Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Song/artist recommendations

Sometimes at the beginning of lessons you mention who is best known or has recorded a version of the song you teach, but other times not. I have a pretty limited bluegrass background and sometimes when I search for the mp3 versions of songs I end up with versions that probably aren’t the best for someone learning banjo. For example, the thing I got over and over when I search for Grandfather’s Clock was Johnny Cash, which I’m guessing isn’t the best version.

I know the song because of Doc Watson, but that probably doesn’t help a banjo player much. I think it’s mandatory for every banjo picker to know this one, isn’t it?

When I think of Grandfather’s Clock, I think of Burl Ives. OK, I guess that wasn’t very helpful.

listen to grandfathers clock by dave hum on you tube (in fact just listen to mr hum he is masterfull !!!)


Thanks for the responses. I think Burl Ives was what I was looking for. Wanted to something that had the melody like the banjo part Ben teaches, but with vocals. I figured that Johnny Cash would change the song too much, like his version of John Henry. I’m a beginner, with no desire to be a soloist or too flashy, so not looking for a more complicated solo version. I’ll check the Doc Watson version, too. Thanks everyone!

hi stanton, after reading your post about not wanting to solo or be too flashy, it took me back years to a time when i just fell in love with the sound of the banjo and went down the loooooong road of learning “bluegrass” banjo i got to probably, intermediate level, however, after years of practice, and lots festivals etc etc i found out that “bluegrass” banjo did not suit my personality/character/temperament etc i was forever fluffing my solos, and getting so stressed about the whole thing i decided to quit. i always loved and listened to bluegrass music, so after 14yrs of not playing i’ve bought a guitar, and i intend to get involved musicaly again (just rhythm and singing). so, the point of my post is to tell you that “bluegrass” banjo is a solo/flashy instrument!! (ok you can vamp/back up) so i would ask yourself whether you have chosen the right style of banjo playing. i would suggest that “folk” style banjo would better suit a singer a la pete seeger, if you like to sing, then guitar might be a good idea. ok, i hope i hav’nt intruded on your “banjo playing plans” but i wanted to share my experiences with you, and perhaps spare you years of frustration.

regards ron

Thanks for the advice. Not worried about playing solo parts, but not interested in playing songs with no vocals or where the other instruments are always playing behind the banjo. I’m primarily looking to get a few standards down and learning enough to work through fake books. I’ve played guitar a long time. I’ve done plenty of lead work in other styles and always enjoyed it. I’ve know a lot of people who have the burn out/frustration experience with instruments in general. I think I’ve done enough to know to keep things in moderation and not try to be Earl Scruggs in my first year. Remember that when you’re learning guitar. Don’t think of it as something to consume your life, unless you’re in college getting a degree in guitar performance. Think of it as something that will be a part of your life for a long time.

hi, thanks for the “guitar” advice, yep “all consuming” is somthing i hope to avoid, i think i fell into that trap with the banjo.
i’m 14 yrs older and hopfully wiser now :unamused: