The Session Book
Jam Along With The Band!

The Kickoff Book
Build Your Repertoire!

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Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms

December 15th, 2012

Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms
Page 69 from The Kickoff Book
Key of A
Capo 2nd

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

Crosspicking 102 – Sitting on Top of the World

January 29th, 2018

Here is a fine example of crosspicking in the tradition of George Shuffler who played with The Stanley Brothers back in the day.

I transcribed this solo from a 1977 live performance of Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys. You can view the original concert video here.

The guitar player is Troy ‘Renfro’ Profitt and he does a brilliant job of sticking to the melody while rolling that syncopated crosspicking throughout. The predominent picking pattern is Down-Up-Up.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

Backup Banjo – Lesson 3 – Licks

March 27th, 2017

In lesson three, of Scruggs style backup, we’re rolling through the essential Scruggs backup licks. Be sure to subscribe if you would like to be notified when follow up videos are released.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

The Kickoff eBook – 101 Bluegrass Banjo Intros

March 1st, 2014

A large part of playing Bluegrass banjo in a band or jam setting, is being able to kickoff songs.
A successful kickoff, or intro, requires a solid cue to the rest of the band in order to get everybody playing at the desired tempo and feel. In other words, you’re setting the mood for the song and “getting the ball rolling” so to speak.

The Kickoff eBook is a must own reference book for aspiring Bluegrass banjo players. It features 101 Scruggs-style intros to the genres most popular songs by Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, The Stanley Brothers, The Osborne Brothers and many more.

The arrangements are based off classic recordings and can be played as is or used as a starting point to create your own arrangements. Most of them also work as solos in the event another instrument kicks off the song. These are not watered down or simplified arrangements. This eBook is packed full of licks in the style of Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe, Ralph Stanley, Sonny Osborne, Charlie Cushman, etc.

The song keys suggested here are what you might typically find others playing them in, but changing keys, in most cases will just require repositioning your capo. All tabs include chord charts as well.

Working through this eBook, along with listening to classic recordings, will help build your repertoire and give you the confidence to kickoff songs and lay a solid foundation for the rest of the band. In addition, knowing kickoffs will drastically improve your ability to improvise solos since you will have a solid grasp of the melody.

All 101 songs in the eBook have an accompanying, note for note, video posted here.

Package includes eBook in PDF format (111 pages) as well as all 101 songs in TablEdit format. Instantly delivered to your email upon order completion.

For sample pages and complete song index see below.

The Kickoff eBook

(Digital Download – PDF & TablEdit format)
Price: $40

In Stock

Sample Pages
Molly and Tenbrooks
On and On
Handsome Molly

Song Index
All the Good Times are Past and Gone
Ballad of Jed Clampett
Banks of the Ohio
Big Spike Hammer
Blue Ridge Cabin Home
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Careless Love
Come Back Darlin’
Cryin’ Holy
Dig a Hole in the Meadow
Doin’ My Time
Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down
Down the Road
East Virginia Blues
Eight More Miles to Louisville
Foggy Mountain Top
Forty Years of Trouble
Get In Line Brother
Gonna Settle Down
Gotta Travel On
Ground Hog
Handsome Molly
Head Over Heels
Hot Corn, Cold Corn
How Mountain Girls Can Love
I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow
I Saw the Light
I’ll Be Alright Tomorrow
I’ll Fly Away
I’ll Never Shed Another Tear
I’ll Stay Around
Jesse James
John Hardy
John Henry
Keep on the Sunny Side
Little Cabin Home on the Hill
Little Girl in Tennessee
Little Maggie
Lonely River
Lonesome Road Blues
Love Please Come Home
Low and Lonely
Man of Constant Sorrow
Midnight Moonlight
Molly and Tenbrooks
Mountain Dew
My Cabin in Caroline
My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains
My Little Georgia Rose
My Long Journey Home
My Walking Shoes
Nine Pound Hammer
Ninety-Nine Years and One Dark Day
No Mother or Dad
Nobody’s Business
Old Home Place
On and On
On My Way Back to the Old Home
One Tear
Pain in My Heart
Pig in a Pen
Poor Ellen Smith
Poor Rebel Soldier
Pretty Polly
Red Rockin’ Chair
Rocky Top
Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms
Salty Dog
Saro Jane
She’s More to be Pitied
Sittin’ On Top of the World
Somehow Tonight
Song of The South
Steam Powered Aereo Plane
Sunny Side of the Mountain
Sweet Thing
Take Me in Your Lifeboat
The Old Home Town
Think of What You’ve Done
Thinking About You
Two Different Worlds
Unclouded Day
Unfaithful One
Used to Be
Wabash Cannonball
We’ll Meet Again Sweetheart
Wear a Red Rose
When I Left East Virginia
White Freight Liner Blues
White House Blues
Why Don’t You Tell Me So
Wild Bill Jones
Will the Circle be Unbroken
Will You be Loving Another Man
Worried Man Blues
Wreck of the Old 97
You are My Flower
You Can Have Her
You Don’t Know My Mind
Your Love is Like a Flower

Backup Tabs for The Session Book

October 12th, 2013

A large part of playing banjo in a Bluegrass band is being able to play interesting accompaniment or better know in the banjo world as playing backup.

I’m currently working on my next project which will be a multimedia package that will cover the topic of playing backup in a Bluegrass band extensively. It will also focus on practical music theory and improvisation, to equip you with the tools to create your own backup off the top of your head, as well as branch out from the Bluegrass idiom if so desired.

Backup can be memorized, just like lead, though it’s much easier to improvise once you achieve a certain level of proficiency on the banjo along with some fundamental, theoretical know-how.

In an effort to get you on your way to playing better backup I’m offering free backup tab for all 26 songs inside The Session Book. These tabs will get you started with the basics of vamping, rolling and feature numerous classic Scruggs licks to keep things interesting.

As with all of my arrangements, here on, these are not watered down or simplified. That’s not to say they aren’t for beginners though they are written in such a way as to assume you have a basic familiarity with Bluegrass banjo.

To get the most out of these tabs I highly recommend downloading TefView. TefView will allow you to play back the TablEdit (.tef) files so you’ll hear and see the tab. I wrote these TablEdit files as loops so you can practice them over and over again and adjust the tempo to your liking. High quality PDF files are also included for the low, low price of $0.00.

This is the perfect companion for The Session Book and my way of giving back to the banjo community and saying thanks for the continuing support.

Download The Session Book Backup Tabs (8MB zip file)

Songs included: Blackjack, Bugle Call Rag, Clinch Mountain Backstep, Cripple Creek, Cumberland Gap, Dear Old Dixie, Earl’s Breakdown, Farewell Blues, Fireball Mail, Five Speed, Flint Hill Special, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Foggy Mountain Chimes, Foggy Mountain Special, Ground Speed, Home Sweet Home, John Hardy, John Henry, Lonesome Road Blues, Pike County Breakdown, Randy Lynn Rag, Reuben, Sally Ann, Sally Goodin, Shuckin’ The Corn, Train 45.

Scale Harmony – “Double-Stops”

August 29th, 2010

There is really no big mystery to “partial chord shapes” or “double-stops” if you prefer that name. It all boils down to harmony or scale harmony to be more specific.

In Bluegrass the most common use of double-stops (as I like to think of them) happen on the 1st, 2nd & 3rd strings and use open strings in order to get things rolling. There are no rules of course so you can play them on whatever string combinations you like.

To familiarize yourself with the shapes all you need to do is chose a key, pick a couple of stings and walk up and down harmonized scale intervals. Throw in some open string drones, a picking pattern and you’re off to the races.

I threw together some examples of various patterns to give you an idea of some possibilities. 

Here is the free PDF for download.

Crosspicking 101

April 24th, 2010

Crosspicking is basically the technique of using a flatpick to simulate the fluid sound of finger-picking. It’s most commonly associated with Bluegrass guitar and mandolin players.

The effect is a rolling syncopated sound similar to Scruggs style banjo playing and just like three finger banjo rolls, crosspicking is based on three note phrases played across multiple strings with a four beat pulse.

There are three fundamental patterns or rolls.
The first is alternate picking or down-up-down (DUD) – This is the equivalent to the Square or Double Thumb banjo roll.
The second is down-down-up (DDU) – This is basically a forward roll
And the third is down-up-up (DUU) – Which is like a backward roll

Once you become familiar with these three patterns you’ll start mixing them up in order to fit them into four beat measures. The ultimate goal is to accent melody notes so they stand out among the array of filler notes.

To hear classic examples of crosspicking check out Jesse McReynolds’ mandolin playing with Jim & Jesse, George Shuffler’s guitar playing with the Stanley Brothers or just about anything from Doc Watson, Clarence White or Norman Blake.

The following videos demonstrate the three fundamental patterns and give you some ideas of how to use them along with open string drones, harmonized scales and double-stops.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

Salt Creek

July 17th, 2009

My take on Salt Creek complete with Bela-isms. The idea of the backup is to show what can be done with one or two fingers and some standard rolls.

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Tab in PDF and TablEdit formats - $6.00

Pike County Breakdown

July 13th, 2008

Pike County Breakdown is a Bill Monroe tune that Earl Scruggs made popular. It has a single string lick that can be a little tricky but it’s an essential part of the melody. I use my thumb and index finger to play this lick though you could use thumb and middle or even incorporate a forward roll. The Chord structure is similar to Old Joe Clark and is played out of the G position with the capo at the 2nd fret. This tune tends to get butchered at jams since there are countless ways to play the backup. When in doubt play the tonic and avoid heavy accents.

Single String Chromatic Exercises

February 3rd, 2007

This video demonstrates single string style picking using the standard three finger Scruggs approach on the five string banjo. The fundamental right hand pattern starts with the thumb and alternates with the index finger to simulate the up and down stroke of a flatpick. Some people use their middle finger instead of the index. Either way works so use whichever feels more natural.

The first exercise is a G chromatic scale starting at the fifth fret of the forth string. The notes of the scale are: G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G.

The second exercise involves playing a forward roll (T-I-M-T) on one string while walking into the 1st, 3rd and 5th degrees of the G scale (G, B, D, G). In this case it’s demonstrated on the first string but can be played on any string in any key. Greg Cahill uses this lick to great effect.

Both of these exercises are played in a closed position and use no open strings so they can easily be moved into any key.

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