I picked out the following clips to illustrate my favorite banjo style. Call it "Clawhammer" or "Frailing" or any one of similar descriptive names, it's the quintessential banjo style for Old Time.
I won't go into the history of the banjo or of the Bluegrass three finger style championed by Earl Scruggs or Reno.
Suffice it to say, there are many styles of banjo playing and "clawhammer" is what your going to hear in Old Time jams and festivals.
For me, this style speaks to me in the same way a fiddle played in the old Ozark way does. It plucks a chord within me not touched by anything else and it leaves me wanting more.
Bill Monroe used to talk about those "ancient tones". This is what I am speaking about too. Or to get more high falutin, and recall my Jungian framework, "Primal Archetypes". These things are often hard to put your finger on but when you encounter them YOU KNOW.
Clawhammer makes me have one of those YOU KNOW moments as does the Ozark Fiddle.
It's like you've heard it before in the way you remember hearing your Mother call "Supper time!" when you were a kid. It's a call home ET moment. You feel like your being called home but you can't really say you've been there before.
Jung calls this a phenomena of Archetypes that fit those deep places within in that are magically filled by these expressions.
I think this is why so many of us respond to a most non-commercial musical expression. We don't care that the vast crowds are not hearkening to this sound. It's irrelevant to us. We just HAVE to have it. So much so, that most of us will take up an instrument and try to learn to play just to scratch that itch within us. Many or most will never really get good at it either but we won't mind so much. We just HAVE to do it.
For me, it started when I first heard Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. I soon bought my first album and I was hooked.
Then came others.
And the more I learned, the more I gravitated to Old Time. As Bluegrass got more commercial and "Pop", I went in the other direction and went to Old Time and more specifically, Ozark Old Time. I have of course expanded that in recent years.
I kind of got off the track on the idea of this post which was how much I like Clawhammer banjo. enjoy these clips. No specific connection to Kansas or Missouri. Just good playing I found.
THE NEXT TWO CLIPS ARE BY THE SAME PLAYER WHO DOES A REAL NICE JOB. TOM MACKENSIE
God, I miss Mike Seeger. The more I go on the more I am pulled towards his work. I just miss him terrible and wish I had the chance to meet him. Maybe I will get to later on down the path. Who knows what that great end will really be like but I can hope.