John Balch with Jim Wood | Carry On John

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Folk: String Band Country: Old-Timey Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Carry On John

by John Balch with Jim Wood

New, old-time, melodic clawhammer banjo compositions masterfully arranged with guitars, violin, viola, violoncello, mandolin, mandocello, bouzouki, bodhran and hammered dulcimer.
Genre: Folk: String Band
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Capshaw
3:20 $0.99
2. June Bug on a String
2:53 $0.99
3. Sasafrass
1:48 $0.99
4. Song for Sheila
3:42 $0.99
5. Buckhorn
3:20 $0.99
6. Soldier's Joy
2:15 $0.99
7. Walter Hill
4:50 $0.99
8. Saratoga
4:19 $0.99
9. Thunderhead
2:08 $0.99
10. Riverhouse
2:20 $0.99
11. Allendale
2:44 $0.99
12. Petersburg
3:26 $0.99
13. Too Much Music
2:02 $0.99
14. Carry On John
4:35 $0.99
15. Go Tell It on the Mountain
1:23 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
John Balch has accomplished a rare feat in the world of old-time banjo; he has created a fresh and vital compositional style, which has evolved organically from within the tradition. His original tunes are like new annual rings on an ancient tree, and they speak to the future of the music with an intensely personal voice. John's mastery of musical colours and his sensitivity to textures and timbres is truly impressive. He possesses fine sense of melody that has been honed by thirty years' experience with traditional music.

No stranger to old-time music, John Balch has served for nearly two decades as chairman of judging for the Uncle Dave Macon Days Old-time Banjo National Championship. In the summer of 2000, John was working on home recordings to document his original banjo compositions when he was diagnosed with an illness that threatened to end his musical career. During that time, the cry of his heart was that God would restore his abilities and enable him to carry on this work. The release of Carry On John is testimony to the fact that these prayers were answered beyond his expectations. Carry On John is a musical celebration, a promise and personal miracle. Listen to the work of His hands.

Jim Wood is a masterful performer, arranger, producer and teacher. Now retired from competition, Jim is the six-time State of Tennessee Fiddle Champion. Additionally, Jim has won more than two hundred and fifty other contest titles. Jim performs and records with a variety of ensembles in many styles ranging including: classical, jazz, swing, bluegrass, old-time and original.

John Balch - banjo, and hammered dulcimer

Jim Wood - violin, viola, violoncello, string bass, mandolin, mandocello, bouzouki, guitar, DADGAD guitar, bodhran, and shaker.

Amy Balch - voice (Go Tell It on the Mountain)

Arranged and produced by Jim Wood
Recorded by John Furbush at Pinewood Studio
Mastered by John Eberle at Americana Mastering
Photography by Dan Loftin and Helene Colvin
Package design by Ron Ault
Liner notes and editing by Patsy Weiler

© (p) 2002 John Balch

Original music published by Magic Bow Music, BMI

Contact John Balch at 615-890-3709 or at

Contact Jim Wood at 931-695-5613

Whippoorwill Records
276 Joe Hart Road
Shelbyville, TN 37160

Carry On John contains the following compositions:

Capshaw (Balch, 1997) My parents grew up near the rural community of Capshaw, Alabama.

June Bug on a String (Balch, 1995) was inspired by a feisty June bug that entertained the music contest judges at Uncle Dave Macon Days. A thread was tied to his leg, and he flew in circles above us as we listened to the music. When I got home at 2:00 a.m., in the morning, this tune was spinning in my head.

Sassafras (Balch, 1994) calls to mind the autumn colors of the venerable trees in my parent's yard.

Song for Sheila (Balch, 1996) This is for my wife, Sheila. She has patiently tolerated my 5-string obsession.

Buckhorn (Balch, 1997) The natural beauty of East Tennessee gave birth to this melody.

Soldier's Joy (traditional) The Earl Scruggs/ John McEwen version of this tune from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Will the Circle Be Unbroken album was my first exposure to clawhammer banjo.

Walter Hill (Balch, 1998) I've spent many hours relaxing and fishing by the Stones River near the old Walter Hill Dam.

Saratoga (Balch, 1996) This melody came to me after a visit from my long-time friend David Emery who plays fiddle and banjo. He now lives near Saratoga Springs, New York.

Thunderhead (Balch, 1997) is the name of a cloud-high peak on the Appalachian Trail.

Riverhouse (Balch, 1994) Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, the Riverhouse Motorlodge in Gatlinburg, Tennessee is one of our favorite vacation spots.

Allendale (Balch, 1995) was written one melancholy night while I was away from home on business in Allendale, New Jersey.

Petersburg (Balch, 1994) recalls the classic old Victorian architecture in this scenic Middle Tennessee hamlet.

Too Much Music (Balch, 1995) I wrote this tune one evening while my kids and I filled our home with an eclectic mix of music from frailing banjo to grunge guitar. Sheila must have thought we had too much music going on, but she didn't complain.

Carry On John (Balch, 2001) was the first piece I wrote after recovering from my illness. I was working on it when I learned of John Hartford's death. I named it thinking of him. Later, I realized the title's meaning in my own life.

Go Tell It on the Mountain (traditional) This simple recording was made in 1992 on a cassette machine in our home. My daughter, Amy, was five years old at the time. It captures the essence of my music: family, home, and life.



to write a review

Daniel Carwile

Absolutely wonderful CD! The compositions and arrangements are beautiful, not to mention the virtousity, skill and artistic expression demonstrated. A must for any discerning ear.

M Foley

Talented and expressive music...old-timey...yet fresh and original
5 star CD production with great lead banjo by John Balch and backup/accompaniement by Jim Wood. Foot-tapping old-timey, yet not you're typical barnyard hoedown with clean and expressive playing and a first-class production job. Recommended.

Frederic B. Marshe

Carry On John
As a beginner clawhammer banjoist, this is a wonderful inspiration. Absolutely the best I've heard. Thanks John

Rob D.

beautiful playing
Thanks for the beautiful playing John. I am a clawhammer player and your music has truly inspired me. I am glad I discovered this CD!

KR Jones

Great clawhammer banjo . . . excellent editing, production
For those you who like old time mountain music . . . with perhaps a little contemporary flair . . . this CD is an absolute jewel. The clawhammer banjo leads by John Balch are flawless while the fiddle and other various stringed instruments that back up Mr. Balch are tastefully performed. This CD is a keeper.

Boge Quinn

John Balch takes a banjo in a new direction!
John Balch's original tunes represent a new direction in banjo, a marriage of traditional styles and modern composition, and his impeccable plaing technique realizes his musical vision in a completeness seldom seen in today's plactic musical world. Jim Wood's mastery of diverse musical styles on a great variety of instruments is the perfect complement to John's tunes, resulting in a tastefully-rendered collection of "modern old-time" banjo compositions. Buy it!