Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

hey y'all, haven't posted in a while...just reporting that on the stage of the old town school of folk music, we created a black minstrel show - banjo, fiddle, tambo and bones - jokes, tunes, and all. the audience didn't know what the heck was going on! :)  will post pictures in a few days. 

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Rhiannon,  was this the old town school in Chicago?  I can't wait to see your pics.

Of course, just dying to hear some details. Fill us in as you can....what material and songs did you use, how did you prepare the audience, and what was the reaction? Are you going to repeat this?  

The minstrel show was a mini-show in the larger context of a theater piece called "Keep a Song in your Soul: the black roots of vaudeville".  Material: 

1. Gonna Raise a Ruckus Tonight

2. Joke

3. Bye Bye Policeman

4. Joke

5. String band tune

6. Joke

7. Interruption Sketch

8. Run Nigger Run

 

There are pics now - you can see in one the maskwork we brought in during Run NIgger Run - my nephew then recited "we wear the mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar.   So a straight up mini minstrel show in earnest, followed by a bit of seriousness. Reaction was great to the whole piece.  when video is available i'll post it. (won't be for a while though!)

What a poem to end with! I have long loved Dunbar's work, but didn't remember that particular piece.

Rhiannon Giddens said:

The minstrel show was a mini-show in the larger context of a theater piece called "Keep a Song in your Soul: the black roots of vaudeville".  Material: 

1. Gonna Raise a Ruckus Tonight

2. Joke

3. Bye Bye Policeman

4. Joke

5. String band tune

6. Joke

7. Interruption Sketch

8. Run Nigger Run

 

There are pics now - you can see in one the maskwork we brought in during Run NIgger Run - my nephew then recited "we wear the mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar.   So a straight up mini minstrel show in earnest, followed by a bit of seriousness. Reaction was great to the whole piece.  when video is available i'll post it. (won't be for a while though!)

Wow... I can't wait to see the video. The pictures are stunning in and of themselves. Thank you for sharing.

Hello, Rhiannon:

It was good to re-connect with you at Harpers Ferry Saturday. I enjoyed our conversation. I'm just reviewing the photos of your minstrel show. I'm looking forward to seeing the video. I am interested in hearing more of the story behind the event. Excellent! My education continues...

Roberta

We used to do Run Nigger Run (or de policeman'll git cha), we did it as a walk around type thing though. Interesting song line up. Pics look awesome.

Hi, Rhiannon: Will you be able to share how the minstrel show came about? I am also looking forward to you new CD  

Take care, Roberta

Well, to begin with, the minstrel show we did was a small piece within the context of a larger show - entitled, as I've mentioned, "Keep a Song in Your Soul: The Black Roots of Vaudeville".  So it was well within our parvue to, after a mostly ethnically-neutral set of material, make a comment on the unavoidable black face beginnings to the minstrel show.  We of course are quite aware of the information above, having researched quite exhaustedly before attempting such a thing.  But thanks for pointing it out.

I wonder if Roberta was asking how the minstrel show's incorporation into "Keep a Song in Your Soul" came about (and not necessarily the history of blackface minstrelsy as a general question)? What was genesis of "Keep a Song in Your Soul" and its use of the minstrel show segment?

Yes, what Greg said:-). I am intrigued by the process and the final creation of what the Chocolate Drops show. I am looking forward to the video.

I sometimes have the full idea and/or thought in my head but it does not come out that way, when speaking.

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