Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dick Kimmel's Clawhammer Columns for Banjo Newsletter, 1974 - 1977


This is a list of Banjo Newsletter articles by Dick Kimmel.  During the 1970's, Dick Kimmel served as the Clawhammer Banjo Editor for Banjo Newsletter, writing tablatures and old-time music columns and establishing an old-time following for that magazine.  His column appeared in almost every issue between 1974 and 1977.  I had the occasion to review all these issues, thanks to my friend Paul Deblois’ generous act of sending me this chunk of his Banjo Newsletter collection, in the course of researching a piece on West Virginia old time music.

From his first contribution to the newsletter in July 1974 to his parting column in September 1975, Dick’s articles bore several titles, including simply “Clawhammer Banjo” (sometimes “Claw-Hammer Banjo”).  He sometimes added an explanatory phrase that clarified his focus, but more often than not the title stood alone, unencumbered by an introduction of the subject of the essay.  In October 1975, Dick gave his columns the title “Thumpin’ for Clawhammer Pickers.”  In the context of that column title, Dick would sometimes add a phrase following a full colon that explained his focus.  But sometimes he did not.

To suggest the focus of these columns, and possibly make it easier to locate specific columns of interest, I have noted the central subject and listed the tablature transcribed for the column. 

Some of the tabs included in his column were done by guest musicians.  Most were done by Dick himself.  For the sake of brevity, I have simply listed the tabs by tune name. 

This exercise showed me how valuable this newsletter really is.  I spent a lot of time reading Dick’s columns, and I was able to see how the focus of one musician changed, and how his own interests developed, but I also saw the growth in focus of the writing of other contributors, and the overall development of the publication itself as it moved with greater certainty to cover issues and subjects of interest to banjo players, and added dimensions to the monthly in a way that showed real growth in both the publication, and the world of banjo playing itself. 

BEGIN LIST:

Dick Kimmel, “Old Time Banjo Frailing/Clawhammer,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 1, Number 9 (July 1974), page. 9.

Dick Kimmel, “Clawhammer Banjo (Revisited),” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 1, Number 10 (August 1974), page. 9.

Ø  In general there are two basic styles.  On is to keep the playing simple to preserve the drive, and the other is to develop the style by means of much drop-thumbing, pulls and hammering until the banjo can follow a fiddle tune note for note.  The two styles are much like the difference (in theory) between hard driving straight Scruggs, or the fancy more exact melodies of the chromatic pickers.  In both styles, I prefer a mixture of the two with the drive preserved, with the picker allowing himself the freedom to create with the more complex melodious style.  Also, I must say I like to hear good playing even if done in entirely on style or another.  My only dislike is to be told why one is “right” and the other “wrong.”  (page 9). 

Dick Kimmel, “Clawhammer Banjo (Prty III),” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 1, Number 11 (September 1974), page. 6.

Dick Kimmel, “Clawhammer Banjo,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 1, Number12 (October 1974), page 7.

Ø  Ora Kneissel, older WVA fiddler.

Dick Kimmel, “Clawhammer Banjo, Part 5: John Henry,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 1 (November 1974), page 4.

Ø  I’ve always thought that if the right person had been playing banjo with Monroe in 1940, we’d be hearing clawhammer with the Bluegrass groups of today.  Original 5-string Vega Whyte Laydies and Tubaphones would be the high priced instruments. (The Granada would be a collector’s item, but who would want to use one on stage?)  (page 4)

Dick Kimmel, “Clawhammer Banjo, Part 6: ‘Blue Eyed Gal’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 2 (December 1974), page 5.

Dick Kimmel, “Clawhammer Banjo,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 3 (January 1975), pages 5, 6.

Dick Kimmel, “Tablature: ‘Soldier’s Joy,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 3 (January 1975), page 6.

Dick Kimmel, “Claw-hammer Banjo: ‘Frosty Morn’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 4 (February 1975), page 9.

Dick Kimmel, “Claw-hammer Banjo: ‘Red Haired Boy’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 5 (March 1975), page 4.

Dick Kimmel, “Claw-hammer Banjo: ‘Over The Waterfall’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 6 (April 1975), page 7.

Dick Kimmel, “Claw-hammer Banjo: Old-Time Banjos,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 7 (May 1975), pages 10 - 11.

Dick Kimmel, “Claw-hammer Banjo: Old-Time Banjos,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 8 (June 1975), page 13. 

Dick Kimmel, “Claw-hammer Banjo: Shady Grove’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 8 (June 1975), page 13.

Dick Kimmel, “Claw-hammer Banjo: ‘The Route’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 9 (May 1975), page 7.

Dick Kimmel, “Claw-hammer Banjo: ‘Boatin’ Up The Sandy’ – Hollow Rock and Deseret,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 10 (August 1975), pages 14 - 15.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Banjo Set Up,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 11 (September 1975), pages 4 – 6. 

Dick Kimmel, “Claw-hammer Banjo: ‘Rickett’s Hornpipe’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 11 (September 1975), page 7.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers – Mac Benford, ‘Fire on the Mountain’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 2, Number 12 (October 1975), pages 9 - 11.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers – Mac Benford, ‘Money Musk’, ‘Walkin’ in the Parlor’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 1 (November 1975), pages 14 - 15.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers – ‘An Appalachian Banjo Lesson, by Charles Kimmel,’ and ‘Marching Through George’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 2 (December 1975), pages 8 – 9.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers – Tailpieces,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 3 (January 1976), pages 15 - 16.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers – Banjos, Strings and Accessories, Records, Books,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 4 (February 1976), page 6.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Playing Tunes in Traditional Keys – ‘Wind The Shakes The Barley’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 5 (March 1976), page 10.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Development of a Tune – ‘Sugar Hill’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 6 (April  1976), pages 8 – 9.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: BNL Old Time Correspondence,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 7 (May 1976), page 10.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Banjo Workshop, Brandywine Mountain Music Convention – ‘John Henry Blues,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 8 (June 1976), pages 10 – 11.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Droop Mountain G Tuning – ‘Sandy River Bell,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 9 (July  1976), pages 12 – 13.

Ø  “Dwight Diller says the tuning is not uncommon in the Droop Mountain Area.” gDGDE

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Tommy Thompson,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 10 (August  1976), pages 12 – 14.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Carefully Select Your Version of a Tune, and tab for ‘Green Willis’,” ‘Miss McLeod’s Reel’, an ‘Cross-Eyed Gopher’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 11 (September  1976), pages 15 – 16.

Dick Kimmel, “Doug Unger, Banjo Builder,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 3, Number 12 (October 1976), pages 4 – 8.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Clawhammer Tablatures – ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’, and ‘Ragtime Annie’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 4, Number 1 (November 1976), page 15.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Reviews, and Tablature – ‘Train on the Island’, Weave and Way’, Dill Pickle Rag’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 4, Number 2 (December 1976), pages 16 – 18.

Dick Kimmel, “Thumpin’ For Clawhammer Pickers: Tommy Jarrell,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 4, Number 3 (January 1977), pages 12 – 13.

Dick Kimmel, “Old Time Banjo, ‘Hop High Ladies’,’Walker Street Reel’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 4, Number 4 (February 1977), pages 10 – 11.

Dick Kimmel, “Old Time Banjo, ‘Year of Jubilo’,’Sugar Babe’,” Banjo Newsletter, Volume 4, Number 5 (March 1977), page 15.










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