Clinch Mountain Echo

The Banjo Of Ralph Stanley: From Old-Time To Bluegrass

(Homespun ) 1992. Reissued on DVD (Homespun HL00641906) 2005.


The Banjo Of Ralph Stanley: From Old-Time To Bluegrass (DVD)
DVD Jacket VHS Front VHS Rear Sample Tab
Ralph with the Gold Star flat-top Jr. Blankenship, Ralph and Ernie Thacker
Curly Ray Cline and Ralph II Ralph Stanley
Mike Seeger and Ralph Stanley Clawhammer split screen example
Three-Finger split screen example Ralph and The Clinch Mountain Boys
Ralph and Ernie Thacker Ralph II and Ralph Stanley
Curly Ray Cline and Ralph Ralph, Ernie Thacker and Jack Cooke
Ernie Thacker and Jack Cooke Jr. Blankenship

Average Album Rating: 4
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This is a fine video from Homespun, and will probably appeal to the majority of Stanley fans, irrespective of whether they play the banjo or not. Ostensibly a banjo instruction recording, it also includes several live performances with the CMB's, and a handful of duets with Ralph and Curly Ray Cline, plus one with Ralph picking Wildwood Flower with 13-14 year old Ralph II.

Interspersed between the music, Mike Seeger interviews Ralph, coaxing him into demonstrating how his Mother used to play the banjo, singing a verse from Brown Girl and discussing four methods of picking in the clawhammer style, plus the two-finger method Ralph learnt from listening to Wade Mainer. Ralph also discusses his musical influences, and how some of the tunes were written, giving slowed down renditions of some of the numbers.

As with other Homespun DVD's there are good split screen demonstrations of Ralph's picking technique, and the picture / sound quality on the DVD is excellent.

The latter half of the set (which lasts nearly an hour and a half) has the CMB's performing half a dozen numbers uninterrupted, including two a cappella gospel songs, which must be a first for a banjo tape; and a clawhammer medley of I've Got A Mule To Ride / Rocky Island / Little Birdie / Shout Little Luly.

The DVD came originally with a 32 page booklet of tab's transcribed by Bill Keith, although on later copies (and the instant access download) I think this is included as a 'pdf' file. Obviously, the tab's reflect what Ralph plays on the video, rather than his recorded versions of the songs, so some, like Little Maggie or How Mountain Girls Can Love differ quite a bit.

The only down-side to the tab booklet, is that the numbers indicating what fret should be fingered, are quite small and difficult to read.

For the most part, Ralph plays one of the original 'Chrome' Stanleytone banjo's, and a borrowed '30 bracket' open-back, however Worried Man Blues features Ralph on a Gold Star flat-head...

You can find a 2 min sampler of the video of the DVD on youtube as well a 6 min extract of Little Maggie.

Track:
Title:
DVD:
(1:26:33)
1
I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (with the CMB's)

R.D. Burnett
2
Interview

NA
3
Shout Little Luly (Demo)

P.D.
4
Interview

NA
5
Little Birdie (4x Clawhammer Demo)

P.D.
6
Interview

NA
6
Brown Girl (excerpt)

P.D.
7
Interview

NA
8
Cuttin' The Cornbread

R. Stanley
9
Cripple Creek

P.D.
10
Interview

NA
11
Little Maggie (Demo)

P.D.
12
Little Maggie (with the CMB's)

P.D.
13
Interview

NA
14
Dickenson County Breakdown (demo)

R. Stanley
15
Dickenson County Breakdown (with the CMB's)

R. Stanley
16
Interview

NA
17
Hard Times (demo)

R. Stanley
18
Hard Times (with the CMB's)

R. Stanley
19
Interview

NA
20
Clinch Mountain Backstep (demo)

Ruby Rakes
21
Clinch Mountain Backstep (with the CMB's)

Ruby Rakes
22
Interview

NA
23
Train 45 (demo)

G.B. Grayson
24
How Mountain Girls Can Love (demo)

Ruby Rakes
25
How Mountain Girls Can Love (with the CMB's)

Ruby Rakes
26
Interview

NA
27
Wildwood Flower (with Ralph II)

P.D.
28
Pretty Little Indian (with Curly Ray Cline)

P.D.
29
Row Hoe (with Curly Ray Cline)

Curly Ray Cline / R. Stanley
28
Sourwood Mountain (with Curly Ray Cline)

P.D.
29
John Henry (with Curly Ray Cline)

P.D.
30
Children, Go Where I Send Thee (with the CMB's)

P.D. arr C. Love
31
I'm Willing To Try (with the CMB's)

Bob Fleming
32
Room At The Top Of The Stairs (with the CMB's)

Randall Hylton
33
Worried Man Blues (with the CMB's)

A.P. Carter
34
Medley (with the CMB's)

Donnie Joe Mullins - P.D. - P.D. - P.D.
35
I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow (with the CMB's)

R.D. Burnett

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