CD Say Old Man, Can You Play the Banjo? (CD 894657),
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Say Old Man, Can You Play the Banjo?

  • 1. Lonesome Road Blues
    2. Daley's Reel
    3. Tom and Jerry
    4. Whiskey Before Breakfast
    5. Topeka Polka
    6. Bill Bailey
    7. Little Stream of Whiskey
    8. Say Old Man, Can You Play the Fiddle
    9. McMichan's Reel
    10. Nut Medley
    11. Johnson Boys
    12. Angeline the Baker
    13. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
    14. New Broom
    15. Sam's Song
    16. Forked Deer
    17. Katy Hill
    18. Fisher's Hornpipe
    19. Chicken Reel
    20. Little Rock Getaway
    21. Leather Britches
    22. Keep Smiling
    23. Liberty
    24. Cripple Creek
    25. Bile 'Em Cabbage Down
    26. Martha Campbell
    27. Brilliancy
    28. Snowflake Reel
    29. World Is Waiting for the Sunrise
    30. Staten Island Hornpipe
    31. Swedish Waltz
    32. Buffalo Gals
    33. Chinese Breakdown
    34. Laurel Branch
    35. Grey Eagle
    36. Three Star Hornpipe
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 175

  • Credits
    ProducerJoe "Flip" Wilson; Steven Fisher; Joe Wilson; Marc Pruett

    Personnel includes: Carroll Best (banjo).
    Engineers: Steven Heller, Pete Reiniger, Mack Snoderly.
    Recorded between 1974 & 1995. Includes liner notes by Frank Godbey, Joe Wilson.
    Digitally remastered by Charlie Pilzer, Segrid Pearson.
    Contains 36 tracks.
    Personnel: Carroll Best (banjo); Danny Johnson , Dudley Connell, Mike Rivers (guitar); Zack Allen (banjo, claw hammer banjo); Tommy Hunter, Kenny Baker , Kirk Sutphin, Laurie Lewis (fiddle).
    Audio Remasterer: Charlie Pilzer.
    Liner Note Authors: Joe "Flip" Wilson; Frank Godbey; Joe Wilson.
    Recording information: Berea College, Berea, KY (1974-1995); Bristol, TN (1974-1995); Butterside Studios, Asheville, TN (1974-1995); Carroll's Home (1974-1995).
    Photographer: Nick Spitzer.
    The title Say Old Man, Can You Play the Banjo? demands a response from the listener, and the answer is a resounding "yes" -- Carroll Best can play the banjo and play it well. But it isn't so much that he is proficient on the banjo; many musicians play Scrugg's style and claw-hammer banjo well. Best's style stands out because it is based on a lesser-known method of converting fiddle tunes to the banjo. This finger-style banjo, like finger-style guitar, consists of intricate single notes strung together, creating a rich melodic base. These recordings represent the best of Best, who recorded very little commercial music. The upbeat first cut, "Lonesome Road Blues," may strike the listener as bluegrass, but Best considered himself an old-time player. This makes sense when one listens to "Tom and Jerry" or "Whiskey Before Breakfast." The music is danceable and tuneful, but lacks the incessant drive of bluegrass. There is a nice, long version of "Angeline the Baker," a spunky take on "Chicken Reel," and a ragtime-flavored "Little Rock Getaway." Best is joined by a number of good musicians, including guitarist Danny Johnson who adds his exuberant flatpicking to the first six tracks. Most of the tunes are short, allowing an amazing number (36) to grace this album. Frank Godbey's liner notes offer a good description of Best's banjo style as well as interesting speculation about his influence on other players during the '50s and '60s. For Best fans, banjo fans, and lovers of old-time music, this CD will be a real find. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

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