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 musician, John had many unusual theories and a treasure-trove of ideas and techniques that he enthusiastically shares with learning players. With Chris Sharp backing him up on on fiddle and guitar, John’s DVD lessons provide invaluable insights into his trademark banjo sound.
On this lesson, John works with several well-known traditional and original songs taken from his vast repertoire, demonstrating a variety of ideas pertaining to his banjo style. He shows you a number of important rolls and licks, along with invaluable tips about getting good tone (finding the “sweet spot”), phrasing, accenting, using picks, playing backup and lots more. John reveals his personal tricks for playing fast (using hammers and pulls, triplets and “ghost” notes), and illustrates how he “plays the words” to a song to give his banjo solo depth and meaning.
The tunes John covers on this lesson include Cumberland Gap, Old Time River Man, Cripple Creek, and his best-known hit song, Gentle on My Mind.