Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

For those of you not living in north central North Carolina, the governor here has declared a state of emergency.  Due to snow, freezing rain, and heavy winds, there are hundreds of thousands of people without power.  My house has been without power and water (and, believe me, water is the bad one).  Things quickly become very basic. My lovely wife Mary and I kept warm by sitting a couple of feet from the fireplace, or the frontier television, as we call it. After about the first eight hours in this situation things were reduced to such a bare bones, basic, primitive level that Mary requested banjo music.  So I gave a little concert complete with explanatory background and interesting facts about the instruments being played.  It was wonderful.  I'm not really sure how you could replicate this, but it's really fun.  Try it some time.

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Glad you are hanging in there Rob and getting to use the banjo as a base line for survival!

Rob what a rich picture you described of you and your lovely wife 'making do' by the hearth together.  "Frontier television"- lol!   Making lemonade when life hands you some lemons.  Home made music as a part of daily life.  I'd love to see more posts like this.

Brian and I just love to sit by the fireplace and play a few simple tunes, or eat a bit of ice cream by the fire.  :)

Hello! The power just came back on again.  The frontier television of our fireplace started showing reruns over the weekend, and it lost a bit of its charm.  I f you are like me, we share a certain pull or nostalgia for life in the 19th century, with its slower  pace and simpler challenges.  However every time we have an extended power outage, and this is about the seventh or eighth one for us over the past 30 years, I quickly come to realize that happily sitting in the mud and cold rain or the sweltering heat of a re-enactment or a living history site has a pre-determined expiration time.  Over the years I've developed an abiding fondness for a life free of cholera, poor dentistry, and epidemic infant mortality.  I've come to genuinely appreciate electric lights, running water, hot showers, and central heating and air.  Despite all these obvious truths, I continue to cherry pick my favorite aspects of the 19th century, the banjo and its music being at the  forefront, and to live in this era from time to time  which has no real basis in reality, but exists only on our collective minds.   

Yes, and I hear there are acoustic guitars, too.

Rob raises an interesting thought.  This coming season, at 63, I have become the oldest player on my vintage base ball club but I still run fairly well and usually lead my teammates in runs scored.  I've often thought what I'd be like if I lived in the 19th C.  Numerous painful ailments would have gone unrepaired which would have given my face an even more sour look that it already has.  Several fingers would be crooked and, in particular, I had a torn meniscus that flipped upside-down causing me to be unable to straighten my right knee.  If I were living in the 19th C, without modern medical advancements, I'd be a sour-looking, hobbling old man!!!  I wonder if some of you might find it interested to envision your 19th C self(?)

I would have died at the age of 14.  Almost died even with modern medicine.

Yes, come to think of it, I might have died at 19, if not for 20th C medicine and hospital attentiveness.

I would have died at 6 months, of pneumonia.  As it was, I almost did- my parents were told by the doctors to start making 'arrangements' and prepare themselves.   =8-o

So I suppose, to be truly authentic, Dan'l, Jim, Strum, and I should not show up at Antietam!

I'd ask for a moment of silence there but at our early age of demise, you folks wouldn't have known us.

Dan'l, I doubt "motorcycle stupidness" existed in 1850, but there must be a 19th C equivalent.

"mule-headedness"  ?

I probably would been gone at seven, of measles, myself.

My i9th century self would have checked out 16 years ago, but I have enjoyed being part of the "living dead" at Antietam for the past several years.  My brother, who acquired juvenile diabetes at age 15 and is now in his mid-fifties, recently had an experimental procedure where the part of the pancreas that produces insulin was transplanted into his liver and he is now, for the first time in 42 years, no longer insulin-dependent.  Who knows what is around the corner. 

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