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

Blackface & Minstrel Shows

Started this discussion. Last reply by Rob Mohr Mar 17. 9 Replies

I haven't yet seen this but thought I'd pass it along.  It also airs at 4 am on Sunday.…Continue

Boucher

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley Mar 10. 4 Replies

I've just spend considerable time looking for a likeness of William Boucher as well as an advertisement or any other visual regarding his establishment.  Does anyone know if either exists?Continue

Tunes For The Times of Antebellum America

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley Feb 25. 9 Replies

I've created another self-published book of 89 tunes (no songs in this one) with titles reflecting persons, topics, or events in American history, 1820-1861.  The tunes are not meant specifically for…Continue

Head case

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley Feb 13. 4 Replies

Any suggestion as to how to repair this?Continue

 

Al Smitley's Page

Latest Activity

Al Smitley commented on Paul Draper's video
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Grape-Vine Twist

"I like it when we apply the techniques from the tutorials and then use other period sources to expand the repertoire!  No doubt banjoists of the mid-19th C applied the banjo to other popular music of the day such as brass band, fife &drum,…"
Thursday
Al Smitley commented on flatfoot johnny's photo
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Tunbridgeware inspired banjo

"Joel, I've played in a lot of different keys as backup, but assumed that if I wanted to do an instrumental break or melodic bridge, it might help to re-tune the 5th string and use a capo devise.  I will take a look at Converse,…"
Mar 27
Al Smitley commented on flatfoot johnny's photo
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Tunbridgeware inspired banjo

"Sorry I didn't well articulate what I meant.  When I typed "easily changed" I meant with regard to the key you want to play in.  I thought that perhaps there was some device you came up with to significantly shorten the 5th…"
Mar 24
Al Smitley commented on Paul Draper's video
Mar 23
Al Smitley commented on flatfoot johnny's photo
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Tunbridgeware inspired banjo

"Please explain more.  Is there something about the 5th string that allows it to be easily changed and, with the use of some capo device gives the option of playing in different keys.  Reminded me of a backgammon board, at first sight."
Mar 23
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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AEBG I

"I think the final year was 2015.  What was the first?"
Mar 18
Rob Mohr replied to Al Smitley's discussion Blackface & Minstrel Shows
"AWESOME, JOEL!! Thanks for posting the link. I now have something to watch on my commute..."
Mar 17
Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Blackface & Minstrel Shows
"Yes, that's it.  Thanks, Joel."
Mar 17
Joel Hooks replied to Al Smitley's discussion Blackface & Minstrel Shows
Mar 17
Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Blackface & Minstrel Shows
"Sorry you couldn't find it, Rob.  A lot of people can't get CSPAN3.  I'm lucky on this issue as it comes with my basic cable.  Every Friday, I look for programming that airs on the weekend as it's all historical…"
Mar 16
Rob Mohr replied to Al Smitley's discussion Blackface & Minstrel Shows
"Man, I searched and searched but to no avail. I don't have CSPAN3 in my DirectTV package...ugh"
Mar 16
Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Blackface & Minstrel Shows
"I just watched this show that I DVRed when it was on.  Though it focuses more on the 20th than 19th C, it does discuss the 19th C and I thought it was very interesting with two historians that know their subject.  I also see that it airs…"
Mar 16
Al Smitley liked Noah Cline's video
Mar 13
John Masciale replied to Al Smitley's discussion Blackface & Minstrel Shows
"I did a talk 2 years ago at Greenfield village entitled "The Minstrel Show Conundrum", looking at minstrel shows across the 19th century. It is a fairly complex topic."
Mar 12
John Masciale replied to Al Smitley's discussion Blackface & Minstrel Shows
"Hopefully this will become available online or on-demand."
Mar 12
Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Blackface & Minstrel Shows
"I didn't notice before posting that it only addresses the 20th C."
Mar 12

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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