Why Do String-Band Pickers Grin?

You’ve heard the cliche “pickin’ and grinnin’” since you were knee-high to a grasshopper. To non-musicians it’s more-or-less a hint that you’re in for a night of good old-timey music fun. But what does it really mean? And why do certain musicians, especially Bluegrass banjo pickers grin while they pick?…

Continue reading

Will the One “Right” Way to Play the 5-String Banjo Please Stand Up?

Originally posted September 18, 2015 So, I learned 5-string banjo in the 1960s, following the example of a variety of folk artists, especially Pete Seeger, who – despite being basically a frailer – had mastered several other techniques, and didn’t feel bad about adjusting his playing style to the song.…

Continue reading

Who Owns Folk Songs?

Originally posted August 23, 2015 Folks working with traditional music often run into fake copyright notices on the sheet music they buy. One particular publisher often gets credit and even publishing royalties for recordings of songs that were written long before that company existed, only because they affixed a copyright…

Continue reading