And now for something completely different… for me anyway. I’ve been a 3-finger Bluegrass-style banjo picker for, well, close to forever now. But in recent years I found myself attracted by the sound of old-time open-back banjos and the so called “clawhammer” or “frailing” style of playing .
So I let myself succumb to a bout of BAS (Banjo Acquisition Syndrome) and found a nice 1920′s vintage tenor banjo (4 strings) and had a new 5-string neck made for it by French luthier Eric Stefanelli. Eric made a beautiful neck with a “scoop” that may modern old-time players prefer. (Modern old-time???!!!) So I had to get busy and take a view video lessons and do some practicing.
One tune that had been running around my head saying it could work nicely with clawhammer banjo is an old 19th century sea shanty (sometimes written “chanty”) called New York Girls. I’ve heard it in several seafaring films, including an Australian production of Moby Dick. And it’s in the sound track of Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York.
I still have a LOT to learn about this style but I was able to knock out this arrangement of New York Girls. Vocals are better than the banjo, but I’ve been singing a lot longer than I’ve been frailing! So here it is, with my best (worst?) Irish accent for the month of St. Paddy.
WARNING! The chorus of this tune can stick in your head and bother you for days… listen at your own risk!
LISTEN TO NEW YORK GIRLS: