Back in January we wrote about the banjo tab book expected this spring from Patton Wages, five string man with Volume Five. He’s since sent along a copy for us to look over, and it’s a first rate publication that should be a welcome addition to the learning library of any bluegrass banjo picker, especially if you enjoy the music of his band.
Volume Five has earned their reputation for playing music that fits squarely into the contemporary traditional bluegrass vein, while offering enough “something new” to make them unique. Part of that comes from the distinctive voice of lead singer Glen Harrell, and the fact that the band always chooses quality songs to record.
But part also comes from Patton’s banjo playing, and the way he works a bluesy sound into an approach that draws heavily on the legacy of Earl Scruggs and J.D. Crowe. Experienced pickers will have no difficulty playing through his arrangements, while grabbing some useful licks along the way. Banjo students and fairly new players can learn a great deal from Patton’s sparse approach, sticking very closely to the vocal melody of the songs and employing the familiar techniques of the style to make the tune stand out.
The book includes the banjo breaks and selected backup sections from 17 Volume Five cuts, taken from both their Drifter and Voices CDs. Russell Sawler did the transcriptions, and they are presented using professional notation software with chord symbols and occasional left hand finger markings included. All of the tabs are clear and easy to read, and printed large enough for even old timers to see.
A foreword from Sammy Shelor and an introduction from Wages opens the book, followed by an explanation of the tablature system and the picking fingers. It runs a total of 52 pages.
Sawler is a highly experienced transcriber in the banjo world, having previously published several volumes of J.D. Crowe tabs, and books that accompany recent recordings by Kristin Scott Benson, Greg Cahill, and Jason Davis. He has also created tab books for Ron Stewart. Most of these can be purchased from Russell’s web site.
The Patton Wages tab book can be ordered for $20 plus shipping from the Volume Five web site, or by contacting Patton by email. It will be most advantageous if you also have the recordings, which can also be purchased from Volume Five.