Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

...that this music was a much more live and vibrant entity. It "happens" in performance, on a stage, and with people. The way we do it here...on line and all....is like a caged animal. This a wild and free music.

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TIM--i agree completely about the nature of this music.  If  it's not wild and free it's missing something.  It's always more fun with someone else.  It's sort of like sex...after a while playing with yourself is like playing with yourself.  However, probably like you, I have played a stringed instrument almost every day of my life since I was about 14 years old.  I do this for two reasosns.  Firstly I enjoy it and it relaxes me.  Secondly, by practicing all that much it allows me to be free in my playing. I can just close my eyes and think about the music and not worry about the mechanics.  I don't feel particularly frustrated by the site here because I've always viewed it as something that adds to my knowledge and appreciation of the music rather than a substitute for it.  I've also gotten to know some of the participants on the blog both online and in person and these friendships have enriched my life.  Before I went to my first Antietam AEBG and joined the blog I had pursued minstrel banjo mostly by myself for many years.  For myself, the minstrel banjo site is much appreciated and my hat's off to all the people who put in the time and the effort to nurture and manage it.--Rob

Likewise. My band has performed for a lot of people over the years. The travel, and camping in what can be uncomfortable weather (hot and cold), take a toll over the years and we certainly aren't getting rich. For a few years now every December, at the end of our season, I think about "retiring" the band, or cutting way back, but then I stop and think - where will I play? It really is a lot of fun to play this stuff with others on a stage, around a campfire, or on the sidewalk. Dave

I can imagine a place like New York...everybody playing, checking each other out. Something so inspirational about hearing it live. It gives you something to feed off of. Change it up a bit...it becomes your own. Each developing their own little twist to stuff....different sounds.

I know it's a stretch, but I recall playing as a kid....we all played gigs, practiced at each other house etc. We would always watch one another....stealing songs by ear. Nobody played "House of the Rising Sun" quite the same. A new piece of gear would spark excitement. Different lineups etc.....very interactive.

AEBG is good for some of that. Wandering in New York in 1843....I can only imagine.


I long for the day I get to play this music with others - a bones player, or soemone on the tambo or fiddle or another banjo.  I was hoping for AEBG this year, but with Gettysburg the next weekend, I'm not so sure I can do it financially. 


I'm getting to a point where I'm feeling each note much better and, as Rob noted, close my eyes and just play.  The banjo itself, I'm finding, is "wild and free" as an instrument.  It's VERY organic - wood, goat skin, a bit of metal, only exception would be Nylgut, but let's say gut strings to complete the picture I'm drawing.  It reacts to temperature and humidity, much like humans can.  High humidity and things sag and get "plunky";  I know I don't move as fast on hot, humid days!  Call me "plunky"!  :D  Boy, when things allign and conditions are a certain way, my mind is ready to go, the "perfect equation", that's when playing flows out and it's awesome.   

There is something very intimate about the banjo.  And as Matthew says, organic.  Those two things make it feel so much alive and personal.

Yea, that is what was so attractive about this. I didn't know what it was...but I knew I wanted to do it.

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