When you think of Appalachian music, your train of thought will take you to bluegrass music.
It is a sweet concoction of blues and jazz, with a taste of high lonesome sound. And one of the instruments that compose bluegrass music is the banjo.
Banjo is a stringed musical instrument of African origin.
It was created by enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Caribbean and colonial North America. Banjos were brought to America through the slave trade.
They began receiving attention from white Americans when minstrel shows began using the banjo as part of their acts.
The defining characteristic of the banjo is the use of a stretched membrane, originally an animal skin, to amplify the vibration of its strings.
One of the many techniques that you can play the banjo is the “clawhammer,” a two-finger style of playing which was popular before the Civil War.
Clawhammer is a playing style where the hand assumes a claw-like shape and the strumming finger is kept fairly stiff, striking the strings by the motion of the hand at the wrist or elbow rather than a flicking motion by the finger.
The principal difference between the clawhammer style and other styles is the picking direction. It is a distinctive banjo playing style and a common component of American old-time music.
And in a video uploaded on his official YouTube account, a very talented musician collaborates with his son and impresses us with their sheer talent and skills in playing the banjo.
This father and son duo is effortless when it comes to music. Both are really talented as they play “Old Chattanooga” in one of their cover videos.
Their arrangement of “Old Chattanooga” takes a slower pace than the original piece but the result is just as beautiful.
It gives off that vibe that will take you to vast green fields, tall trees, and a sweet breeze, as you travel across the Blue Ridge Mountains and take a plunge in West Virginia where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac River.
Leon Ballard plays the guitar as he serves as an accompaniment, while his son rocks the banjo. This duo takes serenading to the next level with their jaw-dropping music.
Beyond the shy exterior of Leon’s son is immense talent and skills in playing instruments, just like his father.
As Leon leads the harmony, his son certainly did not disappoint with his playing as he takes charge with the melody. Sweet and relaxing notes start to fill the room as they play their music.
This kid is a pro when it comes to the banjo.
He strums the strings and plays the instrument with so much ease, not missing any note throughout their performance.
He is certainly a prodigy in the making and Leon is right beside him beaming with pride as he watches his son play whole-heartedly.
The music piece is simple yet it delivers a calming effect in the duo’s rendition. Their performance is so clean and overall amazing.
Leon continues to share his passion for music and at the same time runs Ballard Banjers.
Ballard Banjers is a banjo-making workshop in the Suffolk countryside of the United Kingdom.
For Leon, Ballard Banjers is the culmination of many years’ obsession with all things ‘banjo’, a lifetime as a musician and artist, and a career as a furniture maker. Enjoy their music and discover your love for banjo by checking out this video.
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