Pony Songs – Bo

‘Bo’ is a new song written this week, although the chorus was written a few weeks ago and had been lacking any decent verses to go around it. Even so, I’m not sure these verses go with this chorus either.

For a bit of fun I’ve run this through GarageBand to add a drum and percussion track on these two versions:

Strummed version:

Finger picked version:

Frailing Banjo Week 28

Progress check after 28 weeks of my journey of learning the craft of frailing or clawhammer old-time banjo. This week I muse on how other musicians are always practicing more than me, and run through three of the tunes from the Tuneworks book – Speed The Plough, Morpeth Rant and Winster Gallop.

Frailing Banjo Week 22

Week 22 of my learning the craft of playing Frailing Banjo by watching Patrick Costello videos on YouTube. This week it’s more John Hardy and Boil ’em Cabbage Down, a quick rendition of You Are My Sunshine, the Banjo version of my song ‘Millie’ and an early version of the guitar version of ‘Millie’ too all crammed into 12 minutes.

Boil ‘em Cabbage Down Lyrics

These are the verses we sing for Boil ‘em Cabbage Down, most are genuine official verses but some we just like to make up ourselves so don’t be surprised if no-one else knows what you’re on about if you sing one of our verses at a hoe-down or jam.

The tune in C goes:

CC FF CC GG
CC FF CG CC

And for the 5 string banjo tuned in Open G, the melody notes are all on the first string except for the last bar where they are on the second string of the C chord:

C(1)C(1) F(1)F(1) C(1)C(1) G(1)G(1)
C(1)C(1) F(1)F(1) C(1)G(1) C(2)C(2)

You can also have some fun mixing it up alternating 1 and 4:

C(4)C(4) F(1)F(1) C(4)C(4) G(1)G(1)
C(4)C(4) F(1)F(1) C(4)G(1) C(2)C(2)

Or use a 1 and 2 progression:

C(1)C(2) F(1)F(2) C(1)C(2) G(1)G(2)
C(1)C(2) F(1)F(2) C(1)G(1) C(2)C(2)

I had a play with this sequence in Week 20 of my Learning To Play Frailing Banjo videos – take a look here [link].

The Lyrics

Went up on a mountain, to give my a horn a blow
Thought I heard my true love say, yonder comes my beau

Boil ‘em cabbage down, down
Bake them oatcakes brown, brown
The only song that I can sing
Is boil them cabbage down

Heard my dog the other night, thought he’d tree’d a ‘coon
Saw them walking paw to paw, later by the light of the moon

Someone stole my old ‘coon dog, I wish they’d bring him back
He’d chase them hogs right over the fence and the little ones through a crack

Possum’s in a ‘simmon tree, racoon’s on the ground
Racoon says ‘you son of a gun, won’t you throw some ‘simmons down’

Racoon’s got a bushy tail, possum’s tail is bare
Rabbit’s got no tail at all, just an itty bitty bunch o’hair

Racoon and Possum, walking ‘cross the prairie
Racoon says to Possum ‘would you like to marry?’

Racoon’s died of the whooping cough, Possum’s died of the colic
Along comes a frog with a fiddle on his back enquiring the way to the frolic

The water in the river was mighty cold, we thought that we might drown
Along came a fisherman and pulled us out, back on to dry ground

Met a possum in the road, blind as he could be
Jumped the fence and whipped my dog and bristled up at me

Once I had an old grey mule, his name was Simon Slick
He’d roll his eyes and back his ears and how that mule could kick

How that mule would kick, he kicked with his dying breath
He shoved his hind feet down his throat and kicked himself to death

We also have a few ‘work in progress’ verses based on ‘Grandpa Willie’:

Grandpa Willie won’t wear no pants, Todd don’t know what to do
It wouldn’t be all that bad ‘cept Pammy won’t wear hers too

Todd and Pammy go dancin’, out on a Friday night
Grandpa Willie won’t take his meds, it’s gonna be a fight

Grandpa Willie says things were different, back in his old day
Bobby thinks he made it all up, it might just be that way

https://youtu.be/Rcuzi_mjS-E

This Damn War

Another song from early last year, recorded in the back of the yellow van parked up at a Devon campsite in August this year. I don’t play this one very often so I’m quite distracted looking over at the lyrics in this recording.

 

Here’s the lyrics, it would be great to see your interpretations of it:

D F maybe C

I don’t know where she got that frown from
I ain’t seen it anywhere before
But then things used to be much better
Way back before this damn war

I hear the gunfire crackling overhead
The politicians have all gone now
And the sick are left lying in their beds
Things used to be so much better back then

There ain’t many of us left now
Just me and her and this god damn war
I don’t know who we were fighting this for

I don’t know where she got that frown from
I didn’t see it anywhere before

Things could have been so much easier
If we’d only listened to what they said
Politicians have all gone now
They left us dying in our beds

 

 

 

Learning Frailing Banjo Week 19

It’s week 19 and I’ve been practicing a new song ‘John Hardy’, one of the key priorities for me on the banjo is to learn the tunes and the words rather than having to depend on tabs and song sheets to remember them as I seem to have to do with the guitar. I have been practicing the first three lines of each verse (CC FC GG GG) and started by just playing the first string as the melody note for each chord. Once I had this cracked, as in I had learnt the order of the chords, I then looked again and practiced the melody strikes for each of those chords ie string 21 11 12 34 for each of those chords above. Looking at the tabs in Patrick Costello’s ‘The Outlaws and Sealawags Songbook’ there’s some funky hammer-ons and single note strikes at the end of each line to add in as well as soon as I am comfortable. That’s the great thing about learning these songs, they can be as simple or as complex as you like for your own stage of learning.

In this week’s video I also talk about making the melody notes sing and the twin trails of learning to play fast and also learning to play accurately as I fumble for the F chord.

Clipped Wings

At a summer camp celebrating the freedom of child-led education, attendance at the mandatory Monday morning recycling ‘workshop’ was announced by megaphone. ‘Clipped Wings’ is our response to that contradiction, the 3 chord tune provided a soundtrack to loosely rhyming contradictory statements which we threw onto some paper, this is just one version of it.

Learning Frailing Banjo Week 18

In week 18 I’m back at home again after our visit to Cleckheaton Folk Festival shown in the last video and also some time spent in Ceredigion, Wales where I recorded the guitar on the beach videos for ‘Ride On’ and ‘Say Goodbye To Me Gently’. I’ve submitted ‘Say Goodbye To Me Gently’ to the Lichfield Arts Song Writing Competition, so fingers crossed for the composition in the competition.

Today I talk about being able to pick out the melody notes from the general noise that I make on the banjo and also the start of the process of migrating another of my guitar songs, ‘Woman Without Dog’ to the banjo. We had a slightly lost and stressful morning of trying to figure out how many beats in the bar there were for each of my guitar finger picks for each chord in the song to then compare to a banjo strike/strum/thumb of which there are 2 sets to each bar. We had to start with the assumption that the song was in 4/4 time and came out with the probable timing of:

D – 4 or 5 or 6 bars
She’s up in the park every

G – 3 or 4 bars
day…………

C – 4 or 5 or 6 bars
Walking her dog at least that’s what she

G – 3 or 4 bars
says…………

IMG_2032

And finally my other project of learning the yoga headstand of Salamba Sirsana continues as a reminder that improvement is learnt and is achieved through regular practice.