Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

The presentations were fabulous this year.  They just keep getting better and better.  I even had a talk with George on how difficult it will be for the group to keep topping itself in the future.  Rest assured he has that under control...

The first presentation also happened to be my favorite.  Elaine Masciale lectured on what she has sleuthed out as to the obscure words and phrases that abound in early minstrel music, and also how to research them for yourself.  We learned, among many other things, about the "darby ram" that Dan Tucker rides.  And what "does your mother know you're out?" means.  Great stuff, Elaine.  Best presentation yet, IMHO.

Jim Dalton lectured on the tunings used in early banjo and how they tuned their banjos and the problems associated with it.  We could hardly have a more august lecturer on this subject, Jim being a professor at the Boston Conservatory. A truly fascinating and illuminating presentation.  We are fortunate to have guys like Jim in our little genre.

A dance lecture and presentation was given Saturday afternoon.  What a neglected area of minstrel studies!!  I couldn't help but think as I watched her dance what years of study and practice it must require.  What we saw and heard represents literally everything that is currently known and demonstrable in the field of early minstrel jig dancing.  Before she started I asked her if there would be a "feet-on" part of her talk, she said she hadn't prepared for that but she would be willing to try.  This may be why we had the "everybody stand up and learn a simple jig" part of her demonstration.  I have had many people try and show me how to jig, but I think I got closer to it than ever right then.

Sunday morning Dr. Bob lectured on adding variations to your playing.  A measure of the great good Dr. Bob's efforts have is reflected in what my travelling companion John Allin told me later.  He said his ability to read music took a great step forward as he followed the music hand-out while Bob played.  There's a reason Bob is a giant in the field of early banjo, and we saw it in action this year as we do every year.

Thanks to everyone that puts on our flagship event.  Your efforts are truly appreciated.

 

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Carl, I agree with your comments. I thought that extending the topics beyond what we usually do added to the variety of the weekend. They were all top notch. Great jams, and a great concert. Special thanks to Scooter Aldrich for the fabulous art work to mark the weekend. I had a wonderful time there.

I'm very sorry I missed the gathering. But there's always next year... I hope...


Any video of the festivities on its way?

Thanks for the report Carl. Sure wish I'd been there. That all sounds like the kind of things I like best!

Next year.

I can't add much to what Carl said.  The breadth of topics really sums up how many fascinating aspects there are to this highly specific genre; the music itself, the history of its cultural context, the evolution and construction of the instrument, and *how* it was performed and accompanied.  (I love George's idea of taking a field trip to an actual theater and taking turns on stage and in the audience.)   It's really a privilege and a pleasure to jam with and get pointers from so many talented folks.  I had a bit of a bones breakthrough this weekend, and as last year I came home with renewed enthusiasm which I hope will carry me through to New England Early Banjo Gathering I in August.

Did anybody get any footage from the Dunkard Church concert. I left early, but it was really off to a good start. I loved "Kiss Me Quick and Go" by Jeff Trace and his wife. The female response was great!!

I've got some stills.  No video.

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