Fingerstyle Banjo Song of the Week: “Walking Cane”

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I must confess to knowing little of the history of this week’s song until very recently, despite the fact that I’ve known it for a bit.

A little background research revealed a fascinating backstory.

“Walking Cane” was written by Jimmy Bland, an African American musician and songwriter.

And a minstrel performer. Not just any old minstrel performer, mind you, but one often referred to as “The World’s Greatest Minstrel Man.”

And not just any old songwriter either, but the author of over 600 works (including “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” and “Golden Slippers”).

I’d encourage to check out Bland’s biography on Wikipedia – though, if you’re like me, it’ll probably leave you wanting much more!

Prior to this research, I had no idea that the song was this old. It sounds like it could’ve easily been written in this decade, not two centuries ago.

Not entirely sure what the magic sauce is that makes a tune timeless, but this one surely has it.

And here is the clawhammer version for this song, which not surprisingly creates a slightly more dance-able rendition (click here if you’d like to view the tab for it, too).

Walking Cane – clawhammer banjo version

(RELATED: If you’d like to learn 2 and 3 finger style banjo, click here to check out the Brainjo course for Fingerstyle Banjo).

Hand Me Down My Walking Cane

gDGBD tuning, 3 finger banjo (Brainjo level 3)

walking cane fingerstyle banjo tab part 1

walking cane fingerstyle banjo tab part 2



Notes on the Tab

In this arrangement, I’ve tabbed out the part I play in the banjo “solo,” as well as the vocal backup I play on the banjo while singing.

For more on how to read the tab, click here for the How To Read Banjo Tabs article.

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