D for Dobro – Chris Eaton 

Following hot on the heels of 2023’s The UK & Ireland Dobro Celebration, comes D for Dobro, from Chris Eaton

Whereas the ‘Celebration‘ album featured a collection of Dobro players from around the British Isles (compiled, produced, and played on by Eaton), D for Dobro is a solo album, featuring a selection of solo arrangements using open D tuning. 

“I’ve always loved the sound of solo, unaccompanied Dobro’,” said Eaton. “I had these arrangements, which I’d been playing for ages, and felt it was time to record them’.”

Eaton added …. 

“There’s not very much repertoire for open D-tuned lap steel, certainly not many solo unaccompanied arrangements. So, I thought it would be nice if I put some of my arrangements out there, with tab and multi-angle videos available if any students are interested in learning one. 

I’ve been working on these tunes off and on over recent years. Normally you would hear The Tennessee Waltz in G tuning, and accompanied by a guitar, but my solo version actually won me first place in the Dobro category of the Battlefield Bluegrass Festival instrumental awards. The only trophy I’ve ever won…and then my son dropped it and I had to superglue it back together, ha-ha. 

The Lumineers were so kind and shared my video of Ho Hey with their Instagram followers. My notifications went crazy that day, I thought the account had been hacked. That song was a massive pop hit and I teach it to kids on ukulele too, but it just lays out nicely on the Dobro in D tuning. That’s the thing with all these arrangements, really, they suit the tuning. However, Shenandoah is known as a G tuning piece thanks to the great Dobro player, Mike Witcher. I did try to learn his way but ultimately found that it made more sense to me using D. I played that tune at the Sore Fingers teacher’s concert last October as a medley with Midnight Rider, and some people very kindly said it was the highlight of the show for them. 

Be Thou My Vision comes from an old Irish melody, but I also remember singing Lord of All Hopefulness at school in the ’80s, which uses the same tune. The Leaving of Liverpool is a family favorite which we taught the kids to sing, and it’s also the same tune used by Tony Rice as Fare Thee Well.

Always on My Mind is one of my earliest arrangements, I guess. It’s gotta be one of the greatest songs of the 20th century, right? I was pleased to perform it in Nashville when I went to study Dobro at Reso Summit.”

Here are a couple of samples …. 

Carolina in my Mind 

Be Thou My Vision 

Other tracks are…. 

  • The Tennessee Waltz (Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King (recorded by Patti Page))
  • Midnight Rider (Gregg Allman (The Allman Brothers))
  • Key to the Highway (Charlie Segar and Big Bill Broonzy (Big Bill Broonzy)) – 
  • Ho Hey (Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites (The Lumineers))
  • The Leaving of Liverpool (Traditional)
  • Always on my Mind (Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James (Elvis Presley)) 
  • Shenandoah (Traditional). 

The forthcoming release D for Dobro will be available on streaming platforms from February 1, 2024. 

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.