I had the pleasure of working up a tribute set to Ray Charles with Roosevelt Dime as part of the Dam Festival this summer. Every tune I worked on unlocked new little nuggets of polyphonic bluesy genius that will be deep parts of my repertoire moving forward. As always, the lesson is that if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best. A few excerpts below…
Proud to have another of my columns published in the February 2018 issue of Banjo Newsletter. Another Fess tune, but this time I tackled both the bass and rhythm/lead parts at the same time. Don’t try this at home kids. Actually… do try it, and hit me up if you’d like the transcription.
Albert Ammons, along with Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis are the early kings of boogie woogie piano, and their repertoires are an absolute goldmine of incredible licks. I tried to incorporate some of the left hand chop in with the right hand licks – that’s part of the fun and the challenge of adapting piano parts to the banjo. Check out the original version below if you’re not familiar with it, and hope you enjoy the creative license I took with it to make it sound more natural on the 5-string.
Started riffing on this classic boogie woogie pattern after this Nola legend passed away. Much of it is pretty straightforward but then he’ll hit you with some totally out of the box turnaround which is really unexpected.
I generally focus on the right hand of piano players when I’m copping licks, as they translate really well to banjo. But sooner or later I had to reckon with working out the right and left hands together. This Professor Longhair standard seemed like the obvious starting point, and the drop-C tuning really opened up some nice voicings.