Monday, September 9, 2013

Lee Hammons' Calloway

During one of the workshops Dwight Diller held at our what was then our home in Arlington, VA, sometime in the early 1990s, he decided that I should tackle Lee Hammon's Calloway while the rest of the class, mostly newcomers to the blood sport of clawhammer banjo, drilled the rhythms that Dwight was always focused on communicating to students. 

He played the tune for me and for another student, a young lady who was a very accomplished banjo player, and then sent us to a back room to listen closely to a track of Hammons playing the tune, and to play away at parts and pieces of Calloway until we could put it all together.   

We'd emerge after an hour, sit down again, and he'd take either fiddle or banjo in hand, play it again, and send us back to the rear room.  He did this repeatedly, without really listening to whatever we had managed to catch of the tunes, making the case in his laconic way that we ought to be listening to the tune, not to what we were playing.  

Dwight posted a video of him playing this tune on 8 September 2013, (see and I thought I ought to take the opportunity revisit that great tune.  

Using an A scale banjo (Fawley neck, Vega Little Wonder Style S pot) tuned to gEBEF -- two frets up from eCGCD, just because that was the first banjo I grabbed.    

I hope Dwight sees this, I hope he understands that even 20 years later he's still an inspiration, and I hope he might offer as he always does "some pointers" to make my playing right.  

Play hard,

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