. His GOOFING OFF SUITE showed my I could actually try to fool around and try off-the-wall things like San Antonio Rose, The Theme From Tammy And The Bachelor, The Bells Of St. Mary's, Lazy Bones, and As Time Goes By on my banjo. When Frank Hamilton and Pete did their fine NONESUCH LP of duets, Frank taught the song "Singin' In The Country" (later became "Living In The Country") to the class I was in and gave me permission to play beyond the third fret for the first time. (Frank, thanks !!! That's still the only music lesson I ever had. You left Chicago to join the Weavers after that lesson on a Saturday afternoon at the North Avenue O.T.School.)

I've said more than I planned to say---but there is no way I can ever thank Pete Seeger enough for all I learned from him about playing the banjo, hopefully, maybe half as tastefully as he did.

Time to end.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: chip a
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 10:39 AM

I gave my Weavers album another listen last night. I can agree with all the good things said so far about Seeger's playing.
I've said many times that playing "just like" someone else is good. But where the genius lies is in originating the arrangements so copied by others. Pete always did that although I suspect he could have played them "just like" anyone he chose to copy.
Pete P., We played a few together in the barn at Mt. Airy this year and I'm still inspired by the sounds we made. You may, as you said, be a "Charlie Poole freak" but like Pete S. what comes through you is definately your own. By the way, I also tried the basic strum for a while when I was first starting. It was a wrong direction for me as well. I went back to my two-finger up picking and worked on that.
One more thought. In this time when so many are playing, listening to and otherwise enjoying this old music, pete Seeger stands there reminding us that there were and still are many ways to approach a song. His vision has been wide and in the end that may be his greatest gift for us.

Chip Arnold


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 11:52 AM

Art

Your rip of the Kingston Trio's folk legacy is probably the best reason why I and others haven't had the desire to see you perform in Chicago.

There are people out there who enjoy folk music and have played it for years in a group style. We like rousing banjos, smooth harmonies, fun songs, trading solos, and even stripe shirts. It's as American folk music as anything you do.

Though I do not attend their shows any longer since Nick Reynolds retired for good, don't you find it amazing that they still fill concert venues at $40.00 a seat? Same, if not more for Pter, Paul, and Mary.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 12:22 PM

Martin,

You are full of shit.

Art ((Big Smile))


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 12:26 PM

And so is George Bush.

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 12:46 PM

I just listened inadvertently to another rich example of the laundered-folk style of performance which swept the country during the folk scar eof the 60's -Green, Green, being sung by The New Christy Minstrels (Today & Ramblin'). They were having a great deal of fun stomping and twanging in a nicely polished way. They were doing a nice job of entertaining.

But the cogntiive dissonance of the style in which they were singin -- a sort of Whiffenpoof faux-finish style -- and what they were saying about being a rambling man was enough to maske me roll on the floor snorting. This is why "Mighty Wind" was such a successful parody with side-splitting songs like "I Never Did No Rambling". These guys aren't even trying to feel what they are saying, and it leaves a dissonance wide enough to drive a record company through.

Sorry for the thread drift. I'd rather listen to Art Thieme, who at least has walked the walk and rubbed elbows with those whose whole lives were spent that way. The New Christy Mistrels and the KT as well, by comparison, are just a picture from life's other side, where the tide of life is a laundry detergent.


A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 01:16 PM

I've got a suggestion here. Let's stop to compare Pete Seeger's banjo virtuosity to the Kingston Trio. The Kingston Trio was an extremely successfull group of entertainers. I certainly recognise their value and the high standards they set, as entertainers. Pete Segger is also an entertainer. But, when it comes to "folk music," he is much more than an "entertainer." By the way, can anyone fill me in on his current health. I would welcome a private note if you feel it's more appropriate. CHEERS, Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 01:24 PM

Thanks for kind words, Chip! (Are you coming to Clifftop?)

I haven't listened to some of those Pete Seeger records in years (lost ability to play vinyl too many years ago; gotta do something about that) but can remember the way he managed to fit the accompaniment to the song better than anybody else I know or know of. (And the other people I think of as really good accompanists almost always cite Pete S as somebody they look up to musically)

   Back to the Darling Corey record (that 10" Folkways) -- I remember being disappointed in his arrangement of the title song-- then realized (much later) it was one of Seeger's few attempts to play something just the same way his source played it (B.F. Shelton) --

Staying out of the whole Kingston Trio discussion except to admit that as for so many other people, they were my first experience with "folk music"; went from there to the Weavers, to Pete Seeger solo and to people HE recommended, and then to the New Lost City Ramblers and the Anthology, and it was all downhill from there. But I admit where it started. . .

BTW, Art, what's so bad about three chords? It was good enough for the Carter Family!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 01:31 PM

Martin, Speaking for myself, I don't mean to say the KT wasn't a fun group. I still enjoy their music as I do other pop groups of the era: the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, etc. The point is that although they drew some of their material from folk sources, they were a pop music band. You can draw a pop music timeline right through the KT to show where they came from and where the music went and none of it has much to do with folk or traditional music. It didn't have to be folk music, there's lots of nice mucic that isn't folk music.

But while we're on the subject of virtuosity, we ought to include a mention of Art Thieme's virtuosity. I've never forgotten the first time I saw Art on stage. At a time when a lot of acts were KT/PP&M/Limelighters knockoffs Art actually played his guitar and his banjo. His fingerpicked accompaniments were intricate and tasteful and complemented his singing in a way very few other performers achieved. Art seemed to use his considerable talent and ability to showcase the song rather than use the song as a vehicle for showcasing himself. It's hard to express how much I admired that.

Oh, and Martin… Art made a really cogent observation—well, two cogent observations actually—about an hour ago.

      - Mark


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: chip a
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 01:51 PM

Pete P,
I heard a quote attributed to Pete Seeger in which he said that while it was true that many old timers did in fact only use three chords, the best of them got by with two!
Yup, we'll be at Clifftop.

Chip


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 01:56 PM

I listened last night to Woody Guthrie singing "Pastures of Plenty." He did the entire song with ONE chord! Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 03:41 PM

Re: Pete's health--It isn't great. He hasn't the stamina he used to have. When he appears in public, he tends to use others for most of the voice work. He has had occasional relapses of Lyme disease. His spirits are generally good. Last November, I went to visit him on Mount Seeger for the first time in our association. During my visit, he was constantly receiving phone calls and chatting about business and social issues. He is still sharp despite his frequent statement that his memory is going. I hope we will have him around for many more years though I worry about him on a regular basis.

Kendall, Pete does not look for fame, either. It comes to him. Gordon is enough of a power that his work speaks for itself and brings the public to him.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Frankham
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 04:11 PM

Whoa Martin! Hold the phone.

"but not ones who enjoy smooth harmonies or like their folk music served without offensive, authentic body odors direct from Appalachia."

You might be falling into a bit of stereotyping here. Many people who do traditional music are not all in blue jeans and don't take baths. This is the province of the kind of thinking that belongs on the "Real Beverly Hill-Billies". This "reality programming" might need some reshaping. So many of the fine traditional folk musicians and singers are known to appear before audiences in their "Sunday best" and not farm overhauls or ragged clothes. If you are referring exclusively to the music than perhaps it's time to take a listen to some of the field recordings put out by the Lomaxes or Lib. of Congress and then you'll get a truer picture of where groups like the Kingston Trio come from.

Dave Guard was a nice man. He was talented and entertaining and owes his career to Pete Seeger. If he were around today, he'd tell you that since that's what has said in print. But did he introduce the five-string banjo to millions of people? Not sure about this. As you have said, Scruggs may have had greater mass influence. But Pete certainly had a powerful influence not for the two or three years of the KT but over a period of a long time where he couldn't get on the media but nonetheless influenced countless young people to want to play the banjo. Every college campus in the country in the 50's and 60's had a five-string banjo and they weren't all playing bluegrass.
I know because I used to travel to some of those places for concerts or to visit. Every college kid I talked to during those years had heard of Pete Seeger. Some hadn't heard Scruggs yet.

I have nothing against the KT. They were entertainers like PPand M and made the music market place a little richer (didn't mean Little Richard) through their endeavors. (Although he did too). But that body odor is what makes us all human even in this time when they try to sell us deoderants and toothpaste to sanitize our "quality of life".

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin gibson
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 05:18 PM

So Frank, I'll remember to not get to close to you!

Mark Clark: Your definition of folk music is by far very limited, narrow, and borderline arrogant.

Many in this thread define folk music in a very limited way. No, the Kingston trio were not folk "purists" but please define purists in 25 words or less. don't do it it 25 words or more because I don't have the patience for the rhetoric. Why do you have to live the music for it to be believable? Why do people like me have to constantly have shoved down our throat what is purist, what is traditional, and what's not? Like I've been saying all along, it's such a tired attitude and arguement.

The elitists haven't a clue how locked in a box they are.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 05:32 PM

Art

So are you!

Martin (Smiling bigger while playing some Flatt & Scruggs music)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 06:03 PM

Martin, just out of curiousity, do you actually know anything about banjo technique? You seem intent on playing the "my artist is bigger than THE ONE THIS THREAD IS ABOUT is game," and haven't said one word about techniques. You like KT? Fine. Lots of people do. There's probably a fan club someplace.

This horse is DEAD and it isn't going anywhere.

And now, amazingly, somewhat on topic:
Does anyone know if some stuff was edited out of the 5-String Banjo book? A friend mentioned tabs for Goofing Off Suite and Blue Skies, and they aren't in the copy (1962) I have.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 08:05 PM

Martin, I've done a random read on some of your old posts and you get pretty angry at a lot of things. This is just about the technical aspects of the banjo, nuthin' else. In my first couple of posts I was polite and humourous while disagreeing with you, but I sense you just wanna take shots at folks who are part of the folkie community.

This really isn't worth gettin' upset about.

Cheers

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: MAG
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 09:24 PM

Folks, it hould be obvious by now that Martin Gibson (and what an alias that is!) is the Garg kicking up dust again. Ignore him; he is a baiter.

My intro. to the 60's folk scare was PPM, and then Dylan, and they were fresh and new to this then 14 year old. I admire Dylan's music and still dislike some aspects of it. (By the way, I just saw a movie trailer where he plays a musical has-been tryingto get back on the stage.)

PPM broke up with a lot of public airing of their mutual dislike. They only got back together because their solo careers were less than stellar. (I did enjoy one Mary Travers concert I   went to in Chicago. spendy it was; very spendy. I liked hearing that her parents were friends of Paul Robeson and that she learned Motherless Child from him.)What I've seen on TV is thin, padded, overproduced, and generally sadly embarassing to an old fan.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Art Thieme
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 09:38 PM

And I am sorry for shooting/clicking from the lip once again here in this good forum. "HOT AIR" would've been more fitting than the 4 letter word I chose..

Right at this moment I'm listening to Pete and the Almanacs singing the Wobbly song, "HOLD THE FORT". His supreme banjo picking on the intro is, if nothing else, prime Scruggs picking. Just great.

I believe the first time I ever heard Earl Scruggs was on the CBS(?) TV show called FOLKSOUND U.S.A. I think it was one of the first times folk music was on television. The host for the show was CISCO HOUSTON. Guests included John Jacob Niles, Frank Warner, Scruggs and Flatt doing "Earl's Breakdown" and "Salty Dog", Joan Baez, Casey Anderson and John Lee Hooker doing his "Tupelo, Mississippi Flood" song. It was 1959 I think. I taped it by holding a hand-held mike up close to the speaker of the TV on a 50 or 60 pound Webcor 2-track tape machine. For me the high points of the show were Cisco doing Woody's "Hard Traveling" and Flatt and Scruggs. That driving banjo really just demanded your attention. It is, I think, the refinement of all the great old-timey sounds that led up to it. And that style does seem to keep on drawing more and more people in to learn it and innovate on their own ala Bill Keith and Bela Fleck.

What was MISSING was the WORDS---literary aspect---the polemic present in the Child ballads and the songs of conflict and protest and, also, cowboy, lumberjack, murder ballads etc. etc. For that kind of mind stimulating narrative it was necessary to tweak another part of the brain than the one that made us tap our feet to the fiddles. PETE SEEGER did that with the ideas he presented to us kids back then. There was a gap between Earl and Pete that was at least as wide as the one between the Beat literature of Kerouac and Ginsberg --- and the sky HIGH acid smoke dreams of the Hippy movement with all it's emoting and the Jefferson Airplane "White Rabbit" type of musical and artistic output.

I hope this makes sense. I know what I mean, but I'm not sure I've said that. --------- Think of the difference these days between the songsters at festivals who want to sing at and to one another in a quiet setting and the fiddlers who play tune after tune after tune with no words anywhere in sight.

Maybe the difference between what Martin Gibson is trying to say and what we who were there then know and want to let the new generation in on. That is nothing less than the truth of the thing as we came to know it. We get pissed off and a bit strident when people can't see what seems so obvious to us.

But it is the way of the world for the new kids to find new places to pierce----sometimes they, wittingly or unwittingly, pierce our hearts. That leads me to feel those others are full of hot air. But it's only one guy's opinion.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 09:53 PM

Art ... right on. You express yourself very well. CHEERS, Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Frankham
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 10:00 PM

Martin Gibson...tnat name has a familiar twang. Shoulda' picked that up. Sounds a little like that name is in a box. With strings attached.

You say, "So Frank, I'll remember to not get to close to you!"

I can assure you that it won't be a problem for me.


Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 10:17 PM

MArtin:

Locked in a box?? Puhleeze!! Maybe some of us are deliberately placing ourselves where the reception is a little clearer. If that's elitism, then well and good. I never signed up to promote asinine mediocrity, and it's a tad late for me to start doing so now.

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: ex-pat
Date: 17 Jul 03 - 11:24 PM

Been reading through this thread for a couple of nights... Pete Seeger is definately the reason I have loved playing the banjo for the last 40 years. I bought his red book in Manchester, England as a teenager in 1963 and many an album too. I have American Favorite Ballads, Vol. 5. Pete showed us that the 5 string banjo was as versatile an instrument as one wanted it to be. A true master and icon, to be sure.
Earl Scruggs is also a true master and icon. This thread is for Pete!
Too bad about the twat who keeps annoying everybody. All too often, there's always one, isn't there?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 12:11 AM

True ... but we can always ignore him!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 12:19 AM

Sorry for the drift.

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 12:37 AM

I have been enjoying the thoughts in this thread. And while it has been going on these last few days, I have been playing a lot of banjo - coincidentally.

For a damn guitar player, the banjo sure has brought me a lot of pleasure!

Thanks Pete - thanks y'all.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 12:44 AM

Oh - and while we're at it ... I have been considering getting me a new toy ... when I last vsited Mick and Rick I stopped by Elderly Music and really really wanted this little thing. What a cool sound, and plays great.

I love the sound of my Vega - but this little thing has a charm of its won, way up high ... Anyone ever played with such a thing?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 12:47 AM

... and don't anybody say, "real banjo players don't play 'pony' banjos" 'cause that'll only encourage me!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 01:01 PM

HEY JED! I played that thing about a dozen times at the twelfth Fret. Sounds great. An absolute bugger to tune though so watch out!

Art, I am SOOOOO sorry that Martin Gibson (who apparently ISN"T a youngster) refused to see you in Chicago because of your attitute, but you probably wouldn't have done "Tiajuana Jail' to he and his friends' satisfaction anyway! Could I have another chorus of 'Lemon Tree' boys?




.....my apologies MG and everyone....I'm gettin' giddy.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Candyman(inactive)
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 01:16 PM

Here ya go Rick.

Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 01:17 PM

Rick ... I'm NOT trying to stir up trouble here, but ... your mentioning the "Tiajuana Jail" by TKT is so perceptive. It was THAT exact song that so turned me off when I first heard them do it. I well remember thinking how ludicrous they sounded, knowing that they'd likely never seen the inside of that jail or any other jail! Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Amos
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 01:27 PM

Exactly!! No-one who had any emotional connection with the actual jails of Tijuana could sing that song in smooth, polished harmony!! LOL!

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 02:15 PM

I remember being appalled when I first started out in music, listening to one drunk argue with another that Robert Plan could "outsing" the dude from AC/DC.

Appalled that anyone could consider the singing talents of either worthy of a second thought, incredulous that anyone could imagine singing talent as a competitive skill, amazed at the stupidity of trying to pit the artistic qualities of two individuals against one another - in this case, albeit individuals with athletic as opposed to artistic qualities.

Anyway - since then I've learned when it comes to art/music; some people just don't get it.


There's no need to get anyone's undies in a wad over this issue.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 04:26 PM

What a laugh.

I am not "Garg" what ever a Garg is.

I have been playing banjo for about 40 years on-going in many professional settings, singing and playing guitar and bass and am currently in a bluegrass group. At 53 years old, I am hardly a new kid on the block. Deckman I believe said that the Tijuana Jail song by the Kingston Trio could not be taken seriously by him because they were never in that jail. So what and BFD! A bigger load of crap is hard to find.

My non-agreement with traditional folk purists and neo-traditionalists is hardly anger based. In fact, any thing but. I also bought the Pete Seeger book, the red cover one and actually own the LP that was issued of it. After the initial learning of the basic strum, I had very little use for it and tab. I count my blessings for having a good ear and perfect pitch. I used to play at the original No Exit in Evanston and played for years first in a folk group and then in a country-rock group in the Lincoln Avenue, North Shore, and NW suburban clubs for years.

What I think is that I think different from the folk purists who take themselves way too seriously, are quick to catagorize and criticize.

Rick is right, I am no youngster and I would not go to see Art Thieme.........again. But I did once. He hosted an on-going deal in Evanston for years and I did go once with a group of people who enjoy good time folk music. Needless to say, he wasn't our cup of tea. We had more fun at the Chad Mitchell Trio reunion concert at Park West. Plenty of times I saw groups in Chicago that I enjoyed that were fun-loving like Special Consensus, Aliota, Haynes, and Jeremiah, Ouray, etc.

Purists, elitists, traditionalists listen up! I look for the fun and talent in folk music. I am still active at it and loving it. I could care less who was authentic and who isn't as long as they have talent. I am not looking for or give a rat's ass about Lemon Tree or Puff the Magic Dragon, but I respect who ever wrote those songs. Not to many years from now, when this generation is gone, those songs will still be sung by children and taught as American folk songs. Those who have a problem with that will just have to deal with it.

I'm not here to troll. I have a different perspective and know what I am talking about. Please notice how people attack someone here who is an American folk music fan of a different flavor. name calling, profanity, insults, etc.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Amos
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 05:48 PM

Martin:

Well, looking for the joy of music and such is a sign of pure brotherhood as far as I am concerned, especially if you're a player and a singer....and if we have slightly different tastes, I have no problem with that. I think you missed my point about the feeling with which different performers do various songs, but that's okay.

I do think as far as "noticing how people attack..." you might want to review the following excerpts, all of which seem to communicate anger:

How typically pompous.

Your arguement is dated.

nice tap dance around your pomposity.

your arguement reads like something out of a 1961 issue of Sing Out. I'd say, get over it

I'll remember to not get to close to you!

Your definition of folk music is by far very limited, narrow, and borderline arrogant.

The elitists haven't a clue how locked in a box they are.

A bigger load of crap is hard to find.

...the folk purists who take themselves way too seriously, are quick to catagorize and criticize.


Maybe there's a mirror-effect kinda thing going on here, huh?

Anyway, I am glad you've been making music all those year. Me too. May you play for many more.

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 08:00 PM

martin - no worries; I don;t think anyone was turning their nose at non-trad folk, though some noted their dislike of folk pop - truth is, I'm with you. I like what I like and don;t care how trad or folk it is. I'll bet most of the poster to this thread feel that way too.

This is not an issue worth trading insults over. We may not all agree on KT's place in our music hearts - but it sounds like we all loved Pete's music, and that is where the discussion started!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 08:40 PM

One of the better stories I've read, perhaps two years ago, was Bob Gibson's telling of his first encounter with Pete. My dim memory says that Bob Gibson was about 16, and actually drove up to Pete's home. He interuppted Pete's day, yet Pete was very gracious and accommodating. That meeting was pivotal in Bob Gibson's life. Why was I not surprised when I read this! There's another aspect about Pete that I well remember and admire. I don't have one word that encompasses it all, but it certainly includes: courtesy, manners, politeness, and encouragment to others. CHEERS, Bob (thanks for starting this thread) Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 08:50 AM

There is no question that Pete is a gentleman of the old school. Even so, he has been doing his best to avoid making commitments that demand too much of him.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 10:18 AM

Martin....sorry, and I mean this. There really aren't any purists in this thread. They stick to the unaccompanied ballad threads. As Amos pointed out, a couple of your comments got my (and I assume other's) dander up. All of us seem to be "middle of the road" trad/commercial folkies, who've sung for the love, AND the livliehood. Nobody's dumped on the "striped shirters" the way you've dumped on what you perceive us to be.

One Good thing....we've got a shit more posts than normal, and I like that.

It's NOT worth getting in a BIG snit over, and we all appreciate your giving your background....it helps in any kind of testy discussion. I'm four years your senior and still love pickin the banjo Scruggs style AND Seeger style, and truth to tell, I think I would have enjoyed the Chad Mitchells as well. A lot more than the Kingston Trio probably........but I love Art Theime too.

Anyway, sorry for bein' a bit sarcastic.....I do that occasionally.

Rick

DECKMAN!!! I got the book. (Goofing Off Suite, transcribed by Billy Faier) You are a gem! Long live Mudcat!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 10:25 AM

Rick ... Long live us all! CHEERS, Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 07:13 PM

I second that !

Art


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Joe Richman
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 08:51 PM

Wow..this is #umpteen thirty plus post to the thread.

I guess there's Pete the banjoist, Pete the folksinger, Pete the songwriter, Pete the music educator and Pete the political activist. The thread was started to discuss the first point, but most of the others managed to get into the discussion.

I like Pete the banjoist (but not exclusively), admire Pete the folksinger (when he drops his politics), can take or leave Pete the songwriter(my favorite is "Hold the Line"; he's up front in that one), have learned from Pete the music educator (very dog-eared copy of the '62 Ed.) and cringe at the thought of Pete the political activist.

So there.

And I use my real name.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 19 Jul 03 - 08:54 PM

I certainly hope you live up to your real name! CHEERS, Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 10:49 AM

Pete gives credit to Lee Hays for "Hold The Line". Lyric wise I'd tend to agree with him. I'm not sure how you can separate Pete from the politics, but some obviously can.

Actually I should have thought that over a bit. Of COURSE you can! I worshiped Flatt and Scruggs, Hank Snow, Roy Acuff, and Clarence Ashley etc.

Cheers

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Joe Richman
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 03:05 PM

Amen to that Rick. I thought that was the whole point of the thread. Pete considered just for music and not for all the other things he's done.

PS. I did know the credits for "Hold the Line" included Lee Hays. I guess it's kind of like Lennon and McCartney. Some songs are blends of the two writers in one or the other aspect and some aren't. Thanks for the correct attribution for the lyrics.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 05:30 PM

As Rick knows, I'm trying pretty hard to become a good Bluegrass Picker. Lately I've re-dedicated myself to the Earl Scruggs book (Rick, he puts every bit as much emphesis on the rolls that you showed me as you did). I always thought that the Seeger book was more for frailing, but it seems that it also covers three finger. Would his book be worthwhile for me?

(My banjo is in Bruce Dowd's Hospital for a few days).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 05:41 PM

Not really Steve. Earl's book is it for his style. Seeger does lots of three finger stuff, but it's completely different timing.

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 07:50 PM

Thanks Rick.

Funny, I'd never really liked Clawhammer stuff before, but I've been listening to a lot of Ralph Stanley stuff lately, and I have about six tunes that he plays in that style. I've really come to like it. As I said, I'm focused on the Scruggs book now, but maybe one day I'll learn to Clawhammer.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Jul 03 - 07:53 PM

Hey! I'm a carpenter. I could claw hammer by the time I was five. It's easy! Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jul 03 - 09:53 AM

Hi,
I believe that all of the groups that Martin Gibson (is that the real name? If so, born to be a guitar picker:) ) they all owe a huge debt to Pete Seeger. Pete was the first to define the style of banjo playing used in a group ala the Weavers. He did it with the Almanacs and the Priority Ramblers. He did it with a group called the Song Swappers when they put out a recording of African rounds. AlthoughPete was not on the "charts" in the late 30's or early 40's, he was definitely influential over a wide span of time and this is principally why he is remembered and lauded today.

It was Pete's idea to form the Weavers to reach people in places where folk music had not penetrated before, namely night clubs and concerts as well as recordings.

He also was responsible for popularizing the idea of song-leading. He did this before Mitch Miller capitalized on it. Mitch owes him too.

Bob Dylan owes Pete who wouldn't hear a bad word about him in Dylan's salad days. This goes for his association with Leadbelly and Woody, and Big Bill Broonzy and Sonny Terry. Pete was tireless in their behalf. Same with Odetta. Same with Scruggs. Is there anyone who has thought to ask Scruggs personally what he thinks of Pete Seeger?

When I knew Bob Gibson in the early 50's, he had not yet taken up the banjo. He was playing guitar and singing a little ditty called, "I Want To Go Back To Where I Come From". Later, he took up the banjo.

One of the most crowning acheivements I believe Pete made is to support and publicize the clean-up of the Hudson River.

As to separating the man from the politics, I don't think you can. But you can still enjoy the music without agreeing with the politics. I'm convinced that Bill Monroe could not be separated from his politics and this might have a bearing on the music he chose to play.
Same for any artist. There certainly is a strong wave of fundmentalist religion in the bluegrass movement and Monroe was a part of it (whether he actually practiced it or not). This is a kind of "politics" and has become so even more today as we see the rise of figures such as Ralph Reed and the so-called Christian Right. But this thread of "politicking religion" has no bearing on enjoying the music of Monroe, Stanleys, Scruggs or anyone. Some have antipathy for Seeger's politics and some for Monroe's.

I choose to enjoy the music.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Jul 03 - 09:53 PM

Ah, Frank, very nice. For years I admired Pete for the logic of his social positions. Politics aside, the stands he made almost always seemed the right thing to do. They were humane and they coincided with the world view I had developed. The sad things people did to each other diminished the world from where I stood. I was young and had this life adventure in front of me. Adhering to similar positions that Mr. Seeger championed was just the way it all fell out for me. I cannot look at the world feeling as I do and come away with any other conclusions . Comes down to "Do unto others as you would want 'em to do for you." If that translates to Socialism, so be it. It sure beats having your political leaders set things up so the corporate thieves can run with the gold and never fear that justice will ever catch up with them while homelessness thrives and healthcare is inaccessable and paying for your medications is an imposibility. That gold ought to be paying for the well being of all. And those that steal it, ought to be punished.

All Pete Seeger ever said was, People, we can sure do better.

And, yes, he was a hell of a banjo player as well.

Art Thieme


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,frankham
Date: 22 Jul 03 - 07:57 PM

Hi Art,

Pete is a great humanitarian. He has advanced the idea that people can learn to get along regardless of whether they agree.

Socialism is a word that has different meanings for different people.
Some give it a bad connotation but it really is a form of what we are used to. Social Security. Early christianity. Post Office. Early Native Americans. In small ways we experience socialism throughout our country. Pete acknowledges this.

The idea that the working man or woman not privileged deserves a good shake in our society is not a strange idea. This is one of the credos that Pete has always maintained. It goes along with his selection of songs and the very reason for taking up the banjo and singing to begin with. Justice for all is part of the picture.

It's not that far away from the basic idea of Christianity before it became co-opted by religious fundamentalists on the Right.

Pete has never been an angry or condemning person. His view is that you need to give folks a chance, not just once or twice but more if possible. He is an optimist but not a pedantic or naive one. He's been around the block. He's not didactic in any way if you have a chance to talk personally to him. He's creative still with many ideas for what might make the world a better place. Some call it politics but it's more than that. It's a philosophy of life and convictions with actions to back it up.

In all the years I have known Pete, only a few times has he ever said anything negative about anyone. There are notable exceptions such as McCarthy, Hitler, Stalin (with whom he became deeply disillusioned) and maybe some recalcitrant senators who were racist. For the most part, Pete has shown an optimism and acceptance of people from all walks of life. His credo, "It's important to get along without having to go along."

This is why he is one of the most influential banjo pickers that ever lived.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 23 Jul 03 - 11:29 AM

as I was barely getting involved with banjo and guitar, I came across a small article in a long-defunct NYC magazine called Caravan-- it was by Pete Seeger and was titled "Too many people listen to me (and not to the people I learned from)."

I think this has been his philosophy all these years (look at the cover to Where have all the flowers gone) that he sees himself as a link in a chain, bringing the music of others to a wider circulation. I think of him (as I ahve said before) as highly skilled at a lot of different styles, with the added gift of finding the BEST way (or at least a really good way) of matching the accompaniment to the song-- wow.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: JedMarum
Date: 24 Jul 03 - 12:23 AM

Good stuff, Frank and Rick. The only caveat I would add about my own perspective on the notion, "Do unto others as you would want 'em to do for you" is that this is not what I expect from others, it is not what I expect from the world I live in - it is what I strive to bring into the world.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jul 03 - 09:13 PM

Hi,

I wanted to mention that Pete did use fingerpicks a lot in the early days playing for large audiences during the Henry Wallace campaign. This way he could be heard. He dropped them later when recording and micing became more sophisticated.

One of the hallmarks of the early Pete style was the silvery ring he got from playing with the picks. During the Weavers period, Pete, Erik and I all used fingerpicks.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Amos
Date: 25 Jul 03 - 12:11 AM

Frank,

Thanks. For a lot of things, but for keeping it real.

A


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 25 Jul 03 - 12:34 AM

Watch those tenses. Pete most certainly still is, not was.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 25 Jul 03 - 09:39 AM

Hi Frank. As I and a couple of others mentioned before in this thread, although Pete may have gone on and off fingerpicks at times, ALL photos of him for the last forty years show him with two up and one down. Never seen anyone else with that configuration.

Cheers

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: GUEST,Frankham
Date: 26 Jul 03 - 09:30 AM

Hi Rick,

It's interesting because I think Pete invented this way of playing. Only those of us that have copied his banjo style play this way. The index finger with the pick toward the strings and the middle and ring brushing down with the picks away from the strings. He frails with his middle finger.

Erik Darling adapted this style but occasionally used the Scruggs style index and middle finger for up-picking and the ring finger for frailing and whamming. As far as I know, though, Pete nor Erik ever used a thumbpick.

How did John Hartford do it? I believe he must have used picks at one time because he started out on Shindig as a bluegrass picker with Glen Campbell.

I have been unsuccessful in finding a way to up-pick and frail with a pick on a single finger.

Best,
Frank


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Jul 03 - 10:20 AM

HA HA Frank! I have tried for forty years to find/invent an "up and down pick". NUthin' works. I've had to invent a hybrid style that works great fo me but is devilishly hard to show other people. Thumbpick (verrrry tight 'cuz I play pretty hard.....or used to before I started fighting cancer) and two modified heavy guage fingerpicks. The thumb and index (and often middle) are constantly crossing over each other.

I can duplicate the SOUND of frailing, flatpicking, and fake classical, but it's only because I was called on to play for so many diverse players in the late sixties and early seventies. (Oscar B, Odetta, Tom Rush, Ian Tyson, G. Lightfoot, and even Casey Anderson who spent a lot of time in Toronto...do you remember him?

Cheers

Rick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 17 February 6:59 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.