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

Mistake?

Started this discussion. Last reply by Tom Taggart Feb 14. 6 Replies

I just posted the American Experience episode of Stephen Foster from 2001, which I found on YouTube.  I was trying to include the text, "I saw this 20+ years ago. I never understood why, when other…Continue

Strum Machine

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley Jun 23, 2022. 3 Replies

Has anyone tried using Strum Machine?I just signed up for a free trial and am enjoying it, especially because I don't play with others and it seems as though it would be great for practicing.After…Continue

Why Ethiopians?

Started this discussion. Last reply by Timothy Twiss Mar 5, 2022. 4 Replies

I'm hoping someone can offer insights that escape me.  It seems that Ethiopia gained a lot of reference in the mid-19th C minstrel genre......"Ethiopian Glee Book", Ethiopian Serenaders, Ethiopian…Continue

JEB Stuart

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley Feb 12, 2022. 1 Reply

I don't know if it's good or whether Sam Sweeney might be mentioned but a program about JEB Stuart airs several times on CSPAN2 this weekend.Continue

 

Al Smitley's Page

Latest Activity

Al Smitley replied to Strumelia's discussion A new Discussion - why
"I just don't know how to record.  I've done it before but can't remember how and never get around to relearning."
Feb 14
Tom Taggart replied to Al Smitley's discussion Mistake?
"I still check the site. Good to see some others who are still around. Hi y'all!"
Feb 14
Al Smitley posted a video
Feb 12
Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Mistake?
"I still check the site and have, in my mind, that I will post in the future."
Feb 12
Paul Draper replied to Al Smitley's discussion Mistake?
"Hi Strumelia! Nice to hear from you. I haven’t been here in a while."
Feb 12
Strumelia replied to Al Smitley's discussion Mistake?
"I tried to start a new discussion just to say hi, but I only get site errors. Trying out this Reply to an existing discussion, to see if anything still works here. Looks like this site might be dead now? Anyway... Hi."
Feb 12
Al Smitley commented on Dave Culgan's video
Thumbnail

White Cat Black Cat

"I can access it."
Jun 24, 2023
Paul Draper replied to Al Smitley's discussion Mistake?
"Thank you for the link, Al.  I had not seen this. "
Feb 27, 2023
Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Mistake?
Feb 26, 2023
Al Smitley posted a discussion

Mistake?

I just posted the American Experience episode of Stephen Foster from 2001, which I found on YouTube.  I was trying to include the text, "I saw this 20+ years ago. I never understood why, when other episodes of American Experience are available for online purchase, this one is not. This morning, I was surprised to stumble upon it on YouTube, however. "  I don't know what went wrong and don't know how to correct or delete it.  SorrySee More
Feb 26, 2023
Al Smitley posted a video

Stephen Foster (2001, PBS American Experience)

On July 4, 1826, as America celebrated its fiftieth birthday, local patriots and politicians in a small village east of Pittsburgh, read the Declaration of I...
Feb 26, 2023
Al Smitley liked Paul Draper's video
Dec 15, 2022
Al Smitley liked Paul Draper's video
Dec 15, 2022
Al Smitley liked Paul Draper's video
Dec 12, 2022
Al Smitley liked Paul Draper's video
Dec 12, 2022
Al Smitley commented on Al Smitley's photo
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GourdBanjo

"Thanks, Patrick.  That might be beyond my experience and know-how but I appreciate the suggestion."
Nov 14, 2022

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 (21 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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