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Playing oldtime with non-traditional guitarists. Thoughts?

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Mar 6, 2020 - 11:48:44 PM
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Jimbeaux

Germany

378 posts since 5/24/2016

So I live in Germany, but despite that we have a few really good musicians.

I often play banjo with a guy who almost sounds like Brad Leftwich and a great Riley Puckett-style guitarist. It's great fun.

I also play with another very good OT fiddler with a unique style and very cool repertory. We play with a guitarist who admits that he has a lot of trouble with the boom-chuck style and he just strums away and does his thing. I also play fiddle with him whenever it's just the two of us. It's also a lot of fun.

So my opinion is that even if I'd prefer a good boom-chuck +bass run-style guitarist, I'm happy to play with anyone who likes the music and wants to play with me.

What are your thoughts?

Mar 7, 2020 - 4:43:28 AM

367 posts since 3/1/2020

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t keep playing with the musicians you’ve found, especially if you’re getting so much enjoyment out of it.

Old time music is really a kind of umbrella term which incorporates a lot of different styles, and I don’t think that one particular picking style makes the music more genuine than another. It’s more about playing a style of music that’s perfectly suited to dancing.

You can always listen to old recordings for ideas, but I don’t think you need to worry about it too much. Just enjoy the good company and get some feet tapping!

Mar 7, 2020 - 5:20:10 AM
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5095 posts since 9/26/2008
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I play for dances with a guy (Jon Duvick) who can play boom chuck but more often plays in the style of Irish trad guitar with open strings in combination with open strings. He makes unusual chord substitutions that always make me smile. Example: coarse part of Reed's "Frosty Morn" he plays Am - G - F instead of Am - G - Am... I even have an alteration of the melody I'll play for the F. The F is a great surprise and he doesn't do it every time so as to cause my to listen very closely so I can throw in my variation at the same time.

Short answer if they keep good time and are in tune I can play with them as long as they don't get too far from the tune. 

Mar 7, 2020 - 6:25:36 AM
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RobBob

USA

2719 posts since 6/26/2007

This happens. If they keep the time and don't bend the tunes too much all is well.

Mar 7, 2020 - 7:52:22 AM
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2336 posts since 10/1/2008

If you are having fun ... play on! If you are getting paid you can choose to play on or quit. In truth , rarely will you find the "perfect " situation soooo... R/

Mar 7, 2020 - 12:17:59 PM
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1774 posts since 12/11/2008

As a pretty good guitarist in my own right, I've always rebelled against boom-chuck. Yeah, I guess it makes sense if you're the band at a dance and the dancers need a steady 1-2-3-4 to keep from tripping over themselves, but to me it shuts down any chance of allowing a guitarist to display personality. The guitarist becomes nothing but hired help.

Mar 7, 2020 - 12:32:33 PM
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223 posts since 6/21/2012

A sorely missed friend of mine was a fantastic musician but had absolutely no ear for accompanying Irish music. I very much miss our sessions, messy as they were.

Mar 7, 2020 - 12:34:34 PM

1879 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

... but to me it shuts down any chance of allowing a guitarist to display personality. The guitarist becomes nothing but hired help.


Which is what's appropriate for old time fiddle music. That is the guitarists role.

Mar 7, 2020 - 12:43:03 PM
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1774 posts since 12/11/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

... but to me it shuts down any chance of allowing a guitarist to display personality. The guitarist becomes nothing but hired help.


Which is what's appropriate for old time fiddle music. That is the guitarists role.


Yeah, that's the sad truth of it, but I still got more smiles than dirty looks at jams when, handed a guitar, I'd do double-thumb Travis picking instead of boom-chuck.

Mar 7, 2020 - 1:02:41 PM
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carlb

USA

2307 posts since 2/2/2008

Sometimes our jam has a Venezuelan guitar player who does great with whatever he does. He's just a good musician who likes to play along with us.

Edited by - carlb on 03/07/2020 13:04:16

Mar 7, 2020 - 1:29:13 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

702 posts since 6/22/2016

So ... your happy to play with this guy ... so, what's there to think about?

Mar 7, 2020 - 1:41:28 PM

2253 posts since 10/22/2007

A dear friend mostly plays, i dunno, plays a bass line and then a chord alternating, most of the time. But when i play a fiddle tune and nobody else can hear the beat, he starts playing sock style, until everybody catches on. Then he goes back to, what is that called? Like Doc Watson.
Y'know, especially if you don't play with fiddlers often, sometimes their beat doesn't hit you like a hammer.

Mar 7, 2020 - 3:14:11 PM
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1879 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler
 

Yeah, that's the sad truth of it, but I still got more smiles than dirty looks at jams when, handed a guitar, I'd do double-thumb Travis picking instead of boom-chuck.


Just so you know, I'd gladly play fiddle with you. There are many ways of playing guitar that can work for me. But the rock and rollers and endless blues licks with no regard... well, I've played with them too actually when they're friends. But I appreciate when people play things that fit in some way, that show they're listening to the fiddle.

Mar 7, 2020 - 9:45:37 PM

367 posts since 3/1/2020

There’s something to be said for the simplicity of the style in old time, which focuses more on the fiddle, which cues the dancers. Bluegrass gives more attention to the other instruments and allows for solos, much like jazz or baroque music.

However, one of the joys of making music is meeting different players with different experiences and approaches and sharing them. After all, much of the old time we know and think of as canon has emerged from a blending of African, English, German, Scandinavian, and Scots-Irish tunes. It’s fun to switch gears a bit every once and a while, and it can actually increase appreciation of the individual styles.

Mar 7, 2020 - 11:51:37 PM
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1774 posts since 12/11/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Brian Wood
quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler
 

Yeah, that's the sad truth of it, but I still got more smiles than dirty looks at jams when, handed a guitar, I'd do double-thumb Travis picking instead of boom-chuck.


Just so you know, I'd gladly play fiddle with you. There are many ways of playing guitar that can work for me. But the rock and rollers and endless blues licks with no regard... well, I've played with them too actually when they're friends. But I appreciate when people play things that fit in some way, that show they're listening to the fiddle.


Thanks.  I appreciate it highly.  And yes, how many years did I spend being second guitar in a band that could do little more than grind out a blues in A?  Me doing twenty minute stretches of Runt-a-tunt-a Runt-a-tunt-a?  The lead guitar player grimacing out  endless whoop-dee-doodle-do guitar solos?  I'm telling you it was a magical moment in history when I walked into the Blue Ridge Pickin' Parlor and said yes to a fiddle on the wall.

Mar 8, 2020 - 8:29:03 AM

4289 posts since 6/23/2007

Finding people to play with can be very difficult. If there aren't any active local music organizations it can be even harder to find someone. And most musicians restrict their playing to one or several styles of music. "Band in a Box" and I regularly practice several instruments and will be ready should the opportunity present itself.

Mar 8, 2020 - 10:14:25 AM

1879 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Dick Hauser

... "Band in a Box" and I regularly practice several instruments and will be ready should the opportunity present itself.


If you don't have Band In A Box you can use sites like these:

 http://www.fbbts.com/Oldtime.html or https://www.oldtimejam.com/

Mar 12, 2020 - 4:08:03 AM

Jimbeaux

Germany

378 posts since 5/24/2016

Here's a clip of us playing for anyone interested. (I'm on banjo on this one)


Mar 12, 2020 - 4:01:32 PM
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5095 posts since 9/26/2008
Online Now

I don’t hear the guitar...

Mar 12, 2020 - 4:26:26 PM

1774 posts since 12/11/2008

Love it. Soulful. And who needs a guitar when somebody is banging a box?

Mar 12, 2020 - 11:08:31 PM

Jimbeaux

Germany

378 posts since 5/24/2016

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

I don’t hear the guitar...


True...

Mar 18, 2020 - 7:35:29 PM
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bsed

USA

4125 posts since 6/23/2007

OT music is dance music. If I'm a fiddler playing with a guitar player, he'd best be able to supply a beat. The 'beat' can be a real powerful tool.

Listen to AJ Srubas here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_uOOWy1A_A

At the beginning you don't hear the guitar due to a sound problem. Listen to the crowd reaction when they get it fixed. (Not to mention my own heart taking a leap!)

Brian Wood wrote :

"Which is what's appropriate for old time fiddle music. That is the guitarists role."

I agree. If you want to innovate the music, that's ok. But it bothers me that a guitar player would complain about his role. I love backing up fiddle tunes. I wish I was as good as some of the masters that can do runs up and down the neck (which they do, incidentally, while keeping a strong beat).

So if you want to play Doc Watson flatpicking, find a bluegrass group.

Mar 20, 2020 - 10:05:58 AM

102 posts since 11/12/2011

quote:
Originally posted by bsed

Listen to AJ Srubas here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_uOOWy1A_A

[..] I love backing up fiddle tunes. I wish I was as good as some of the masters that can do runs up and down the neck (which they do, incidentally, while keeping a strong beat).

So if you want to play Doc Watson flatpicking, find a bluegrass group.


Great reply!  and I love the moment in the video when you can finally hear the guitar.  Having had a similar response/feeling-of-joy  in many jams when a good strong boom chick playing guitarist would join in after floundering about without one, made me want to learn to provide the same support for my fiddle-playing friends.  I'm still working on it (learning backup guitar), but some of what I've been playing is super fun, even though relatively basic stuff.

Edited by - christym on 03/20/2020 10:07:59

Jun 28, 2020 - 12:31:13 PM
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1 posts since 6/28/2020

One thing a lot of old time fiddlers (or guitarists)don't realize is how many guitars aren't suited to the classic boom chuck. I have many guitars that don't really have the bass to get a strong beat, so you end up with too strong a backbeat along with mandolins and everything else. The dynamics of good guitar accompaniment are underrated

Jun 30, 2020 - 1:52:07 PM

644 posts since 8/10/2017

I've played with guitarists who can't keep time and play all the wrong chords. That's the worst. If they can keep time and play decent chords, I don't care how traditional they are.

Jun 30, 2020 - 5:56:38 PM

71 posts since 9/16/2017

Well after coming to fiddle after a lifetime of playing guitar and all of the past 25 years backing fiddlers I have recently been thinking , Why in the world are the guitar players not catching on with what I thought were simple tunes. After the covid , I bought a looper to be able to lay down guitar backing for myself and discovered the mistakes I make. What a great gadget. It has increased my humility as I loop it and have to adjust to my mistakes, or take the time to try to make the guitar perfect. However my pride was that in playing guitar and backing up others I could maintain a good beat and if someone was losing it pull things back on track. I'm learning to adjust to hiccups in the timing now fiddling to my imperfect guitar playing . I'm finding the sword always seems to cut both ways. If it gets too bad I can turn off the looper and silence that damned guitarist.

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