Album Review - Dusty Banjos - Live at the Crane ( Tutorial CD )

We have just received a copy of Dusty Banjos "Live at the Crane" CD as well as a book of tunes published on their 10th anniversary.  Dusty Banjos was started in September 2002 by local musicians Mary Lovett and Community Music Crew, to provide a music session for students of Irish traditional music. As a community project you will find no better and they should be an inspiration to traditional music schools and groups worldwide. Like the best sessions Dusty Banjos is a fun social occasion with learning and encouragement at the heart of their work. 
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Firstly we will concentrate on the album Dusty Banjo's - Live At The Crane. The Crane is a well known watering hole in Galway and this is a recording of the Dusty Banjo members in a live session setting.  Its purpose is to act as a resource for members learning traditional Irish tunes and I enjoyed it hugely for a number of reasons.  As a collector of all sorts of tutorial CD's, books etc over the years I have always come up against the same problem.  Finding a CD that has well known tunes played three times round in sets at just the right speed.  The "three time round" is important because it gives you time to get into the set.  The Foinn Seisiún CD's from Comhaltas were the closest I have seen prior to this and they go round the set twice at a speed that is marginally faster than this recording.
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This makes a difference to people learning the music because what you can do here is sit down for over an hour and play along to a set of tunes that you would encounter at most sessions. It is effectively your own session in the comfort of your own home.  It is also good practice at learning tunes by ear because after several plays you start to pick them up.  It has the additional benefit of forcing you into a quality half hour or full hour practice. From a pace perspective it will also meet the needs of more advanced players.  Technically the sound quality is at an acceptable standard for the purpose intended.  It is after all a live traditional session.  For musicians looking at starting up a session group this would be an excellent starting point.  Better still there is a Sessions Tunes book that has also just been produced by Dusty Banjos with over 400 tunes in it covering many of Ireland's most popular tunes in both notation and ABC formats. We will be reviewing this separately.  So check out their website for lots more details, tune lists and audio clips where you can decide for yourself.  Then you can lock yourself away in a room with a pair of good speakers and enjoy your own session!
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For more details and to purchase visit : www.dustybanjos.com

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