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DVD-The Banjo According To John Hartford #1
DVD-The Banjo According To John Hartford 1
Actor: John Hartford
Director: Happy Traum
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2004     1hr 0min

This is the first of two highly-packed lessons that provide a rare opportunity to spend time with the late John Hartford and get his personal take on how he plays the five-string banjo. A thoughtful and knowledgable musici...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: John Hartford
Director: Happy Traum
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Independently Distributed
Studio: Homespun Tapes
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/29/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A chance to get in John Hartford's head
RE Geiger | 12/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"John Hartford is the only banjo player who has a style so unique as to make his playing instantly recognizable to me. So, when I picked up a banjo again after a 25 year distraction, I was curious to know what he had to say about his playing.

These two DVDs are a sort of master class for five-string banjo players. You might think you are going to learn some cool licks and how to play some of his songs - and you can - but the real value of these DVDs is the chance to get inside John Hartford's head and begin to understand how he thinks about music.

He starts out pretty basic - on a level even the greenest beginner can relate to and progresses to more and more advanced concepts, yet nothing out of reach. There is enough substance here that, unless you are a very advanced player, you will have enough to keep you challenged for quite a while. Tablature is included. (I hate tabs - music is so much easier and more understandable.) The tabs are not entirely reliable, so if you don't think it sounds right, it's probably the tab and not you. However, enterprising banjo players will not be trying to copy John Hartford's playing. Enterprising players will be looking for ways to incorporate John's ideas into their own playing.

I was particularly interested to learn about his "slide whistle" lick. It is a defining characteristic of his playing. He uses it effortlessly and is surprisingly self deprecating about it. I tend to think that it is neither as "phony" nor as easy as he claims. Great players make the difficult sound easy.

The production and sound are good quality. The editing perhaps could have been a little tighter, but it was obviously loosely scripted, as a master class would be. Chris Sharp looks bored.

Don't be tempted to buy only half of the set."