Learn to Play the Traditional Song "Fair and Tender Ladies"
Cecil Sharp was an Englishman who came to Appalachia in the early 20th century looking for English songs in the southern Appalachians. He found 18 versions of the song "Fair and Tender Ladies." I got the idea for my version from hearing a recording of a banjo-picking member of the Kentucky legislature named Banjo Bill Cornett. He was a fabulous songster, the way that he combined banjo and voice. I’ve taken his basic banjo idea, which was to echo the vocal, and I put it on the guitar in D G D G A D tuning.
I pick the melody on the high strings with one of my fingers and on the middle strings with my thumb. My thumb also plays the bass strings. I play a basic oom-pah rhythm with thumb for "oom" and "pah" with my second finger. I also do a lot of pull-offs with the little finger of my left hand to give it a banjo echo. The pull-offs come between "oom" and "pah." Sometimes I’ll get a rolling rhythm of fours by picking down on a bass string with my thumb on the downbeat, following it with a pull-off on the highest string. The third stroke is a downward motion of the middle finger across several of the higher strings together. The fourth stroke is an upstroke by the index. The first 11 measures of my arrangement are shown here.
Excerpted from Traditional Songs with Jody Stecher