Mel Bay and Folkways release new banjo book

American Banjo - Three Finger and Scruggs styleMel Bay has a new book of banjo transcriptions, American Banjo: Three-Finger and Scruggs Style, taken from the classic Folkways field recordings released under the same title.

Originally released in 1956, the LP version of these recordings, taken by musician and folklorist Mike Seeger, includes dozens of tracks of simple, basic – one might even say primitive – examples of the 3 finger style which had only recently been popularized by Earl Scruggs. They include recordings of Snuffy Jenkins, who is believed to have been a strong influence on the young Scruggs, Earl’s brother Junie Scruggs, Smiley Hobbs, Larry Richardson, Roni Stoneman and several others.

Folkways re-issued these recordings in 1990, adding 16 previously unreleased tracks. It is still available from Folkways, with 43 tracks on 2 CDs. Audio samples and download purchases are available via Smithsonian Global Sound.

The Mel Bay book contains 80 pages of tablature taken from the CD,  transcribed by Steve Garner. Anyone interested in the early history of 3 finger banjo will find plenty to chew on here.

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John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.