Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I'm not particularly optimistic that tonight's program will offer anything insightful in regards to the minstrel era--but who knows I could be wrong.  Hopefully they'll take their time with the classic era.  I suspect that the meat of the show will be on the 20th century clawhammer style and the evolution of Scruggs style.

Views: 655

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I've got my fingers crossed too.

At worst it could be.."Without Charlie Poole there'd be no heavy metal."

At best..."Joel's brother Sam...."

I thought they did the minstrel era quite well.  Kinda flew through it, but there's a lot of territory to cover, I guess.  They just breezed through the "classic" era, I thought.  Could have done a lot more with that.  No FBC!


  Congrats for the face time, Greg and George.  This is gonna be good for our style, I think.

Dang - I didn't come in until Gus Cannon! I enjoyed what I saw though.

Wow, now that was a show. The first half hour.

Better than I had hoped.  I was in awe at first then slowly sank into something else, saved only by Mike Seeger.

My wife and I were flipping out hearing Alabama Joe and Briggs' Jig in the background. I got a phone call from my mother, "Is that the George and Greg you talk about?"  "Ya mom - I gotta go!!"

The minstrel segment was good as far as it went, but they really did fly through the entire 19th century and aside from about 10 seconds of Eddie Peabody they didn't even touch the whole tenor/plectrum scene.  It was great to see Greg, and this made the 2nd night in a row I've seen George on PBS!

It seems that the 20th century banjo history is more important to people than the 19th century history.  I'm fine with that.  I like being different.


Something's better than nothing. I thought it was a great service to the Early Banjo Community.
Wow, they're spending a lot of time exploring the minutiae of the Scruggs style innovators...they could have done the same with Briggs, Converse and Weston...but no.

I enjoyed it. Can't cover everything...and it was directed at the folk tradition and its roots. I'm sure the tenor/plectrum players are upset, all they got was a bit of Don Vappie and a few sec. of Eddie Peabody. The classic style was discussed...but only to lead into Charlie Poole (a segment I really enjoyed). The early banjo segment was probably as good as it could get for its 15min...but I sure would have liked to see Greg show us some flashy stroke stuff. 30 sec. of Akonting playing wouldn't have hurt them either, you could have lopped it off of the Pete Seeger/folk scare section and nobody would have noticed. ;-)

I'm sure I'll buy the DVD when it comes available, hopefully it will have more stuff on it.

To paraphrase my favorite line- Dan Emmett with his friends the Snowden family wrote Dixie- so is this irrefutable fact now?


See that attached page from A. J. Weidt's Studies for the Scruggs' innovation.  Clearly nobody "refined" arpeggio guitar style, before him.


Irrefutable if you wish to be PC, Joel. ;-) It is PBS.

Weidt didn't make hit records, nor did he insist on playing whole tunes built out of arpeggiated chords. I have no trouble seeing Earl as an innovator. A classically trained banjoist would never have conceived that people would enjoy the banjo played in such a 'rudimentary' manner.

Besides, I believe Bob Carlin speaks to this later in the film.

Yes, Trapdoor, yes.

Two notes on an Akonting and two more on a gourd.

I think the general public will be thinking about those plunky minstrel sounds and old pictures though. And yes, can there EVER be even a blip about Pete without bringing up the Committe On UnAmerican Activities or whatever it was, or Charlie Poole's drunkeness, or the minstrel players' savage racism. I give the whole show a B+ though. I wanna see that first half hour again, over and over. 

I hate to say it, as a former Scruggs player, but in the context of this show, the three finger stuff got on my nerves.


Reply to Discussion



John Masciale created this Ning Network.

© 2023   Created by John Masciale.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service