McClurg Jam

McClurg Jam

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bob Carlin, clawhammer banjo player

For some reason I have purchased a lot of John Carlin's recordings. John is a master clawhammer banjo player and historian/folklorist who published a history of the instrument a few years back. "The Birth of the Banjo: Joel Walker Sweeney and Early Minstrelsey" John Carlin was a member of John Hartford's String Band and he played on Hartford's last CD, Hamilton Ironworks which is my reason for talking about him here. In addition to that, he helped out on Gene Goforth's CD the Hartford produced, "Eminence Breakdown". When you listen to Hartford's CD's your going to often hear him playing in the background while John is on the fiddle. For some odd reason, I don't hear much about him here in our region. I suppose it's because he is a North Carolinian and his orbit remains there and I have no notion that he has ever come our way to play that I am aware of. It's possible he has and I missed it. I am writting this to encourage you to give him a listen. He is truly a Master on the banjo. I must warn you he is different and has a sense of humor. Some of his stuff is kind of silly and odd but over all I enjoy what he does. Like past banjo men, he agree's that a banjo player must be funny. His book is on my list for future reading and I ought to have read it some time ago. I should be able to give you a review but alas I have slacked in my duties to you my dear readers. I want to recommend a couple other of his recordings that are most worthy of your buying. One he did with Bruce Molsky, "Take me As I Am" which came out in 2006. This one is particularly good and anything that Bruce Molsky does it excellent in my opinion. The other recording I want to point to you is "The Boys of North Carolina"(2003) I really liked this one and the tunes he picked. He tends toward minstrel tunes and they are an interesting lot. Have a listen to some fine pickin. Maybe you will catch the Carlin bug too. I hope so. The reason I am talking about him is the tie in with Hartford and the recordings he has done with Hartford and Goforth who as you well know are missouri fiddlers of renown. He sets the bar high on clawhammer banjo and I really like listening to him. I won't be able to do it but I wish someone would research banjo playing and the Ozarks. I suspect there is a weak tradition for it but I really don't know. I know there are some fine players out there NOW but it was not always so and I believe, or my impression is that Bluegrass style playing was pretty much it for many years back in the day until interested folks took it up since the sixties or seventies. If I am wrong TELL ME. In the meanwhile, check out John Carlin.

2 comments:

  1. Do you mean Bob Carlin ?? many thanks for posting..
    Claude, from Belgium..

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes Claude! I do mean Bob! Thanks for pointing this out!

    ReplyDelete

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