Chances are that later this week a bunch of folks will get a new banjo under the tree. While a special moment, a holiday of steady banjo playing without decent teaching and new inspiring material can quickly go into a dark, lonely place of self-loathing that could have you quitting by New Year’s Eve.
But just last week, Brooklyn-based banjo player and educator Bennett Sullivan and Czech app programmer and designer Jiri Markalous launched Pocket Lick Banjo 2 – the latest app in the duo’s catalog of instructional iOS apps for banjo and guitar. As you’d guess, both Pocket Lick Banjo 1 and the new app focus on licks that will make you look like a badass. At only $0.99, the latest app, which Steve Martin said is “one of the finest apps he’s seen,” works on iPhone and iPad, and includes over 35 licks from legends like Earl Scruggs, Scott Vestal, Noam Pikelny, and others.
“I think Pocket Lick gives people a DIY experience that they don’t necessarily receive with instructional videos,” Sullivan said in an email. “People want to sound great fast, and our app gives them the tools to do that. By including tab, videos, audio, and a little blurb about each lick, we’re packing in a lot of information for the user to absorb. I think that using all of these tools in conjunction creates an efficient learning experience that you won’t get with instructional videos.”
Sullivan and Markalous previous released Listen & Learn Banjo for iPad, which is targeted to beginner and intermediate banjo players, and helps you learn by ear. Sullivan says that his team of four is also working on another new learn by ear product called TuneFox, which will be released in the Spring of 2016.
For a sample of the two-camera Pocket Lick experience, check out the video below. Sullivan regularly posts instructional videos on his YouTube channel here. Or you can check him out in Steve Martin’s new Broadway-bound musical “Bright Star.”