Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Al Smitley
  • Male
  • Hartland, MI
  • United States
  • 1968-1976 then minstrel banjo since…
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Al Smitley's Discussions

Messages

Started this discussion. Last reply by Strumelia Mar 1. 3 Replies

I'm embarrassed to admit that I found a whole bunch of messages that I never knew I had.Therefore, I apologize to all those whom I never responded to.  Chalk it up to my ignorance!Continue

Early Minstrel Show CD

Started this discussion. Last reply by david caron Jan 28. 5 Replies

I was just looking on YouTube for some renditions of the Hutchinson Family Singers songs but this came up, nearby.  As great as this CD is, it almost seems to have faded in the background so I…Continue

Email Notices

Started this discussion. Last reply by Chris Prieto Oct 27, 2017. 4 Replies

Can anyone tell me how to stop gmail notifications that tell me that someone replied to a posting I may have once responded to?Continue

Finale tags

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley Aug 18, 2017. 1 Reply

I think I've asked once previously about the somewhat comical end tag, "Shave and a haircut, two bits".  I don't recall getting an answer.  I presume it originated with an itinerant street vendor. …Continue

 

Al Smitley's Page

Latest Activity

Al Smitley replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"Joel is correct on the chin rests.  Forgot to mention that.  Forgot about shoulder rests, too.  I use them both and would have an even harder time without them.  So, when I said it was not relaxing somehow helped you hold it in…"
Thursday
Al Smitley liked Carl Anderton's video
Thursday
Al Smitley commented on Carl Anderton's video
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Money am a Hard Thing to Borrow.

"Didn't see this when it was posted.  I included it in my collection of antebellum topical music and have an 1854 date for it, found in the Lester Levy collection."
Thursday
Al Smitley replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"They help.  Not particularly "authentic" probably but I confess to having them.  Strum, I have never had any problem tuning my Hartel Sweeney (with friction pegs).  Somehow fiddles seem different."
Wednesday
Al Smitley replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"Yes, David Caron.  I agree.  That's why I'm not much interested in cross-tuning, etc.  Also, I hate to put on a new string.  When I tune it up with the small friction pegs, all the other ones give way.  But to be…"
Wednesday
Al Smitley replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"Oh,....just read your last reply, Chris.  Yes, I agree.  I still sometimes feel as though I'm trying to be a contortionist.  It's not relaxing.  About ten years ago, (after seeing Tim Twiss play), I started playing…"
Wednesday
Al Smitley replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"I've played, off and on, for years and it still often sounds like a dying cat!  There are soooo many ways of making a violin/fiddle sound bad and those ways often happen.  I would suggest going online or getting a few lessons to get…"
Wednesday
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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The Royal Schottische

"More on the book, please.  Pub year?  Can you send the music?"
Tuesday
Al Smitley replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"Ha!  I've got it!  The fingerboard diagram, as shown, is as it would look from the bottom with a neck is made of glass!"
Tuesday
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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Flirting Mazurka by Otto Langey

"Nice tune.  Are you also wearing 19th C garb when you play with Itchycoo Park?"
Jun 13
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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Cane-brake Jig and Grapevine Reel

"Thanks.  I guess I figured it out, once I put it in 'G'."
Jun 12
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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Cane-brake Jig and Grapevine Reel

"Source for Grapevine Reel, please?"
Jun 12
Al Smitley commented on david caron's video
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The Starlight Polka

"Got it.  Thanks, Paul."
Jun 8
Al Smitley commented on david caron's video
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The Starlight Polka

"I don't think I've heard that before but it's a good one. Don't have the book so I'll go it by ear."
Jun 7
Al Smitley liked david caron's video
Jun 7
Al Smitley replied to Davide Scozzi's discussion Left hand finger position
"Tim, I think I asked you about your approach in the past.  If I recall correctly, you said that you use both methods.  If so, how do you decide from one tune/song to another?  Paul and John, do you ever hammer on with the 2nd finger…"
Jun 7

Profile Information

How did you find out about Ning Minstrel Banjo?
Member/contributor, Tim Twiss
How long have you played banjo?
1968-1976 then minstrel banjo since 2007. Stopped when Tim Twiss wanted me to play fiddle and play banjo, now, only to figure out best keys for various songs/tunes.
What kind of banjo(s) do you own?
Vega long-neck and Hartel Sweeney model

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Comment Wall (18 comments)

At 7:09pm on July 11, 2011, Tim Twiss said…
Hi Al. Do you prefer Friday or Saturday...Aug 5 or 6?
At 10:55am on November 26, 2011, John Masciale said…

Al,  That's the kind of thing you can either add as a link in a thread (there's a way to upload files to a given thread, click on the paperclip icon), or something as generally useful as that we can put under resources.  Elaine has been going through period songsters and has a list of over 1800 songs at this point from the time period.  The list is growing.  I would put your spreadsheet under documetation.

 

I find that the most useful thing about the Weidlich book is his index of Minstrel Songs and which instructor they are in.  It would be great to have some resources like that here on the site.

At 12:27pm on November 26, 2011, Tim Twiss said…

And there it is...thanks John. I lost sight of the fact you could add files of different types in the Documentation spot. Perfect.

At 11:21am on November 28, 2011, John Masciale said…

Al,  Thanks for sending the tutorial index.  I now have it posted on our documentation page.

At 12:06pm on November 28, 2011, Tim Twiss said…

John...what format is that? New Excel? I could open Al's old one, but not this. Perhaps open office?

At 1:44pm on November 28, 2011, Tim Twiss said…

Never mind...answered my own question...open office for those who are behind.

What a great contribution Al...

At 8:09am on February 3, 2012, Ian Bell said…

Al,

I'm not a re-enactor (though I do have a suit of funny clothes in the closet) so I usually don't always have to limit myself to completely period-appropriate performances. When I am doing a historic perfromance I use the "period" instruments that I happen to play — wooden flute, Scottish smallpipes, fiddle and sing unaccompanied. I've never earned the trick of self-accompaniment with fiddle. It's all I can do to play in tune when I'm not singing. 

I mostly do 1812 songs from the Canadian point of view. My repertoire  comes from old manuscripts and early published sources and also includes songs of the time that survived to be collected as part of the folk tradition in Ontario. I've been accumulating this stuff since the early 80s. Canada was much less urban than the eastern US at that time so there weren't nearly as many printed broadsides produced up here. Your Library of Congress website has lots of American 1812 songs online. (I'm envious)

In a concert setting, I'll usually perform this stuff in a more "folksingerly" context, as music from the past that has survived into the present. I use non-period instruments like steel-string guitar, mandolin and concertina and arrange songs to suit my own tastes — which to most people's ears are probably pretty arcane.

At 8:10am on February 3, 2012, Ian Bell said…

Clarifying a bit of bad writing in previous comment - I meant Canada was less urban in 1812 - not the 1980s!

At 7:33pm on May 22, 2012, Jeff said…
I live in Midland
At 8:54pm on March 22, 2013, Tim Twiss said…

Hey Al...the first Thursday of every other month is approaching. Want to join me again? Love to add some of those crazy early ones we have discussed.

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