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Archive for April 1st, 2004

Heftone Banjo Orchestra

Thursday, April 1st, 2004

Cool belated news… Brian has been working on many recordings, as I’ve mentioned here. The one he did for holiday gifts for family and friends, he called the “Music Box Rag” by his Heftone Banjo Orchestra. It actually was his second album for this concept. The first album of Heftone Banjo Orchestra is called “Ta-ra-ra-Boom-de-ay!”

Both albums (in CD format) are instrumental only. They feature Brian overdubbing himself, playing several different tracks on different types of banjos. He has a banjo ukulele, a banjo guitar and the Heftone bass which looks like a bass banjo. The first album he played lead with a banjo mandolin as well.

The first album was a compilation of fourteen different numbers, all of them in the public domain except one that Brian wrote himself. Many of them are familiar tunes: Oh, Susannah, Buffalo Gals, Pop! Goes the Weasel, Yankee Doodle, Can Can, and Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here.

The second album is mostly rags, twelve in all. Lead is on the Banjo Ukulele, no mandolin. Lots of tracks, so that it sounds like a lot of folks playing. The album cover is amusing, it shows eleven guys playing in an ensemble. However, if you look more closely, all eleven of them are Brian. Some of them he has long hair, some short, some with glasses, some without… but all Brian. He did a good job editing these photos and making them look like one.

So what is the coolest news about these yet? Brian works with Bob Blackman, who I wrote about a week or two ago… he has had a folk radio show on WKAR (The Folk Tradition) for twenty years, every weekend.

Well, Brian is pretty excited about his recordings, so he of course shared one with Bob (and other folks he also thought might be interested in his project). We found out after the fact, that Bob played Dill Pickles (click title to download in MP3 format), a piece on the second album, on his show this weekend. I guess he sort of did it at the last minute, so we didn’t know about it until it was over. Maybe we would have been near a radio and maybe not, but it’s sort of exciting! Brian got on the radio with his one-man band/project.

Brian has a website set up for his Heftone Banjo Orchestra. You can find it at http://heftone.com/orchestra

He has all the tunes from both albums at this site, available for download so you can listen to them one at a time (in either ogg vorbis or MP3 format). He has information on all the instruments he used on the projects. He also has links to Elderly Instruments, the music store, where you can buy his two CD’s on their site.

OK, so I’m proud of my sweetie. But hey, he’s an amazing banjo player. He’s an amazing ukulele player. That’s how I first learned who he was, around 1990. I went to the Ten Pound Fiddle coffeehouse concerts where he sometimes performed. And I loved his music even then, when my life was very much different than it is now.

If you have a minute, perhaps you’d like to go over to Brian’s page and download a cheerful tune? You’d be more than welcome to visit!