Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Found this website the other day while surfing around. It is the best representation of what minstrel jig dancing might have looked like that I have seen.


I would love to know who the guy dancing is, and what show this was done for. I'd go see it in a minute.

The site also has some interesting stuff on minstrelsy and race relations in the New York area in the  1840's through the Civil War.


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Nice find Scott!  I'd love to see more of this.

really  fine performance. Thank you for posting this

You might enjoy this 


Sorry bad link I think this works  

Wes Merchant said:

You might enjoy this 


Does anyone know the name of the tune that he is dancing to?

He's dancing to Bob Flesher's medley of Alabama Joe / Alabama Walk Around from the Minstrel Banjo Style album.

The music came from the "Minstrel Style Banjo" recording that came out in 2009 by Rounder records.


It is a great recording with people like Bob Flesher, Joe Ayers, Clark Buehling, Bob Winans, and Tony Trishka.

So this link doesn't seem to work anymore let's try this

Wes Merchant said:

Sorry bad link I think this works  

Wes Merchant said:

You might enjoy this 



Thanks I also posted the booklet as a pdf and that seemed to have worked.

In spite of being a tubby old guy with sore feet I am  drawn to these modern interpretations of the challenge dancing that was so intertwined with the music we love. As much fun as it is to flail away on my banjo I would think the ultimate minstrel banjo experience would be playing for a skilled dancer, as in the video that was presented. I wold love to have a fellow like that appear with the band when we play out and about.

There is a tutor available for download online at


I'm having a hard time getting started. We need a knowledgeable dancer to demonstrate the various basic steps on video much as Tim and others have done with the banjo. Dave

That was great!  Thanks for sharing Scott!

One of the things that intrigued me about this clip is how much of what we think of as modern types of dancing is not being done. There have been other performances supposedly based on Master Juba, but when you watch them you immediately notice things like modern tap steps, modern clogging,  or flatfoot and buck dancing as we see them today.

Master Juba and the other jig dancers were performing in the 1840's and 1850's. It is interesting to speculate just how much dancing has evolved from then. Even the book mentioned was printed in 1873. Look at how much minstrelsy had changed from  pre civil war to post civil war times. Had the dancing changed too?  Sometimes things evolve slowly, sometimes very quickly, sometimes a combination of both.

Master Juba and the others were innovators and professionals, constantly trying to outdo each other. But what did it look like when it started? It is kind of like saying, how did Sweeney sound. The tutors started in 1855 with the Briggs tutor, Was Sweeney playing like that, or differently?

This clip is interesting because you don;t see a lot of modern stuff creeping in. I would love to know how they researched  and decided on what to do.

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