music clip of the day


Category: banjo

Thursday, April 13th

old school

Tommy Jarrell (fiddle, vocals), “Cripple Creek,” live, Mt. Airy, N.C., 1983

Monday, July 4th

Happy Fourth!

Let’s celebrate by remembering three giants.

Ralph Stanley, singer, banjo player, February 25, 1927-June 23, 2016

“Little Maggie,” live (TV show), Austin, Tx., 1980


Bernie Worrellkeyboard player, April 19, 1944-June 24, 2016

Live (with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic), Switzerland (Montreux Jazz Festival), 2004


Scotty Moore, guitar player, December 27, 1931-June 28, 2016

“Blue Suede Shoes” (with Elvis Presley), live, 1956




Today, Louis Armstrong’s adopted birthday, it’s all Louis all day at WKCR (Columbia University).

Wednesday, April 1st

Ever notice how musical white folks are?

The Handsome Family, “Darling, My Darling” (R. Sparks), live, Australia (Sydney), 2010



art beat: more from Friday at the Art Institute of Chicago

Paul Klee (1879-1940), Death in the Garden (Legend), 1919


Thursday, May 15th

sounds of Surry County, North Carolina

Tommy Jarrell (fiddle, vocals), Chester McMillan (guitar), Frank Bodie (guitar), Ray Chatfield (banjo), “Let Me Fall,” live, Mt. Airy, North Carolina, 1983

Wednesday, January 29th


Pete Seeger, singer, songwriter, banjo player, May 3, 1919-January 27, 2014

“Michael, Row the Boat Ashore,” live, Australia (Melbourne), 1963


“Amazing Grace,” live, New York (90th birthday concert, Madison Square Garden), 5/3/09

Thursday, August 15th

Strangeness, in today’s musical world, is sadly undervalued.

Daniel Higgs (vocals, banjo), live, London (Cafe Oto), 2011





art beat: Tuesday at the Art Institute of Chicago (after a hearing at the nearby federal court building)

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Cranes at Umezawa Manor in Sagami Province (from Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji)



reading table

Speaking of insomnia, last night I came upon this.

Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life the less man has to do with aught that looks like death.

—Herman Melville (1819-1891), Moby-Dick

Wednesday, 5/2/12

Nothing hits the spot, sometimes, like a homicidal love song.

The Handsome Family, “My Beautiful Bride”
Live, Australia (Sydney), 2010

More? Here.



art beat: Monday at the Art Institute of Chicago

Utagawe Hiroshige, Autumn Moon over Tama River (from the series Eight Views of the Environs of Edo), 1837-38

Thursday, 4/5/12


Earl Scruggs, banjo player, January 6, 1924-March 28, 2012

With Doc Watson (vocals, guitar) and their sons (Merle Watson, Randy & Steve Scruggs), live, 1971, Deep Gap, North Carolina (Doc’s home)

Monday, 12/12/11

Maybe everything in your life would be better—or at least seem better—
if only you had more banjo.

Sam Amidon, “As I Roved Out” (trad.), live, Austin (SXSW), 2011

Sunday, 9/18/11


Wade Mainer, singer, banjo player, April 21, 1907-September 12, 2011

“I’ll Be a Friend to Jesus” (1936)

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Singing, playing, talking (c. 2004)

Part 1

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Part 2

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Part 3

Vodpod videos no longer available.



What we was playin’ in the ’30s was true country music—no electric instruments, no copyrights. Something’d happen and someone’d write a song about it—nobody owned it, nobody’d know who wrote it. The music just told a story.

Wade Mainer

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