Friday, March 27, 2009

Mike Goodwin and the Banjo He Made

This is Mike Goodwin. He came into the shop yesterday and brought with him a banjo that he had made. This is really a nice instrument. Mike plays clawhammer, so naturally the banjo is made for clawhammer style. He was kind enough to allow me to video him describing how he made various parts of the banjo and also him playing it. Mike is just a beginner, but he sure is doing a good job!

The Fiddle My Dad's Father Made

If you remember one of my recent posts, I wrote about the fiddle that my Dad recently got. It is one of 21 that his father made. This one is the first we've gotten to see. It is number 11 and was made in 1929. Here is a video of my Dad and I taking turns playing it. I did some minor repair work on it, but tried to leave it in as original condition as I could. It got a new fingerboard, a "new" vintage bridge, and new strings. Praise God for answered prayers!

Zane Prosser, Bull Harman & Chris Talley Armstrong at MABC

We were filler while the judges tallied all the scores for the youth contests at Eureka. We played Jambalaya and Whiskey Before Breakfast. Here are the two videos:

So Many Winners at Eureka!!

The Bluegrass Shack students had a great time and did wonderfully at the MABC Youth Contests held in Eureka, MO on March 20, 2009. Winners from the Shack include Nikki (1st Place Banjo); Emily (2nd Place Banjo); Makayla (3rd Place Banjo); Andy (4th Place Banjo); Millie (1st Place Fiddle); Makayla (2nd Place Fiddle); Charlie (3rd Place Fiddle); The Pickin' Chicks (1st Place Talent); Charlie & The Girls (2nd Place Talent); Charlie (3rd Place Talent); Duelin' Sisters (4th Place Talent). Here are a few videos. You can find more if you go directly to YouTube.

Nikki - First Place Banjo

Charlie & The Girls - Second Place Talent

Millie - First Place Fiddle

Emily - Second Place Banjo

The Pickin' Chicks - First Place Talent

This is their encore performance played on Saturday night's show:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Youth Fiddle, Banjo & Talent Contests

I edited the link in my previous posting for the MABC bluegrass festival that will be held the weekend of March 20, 2009. I had the incorrect link there yesterday, so you might want to view the updated link and page.

The contests held will be Youth Only (16 & under) fiddle, banjo and open talent. Contests will be held on Friday night. You MUST be registered by 6:30 p.m. Friday night. Registration will open at 5:30 p.m. Friday night. (No advance registration available.) This contest was absolutely fantastic last year!!!! I had so much fun watching it. I hope you'll come this year and enjoy it, too! It will inspire old and young alike.

For a complete list of the rules go to If you have any questions, please contact me or ask the registration table on Friday so that you will get the correct answer. One year, a contestant received incorrect information from someone else and this information seemed to spread among all the contestants like wildfire...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The All New Pickin' Chicks!

This group of four girls has only played together two times when I took this video. They range in age from 9 to 13 years old, and it started to rain while I was taking the video. You can see how much fun these girls are having. If you want to see them perform "LIVE," come to the March 20th Eureka Bluegrass Festival. They will be performing in the youth contests Friday night. You can download a .pdf flyer with all the festival information here:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dad Reunited with Fiddle!!!

This is the best story ever, and it's about my own dad!

My dad, Andy Talley, was born in 1926. His father passed away while dad was still young, but not so young that dad doesn't remember quite a bit about him and his fiddle making. Dad knew that his father made 21 fiddles, but has never been able to see one as an adult. Just in time for Dad's 83rd birthday, he received the call of his lifetime.

It seems there is a lady (who wishes to remain anonymous) who attends auctions and usually buys old, family Bibles. She enjoys history and geneology. This lady, for whatever reason, decided to buy an old fiddle at an auction. She did some geneology, and eventually my Dad was tracked down. Dad drove to her house in Siloam Springs, AR and picked up the fiddle last week. The wonderfully, nice lady would not take a dime for the fiddle, and also gave Dad the geneology research she did. For all these years, Dad has wanted to have one of his father's fiddles, and now he does!

I will post pictures of the fiddle at a later date when I actually get to see it. (I'm dying to see and play it!!!!) Dad played it for me over the phone. Inside the fiddle, the label bears his father's name, city & state, date (October 1929), and "No. 11."

If you ever find a fiddle that has a label with the last name "Talley," please contact me! We'd love to find more of these. Dad says he remembers his father carving acorns on one of the fiddles. He also said he remembers his father having to "schedule" time with his mother to use the cookstove to dry out the wood. How cool is that?!!

Praise God for big and little things!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Love this E-mail!

A fellow named Butch bought my Beginning Bluegrass Fiddle CDs last week through the mail and sent me an enjoyable e-mail after he received them. Just thought I'd share it with you.


The tapes got here quicker than I thought they would. Good job !!

Life is good. I have a left handed fiddle and some instructions that are fun to play along with.

I really like the way the CD coaches me along and that I can play along with the different speeds.

Once I have an idea of how the song goes, the tab makes for a good reference. The tab is a real plus.

DANG, where’s that bus to Nashville... Only kidding about the bus but again I like the way you present your lessons.

You even had an ole 62 year old lefthander playing a tune the first night.

Oh, I did have to get a fiddle mute to save my marriage... kidding.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great Picture I Had to Share!

Rhonda brought in this picture of her two children, Andy and Amelia. I loved it so much I just had to post it for everyone else. Isn't this just great?!

Letter from Al

We recently received a nice letter from one of our students, Al. I thought I would post it here for everyone. Click on the letter to enlarge it so you can read it.

Tuesday's Jam

Another great jam! Those in attendance included Jim, Warren, Cindy, Irene, John, Lorraine, Ron, Terry L., Abby, Stan, Jason, Anna, Jerry, Rhonda, Amelia, Earl, Larry, Verlan, Steve, Shirley, and me! If I left someone out, please accept my apologies. We played for about 3 hours, and it was some really great music. I especially enjoyed Ron and Amelia playing Faded Love on fiddle!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Advanced Upright Bass Runs - Bluegrass Style!

Here is a short video showing a few advanced chord positions and runs for use in the song "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." We are playing in the key of G.

Playing Double Stops on Fiddle

Playing double stops (two strings at the same time) on fiddle can be tricky! I recorded a video with some tips to help people learning this technique. The main points to remember when playing double stops are:

1. Use long bow strokes
2. Tilt the bow away from you (hair towards you)
3. Don't use more bow pressure than you do for single strings
4. Play the "imaginary string" between the two strings you want to play
5. Rock the bow between the two strings you want to play, then gradually play them both at the same time
6. Practice your double stops with songs that are very simple
7. Play confidently -- even if you don't feel confident!

Take a look at the video to see all of these techniques demonstrated: