Shuffle Along - Joe Morley - New Weaver Banjo

One of the most fascinating things about Joe Morley is that, due to the fact that his carreer as a famous banjoist spanned about 50 years, he went through a number of musical fashions and styles, and his music adapted to suit them. His distinct style of Classic Banjo playing proved equally suited to ragtime, oriental foxtrot and jazz, as it was to the earlier forms of music he played. This runs contrary to the stereotypical view of Classic banjo peddled by many contemporary documentaries, which would divide banjo history into cut-and-dried "periods".

Shuffle Along was one of the great musical hits of the 1920s. The first all-black musical show, written and performed by African Americans, Shuffle Along embodied all things jazz and it was a smash hit when it premiered on May 23rd 1921. Even though there is no date on the Morley composition, it is very likely that he was inspired by the show to write this jazzy swing number in the 1920's. Everything points to the fact that this became one of his most popular numbers -- young William J. Ball recalled hearing him play it at the 1931 banjo rally, and the minutes of the London Banjo Club record it as one of the last pieces he performed in September, 1937, shortly before his death.

This solo is another example of Joe Morley's remarkable versatility as a banjoist and a composer, as well as the extreme adaptability of Classic Banjo as a playing style.

The success of this composition endures to this day, as it was also recently adapted for guitar by Richard Yates.

  • Currently 5/5 stars.

Views: 164

Comment by German David Patarroyo on May 12, 2013 at 15:10
Great stuff as usual Mike!
Comment by thereallyniceman on May 12, 2013 at 19:03

Thank you again Mike. I am astonished at the sound you get out of the Clifford Essex “New” Weaver. It really does suit your style of playing with a great crisp attack along with mellow tone and that growling bass… simply superb.


Shuffle Along really is a great Morley piece and I think I prefer your recording to both Derek Lillywhite and Bill Ball’s.


Maestro Mike indeed!!  … and you are correct Classic Style is timeless.

Comment by Mike Moss on May 12, 2013 at 19:28

Thanks Ian and German. I agree, Bill didn't live up to his name when playing this one in the American recordings, he missed a few notes in the triplets and the performance feels a bit cold. I like the Derek Lillywhite performance, it's exciting -- but perhaps a bit too exciting! Some parts feel a bit chaotic and the higher speed kills the piece's natural syncopation. The secret behind this one, in my opinion, is the swing -- I can't play this one to good effect on a bad day, if I haven't got the "groove".

Comment by Richard William Ineson on May 13, 2013 at 8:20

The banjo sounds wonderful, I haven't played this one for a long time, it is a a genuine showcase for the banjo, I especially like the movement in F minor. Your tempo for this one is perfect.

Comment by Warren Kearney on May 20, 2013 at 23:53
Thanks so much for posting this piece. It led me here and this wonderful resourse. I love your timing and "musical" sense. Very clean playing. I just started working on this tonight.I would be happy playing it half as well as you do. Thanks again.
Comment by Mike Moss on May 21, 2013 at 9:46

Wow, thanks, Warren! Knowing my modest contributions are helping spread the word about Classic Banjo makes it all worthwhile. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Shuffle Along is a real gem of a piece, and I look forward to listening to your version. If you prefer tab I think there's a tabbed out version of this tune floating around here. Welcome aboard!

Comment by David Wade on October 8, 2013 at 5:49

"Clean picking son!"

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