By Wayne Erbesen
Native Ground Music
Long before the self-deprecating series of “Books for Dummies,” there was a banjo book for ignoramuses. This is the latest book in that series. It builds upon the author’s previous book, Bluegrass Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus.
Unlike many books that spoon-feed information to the user while asking for little original thought, Erbsen says there are many ways to play the melody on the banjo and as he rightly points out there are as many banjo styles as there are banjo pickers. So, he helps you figure out the best way to play the melody with rolls. He gives the user blank tab pages to jot down their own arrangement. This is a great way to sort out and help understand the music licks, that, like Legos, can be used interchangeably to develop a unique arrangement of a familiar melody.
The idea with this new book is to copy the melodies from the first book and then write the melody with the rolls you want to use to make your own arrangement. This DIY approach book is loaded with information on how to use the rolls and what rolls to use get the melody on each string. There are 10 rolls presented here along with basic chords, all designed to get the intermediate player thinking critically how to best approach each melody. There is a lot of information to digest and apply.
Simply stated, this book encourages the user to think about rolls and their purpose in bluegrass banjo. It focuses on material that is created in the traditional realm of bluegrass banjo. As an extension of the playing ideas presented in the original book, you’ll find a solid grounding in how to frame the melody within the roll to present the tune in a solid performance.