Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Al Smitley
  • Male
  • Hartland, MI
  • United States
  • 1968-1976 then minstrel banjo since…
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Al Smitley's Friends

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Al Smitley's Discussions

Why Ethiopians?

Started this discussion. Last reply by Timothy Twiss Mar 5. 4 Replies

I'm hoping someone can offer insights that escape me.  It seems that Ethiopia gained a lot of reference in the mid-19th C minstrel genre......"Ethiopian Glee Book", Ethiopian Serenaders, Ethiopian…Continue

JEB Stuart

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley Feb 12. 1 Reply

I don't know if it's good or whether Sam Sweeney might be mentioned but a program about JEB Stuart airs several times on CSPAN2 this weekend.Continue

Blackface & Minstrel Shows

Started this discussion. Last reply by Rob Mohr Mar 17, 2020. 9 Replies

I haven't yet seen this but thought I'd pass it along.  It also airs at 4 am on Sunday.…Continue

Boucher

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley Mar 10, 2020. 4 Replies

I've just spend considerable time looking for a likeness of William Boucher as well as an advertisement or any other visual regarding his establishment.  Does anyone know if either exists?Continue

 

Al Smitley's Page

Latest Activity

Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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2 song demo from new Early Banjo Book.

"Yes, but what form are you using?  If you were playing it on a Briggs-tuned banjo, in what key are you playing it?"
3 hours ago
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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2 song demo from new Early Banjo Book.

"So, I think I've heard you play this using several tunings.  I like this tune but not sure what key I should learn it.  Seems to have been written in 'F'."
yesterday
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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Castles In The Air

"Using a capo?"
May 15
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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Castles In The Air

"When I saw that you were doing it on your fretted banjo, I expected A/E but wasn't expecting C."
May 13
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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Castles In The Air

"Now it's in "C"?"
May 12
Al Smitley commented on Timothy Twiss's video
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Castles In The Air

"I first heard this by Rodney Miller's album "Castles In The Air".  It was quite different but I'll learn this version."
May 12
Paul Draper commented on Al Smitley's video
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The Base Ball Polka

"Likewise…"
Apr 10
Al Smitley commented on Al Smitley's video
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The Base Ball Polka

"Thanks, Paul.  Sure do miss seeing you and all the others at AEBG!"
Apr 10
Paul Draper commented on Al Smitley's video
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The Base Ball Polka

"Excellent! I was hoping you would post for the occasion!"
Apr 10
Tom Taggart liked Al Smitley's video
Apr 9
Al Smitley posted a video

BBPolka58

The Base Ball Polka - 1858
Apr 8
Al Smitley posted a video
Apr 1
Al Smitley and Josh Bushey are now friends
Apr 1
Al Smitley commented on Paul Draper's video
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Richmond Is A Hard Road To Travel

"Ah.  Thanks.  If you're like me, I find that often, I can best reach the notes with my voice in one key (between 'D' and 'G') but the melody is more easily played in the other key.  I often just play the…"
Mar 27
Al Smitley commented on Paul Draper's video
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Richmond Is A Hard Road To Travel

"In 'G' tuning?  Sorry to continue this inquiry.  I've played the tune in 'D' and 'G' but never tried it in 'C', which isn't too hard but awkward at first to throw in the 'E' (bar…"
Mar 27
Al Smitley commented on Paul Draper's video
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Richmond Is A Hard Road To Travel

"You're playing it in 'C'?"
Mar 27

Profile Information

How did you find out about Ning Minstrel Banjo?
Member/contributor, Tim Twiss
How long have you played banjo?
1968-1976 then minstrel banjo since 2007. Stopped when Tim Twiss wanted me to play fiddle and play banjo, now, only to figure out best keys for various songs/tunes.
What kind of banjo(s) do you own?
Vega long-neck and Hartel Sweeney model

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Comment Wall (21 comments)

At 7:09pm on July 11, 2011, Tim Twiss said…
Hi Al. Do you prefer Friday or Saturday...Aug 5 or 6?
At 10:55am on November 26, 2011, John Masciale said…

Al,  That's the kind of thing you can either add as a link in a thread (there's a way to upload files to a given thread, click on the paperclip icon), or something as generally useful as that we can put under resources.  Elaine has been going through period songsters and has a list of over 1800 songs at this point from the time period.  The list is growing.  I would put your spreadsheet under documetation.

 

I find that the most useful thing about the Weidlich book is his index of Minstrel Songs and which instructor they are in.  It would be great to have some resources like that here on the site.

At 12:27pm on November 26, 2011, Tim Twiss said…

And there it is...thanks John. I lost sight of the fact you could add files of different types in the Documentation spot. Perfect.

At 11:21am on November 28, 2011, John Masciale said…

Al,  Thanks for sending the tutorial index.  I now have it posted on our documentation page.

At 12:06pm on November 28, 2011, Tim Twiss said…

John...what format is that? New Excel? I could open Al's old one, but not this. Perhaps open office?

At 1:44pm on November 28, 2011, Tim Twiss said…

Never mind...answered my own question...open office for those who are behind.

What a great contribution Al...

At 8:09am on February 3, 2012, Ian Bell said…

Al,

I'm not a re-enactor (though I do have a suit of funny clothes in the closet) so I usually don't always have to limit myself to completely period-appropriate performances. When I am doing a historic perfromance I use the "period" instruments that I happen to play — wooden flute, Scottish smallpipes, fiddle and sing unaccompanied. I've never earned the trick of self-accompaniment with fiddle. It's all I can do to play in tune when I'm not singing. 

I mostly do 1812 songs from the Canadian point of view. My repertoire  comes from old manuscripts and early published sources and also includes songs of the time that survived to be collected as part of the folk tradition in Ontario. I've been accumulating this stuff since the early 80s. Canada was much less urban than the eastern US at that time so there weren't nearly as many printed broadsides produced up here. Your Library of Congress website has lots of American 1812 songs online. (I'm envious)

In a concert setting, I'll usually perform this stuff in a more "folksingerly" context, as music from the past that has survived into the present. I use non-period instruments like steel-string guitar, mandolin and concertina and arrange songs to suit my own tastes — which to most people's ears are probably pretty arcane.

At 8:10am on February 3, 2012, Ian Bell said…

Clarifying a bit of bad writing in previous comment - I meant Canada was less urban in 1812 - not the 1980s!

At 7:33pm on May 22, 2012, Jeff said…
I live in Midland
At 8:54pm on March 22, 2013, Tim Twiss said…

Hey Al...the first Thursday of every other month is approaching. Want to join me again? Love to add some of those crazy early ones we have discussed.

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