Rick Good | Rick Good - the Human Banjo Player

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Country: Americana Folk: Appalachian Folk Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Rick Good - the Human Banjo Player

by Rick Good

This eclectic collection of banjo songs & tunes represents over forty years of playing & includes traditional & original material played in the clawhammer style & two & three fingered-styles, ranging from solo pieces to full string band settings.
Genre: Country: Americana
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Durham’s Ninth
3:03 $0.99
2. Always Lift Him Up and Never Knock Him Down
3:06 $0.99
3. Trouble On the Brandywine
2:16 $0.99
4. Bottled and Sold
2:08 $0.99
5. Tuff Buck
2:21 $0.99
6. The Cat’s Got the Measles
3:12 $0.99
7. Sally Goodin
2:51 $0.99
8. Streets of the Capitol
2:47 $0.99
9. Run, Molly, Run
2:47 $0.99
10. Rocky Fork
3:03 $0.99
11. Devil in the Wind
2:12 $0.99
12. Pretty Little Girl I Brought Along
2:46 $0.99
13. Flowery Girls Quintet
2:36 $0.99
14. All Going Out and Nothing Coming In
3:58 $0.99
15. Bottomland
3:21 $0.99
16. Flowery Girls
2:41 $0.99
17. I'm Gettin' Happy
2:09 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
I’ve been playing the banjo for almost fifty years and earning a living at it my entire adult life. No joke. The banjos I play on this recording are:

• 1974 Ome, custom-made (not for me) maple banjo with engraved, gold-plated hardware, a Mastertone-style tone ring and a busted resonator
• A. A. Farland Concert Grand beveled-top, wood rim banjo, 11.5'' rim, circa 1902
• Vega openback with a 1918 Whyte Ladye 10.25'' rim and a 1910 Regent neck
• Gibson banjo-guitar, 11'' rim, circa 1910 , with brass tone ring and resonator
• gourd banjo with 4 strings (the lowest string being the missing one) made by Mike Martin of Sunhearth Folk Instruments around 1983, designed after a well
known painting from the late 1700s by John Rose entitled, The Old Plantation.

1. DURHAM’S NINTH (traditional)
The fiddling of Van Buren Kidwell was a significant, early influence on my banjo playing. Originally from central Kentucky, Van retired from farming to Miamisburg, Ohio where he picked up his fiddle and played like he never wanted to put it down again. He made me bleed. The second tune in this opening medley, Durham's Reel, is one of his. The first tune, Ninth of January, came to us from Jeff Goehring.

This cut comes first because playing in a getdown, moonshine lit session is the purest of musical joy for me. For the last six years, Ben Cooper and I have been hosting a Wednesday night session at the Trolley Stop in Dayton. In true Fiddlin’ Van tradition, the ShoeFly quartet takes no prisoners here.

Rick: clawhammer banjo (aDADE)
Ben Cooper: fiddle
Paul Kovac: guitar
Sharon Leahy: bass

West Virginia fiddler and songwriter, Blind Alfred Reed was the voice of conscience in the early days of country music. His lyrics were often words to live by, especially in this fine song.

Rick: three-fingered banjo (gCGBD), guitar, vocal

I learned this tune from the playing of Jim Morrison, one of the many Kentuckians from down around Renfro Valley who came up to settle in Dayton. Jim brought his banjo to the Living Arts Center where, for a couple of years in the mid-seventies, the Hotmud Family hosted jam sessions on Tuesday nights and a country music jamboree every Wednesday night which broadcast live on WYSO Radio. I particularly like the way the parts progress from a simple two-fingered style, to old time three-fingered, all the way to a quasi-Scruggs pattern. Jim is the only one I ever heard play this tune and I tried to learn it just the way he played it.

Rick: two & three-fingered banjo (gDGBD)

4. BOTTLED AND SOLD (Tommy Thompson)
Banjo player, composer and playwright Tommy Thompson was a founding member of the Red Clay Ramblers. His play, The Last Song of John Proffit—from whence comes this song—is the story of American music’s dark beginnings. I’ve had the honor of performing this powerful piece of theater myself and hope to again someday. It’s some of Tommy’s finest work and that’s saying a lot. It was for this play that my gourd banjo was built and, coming from the same gourd, it is a twin to Tommy's.

Rick: clawhammer fretless gourd banjo (eEG#B), vocal

5. TUFF BUCK (Rick Good)
The dancers of Maggie Valley, North Carolina have made their mark on Southern clogging. Years ago, I met two of the best—Burton and Caroline Edwards—at Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp. That’s where my daughter, Emma first saw their “Tuff Buck” style of dancing. A few years later, she choreographed a dance for Rhythm in Shoes in this style and I used this breakdown to go with it.

Rick: bluegrass banjo (aEAC#E)
Rayna Gellert: fiddle
Ben Cooper: guitar, bass
Kevin Anderson: drums

6. CAT’S GOT THE MEASLES (traditional)
I first heard this whimsical song played by Mike Seeger and Tracy Schwarz on a New Lost City Ramblers record. They performed it in an oldtime stringband style. A recording from the early 1920s by Papa Charlie Jackson featured his six-string banjo and sounded more like a Vaudeville song. Here is a bit of both.

Rick: banjo-guitar, vocal
Jack Herrick: virtual tuba
Kevin Anderson: drums

7. SALLY GOODIN (traditional)
And on the eighth day, God picked up his fiddle and played Sally Goodin. Done here in a style reminiscent of Omer Forster. More about him later.

Rick: two-fingered banjo (gCGBD)

One only has to see the picture once: a cellist playing in the war torn streets of Sarajevo. Chamber music, folk songs, novels, children’s books—all have been inspired by Vedran Smajlović’s poignant act of courage. This tune became the third movement of Sharon Leahy’s powerful and deeply moving dance/theater piece of the same name which premiered in 1994, at Jacob’s Pillow.

Rick: clawhammer fretless gourd banjo, guitar, synth

9. RUN, MOLLY, RUN (traditional)
John Proffit says, “They call it knockin’ the banjo nowadays. Back when I learnt, it was the only way to play and they didn’t call it anything.” The overhand style that some say came from Africa along with the banjo goes by a lot of names. I first heard it called frailing but these days it’s commonly referred to as clawhammer. I think of them as two different styles—the frailing being simpler and heavy on the chordal rhythm (like Grandpa Jones), while the clawhammer employs more drop-thumbing to produce individual melody notes (like Kyle Creed). I thought this song would work well at the Grandpa Jones end of the spectrum. I got it from a late twenties Vocalion recording by “Ragtime Texas” Henry Thomas.

Rick: frailed banjo, vocal
Sharon Leahy: guitar, vocal
Emma Young: bass

10. ROCKY FORK (Rick Good)
Southern Week at Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp has been a part of my summers for twenty years. Among the many joys it offers is the opportunity to just sit and play the banjo for Sharon’s clogging classes. My banjo taught me this tune while doing just that one day. I have an old photograph of my dad heading off into the woods to go fishing. He was about twenty years old, carefree and happy. I named this tune after one of his favorite fishing holes.

Rick: clawhammer banjo (aDADE), guitar
Rayna Gellert: fiddles
Ben Cooper: bass
Kevin Anderson: drums

11. DEVIL IN THE WIND (Rick Good)
On April 3, 1974, one of the strongest tornados ever recorded roared past Spring Valley and straight through Xenia, Ohio. I’ll never forget how the sky looked that day. The earth trembled. Thirty-four people lost their lives and it’s now the stuff of legend. Later that week, the line, “Run get ma, tell ’er somethin’s really wrong; there’s a black cloud blowin’ like a war goin’ on.” first popped into my head. Thirty-six years later, I finished the song.

Rick: three-fingered banjos (gDGCD & bGCFG), vocal

I don’t know if this or any other tune called a banjo schottische actually qualifies as a proper schottische, but there is a tradition of them to which I make this contribution. The title came from its being a cheerful distant cousin to The Girl I Left Behind.

Rick: three-fingered banjo (gCGCD), guitar

In the summer of 1977, Charlie Wolfe sent me a cassette tape of all the solo tunes from a soon-to-be-released Omer Forster recording on Davis Unlimited Records (DU33037). Omer was from Humphries County, Tennessee and had played his unique two-fingered picking style on the early Grand Ole Opry. The tune Flowery Girls, which Omer learned in his youth from fiddler Walter Warden, was the title tune of the album, recorded when he was well into his seventies. It grabbed my attention like nothing before or since. If Dock Boggs had laid bare the dark mystery of the banjo for me, Omer Forster illuminated it. I’ve been playing Flowery Girls for over thirty years now. Underscored here by the addition of a string quartet I composed in 2002, it brings out the classical sound I’ve always heard in it. The original Omer Forster version is something else all together. His LP has been reissued on CD and his playing of this remarkable tune should not be missed. It is a revelation.

Rick: two-fingered banjo, (gDGBD)
Christina Wheeler violin
Regino Madrid: violin
Jenny Lewis: viola
Ben Wensel: cello

14. ALL GOING OUT AND NOTHING COMING IN (Bert Williams, George Walker)
Vaudevillian Bert Williams was best known for his song Nobody, which he sang in the first full-length musical written and performed by African-Americans to play in a mainstream Broadway house. This was in 1903, a year after he made the recording where I first heard this wonderful song. I dusted it off a hundred years later and performed it in Doctor Goodfellow’s Traveling Vaudeville Entertainment, at the Centennial of Flight Celebration in Dayton.

Rick: banjo-guitar, vocal
Ben Cooper: bass
Kevin Anderson: drums

15. BOTTOMLAND (Rick Good)
I think a lot of banjo tunes are made up more by the banjo than the player and, particularly, by the tuning the banjo is in. This dark tune falls into that category.

Rick: clawhammer fretless gourd banjo (eEGB)
Kevin Anderson: percussion

16. FLOWERY GIRLS (traditional)
My first attempt at recording this tune appeared in 1981, on the Hotmud Family's sixth and final LP (Flying Fish FF251). Several years later, another version, from the Rhythm in Shoes era, was included on the Old Time Banjo Festival CD (Rounder 11661-0584-2). I recently went back to Omer's recording like a pilgrim visiting a shrine and this is where it took me. I will ever bow in reverent awe to the original.

Rick: two-fingered banjo, (gDGBD)

17. I'M GETTIN' HAPPY (traditional, Rick Good)
A bit of Uncle Dave Macon paired with an old stump speech from the medicine show and minstrel days, this cut first appeared on the CD, Rhythm in Shoes presents The Rhythm Pirates nearly twenty years ago. It's literally reissued here as a tribute to the magic of 78 rotations per minute.

Rick: banjo-guitar, vocal



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