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

Head case

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley on Thursday. 4 Replies

Any suggestion as to how to repair this?Continue

Paintings/illustrations of pre-Sweeny banjos

Started Feb 6 0 Replies

Seems like I've seen paintings or illustrations of pre-Sweeny banjos, especially similar to the 4-stringer Mark Weems often plays.  Doing a Google search, however, I can't seem to find any.  Perhaps…Continue

Help with site

Started this discussion. Last reply by Timothy Twiss Feb 3. 7 Replies

Ooops!  I didn't intend all the members to be sidelined by my discussion with Mark Weems about pre-Sweeney banjos.  I thought I was sending a person-to-person inquiry.  Can someone remind me how to…Continue

History of the banjo presentation

Started this discussion. Last reply by Tony Thomas Jan 24. 4 Replies

I have been recruited to present a "History of the Banjo" presentation for a local historical society.  What credible sources might be suggested for me to put it together.  I would want to begin with…Continue

 

Al Smitley's Page

Latest Activity

Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Head case
"Thanks Patrick!"
Thursday
Patrick Haas replied to Al Smitley's discussion Head case
"Not sure of the edge or space you are dealing with. I had torn a skin on one banjo, wetted it and used artificial sinew to stitch up the tear. Played it for a long while before I finally replaced the head. Just a thought."
Thursday
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's photo
Thumbnail

what is it

"Source!  Source!"
Thursday
Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Head case
"Thank you!"
Tuesday
Champion of North Huron replied to Al Smitley's discussion Head case
"You could super glue a skin patch over it, but it obviously won't look very nice. And because it's a tacked on head, the tension you lost in that area of the head when it tore can't be restored. Really the only way to repair is to…"
Tuesday
Al Smitley posted a discussion

Head case

Any suggestion as to how to repair this?See More
Feb 8
Al Smitley posted a discussion

Paintings/illustrations of pre-Sweeny banjos

Seems like I've seen paintings or illustrations of pre-Sweeny banjos, especially similar to the 4-stringer Mark Weems often plays.  Doing a Google search, however, I can't seem to find any.  Perhaps I've seen them on the cover of sheet music.   Any help?See More
Feb 6
Al Smitley replied to John Masciale's discussion Banjo Gathering
"Dito!  I'm skipping our 1860s base ball game at Greenfield Village to attend."
Feb 5
Timothy Twiss replied to Al Smitley's discussion Help with site
"Seems okay now"
Feb 3
Timothy Twiss replied to Al Smitley's discussion Help with site
"I don't think the friend status is permanent until a comment is left."
Feb 2
Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Help with site
"So, Tim, we are, once again, friends?!? Do you keep unfriending me and then sending a friend request? I think we've been friends three times!"
Feb 1
Al Smitley and Timothy Twiss are now friends
Jan 31
Al Smitley replied to Al Smitley's discussion Help with site
"I'm getting MORE confused!"
Jan 26
Al Smitley left a comment for Timothy Twiss
"You mean we weren't friends until now?!?  Is this how one finds and sends "Comments", to go to  "Friend"s page?  Is that what I'm looking for....."Comments"?"
Jan 26
Al Smitley commented on Mark Weems's video
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G.P. Knauff's "Flying Indian"

"What the heck.  I purchased it, anyway.  Will be interested in the research you've done."
Jan 26
Al Smitley commented on Mark Weems's video
Thumbnail

G.P. Knauff's "Flying Indian"

"Anymore?  Sorry to read that.  I would purchase your book but I've got all the music and don't use banjo TAB."
Jan 26

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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