Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Master's Thesis: 19th-Century Banjos in the 21st-Century: Custom and Tradition in a Modern Early Banjo Revival

Hello everyone,

For those who know me, you may recall that I spent the last three years working on a second masters degree, this one in ethnomusicology (the first one is in library and information sciences). I am writing to share information about my thesis, which I completed and submitted for graduation this past spring. If you are interested in reading it, it is now available through a digital repository interface at the University of Maryland (http://drum.lib.umd.edu/handle/1903/12667).

I am sharing the link here before I post the link on Facebook and other places because it is this site and the activities of its members (online and in-person) that have contributed notably to this constantly evolving modern interest in the early banjo. I am very grateful to those who were willing to work with me and allow me to interview them because their voices added great depth to this vitally important subject. I am also hoping that the issues explored in this thesis will contribute to an approach of exploring history in ways that are both critical and inclusive. 

Thank you,


P.S., If you have any difficulty downloading the document from the UMD website, let me know and I'll be happy to get you a copy.

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Lotta good reading there, Greg.  Thanks for being a leader in our genre.

Looking forward to reading all of it Greg!  Just flipped through it quickly, fantastic stuff!  Sidenote: my brother-in-law is at UM for his MFA, with a concentration in sculpture. 

I've only had the chance to download your thesis to my thumb drive, and browse through it a little but yeah, I'll want to read it all. What a great subject to study. To paraphrase Chummy in the "Hard Times" extravaganza, "dat's de heaviest bag of readables I ever toted". Great job, Greg.

Thanks Greg, I've been looking forward to this!

Oh, I am totally reading this.  Thank you!  I did a master's thesis once so boring that I don't even remember what I wrote on, but this will be of interest to so many of us.  Cool!

Just got this, Greg. Will read it over the coming week. Haven't read it yet, other than a quick scroll through, and I must say it looks very interesting. I've been viewing the period as the first Rock and Roll - the first time white guys picked up on black music. Just like Mick and Keith back in the late 50s, early 60s, they went nuts over this stuff, imitating it as best they could, but inevitably bringing something else to the party. Mick still puts on a black voice - sometimes overtly so, as in Prodigal Son (what a great track!). But those guys in the 1850s maybe went too far in blacking up and lampooning. The Irish got a hammering too, and I hope someone does a thesis on that angle as well.

I'm not an American, so maybe don't appreciate the resonances as much as you guys. This thesis should give me more of a context to view this music in, and I thank you for that.

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