Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Many times when looking at American art and music, whimsical images of animals holding banjos seems to be a fun and lighthearted theme. Of all these animals, the frog seems to be a favorite, even mentioned in several songs such as Keemo Kimo:

There was a frog he lived in a pool,
Sure he was the biggest fool,
For he could dance, and he could sing,
And make all the woods around him ring.

Being a frog lover myself, I was wondering what would lead to the association of this animal with the banjo. Any thoughts?

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There are a whole lot of old banjo playing cat ephemera images as well...often black cats in 'dandy' or raggedy costumes dancing and playing banjo... often pretty obviously suggesting a black/negro minstrel performer.

Bullfrogs are often mentioned in old Southern songs (not just banjo songs), and probably the low twanginess of bullfrog croaks just naturally suggest twangy deep banjo sounds.  I've seen a few more modern 'frog musician' pix with frogs playing saxophones or tubas...which also have deep voices.

Note- Keemo Kimo/aka Froggie Went a Courting, Chow Willy, etc...was a very old English song long before it was arranged for banjo and other instruments in America, and Froggie did not play the banjo in it.  Here's Thomas Ravencroft's 1611 English version ...Marriage of Frogge and Mouse.

Crickets and grasshoppers chirp by rubbing 'sawstroking' their wings. It's not a deep twangy sound but rather a high sweet zingy sound- so maybe it's no coincidence that Crickets and grasshoppers are often shown playing playing the fiddle in old pictures.

I'm still waiting for some insights on "white cat and black cat".  Someone else initiated the inquiry but I had hopes someone would chime in.

I hadn't really thought/seen much about cats although I have heard "White Cat Black Cat," I don't doubt it though. Frogs seem like a good fit for the banjo though, making it into the mainstream in the form of Kermit.

Strumelia said:

There are a whole lot of old banjo playing cat ephemera images as well...often black cats in 'dandy' or raggedy costumes dancing and playing banjo... often pretty obviously suggesting a black/negro minstrel performer.

Bullfrogs are often mentioned in old Southern songs (not just banjo songs), and probably the low twanginess of bullfrog croaks just naturally suggest twangy deep banjo sounds.  I've seen a few more modern 'frog musician' pix with frogs playing saxophones or tubas...which also have deep voices.

Note- Keemo Kimo/aka Froggie Went a Courting, Chow Willy, etc...was a very old English song long before it was arranged for banjo and other instruments in America, and Froggie did not play the banjo in it.  Here's Thomas Ravencroft's 1611 English version ...Marriage of Frogge and Mouse.

Crickets and grasshoppers chirp by rubbing 'sawstroking' their wings. It's not a deep twangy sound but rather a high sweet zingy sound- so maybe it's no coincidence that Crickets and grasshoppers are often shown playing playing the fiddle in old pictures.

Haha that was me Al I am still hoping someone will shed some light on that

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