04 February 2015

It doesn't have to be in B!

The BIB editor reports:

A revelation doesn't come every day, but one arrived when Bluegrass on the Tube sent me a link to 'Train 45' performed by Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper. (It can also be seen on YouTube, where it belongs to WAMU's Bluegrass Country channel.)

Everyone knows that 'Train 45' is always played in B (who began that tradition?). Everyone also knows that Michael Cleveland himself and everyone in his band (in this case including Charlie Cushman on banjo and Ashby Frank on mandolin) are top-flight musicians. Well, they played it in G, and obviously not because B would have been too difficult. So feel free to do likewise in future.

'Train 45', also known as 'Reuben's train' or 'Old Reuben', is one of the most venerable banjo tunes, having been (I believe) traced back to Africa and a time when there were no trains anywhere in the world, let alone forty-five of them.

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