I love riding my bike.
Not the hard-core-cycling-in-full Tour-de-France-worthy-regalia-on-lighter-than-air-rocket-grade frames type of bike riding that seems to be the norm round where I live.
No, my favorite thing is just to take a relaxing ride on my well-worn cruiser bike through the neighborhood, maybe up to the local park and back. In fact, one of my goals in life is to one day be able to ditch the automobile altogether in favor of two-wheeled transport.
As you might imagine, I love to listen to music while I ride. And I’ve noticed that there are some tunes that are particularly well suited to bike riding.
Just as there are some songs tailor-made for flying 70(ish) miles per hour down the highway (I suggest “Paint It Black” by the Stones) on four wheels, there are others that serve as the perfect backdrop for casually gliding along the sidewalk on two.
A few days ago, I was listening to the “Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina” album (highly recommended) while riding. The tune “Jaybird March” (aka “Marching Jaybird”) came into my earholes, played by the inimitable Etta Baker.
Perfect bike riding song.
I actually first heard this tune years ago off of Reed Martin’s landmark “Old-Time Banjo” album. I was so taken with it at that time that I had to learn it right away.
The tune was first recorded, on separate albums, by Etta Baker and her sister-in-law Lacey Phillips (their picking patterns vary a bit, but the essence of the tune remains the same). A little digging reveals that Etta learned it from her brother in law, by way of his father.
The tune is typically played fingerstyle, which was how I first learned it. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard a clawhammer rendition. But riding along listening, I could hear how nice it could sound with a downpicking delivery.
So guess what I did as soon as I got home?
The result: our Tune of the Week!
gDGBD tuning, Brainjo Level 3
Notes on the tab:
Notes in parentheses are “skip” notes. To learn more about these, check out my [free] video lesson on the subject.
For more on reading tabs in general, check out my complete guide on reading banjo tabs.
And as a reminder, the introductory price on the “Masters of Clawhammer Banjo” episode with Adam Hurt will expire this weekend. Use the discount code “clawfan” at check-out for $20 off until then. Here again is the link to more about the course.