Play Along Videos
I've got some Hints for you to get the most from your play along experience. You see, playing songs by yourself can be rewarding and fun. Then again, playing with others introduces a whole new facet to the game . . .
This short essay continues at the bottom of the page. Come on and learn to supercharge your play along experience. See you there!
"I returned to that old cabin home with a sigh . . . "
Blue Ridge Cabin Home "G"
A grandaddy classic for sure. Real standard chord sequence. Watch, tap your fingers and learn what the pattern of chords is and then dig in and play along. First rung of the ladder; strumming, rolling or chopping while moving along with the chord changes. Next rungs might be embellished strumming, fills, walking bass notes, singing (including harmony and the gold standard - playing the melody!
"Out in the hallway there stands a lonly chair - an old pair of shoes that he used to wear . . . "
Bring Back To Me My Wandering Boy "D"
Just a perfect song for getting the hang of standard "chestnut" chord patterns. See how quick you can get the hang of this pattern which repeats for both verse and chorus. Then figure out a credible melody line. Sing the chorus (they're usually easiest). Heck sing the harmony. Remember if you can internalize the phrasing of the lyrics you can figure out melodies a whole lot easier.
"You could almost hear them cry as they kissed their boy goodbye"
I Wonder How The Old Folks Are At Home "A"
Nice old song and nostalgic lyrics. Mac Wiseman or Flatt and Scruggs got me going on this song but there are hundreds of versions out there, and lots of stylistic takes besides. Less intuitive on the chord changes than some of the basic standards but eminently "gettable" and one for your treasure chest of standards.
"SOON MY CHILDHOOD DAYS WERE OVER - I HAD TO LEAVE THE OLD HOME"
I'm On My Way Back To The Old Home
I got it from Bill Monroe and then . . . oh then I heard it from the Bluegrass Album Band! They made my heard soar and J.D. Crowe's banjo galvanized me. I offer this simple play along arrangement for your edification.
"when the bluebird sings - i miss my darling - she Those memories - they haunt me still"
The Bluebirds Are
Singing For Me
A great song is so many ways. It particularly lends itself to getting the hang of harmony and the timing of fills. It's a catchy little tune with a story and there's all kinds of room for imaginative interaction between musicians.
"Good bye Don't cry I'm goin' to louisiana - To buy a coon and a big fat hog and mary suzianna"
Cornbread And Butterbeans
What a fun song! The chorus is pretty catchy and it's just a silly and kinda dancy number. If you have a fiddle then dig in. The rest of y'all can have a lot of fun too. The chord sequences are the same for verses and choruses and the melody is short, sweet and repeats. Since the leading downbeat lyric is something of a "bendy" sound you can mimic that on your instrument. Figure out how. See how you can repeat that pretty frequently over and over and make a happy sound.
"Should have married Angeline some 20 years ago."
Angeline The Baker in "D"
One catchy tune here in part because it features a 1-4-1 (D-G-D) chord sequence and that's a quick little G at the end. The melody is a good one for entry level melody hunting.
"I'm gonna hunt the possum where the corn tops blossom . . . "
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues "G"
Great Jam song for the ages! Straight as an arrow with a nice little 4-5-1 at the end of the chorus. The song features a different ending phrase for each chorus so keep your head on a swivel!
Rattler was a good ol' dog - blind as he could be . . .
Old Rattler in "G"
A super classic 1-5-1 (G-D-G) type bluegrass groove for sure. This song is fun to sing harmony on the chorus. Maybe the coolest thing is the opportunity "walk" those notes between these two chords down and back up. Great song to practice the technique where the context is more readily clear. That'll set you up for success on less obvious walks between chords.
I'll hush up my mug if you'll fill up my jug . . .
Mountain Dew in "G"
Who has not heard this song? It's just plain rollicking fun with several short poem like verses and an inviting chorus. The 1-4-1-5 (G-C-G-D) type chord sequence is easy to figure out and the melody is comprised of only 5 notes. You just gotta figure out how to line 'em up. Get to work!
"I'm bound to hear the whistle of the freight train and the boxcars as they rattle down the line."
Don't Fall In Love With A Rambler in "A"
Country music - grassified! Get out your capo and let's pretend we're on the Grand Ol' Opry together. Seek that country swing and sway in your rhythm. Got a good fill or two you can throw in there? This is your opportunity for singing sweet country with a grassy edge.
"I'VE LOOKED THROUGH THE BARS OF A COLD LONELY PRISON - I'VE LIVED A LOT IN MY TIME."
I've Lived A Lot In My Time
You can hear the melody straight and true in the lyrics. The melody sequence repeats a second time on the other side of the coin with a nice finale in a descending scale at the end of each verse and chorus . . . "I've lived a lot in my time".
Originally a country song and I believe Jim Reeves made it big on the charts. Written by Reeves, Reynolds, Rhodes.
Get the hang of this one and learn to sing at least the chorus. Connect with me and I'll show you how to sing the harmony.
"Never mind sir how I look, don't look at me and frown - I sell the morning paper sir, my name is jimmy brown"
Jimmy Brown the Newsboy
in "C" (single measure pauses)
All I know is I heard Flatt and Scruggs do this one on one of their iconic TV films with Earl playing that double pick guard guitar and it's wild reflections of studio light in the B&W film of the day. He held that guitar like a baby to his ear so he could hear every bit of glory that vibrating box could emit. I can't play Earl's iconic finger picking style on this but I do have a passable flatpick version which upon review I realize I featured only on the second of these two videos and then only half of it. I guess I was favoring maximizing chances for you. If you'd like to do that kind of soloing I'd love to show you how. Drop me a line and let's get together in person or on line.
The song is constructed of pairs of very short verses (or consider them a single combined verse). Sometimes folks will leave a full measure between the two halves and some only a single measure. There's probably no "correct" way to do that but just follow your gut and probably stay consistent. I'm including two videos here demonstrating both ways. See what you like best.
Mac Wiseman came along and added a short refrain using a 6m (Am) and a 4 chord "F" while refraining the turn around lyrics at the end "I sell the morning paper sir my name is Jimmy Brown" That's not part of these two recordings but if you really want me to make one then let me know.
"You can hear me yelling morning Star, running along the street - got no hat upon my head, no shoes upon my feet"
Jimmy Brown the Newsboy
in "C" (two measure pauses)
This is the version with the longer 2 measure pause between halves of the verse(s). That makes a nice space for a solid "C" Run that's an awful lot like your "G" run just shifted to the next lighter set of strings. Master this song at what ever level you're at and I'll love playing it together with you at some jam camp very soon.
Continued from above:
Here are those hints to get the most from your play along experience.
As I was saying . . .
Playing songs by yourself can be rewarding and fun. Then again, playing with others introduces a whole new facet to the game. Suddenly we're accountable to a tempo that comes from outside our own selves. Woah! That's sure different! Maybe difficult. Others won't wait for you to come in on time or even give you a turn at a solo. In private we give ourselves all kinds of redos and adjustments . . . but not in a group.
That's what's so good about playing with these Play Along Videos. We get to practice accountability to an external sound. You know what they say; you get good at what you practice, and practice is repetition, over and over. Fine then, so we practice the strings and the frets, and that's good as far as it goes, but we also gotta practice staying in time with an outside "accountability source".
While a metronome is useful, music videos are a lot more fun. Besides, we want to practice more than just timing. We want to get comfort with the "arrangement" that defines bluegrass jamming songs. Typically that means an instrumental solo kickoff followed by singing a verse and chorus and again with an instrumental solo. Rinse and repeat till the end. Can you sense your solo coming? Can you jump in accurately on time? Transition from rolling that banjo to vamping? Throw in that "G" run on the guitar? Fill licks on your mandolin? Got a good ending flourish to really nail that last measure? These Play Along Videos will cause you to consider these things. Things that we don't necessarily practice when we're in private.
Jamming skills is more than song skills. Singing along on the chorus or even learning a good harmony part happens best when there's someone singing the lead for us. These songs are the perfect way to get repeating practice with singing skills. Video songs also serve to make us accountable to the lyrics, phrasing, pitch of the notes, projection and exercising of our bodies' singing structures. Additionally, singing and playing simultaneously is a skill to master.
We often practice quietly and guess what? Yep, we get real good at playing quiet. At the same time we may be neglecting more robust strumming, chopping, rolling, sawing etc. Playing along like this will help to bring out confident, projecting and driving sound from our instruments.
There's lots more ways that Play Along Videos can help broaden and fill out our jamming skills. We're all better prepared to play our best when we've given ourselves repeated access to "real" jamming simulations like these. I know you want to be your best and I'll be pleased to get together with you to give you insight, support, coaching, and enable you to thrive with your music. Meanwhile, click any song link and I'll meet you there!
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