British banjoist Leon Hunt has compiled his columns about the five string written for Acoustic Magazine into a large-format paperback book, with the efficient and highly descriptive title, The Banjo Columns.
Acoustic Magazine is published in the UK for all all non-amplified string musicians, but guitarists are the primary focus. in 2010, they asked Leon to come aboard to write a monthly column introducing guitar players to the wonders of the banjo. After a series of introductory pieces, his column was so popular that it has continued to this day. In it, he provides advice and tips on technique, covers topics of general five string interest, and provides tablature transcriptions for tunes from the wide banjo repertoire, and his own original compositions.
Over the course of 95 pages (A4) you get 34 complete columns, each with an accompanying tab, covering a wide array of styles and approached. Leon covers Earl Scruggs, of course, as well as Ralph Stanley, Pete Seeger, Allen Shelton, J.D. Crowe, Bill Keith, and Béla Fleck. It’s not meant as an instructional guide, but more as a banjo companion, full of useful information and challenging tunes.
There is bluegrass (Dear Old Dixie, Grandfather’s Clock, Little Maggie, Hard Times, Old Home Place, Salty Dog Blues), fiddle tunes (Devil’s Dream, Blackberry Blossom, Jerusalem Ridge, Ashokan Farewell, Arkansas Traveller), blues (Foggy Mountain Special, Maycomb County Blues)as well as a sampling of songs and tunes from outside the traditional music realm (Frozen Waltz, Scarborough Fair, You Are My Sunshine).
The book comes with a link to YouTube videos of Hunt playing many of these pieces in a split screen video. It is published in cooperation with Fairfield Banjos, the instrument that Leon endorses.
The Banjo Columns sells for €12 from Leon’s web site, which with shipping to the US, comes to roughly $23.
Regardless of your level of proficiency on the banjo, this book will provide many hours of reading and playing enjoyment. Thanks, Leon!