The Art of the Mountain Banjo

A complete survey of traditional banjo styles complete with tunings, playing tips, and the author's deft drawings. Progresses from easy tunes for the beginner to more difficult pieces. The styles include up-picking or Pete Seeger's basic strum; two-finger picking; three-finger picking; and what had variously been called frailing, clawhammer, knocking, rapping, overhand, fram-style, flayin' hand, and other Appalachian names, here called down-picking. Digital download available.

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Banjo: Clawhammer – Beginning-Intermediate
Squareback saddle stitch. Book and online audio. Published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc.

Art Rosenbaum of Athens, Georgia, has been collecting, studying, and performing traditional American music for over 35 years. He sings and plays 5-string banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, and mouth bow. His repertoire, much of it learned first-hand in the course of his field work, ranges for Appalachian banjo tunes and ballads through Southern and Midwestern fiddle tunes to blues and spirituals. Rosenbaum began seeking out traditional performers while in his teens, rediscovering and recording the great blues guitarist Scrapper Blackwell and fiddler John W. Summers, both in his home state of Indiana. He produced LPs of Indiana blues and folk music, the first of the over 14 documentary recordings he has recorded and produced over the years. While living in New York City, he was part of the folk revival of the ’50s and ’60s, performing in as well as organizing concerts of traditional music with the Friends of Old Time Music.

Through the years Rosenbaum has performed in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and appeared at the Newport, Winnipeg, Mariposa, and Philadelphia folk festivals. He has worked solo and in duo with Iowa fiddler Al Murphy and played with string bands such as the Passaic Country Chanb’ry Player and Pappy Wells’ Ozark Square Dance Band. Currently, he plays banjo with Phil Tanner’s Skillet Lickers of Dacula, Georgia, a continuation of the famous Gid Tanner’s Skillet Lickers founded by Phil’s grandfather in the 1920s. He has recorded with many folk performers and had two solo recordings on the Kicking Mule label. Among his recent performances are solo concerts in 1995 and 1998 at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is occasionally joined in performance by Margo Rosenbaum on banjo.

An authority on traditional banjo styles, Rosenbaum wrote two instructional books on the banjo, the influential Old-Time Mountain Banjo (Oak Publications, 1968) and The Art of the Mountain Banjo (Kicking Mule, 1975). He was a teacher/performer at all three semi-annual sessions of the Tennessee Banjo Institute. He is also author of Folk Visions and Voices: Traditional Music and Song in North Georgia (University of Georgia Press, 1983) which also features his drawings and paintings and Margo Newmark Rosenbaum’s photographs. Art and Margo Rosenbaum have collaborated on a second book, Shout Because You’re Free; The Ring Shout and Its Survival in a Georgia Coastal Community, released by the University of Georgia Press in 1998.

Art Rosenbaum is a regular recording and book reviewer for The Old Time Herald and he and his wife were featured in an article in that magazine in 1995. Art was director of the University of Georgia Festival of North Georgia Traditional Music and Dance on the occasion of the 1996 Olympic Games. Rosenbaum teaches drawing and painting in the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia.

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Song List

Black-Eyed Susie (1:27)
Buck Creek Girls {Medley} (On Cd)
Charming Molly Brannigan {G Medley} (Not On Cd)
Cottage In The Grove (1:13)
Country Blues (3:45)
Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down (Medley) (On Cd)
Dry And Dusty (Not On Cd)
Goin’ ‘Cross The Sea (Not On Cd)
Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad
Got A Little Home To Go To (Not On Cd)
Grey Eagle (Not On Cd)
Grub Springs (Not On Cd)
Had A Little Fight In Mexico (Not On Cd)
Harlan County Farewell Tune {Medley} (On Cd)
Hell On The Wabash {G Medley} (On Cd)
In The Pines (1:54)
John Brown’s Dream (1:12)
John Henry (Not On Cd)
Kicking Mule (2:51)
Liberty (Not On Cd)
Little Birdie (1:49)
Make Me A Pallet (Not On Cd)
Mississippi Sawyer {D Medley} (On Cd)
Muskrat (Not On Cd)
Old Joe Clark (2:06)
Old Molly Hare {D Medley} (On Cd)
Old Ruben (Not On Cd)
Rise When The Rooster Crows (2:18)
Rocky Island (1:15)
Sally Goodin (Not On Cd)
Sandy River (1:24)
Seneca Square Dance {G Medley} (On Cd)
Smoky Mountain Cass Moore’s Tune (Not On Cd)
Soldier’s Joy {D Medley} (On Cd)
Spanish Fandango (Medley) (On Cd)
Stony Point {Medley} (On Cd)
Sweet Nora Lee (1:31)
Teetotaler’s Fancy {G Medley} (Not On Cd)
Tennessee Line Hard Times (1:26)
Texas Rangers (Not On Cd)
The Arkansas Traveler (1:31)
The Green Beds (3:12)
Turkey In The Straw (Not On Cd)
Waterbound (Not On Cd)


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