...and 1/2 .... Scruggs style techniques and repertoire
J. Ross | Roseburg, OR USA | 03/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"90-minute DVD or VHS, Includes tab book + practice tracks --
Geared for intermediate players, "Bluegrass Banjo Tunes and Techniques" focuses on Scruggs style techniques, but it also will help you develop some additional repertoire. With good insight from Tony Trischka, numerous techniques and subtleties are demonstrated. Tone, time and taste are emphasized. The lesson, originally recorded in 1991, is well organized on DVD with a menu to all songs presented and 41 chapter points that are easily accessible. "Weeping Willow Tree" illustrates differences between Earl Scruggs and Don Reno's breaks that were learned from a 1958 duet presentation of the song. "Liza Jane" emphasizes the concept of leaving space in a song to highlight its melody.
With some simple positions for the left hand, Trischka shows how various right hand rolls and techniques can embellish one's playing. This lesson is best for those who have been playing awhile. Trischka quickly covers troubleshooting problems in one's playing such as leaving out notes, buzzing, gaining speed, and thumping the banjo's head. Other items covered include rolls, chokes, slides, timing, syncopation, improvisation, intros, endings, chord inversions, and back-up techniques. Along with David Grier on guitar and Andrea Zonn on fiddle, Tony demonstrates trio arrangements for each tune. Both Zonn and Grier take breaks on John Henry, John Hardy, Nine Pound Hammer, Cross-Eyed Cricket, Liza Jane, Weeping Willow Tree, Bluegrass Blues, Little Maggie, Leather Britches, and Soldier's Joy. The latter introduces the D-tuning. The only problem noted in the accompanying tablature booklet is that the backup demonstrated for "Nine Pound Hammer" is not provided.
A dedicated banjo teacher, Tony has written six books for Oak Publications and has led many banjo workshops. He is an excellent teacher who is very knowledgeable and motivational. The 90-minute lesson also includes "Homespun Practice Tracks" with the back-up for all tunes taught on the DVD. These give you the chance to get practiced up before heading for your nearest jam sessions or live gig. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)