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

Back Story

Started Mar 22 0 Replies

Not sure if some are familiar with Back Story.  Here is what I received today.If you scan down, you should be able to listen to the 35-minute radio program.…Continue

20th C Tim

Started this discussion. Last reply by Chris Prieto Jul 14, 2018. 2 Replies

I'm reluctant to post this as I don't know if Tim will be upset with me but...... for those of you who know 19th C Tim, I thought it might be interesting for some to see 20th C Tim.…Continue


Started this discussion. Last reply by Strumelia Mar 1, 2018. 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, 2018. 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


Al Smitley's Page

Latest Activity

Al Smitley commented on Paul Draper's video

Great Eastern Jig / Water Street Reel

"Didn't recognize you!  Did a couple of crows fly by and take off with your hat?"
2 hours ago
Al Smitley commented on Mark Weems's video

G. P. Knauff's: The Two Sisters

"I purchased your "Music of Old Joe Sweeny" CD.  How about one of the Knauff Collection?  You could probably get #1 and #2 on one CD with the use of medleys."
Apr 14
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video

Work track for medley

"And WHEN is that next gathering?!?"
Apr 2
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's photo

Tim and Oz....1974

"So that's when this all started.  Saw the photo before but didn't associate it."
Mar 22
Al Smitley liked Timothy Twiss's photo
Mar 22
Al Smitley posted a discussion

Back Story

Not sure if some are familiar with Back Story.  Here is what I received today.If you scan down, you should be able to listen to the 35-minute radio program.https://backstory.exposure.co/history-behind-the-headlines-corks-curlsSee More
Mar 22
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video

Anthony Street Reel

"Thanks.  Tim sent me one, but ONLY one!"
Mar 17
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video

Anthony Street Reel

"Do you have any other concerts scheduled?"
Mar 15
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video

Anthony Street Reel

"Printed out directions, etc., for tonight's concert but my cold is not progressing as hoped."
Mar 15
Al Smitley commented on flatfoot johnny's video

Rattlesnake Jig two ways (with distractions)

"Paul, I'm writing this at 5:03 am.  Let me know if it worked!"
Mar 8
Al Smitley replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Rumseys Jig sheet music for fiddle
"Not sure what you're looking for.  Please explain and might try to help."
Mar 7
Al Smitley posted a photo

Pry House

I just watched a CSPAN3 program that I previously DVRed about photos of the Antietam Battlefield by Stephen Recker. He spent quite a bit of time explaining this photo of the Pry House. I snapped a photo from the TV screen.
Mar 4
Al Smitley commented on Brice Alms's video

Alabama Joe and Circus Jig on my new 5 string gourd banjo

"Don't know if it's my computer or something wrong with this site but I click "Like" and it doesn't register. I see that the last two postings that Brice Alms has made has no "Like"s, so I suspect that perhaps there…"
Feb 27
Al Smitley liked Leonidas (Lee) Jones's video
Dec 23, 2018
Al Smitley liked Mark Weems's video
Nov 19, 2018
Strumelia commented on Al Smitley's photo

Capo, etc.

"What keys are you wanting to sing in?"
Nov 12, 2018

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…


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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