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Over the years, a recurring theme in world of southern old time has been the transformation of a popular song into an fiddle or banjo instrumental. Such is the case with this week’s number, “Darling Nellie Gray” (or “Nelly,” or “Grey”…)
The song began its life as a breakout 19th Century hit, penned by Benjamin Hamby (who also composed the holiday hits “Up On A Housetop” and “Jolly Ol’ St. Nicholas”). Kyle Creed’s version on solo banjo is perhaps the most recognizable of the recorded instrumental renditions, and is the primary inspiration for the version presented here.
It was also Kyle’s iconic version that led Justin and I to include it as one of the tracks on our Round Peak, Georgia album.
(RELATED: Click here to learn about the Player’s Edition of “Round Peak, Georgia.” 20 great fiddle-banjo classics, tabs, and solo fiddle tracks for banjo-fiddle duet practice).
You’ll find many of the classic elements of Round Peak style here: lots of single string work with a minimum of brush strokes, frequent double and drop thumbing, and liberal usage of the Galax lick, indicated by the up arrow in the tablature (more on how to perform the Galax lick, along with accompanying close up videos, can be found in the the “Reading the Tabs” post).
A New Addition to the Brainjo Line!
Longer-time observers may notice there’s a new banjo in my hands in this video, a half-fretless model (with a brass plate over the fretless portion) courtesy of the gifted hands of Tim Gardner of Cedar Mountain Banjos. It’s become my latest obsession, and I’m delighted to report that it’s now another option in the Brainjo line of banjos (click here for more information).
Darling Nellie Gray
gDGBD tuning, Brainjo level 3-4
Notes on the Tab
Notes in parentheses are “skip” notes. To learn more about these, check out my video lesson on the subject.
For more on reading tabs in general, check out this complete guide to reading banjo tabs.
Level 2 arrangements and video demos for the Tune (and Song!) of the Week tunes are now available as part of the Breakthrough Banjo course. Learn more about it here.
Click here for a current list of all the clawhammer songs and tunes currently available inside of The Vault
View the Brainjo Course Catalog