MEL BAY PRESENTS KYLE CREED: CLAWHAMMER BANJO MASTER
BY BOB CARLIN AND DAN LEVENSON
Mel Bay 9780786682713. CD included, 64 pp., $19.99.
Mel Bay Publications, #4 Industrial Dr., Pacific, MO 63069, www.melbay.com.
A tablature book on the banjo playing of Kyle Creed has been long overdue. In addition to Tommy Jarrell and Fred Cockerham, Creed (1912-1982) is one of the “big three” in Round Peak style banjo. His most well-known recordings, Camp Creek Boys and Liberty, are essential listening for any old-time player.
Bob Carlin and Dan Levenson, both masters of old-time banjo, have written an accessible and thorough introduction to Creed’s style, which is becoming more and more imitated by modern players. Both Carlin and Levenson each bring their own strengths to the project. Carlin has transcribed Creed’s tunes as close to the original as possible, even tabbing out the dragged notes and Galax lick. It’s essential in studying anyone’s style to leave your own style behind and look at what that player is really doing. Levenson has taken a slightly different approach in creating versions of the songs that were developed from his own ear and style, an equally valid approach, and one that is at the heart of the musical tradition.
What we have here then, is a nice confluence of these two approaches, even to the point of having two transcriptions of each of the 28 songs—one transcribed by Bob and close to, if not exactly as, Creed played it, and another version by Dan, which is more Dan’s personal style, but which still gets at the heart of Creed’s playing.
If you’re not familiar with Kyle Creed’s playing, this beautifully done tab book will lead you back to the original recordings and give you a foot-up and much insight into the master’s playing. CVS