From Trad Magazine:
BRAVO (Trad Mag’s award of distinction)
We knew that Hunter Robertson was an excellent banjo player, his last CD If You Want to Go to Sleep, Go to Bed (Trad Mag n° 129) proved it to us, if needed. Now, with this DVD, we also know that he’s an excellent teacher.
This new DVD isn’t a beginner’s clawhammer banjo method but is more dedicated to those who already have a good grounding in the style. The idea behind these lessons is excellent, that is, learning to play well known (at least to aficionados) versions of fiddle tunes on the banjo, such as “Cripple Creek”, “Bonaparte’s Retreat”, “Ducks on the Millpond”… ten fiddle tunes in all.
The first chapter is a review of all the clawhammer banjo player’s “tools” such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, alternate string pull-offs, slides and other techniques used in the style. For each piece, Hunter plays a version at normal speed, then he explains the difficulties of the piece and then plays it again at a slower pace so that you can train by playing it along with him.
As a bonus, Hunter gives a quick look at two and three-finger picking styles.
This is an excellent DVD and should immensely please those who are interested in the style, who’ll find not only beautiful versions of fiddle tunes but also ideas for arranging pieces of their own choice.
– Claude Vue
On savait Hunter Robertson excellent banjoïste, son dernier CD « If you want to go to sleep, go to bed » (Trad Mag n° 129) nous l’avait prouvé si besoin était. Maintenant, avec ce DVD, on sait aussi que c’est un excellent pédagogue.
Ce nouveau DVD n’est pas une méthode de banjo clawhammer mais est plutôt réservé à ceux qui ont déjà une bonne expérience du genre. L’idée de ces leçons est excellente, à savoir apprendre au banjo des versions de fiddle tunes connus, tout du moins par les afficionados tel que Cripple Creek, Bonaparte’s retreat, Ducks on the millpond…..en tout dix fiddle tunes.
Le premier chapitre est une revue de tous les « outils » du banjoïste en style clawhammer à savoir les hammers, pull offs, alternate string pull offs, slides et autres techniques particulières au style.
Pour chaque morceau, Hunter donne une version à vitesse normale, il explique ensuite les difficultés du morceau puis le rejoue à vitesse plus lente pour que vous puissiez vous entrainer avec lui.
En bonus, Hunter donne un bref aperçu des styles « two fingers » et « three fingers » picking.
Ce DVD est excellent et devrait ravir les adeptes du genre qui vont y trouver outre de très belles versions de fiddle tunes mais aussi des idées pour arranger des morceaux de leur choix. – Claude Vue
The banjo player with the rough voice, who at this time is living in Geneva, submits an educational DVD which has been released by a leading US music publisher. Ten known old-time titles like “Cripple Creak” and “Bonaparte’s Retreat” he wants to teach us here, with the explicit purpose that we to not imitate everything slavishly, but develop our own ideas. With that, he plays a fretless banjo.
In contrast to the dialog based AcuTab DVDs, Robertson conducts frontal lessons. Basically, the screen is divided for the left and the right hand, in close-up. As an introduction, Roberson shows the various striking techniques, then the pieces are introduced in normal speed, then technical detail is explained, and finally the pieces are played again in half and medium speed. One should actually bring along some knowledge of the clawhammer style, the entrance level seems high.
The clawhammer style may seem clumsy and primitive, here it becomes clear how subtle and elaborate it can be and how every musician has his peculiarities. Except in “Raleigh & Spencer”, Robertson does not sing (he anyhow rather snarls), not even where there is a text. Finally, the demonstrates 2- and the 3-finger picking and plays “Raleigh & Spencer” again fully.
As an add-on, the DVD has a 26-page booklet in PDF format for printing, with all the needed explanations and advices. Working one’s way through these music lessons will cost some considerable effort, but in the end one surely will have learned something.
– Eberhard Finke