Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review:, The Old Time Jam

A neurologist/banjoist named Josh Turknett has created a website called  On the site there's a built-in music player that allows you to stream/play along with an expanding list of old-time tunes.  There are currently 100 tunes available.  These include numbers in the old-time "top 20", such as Arkansas Traveler, Old Joe Clark, Soldier's Joy, Turkey in the Straw and Whiskey Before Breakfast.  Beyond that his well chosen selection includes the D tunes Fortune, Polly Put the Kettle On, Spotted Pony, Sugar Hill and Washington's March, G tunes such as Barlow Knife, Big Sciota, Nail that Catfish to a Tree, Seneca Squaredance and Shove that Pig's Foot, and A tunes including Cold Frosty Morning, Half Past Four, John Brown's Dream, Little Billie Wilson, Old Bunch of Keys and Old Mother Flanagan.
Each tune is presented in 5 different arrangements:  fiddle and banjo, fiddle and guitar, banjo and guitar, guitar only slow and guitar only fast.  So, you can choose whichever arrangement works for you.  I prefer the fiddle and guitar recordings.  The site is free to use if you simply want to play along with the streaming recordings.  However, for a one-time $25 Paypal donation, Josh will grant you a "lifetime membership", which allows you to download all 100 currently available tracks as well as any he adds later (he plans to add many more and will notify members by email whenever new volumes become available).  Once you download the tracks you can burn them to CD and/or add them to your iPad or other portable music device.  As I mentioned, I prefer the fiddle and guitar tracks, although they are a bit fast for me in some cases.  After making a donation and downloading these files I was able to use the Amazing Slow Downer app to slow the tunes down.  This is a great way to learn!  For $35 Josh will throw in an T-shirt in size L or XL as part of your lifetime membership.  See images below.
T-shirt available for $35 lifetime membership

Closeup of t-shirt
Due to popular demand, Josh has started to add banjo tab, mandolin tab, and standard notation for the tunes.  These will be available to lifetime members as he completes them.  So far the first batch of 20 tunes has been notated.  If chords is all you want, a pdf file of the chords to all the tunes can be found here.  Lastly,  I encourage you to check out his informative article called "What is Old-Time Music?".  The question of what is or isn't old-time comes up quite often among traditional musicians and Josh Turknett's brief description is as good as any I've seen.  Click here to read.

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