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.

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No, but Vess and Fred did.  

They also all but said that evil white men like Stewart took the hard working black man's banjo, made it expensive, and called it "Classic Banjo."  Then back to the rugged working man- the folk.

No Dave Macon, cause he was show business till the end.

Also agreed about Seeger, seemed to get dangerously close to appealing to the "occupy whatever" movement... was that hidden politics thrown in?  I'm a huge NPR fan, but I'd not put it past them to nudge the producers that way.

You are right, chances are we could not be pleased.

I mean, they sold hit records, not played county music.

What the show REALLY needed was one of you hot players here doing a Briggs-Converse thing. Really. They COULD have done it.

That tune at the end? Bela and friends,.......I hope people don't think, "Is this what it's come to?"

Man, I just love minstrel music.

Amen, brother Bell.  In the end, we have our research, and our love of the music, and we'll just have to content ourselves with that.  

Terry Bell / Bell & Son Banjos said:

What the show REALLY needed was one of you hot players here doing a Briggs-Converse thing. Really. They COULD have done it.

That tune at the end? Bela and friends,.......I hope people don't think, "Is this what it's come to?"

Man, I just love minstrel music.

I watched it with my wife and son. They enjoyed it and seemed to pick up a great deal from it. They know little or nothing about the banjo other than "Please, go shut daddy's office door. He's practicing again" and "Yeah. My dad's sleeping in a barn with a bunch of banjo players this weekend."

 

Since I know far less of the history than many/most of you, I can only comment on HOW it was presented, not what. Given the medium's limitations, I thought they did well. The story line was, indeed, choppy and a bit too linear. Someone who knows little about banjo playing also may well have been left with the idea that the only style currently being played is Scruggs.

 

All in all, it was good to get something positive on for people to see. And it was also good to see Greg (GREAT  shirt, Greg!) and George!

There was more than a little content that couldn't fit in the ninety minute format. You can find some of it here as well as the main show ( in case someone missed it or want to see it again).

http://video.pbs.org/video/2164506461

 

Hit the nail on the head there, Kevin.  Hope to see you next June!

Kevin Gooding said:

Given the medium's limitations, I thought they did well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for that link to show, Will. I was hoping I could find it somewhere. Now I can catch the fist 25 minutes!

Yes, thank you to the link Will, I have just finished watching the show and have enjoyed every minute. I have also enjoyed reading the comments from the other members.

I was a bit disappointed having watched it this evening on line in the UK. There was nothing said that I'd not heard before and most of the video clips I'd already seen in other documentaries. There was a passing reference to classic style with no musical examples apart from a few seconds of what may have been Vess Osman. No mention was made to the banjos contribution to rag time which was a major ingredient in early banjo history. Two of the banjo's greatest players Van Eps and Osman were mentioned in passing only once. It was at least 30 minutes too long and on the whole I found it a bit of a yawn.  Maybe looking at it from an English perspective has affected my opinion as the historical connection in the UK is mainly that of Classic banjo.

I hear ya, Steve.  It was definitely Bluegrass oriented, as they spent quite a bit of time exploring the finer points of Scruggs style; they could have easily have done that with many other styles, Classic especially--it being such a technique oriented, graceful, historically important style.  Martin being a bluegrass picker could have influenced the content, I don't know...but we take what we can get, I suppose.  I know as a former Scruggsophile I never listened to Classic until I discovered minstrel style.  There's something about the Bluegrass style that makes you not care about other styles (in general).

 

One thing we might discuss, and have sort of skimmed the surface of around here, was Greg's addition to the show--"We're past the point of ignoring the racial issues in regards to the early banjo style".  They spent quite a bit of time discussing black players (although not Horace Weston!)  So we might keep in mind the responsibility we minstrel players have to credit and respect the lesser know players of history.

STEVE HARRISON said:

I was a bit disappointed having watched it this evening on line in the UK. There was nothing said that I'd not heard before and most of the video clips I'd already seen in other documentaries. There was a passing reference to classic style with no musical examples apart from a few seconds of what may have been Vess Osman. No mention was made to the banjos contribution to rag time which was a major ingredient in early banjo history. Two of the banjo's greatest players Van Eps and Osman were mentioned in passing only once. It was at least 30 minutes too long and on the whole I found it a bit of a yawn.  Maybe looking at it from an English perspective has affected my opinion as the historical connection in the UK is mainly that of Classic banjo.
In the first 14 minutes, we got to see Greg, George, and Rhiannon,  from this group right here. That was the coolest part.

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