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Georgia Banjo Blues

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Album Review

Art Rosenbaum, like Mike Seeger and John Cohen and other urban folk revival survivors, fell under the spell of traditional Appalachian music in the 1960s, and has spent his lifetime promoting it, seeking it out, writing about it (four books, including a banjo instruction manual), and most importantly, playing it. Rosenbaum has developed a variety of finger-picked and clawhammer styles on banjo, and though his voice is a bit pitch-challenged and wavering, that's the way you're supposed to sing this stuff, at least if it's a facsimile you're after, and that is the goal here. Georgia Banjo Blues is a stripped-down affair, with most tracks just Rosenbaum solo on banjo, and for the record, few of these tunes are in the blues category. The playing is studied and back-porch, the singing is, well, appropriate, and in the end, the whole project emerges as a charming and subtle primer of the genre. Highlights include the eerie and haunting "How Come That Blood on Your Sleeve?," a breakneck version of "John Hardy," a joined medley of "Coal Creek March" and "Last Payday at Coal Creek" (pieces usually associated with old time banjo player Pete Steele), and a credible Dock Boggs impersonation on "Want to Go to Cuba but I Can't Go Now," although Boggs never attempted anything at the velocity Rosenbaum uses here. The goal of Rosenbaum, Seeger, Cohen, and the so-called "Young Fogies" isn't to innovate, but to replicate and preserve this fascinating music, and Georgia Banjo Blues does its part with a very special charm and joy.


Born: 1945 in New York, NY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s

New York native Art Rosenbaum belonged to a generation of city slickers who discovered, fell in love with, and dedicated themselves to traditional rural music. Unlike others, though, for one reason or another Rosenbaum never came off as a copycat or hollow imitation. Instead, his banjo playing for Elektra Records in the mid-60s actually extended and built upon the country tradition rather than just aping it. As an extension of his passion for the music, Rosenbaum began producing and assembling collections...
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Georgia Banjo Blues, Art Rosenbaum
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