Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

All Blog Posts (282)

First Chord of "A Hard Days Night"

This has been beat to death on the internet, but so very cool to share. Do we have an "Off Topic" category here...? No, but here it is anyway. Enjoy the enthusiasm of Randy Bachman describing this magic moment.

Added by Tim Twiss on December 17, 2011 at 10:43pm — No Comments

Hey Al, how's your flower?

Did you "plant" your bulb  from the Arts and Greens?

Added by Tim Twiss on December 16, 2011 at 7:57am — No Comments

Reel Crazy Time

My friend Norm Boggs and I had a busy weekend at local historic sites this past weekend.  The Candlelight Tour at Duke Homestead is certain to remain firmly lodged in memory.  Our contribution was to play for the dancers in an old tobacco barn as the public was ushered through in groups of 25 or 30, one complete dance per group.  Well, to make a very long story short the publicity for this event far outstripped the resources available (namely two old men), and we ended up playing 25 Virginia…


Added by Rob Morrison on December 12, 2011 at 9:57am — 1 Comment


Hey John, want to do this again? So many to pick from...especially with the Glee Book available. It does not have to be a vocal tune. I know Clarke has done "Clare De Kitchen" a lot...this is a good candidate, and another one of those very early ones. The lyrics are classic. It would also make a really good Stroke instrumental. 

Added by Tim Twiss on December 11, 2011 at 12:31pm — 14 Comments

Building my banjo

Great news! I am but a few weeks from finishing my Sweeney replica banjo! This is my first attempt at a Minstrel Banjo build and it is going great so far. I have some locally harvested Black Walnut that I am using and love the look.  Still trying to figure out how to join the ends of my tension hoop. Hardware has been ordered from Pickard Banjos. A few more hand rubbed coats of finish on the pot and I will be ready for the head to be installed. I am convinced that I am forgetting something…


Added by Brian Glass on December 5, 2011 at 8:43pm — 17 Comments


Okay, hang in there with me. I am trying one from each of the different sections in the Lawrence Leadley fiddle collection. As was indicated by our early masters, adapting fiddle repertoire is fair game for adding banjo material-so stay on the lookout. The well is deep. 

Added by Tim Twiss on December 3, 2011 at 4:32pm — 1 Comment

"Joe Sweeney" by Karl Denver

Just stumbled upon this - a real gas from the past! (1961)


Added by Mark Weems on December 1, 2011 at 2:43pm — No Comments


I just added an appendix from the William Mahar Book "Behind the Burnt Cork Mask" showing the frequency of appearance in early minstrel songsters. It is especially interesting with the availability of the Christy Glee Book.  

Added by Tim Twiss on November 25, 2011 at 5:33pm — 8 Comments

Hurrah for the turkey banjo

Happy Holidays everybody.

Nice logo John.

Added by Tim Twiss on November 22, 2011 at 8:00pm — No Comments


Added by James Pentecost on November 15, 2011 at 11:53am — 1 Comment

First Reenactment

This Saturday and Sunday I am finally participating in my first reenactment. Here in what is supposed to be the biggest Civil War reenactment on the West Coast, well I will have to take them at their word at it, it's my first. I was driven to this because of wanting to play this style of music. I have a Tackhead from Eric Prust, and have a few songs memorized. I'm also bringing my fiddle. We have rain in the forecast so I bet keeping my banjo in tune will be a challenge. 

Should i go…


Added by Nicholas A Bechtel on November 10, 2011 at 11:01pm — 10 Comments

blah blah blur blur

Playing through "Far South"....it had a pretty good feel and the banjo was growling along rather nicely....shoulda checked the light on the camera first. Oh well, I'll leave it up for a day or so, and then scrap it. Just listen..watching gets you dizzy.

Added by Tim Twiss on November 3, 2011 at 9:53pm — 3 Comments

Winner's Banjo Books

Often overlooked, but there are several of them. Not great, but they are worth playing through...occasional gems will pop up. You can discover many re-titled tunes.

Added by Tim Twiss on October 27, 2011 at 10:18pm — No Comments

Off To California

Opened up the Green Converse to get a little Stroke break from the Fingerstyle, and here was another take on that familiar melody...Barley Reel  

Added by Tim Twiss on October 24, 2011 at 9:08am — No Comments


Hey, I just got back from the Classic site. I thought that with my fingerstyle tune they would let me in, but I had to go change. Ian runs a really tight ship there.

Added by Tim Twiss on October 20, 2011 at 9:21am — 3 Comments

Motor City

Hey Terry...got your call. Call that number again when you are really close...I'll be watching the door...its after hours and will be locked.



Added by Tim Twiss on October 14, 2011 at 2:04pm — 1 Comment

Try again

Checked the bridge first...here we go again. Added "Fairy Dance". It comes right after "Jim Crow Jig" in the book.

Added by Tim Twiss on October 13, 2011 at 8:11am — No Comments



Added by Tim Twiss on October 6, 2011 at 10:44pm — 11 Comments

Dayton area

Anybody from Dayton...or nearby? I am going there for a living history event Saturday...one of those where you stay most of the day. Sure would like to spark it up with a percussionist or fiddle player.

Added by Tim Twiss on October 6, 2011 at 8:25pm — No Comments

Neil Grey's Banjo Method

Courtesy of member Nicholas Bechtel, there is yet another book to examine. I am posting one piece from it this morning and let him tell you a bit more about it, if you are curious. I have only seen a few pages of it. It is geared toward fingerstyle, but as usual...much adapts to rappin it. 

Added by Tim Twiss on October 6, 2011 at 8:01am — 4 Comments


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