Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I did a local Historical Society gig this week. I started with a Civil War tune and went backwards....the tunes went in groups. First a Foster medley, then an Emmett medley, and finally some of the tunes Joe Sweeney made famous. In between I did banjo solos where I group 2 or 3 tunes together along with any discussion to set up the next medley. This format worked very well. I would like to hear of others experience in presenting their material to the public.

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Among other things, my wife and I present programs of 19th and early 20th c. music. As such Minstrel banjo makes up only a portion of the program. It always goes over very well with audiences.

I usually will play medleys of different types -- African or African-American based, Celtic based etc. I'll also accompany some songs with it.

This year we gave MANY performances of "What a Weapon is the Ballot: Political Campaign Songs from Washington to Nixon." In this program we accompany a good many of the mid-19th c. campaign songs with the banjo (some are actually set to minstrel tunes anyway -- Boatman's Dance, Dixie, Dan Tucker, Clar de Kitchen etc.)
In our monthly "Old Time Music" gig, I get about 15-20 min to do whatever I want as a solo (otherwise, I'm just playing backup to the singers). I bring a different banjo each time and basically play a tune, talk history (usually in story form) and play another tune. I did Sweeney the first time and the audience seemed to like it. Same with S.S. Stewart. I've been thinking about doing a Briggs story next.

I have to come up with about 45min worth of Stroke Style stuff for Feb. 2009 (plus 45min of Classic banjo), this discussion is of extreme interest to me.

===Marc
For the narrow topic of stroke tunes, I am going to list some "trios" I have found fit well with each other, and I sure want to hear about how others string together tunes. These provide a nice lengh in between vocal songs. One tune repeated too seems boring without a dancer. It's nice to do tunes that segue well, but have a change that a lay person can hang his hat on to find a distinction between tunes.
Here are a few-

Harper's Jig / Corn-husking Jig / Rapahanock Jig
Ethiopian Cracovienne / Briggs' Reel / Briggs' Jig
Gettin' Up Stairs / Cane-brake Jig / Grape Vine Reel
Spring Jig / Blue Eagle Jail / Barley Reel

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