Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Anyone feel like reviving the Tune Of The Week?

We pick one....post music, tabs, videos etc. Discuss it.

Anyone up for it?

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I also thought that description of Ryder interesting, probably just hype. Did you notice that Thayer is listed on castanets or bone castanets though being depicted with a banjo on the sheet music?

That must have been quite a show with the Guinea Minstrels and the Wirginia (sic) Minstrels, "Nine in Number" I wonder how many banjoes.

Dan'l said:

A few observations:

- The original "Alabama Joe" sheet music has a publish date of 1840, which means it pre-dates the oft-cited "official" origin of troupe Minstrelry in 1843. The cover apparently depicts A.L. Thayer, who was in fact a Guinea Minstrel.

- Per Wes' link (thanks, Wes) the 1846 playbill lists three of the "Original Guinea Minstrels." They are A.L. Thayer, T. Fluter and R.W. Smith. Likely these three were part of the complete act by that name which was, apparently, a house act of the National Theatre in Boston.

- By 1848 A.L. Thayer formed and managed his own "Thayer's Minstrels," followed in 1849 by "Thayer and Newcombe's Band" in partnership with William W. Newcombe. Both acts were Boston-based.

- ISN'T IT INTERESTING that on the 1846 playbill Mr. H. Ryder is listed as "The Self-taught Banjo Player, and A. No. 1, of the colored race." That he was self-taught is not remarkable, but the description of him as being "of the Colored Race" instead of the more typical phrase "delineator of the Colored Race" seems to imply that Ryder was actually African-American and not just playing one on the stage. If so, that means the act was integrated, making Mr. Ryder a pioneer of mixed act performance at that early date! (Or not -- it is advertising, after all).

Does anyone glide and then hammer that note with any success? The note is not meant to be a hammer on anyway. 
Leonidas (Lee) Jones said:

Interesting, I did not interpret this as a Rice pull-off from the notation. When Briggs explains slurs on pages 12-13, his third example is slurs on ascending notes of different strings, which he describes as "sliding the first finger over the strings",which is what I meant by glide stroke. To be sure, his example was a three note slur on a D major chord, but when I read through it first yesterday, I saw it as a two string glide, which seems to play very smoothly.
Agreed. Weidlich did that in other tunes of his edition as well. I'll have a go both ways tomorrow, just to see the comparison.

That thing about the nail glide on adjacent strings......he does clearly say that, but the only example is that triplet, for which it does work quite well. It seems to be the one gaping hole in the Briggs book. Looking at Rice in the 1858 book, that technique is well addressed and explained, and made evident in the material. Looking at the banjo work as a whole has value.

I never thought of it until a member here brought it to my attention...that the figure there ( and other places in the book ) is so difficult. I learned from the Flesher tab, and later referenced the orginal.

I actually went and bought the book to try and understand.

I was hoping to post a video of Alabama Joe today, but I may not get the time. However, I am curious about how you interpret this in other similar passages in Briggs. For example, the 6th measure of Congo Prince Jig, which is almost identical. Do you do a Rice pull-off there as well?

I see it in many tunes. I never learned from this book, nor do I play those figures like that. Certainly is an oddity, isn't it? Thank goodness for the Rice Method to present and clarify that much needed technique. I cannot imagine Stroke style without it. How does Weidlich address it in the other books?

I guess just play and post now, unless there is more about the tune. I would suggest going to youtube and search the tune. There are some good ones there...like Carl Anderton's and Andy Chase.  More I'm sure. I hope this was worthwhile to lurkers and people in general. Perhaps we do it again?

I've really enjoyed this as a lurker. I'm away from home and associated resources, but I have a Bell Boucher and Weidlich's book here with me, so I've had fun with Alabama Joe. I have a little trouble following some of the finer discussion points for playing the song. I am, for now, playing it as tabbed in Weidlich. In the 7th measure, I'm sliding my nail from the first to second note, then hammering the third. It seems to work well enough, but I'm curious about the alternatives, which I probably won't be able to check out for a couple of weeks. In any case, I really like this process and look forward to the next selection.

Interestingly, I'm just uploading a video, where I attempt it 3 different ways, including the glide/hammer-on combination. It works pretty well. My problem with it is that it, in effect, makes a three note slur, and the B, bring hasmmered, is kind of swallowed up, when I would rather bring it out. I have very much appreciated this discussion as well.

I'm glad it was worthwhile. Let's let it breathe and give some time for a few postings. Perhaps some suggestions for one next week?

One other version I forgot about that has a cool feel...the Cane Brake Minstrels, from Finer Than Frog's Hair.

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