Clinch Mountain Echo

Steve Sparkman - Stanley Style Banjo

(March Media No #) 2008


Steve Sparkman - Stanley Style Banjo
DVD Jacket Signed copy
Steve Sparkman and James Alan Shelton Right Hand...
Split Screen... Ralph Stanley
James Alan Shelton Steve Sparkman

Average Album Rating: 4
(Total votes 1)

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Compared to the large volume of learning material that there is for 'Scruggs' and melodic banjo picking, there is very little dedicated to the 'Stanley' style, so for anyone trying to learn the Stanley style this DVD is a most welcome gem.

The main section of the DVD, which has a playing time of approx 1 hour 23 min, starts with a introduction by James Alan Shelton and Steve Sparkman talking about how Steve was recruited after Ralph broke his femur bone in 1994 and how he began playing in Ralph's style. There's then a demonstration of the index-lead forward and forward/reverse rolls, that forms one of the key elements of Stanley picking, and a brief section covering some of the backing techniques including the Stanley roll, the up the neck teardrop pattern and use of the pinch.

James, who himself was an accomplished banjo picker, acts as a kind of guide, asking Steve about different aspects of Ralph's playing including a couple of the signature licks - the 10th fret choke lick and 4th string slide roll, as well as correct right hand positioning, capo'ing and tuning tips.

The latter two thirds of the DVD have breakdowns and run-throughs at different tempo's of seven classic Stanley songs, plus Steve's own Booger Mule which the CMB's often used to perform on stage, and Steve recorded on his Smith Ridge CD.

The DVD sleeve claims "Valuable Tips For All Skill Levels" which is true, but there's no tab so it's a case of repeatedly watching a part and then trying to replicate it... As Ralph once said to a budding banjo picker, Your ear is your teacher.[1] I'm a pretty meagre picker and I got this DVD when Ralph played over her in the UK in 2009... and I'm still learning from it!

In addition to the main instruction section, the DVD also includes 20 min of interviews with Ralph Stanley, James Alan Shelton and Steve Sparkman; plus an additional interesting piece on Frank Neat's banjo workshop and his Stanleytone banjo's.[2]

Ralph's style of picking is sometimes labelled as being 'simple' but if you study it you'll find it is really is a lot more nuanced that he usually get's credit for.

Sadly this one has been out of print for a while... and is now quite sought after.

Track:
Title:
1
Introduction

NA
2
The Stanley Sound

NA
3
Signature Licks

NA
4
Proper Stance

NA
5
Pretty Polly

P.D.
6
Little Maggie

P.D.
7
Katie Daly

Eamon O'Shea arr Paul Mullins
8
Clinch Mountain Backstep

Ruby Rakes
9
Daybreak In Dixie

Bill Napier
10
Hard Times

R. Stanley
11
Midnight Ramble

Ruby Rakes
12
Booger Mule

Steve Sparkman
13
Special Features: - Interview with Dr. Ralph Stanley

NA
14
Special Features: - Interview with James Alan Shelton

NA
15
Special Features: - Interview with Steve Sparkman

NA
16
Special Features: - A visit with Frank Neat

NA

 


Go To Top Of Page [1] 'pickinfive's comment on the Banjo Hangout 24th June 2016:- https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/319837
[2] Although the 'Stanleytone' banjo's are no longer being made, you can still get a Frank Neat Archtop: http://neatbanjos.com/