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Allen Hart Old Time Banjo w/Clif Ervin on bones
Allen Hart Old Time Banjo w/Clif Ervin, bones
Rattle along with Clif "Ambassador of the Bones" Ervin

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Product Code: 122-1CD

Product Specs Story
Allen Hart Old Time Banjo
with guest: Clif "Ambassador of the Bones" Ervin

Features 4 tracks with bones

Grab Your Bones and Rattle Along with Clif
CLIF ERVIN was born in 1931 on the East Side of Texas in a town called Tyler. At the age of seven he began playing bones, following the local banjo players and musicians around town and learning to play along with them. Clif says that "...besides local picnics and gatherings, you would hear banjo and bones musicians playing homemade instruments in church as it was hard times back then." Even today Clif plays the bones and sings in his church choir and plays frequently with his banjo-playing son. Dubbed "The Ambassador of the Bones" by the Seattle Times in a front-page article, Clif is also a fine craftsman and wood worker. He lives in Everett, Washington.
--Voyager Records

Clif "Ambassador of the Bones" Ervin (1931 - 2008)
Known to fellow musicians and adoring fans as the "Ambassador of the Bones," Clif Ervin died at the age of 77 in September, 2008. "Clifton's gentle, graceful style harkened back to a bygone era," said Laura Love of the black bluegrass group, Harper's Ferry.

Born on April 11, 1931, Clif was raised in the East Texas town of Tyler. He later made Everett, Washington his home.

Clif was a member of the Lowdown Rambler's Jugband. He was a favorite performer at Midwest Banjo Camp and gave numerous bones workshops. Clif appeared with acclaimed musicians such as banjoist Dan Gellert, fiddler Alan Jabbour and the legendary Seattle busker Artis the Spoonman.

A story in the Seattle Times reported that Clif was a graphic artist for the Air Force during the Korean War and studied fine art at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. Over the years his interest changed from painting to woodworking, which eventually led to his carving bones for sale in 1980.

Clif Ervin w/yellow cedar and teak bones Clif and I talked on the phone just two times. I called him in the Fall of 2007 about selling his products here at the online store. And the following January he called me back to talk some more. And talk is what we did. Clif was an absolutely delightful person and on each occasion we talked "bones" for nearly an hour. This probably comes as no surprise to most of you, because as you know, bone players do go on and on and on about bones.

Clif specialized in making teak, yellow cedar and cow rib bones. His personal favorites were the thick (9/16") bones made from yellow cedar. You can see a boxful of the instruments in the above photo taken by Clif's son in his dad's living room. Clif's lovingly handcrafted musical bones are no longer available and have now become collector's items.

William Sidney Mount, The Bone Player As a historical note, Clif explained to me that the six v-slots he characteristically carved into his instruments were inspired by William Sidney Mount's 1856 painting, The Bone Player, seen at right.

Deteriorating health prevented Clif from making more bones. So we never did get his instruments into the shop. But we did share quite a few stories and for that I will always be grateful.

In 2008, during the same weekend as his memorial service, the Rhythm Bones Society offered a tribute to Clif at the group's annual Bones Fest held that year in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Four Selections with Bones

Allen Hart is accompanied on four of the selections by Clif Ervin, the "Ambassador of the Bones," who grew up in East Texas in the 1930s and started accompanying local banjo players on bones when he was seven years old. While Allen is true to the traditions of old time banjo playing, this recording is far from being an "academic" recital of banjo traditions - it lends itself well to being played and enjoyed over and over again! It will give banjo players additional insights into the potential of the instrument and entertain those who have not yet brought the banjo into their lives. Allen, along with Clif, truly shows why the banjo became an entertainment mainstay in America and around the world.

Four Vintage Banjos
This recording features several banjos, each with its own sound and playing characteristics, and each suiting well the tunes played on it. The banjos include Allen Hart's 1904 Fairbanks #7 Whyte Ladie; an 1890s nylon strung Cole's Eclipse; a 20 pound Okie Adams; and a replica of an 1845 Boucher fretless banjo, presently in the Smithsonian collection, which Allen makes for present day really "old time" players. Incidentally, Clif's son plays traditional banjo, and with any luck we might see him at a Bones Fest one of these years.

Never has an album title been more descriptive of the music it delivers. This is truly "old time banjo" in a modern package - twenty instrumental pieces played on a variety of banjos in a variety of styles...Clif Ervin, the "Ambassador of the Bones," serves as an authentic rhythm section on four of the tunes.

--Victory Review

Excellent Play-Along CD

Stone Bones Purple Slate demo video. Musical segment features French Waltz from Allen Hart Old Time Banjo.

Look what's on the CD:

1. Davenport 1:33
2. Marching Through Georgia 3:59
3. Chilly Winds* 1:42
4. The Coo Coo Bird 2:19
5. Will Davenport's Tune 1:37
6. "...Now Folks, I'm Going to Give You The Genteel" 1:20
7. Tilden 1:38
8. Cleveland's March to the White House 2:29
9. Peach Bottom Creek* 1:34
10. Pretty Polly 2:36
11. Coal Creek March 1:58
12. Holly Ding 1:42
13. Last Chance 2:13
14. Alabama Gals 2:11
15. Schottische Time 1:33
16. Altamont* 2:00
17. The Coo Coo Bird 2:19
18. Josh Thomas's Roustabout* 3:58
19. French Waltz 4:52
20. Goodbye Old Booze 3:24

*Clif on bones

Allen Hart, Banjo
Clif Ervin,
  • Complete Liner Notes: Makes it easy to follow along.
  • Detailed facts about each tune: Specifies key and tuning.
  • Background notes about each tune: Get an insider's look into who and what influenced the tune and how it is played.

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