otjarticle

Jamming with my buddies

Who

My name is Josh Turknett.  I’m a Neurologist in Atlanta, GA by day, rabid banjo enthusiast by night.  I enjoy playing the banjo just about every which way (Scruggs style, old time fingerpicking, clawhammer), but spend the majority of my time these days playing old-time music. I also have a site dedicated to all things clawhammer banjo at clawhammerbanjo.net.

I also play guitar and piano, and recently have picked up the fiddle and mandolin.  I play music with an old-time stringband called the Sedentary Ramblers, and we play around the Atlanta area every now and again.

I write a column for the Banjo Newsletter from time to time called “Your Brain on Banjo” where I talk about how to make the most of your brain’s music making potential. I recently created a beginner to advanced course for clawhammer banjo based on these brain-based learning principles, which you can check out here if you're interested.

How

The original idea for this site was conceived several years ago while attending an old time banjo camp.  At the time, I had just recently started learning how to play clawhammer banjo, and was quite new to the world of old-time music.

Each night at the camp we had jam sessions.  Though the veterans at the advanced jam had a full cadre of common tunes they knew and could play together, those of us newer to old-time struggled to find tunes that were common to us.  I thought at that time it would have been nice to have had a place we could all visit prior to camp where we might learn some common tunes so that we could make the most of these opportunities to jam together.

That idea quickly faded into the background, but re-emerged again when not too long ago I began learning old-time fiddling.  As part of this process, I started making backup guitar tracks to play along with - I’ve never been particularly fond of playing along with computer generated instruments (preferring to play alongside with real instruments whenever possible).  And so I figured as long as I was making these, I might as well make them available to other old-time musicians!

I then started making some banjo tracks to play along with, and realized how much fun those were to play with, which is when this project started to expand out of control!  I also thought this would be a nice place to put together that list of tunes I’d desired years earlier at the banjo camp, and so compiled a list of the “old-time top 20” (based on surveys from the banjo and fiddle hangouts, as well as a prior survey from fiddler magazine).  If you’re relatively new to old-time music and are looking to start building a repertoire of tunes, this list would be a good place to start.

If you have tunes you would like to see added to the site or any other feedback, please contact me.