Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

We happen to know the author of this book Darktown Strutters (set in the minstrel/civilwar era)- he's a friend who lives in our town.

I had recently had a conversation with him about how he researched his book, since he doesn't usually write about minstrel era themes.  I happened to mention that I've been attempting to play in minstrel banjo style.

Well this morning at breakfast in town, he came up to me and handed me two CDs and said I could keep them, he didn't really need them anymore.

SCORE!!   They happened to be 2 cds that I don't even have!   I love when that happens!!


I got

"Minstrel Banjo Style"- featuring Ayers, Buehling, Carlin, Flesher, Trischka, and Winans


"The Early Minstrel Show"- featuring Winans, Tufo, Percy Danforth, and Heumann (banjo, tambourine, bones, and fiddle).


How lucky I feel today!!    =8-D

Now I better read Wesley's book- we've had a signed copy sitting around for a year or two....  =8-o   lol!

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That's quite a windfall - both are beyond excellent and stand as the two essential CDs for this genre. Winans' disk was definitely groundbreaking and considered the first real attempt to record minstrel music from the early 1840s era. I've been listening to both of those for a few years now and I can attest that you definitely had a good day.

Ed, I just read your very well written and thoughtful review of The Early Minstrel Show cd on Amazon.  I'm printing it out and will fold up a copy of your review in the cd case.  Thank you for making the effort to write that!

Congrats on you CD score, Strum, that's pretty cool.  I remember reading that book several years ago, it's definitely a good read.

I bought those two CDs at AEBG II (went to the concert of AEBG I, but nobody was selling stuff -- their fingers were frozen and they couldn't make change).  I used to listen mostly in the car, until its A/C broke.  Can't listen to that stuff with the windows down, in the DC area.  Anyway we have another car, and one of the CDs got switched over.  But every time I listen to it, I get "Uncle Ned" stuck in my head; that's just pretty music.  Then I find myself strolling the aisles of the Giant or someplace, softly humming "he had no wool on the top of his head," or whatever... and have to censor myself.  If I don't, my wife censors me, and that can be painful.

Anyway, congratulations.  Listen with caution, and only among people who know you're actually civilized.

Thank you for your generous comments, Strumelia. Also, Razyn was wise to say "listen with caution," at least to the Winan disc. The other disc is mostly instrumental with a few dialect vocals interspersed, but contains nothing as potentially volatile as "Early Minstrel Show," which is the real thing, words and all. One of the things that fascinates me about this genre is that I find it both execrable and irresistible all at once. And, sadly, some of today's rap music contains just as bad, if not worse, racial language and stereotypes than minstrel music. If you're curious to hear more of the "real thing" the Canebrake Minstrels' CD/MP3 "Finer Than Frog's Hair" contains more material along the lines of "Early Minstrel Show" but it's a little rougher, perhaps intentionally.

Thanks Ed, I will look that CD up too.

we listened to much of the Winan cd on the way to a party today-  it's wonderful!  The combination of instruments and the bones, tambourine, fiddle, banjo are just so crisp and perfect.  I have to admit I couldn't understand all the words on the instrumental songs anyway- I'll have to look them on on Winan's site...?  I know there is musical stuff on there that I am determined to try to learn to play in some modest manner, especially once my own yummy Stichter arrives!  :-D

I printed out the essay that accompanies the recording from Bob Winans' website.

I also bought the CaneBrake Minstrels' Finer than Frog's Hair recording. 

Lots of wonderful listening to do now!

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