Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

From Buckley's New Banjo Method, 1860. The banjo is set up with minstrel nylgut strings, tuned to eAEG#B.

Views: 102

Comment by Paul Draper on March 2, 2013 at 9:57am

I tried recording this dozens of times over the past few weeks, and at one point gave up on it entirely.  I finally came back to it last night to try again.  

Comment by Tim Twiss on March 2, 2013 at 11:21am

Well, you got a good take. That is what counts. I like hearing them on the E fretted banjo. This one is also Off To California....another one of the shared names tunes club.

Comment by Paul Draper on March 2, 2013 at 11:44am
I just learned the other night that this was Off To California when I played it for some Old Time buddies... The banjo is a no name flush-fret, which makes playing this piece easier...
Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on March 2, 2013 at 12:20pm
I like hearing these stories. I get so frustrated how long it takes to get a good take. Here lately I haven't put much time into the video recording the tunes I'm learning, but getting ready to start again. Good song Paul. I love the sound on the banjo you are playing. Good take!
Comment by Ian Bell on March 2, 2013 at 12:21pm
Nice playing. Yet another name for that tune! The Buckley variant is quite close to the version called "Fireman's Reel" or "Cowboy's Reel". Fireman's Reel was the opening theme of the old "Don Messer's Jubilee" TV show in Canada when I was kid.
Comment by Paul Draper on March 2, 2013 at 12:33pm
Thanks guys. Is it also "Barley Reel"? I think I recall Tim playing that on a recording of gourd banjo samples for Jay M. -- unless I'm mistaken.
Comment by Al Smitley on March 2, 2013 at 2:11pm

Yes, I've noticed, though the years, that the tune is one of those "tune families" which, with slight variations, are known under different titles.  I've always assumed or wondered if "Off to California" is a direct reference to the gold rush.  It would seem logical but have never been able to find it by that name in pre-1860 tune books.  Has anyone else?


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