Oh, play me some mountain music, like grandma and grandpa used to play.
Maybe you know that line from Alabama’s number one hit “Mountain Music.” What you may not know is Brian Junker, associate dean of CMU’s Dietrich College, has been granting that request weekly at the Schenley Park Visitor’s Center.
Junker, who has played guitar off and on since he was a teenager, took up the banjo eight years ago after becoming perplexed during a performance by local songwriter Emily Pinkerton.
“I couldn’t figure out how the motions that her hand was making corresponded to the number of notes coming out of the instrument,” he said.
He later learned it’s a banjo-playing style known as clawhammer, in which the hand assumes a claw-like shape and the thumb and middle or index finger strum the strings downward with the back of the fingernail.
Pinkerton let him borrow her banjo for a few weeks to give it a try. He enjoyed playing it so much that he bought one for himself.
Known to bring square dancers and cloggers to their feet for some pretty quick stepping, “old-time” or “mountain” music has a distinct and rhythmic sound that...