Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Wes Merchant
  • Frederick, MD
  • United States
  • 40 yrs
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Wes Merchant's Discussions

Another Concert featuring Clarke Buehling with the Skirtlifters

Started this discussion. Last reply by Wes Merchant Jan 30, 2018. 5 Replies

https://youtu.be/_4IuDXA3x-AHere's another concert from the Missouri State University, the sound quality is a little better, it presents some great early…Continue

The Skirtlifters in concert

Started this discussion. Last reply by Wes Merchant Jan 27, 2018. 3 Replies

I was looking at some YouTube videos today and came across this. There is only sound and it’s not the greatest quality, but there’s some great music by Clarke and friends including some old favorite…Continue

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Latest Activity

Chris Prieto replied to Wes Merchant's discussion I this was interesting
"Sounds like Uncle Dave to me. "
Jul 14, 2018
Strumelia replied to Wes Merchant's discussion I this was interesting
"Wonderful information and truly rare recordings."
Jul 14, 2018
Timothy Twiss replied to Wes Merchant's discussion I this was interesting
"That was interesting. When i hear that recording, the fast arpeggios that often begin a phrase or chord are present in some arrangements in the Analytical like Camptown Race Track. Must have been a stylistic thing at that time.....and I'm glad…"
Jul 14, 2018
Wes Merchant posted a discussion
Jul 14, 2018
Wes Merchant replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"Chris, here's the 1st page of tunes from Septimus Winner's New Primer for Violin circa 1864, they might be some good ones to start with, I think these turn up in some of the banjo tutors as well."
Jun 19, 2018
Wes Merchant replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"I can't tell you how many times I looked at that page and didn't notice, I suspect the person that made the plate didn't play."
Jun 19, 2018
Wes Merchant replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"Yes that's the one I have, I had not really looked at that diagram before, but it is a mirror image, you can see the string thickness with E being the highest and thinest. The notes are correct on the strings, but basically shown as some of my…"
Jun 19, 2018
Wes Merchant replied to Chris Prieto's discussion Violin tuning
"I use standard tuning GDAE. A lot a fiddle tunes are set in D, G, and A so the open strings are often on the strong notes. I know Howe does like the flat keys, but it's probably easiest to start with a "D" tune Which edition of Howe…"
Jun 19, 2018
Wes Merchant liked Paul Draper's video
May 9, 2018
Wes Merchant liked Timothy Twiss's photo
Apr 21, 2018
Wes Merchant commented on Paul Draper's video
Apr 20, 2018
Wes Merchant and Timothy Twiss are now friends
Apr 20, 2018
Wes Merchant left a comment for Tom Berghan
Apr 6, 2018
Wes Merchant commented on Paul Draper's photo
Mar 26, 2018
Wes Merchant liked Paul Draper's photo
Mar 26, 2018
Wes Merchant commented on Tim Twiss's video

Negro Sand Jig

"Howe (1868) has a two part version of Kitty O'Neil, though they are close to the first two parts in Ryans."
Mar 22, 2018

Profile Information

How did you find out about Ning Minstrel Banjo?
How long have you played banjo?
40 yrs
What kind of banjo(s) do you own?
Buckeye style perhaps 1880's,unnamed circa 1900 and 1923 vega tenor, irish tuning

I mostly play fiddle these days, over the years i've learned to read sheet music and have lately been very much enjoying looking through old tune books. Through leafing through stacks of old music books,over the years I've come across some gems, among them an 1864 edition of Winner's New Primer for Violin and an early edition of Howe's School for the Violin. More recently I've been  looking at some of the songbooks on the web

(http://archive.org/details/beadlesdi19newy  for instance ) and trying to match some of the songs with the tunes,don't know why but I find this stuff fascinating.

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Wes Merchant's Blog

Banjo repair

Posted on August 24, 2013 at 11:00am 4 Comments

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYO4Qi1sYt4The small ebony guide that holds the fifth string on my banjo split so I made one out of an old fiddle peg. I sized it through a hoIe I drilled in a steel plate then drilled out the old peg with the same bit  and filed in a slot with a small knife edged file. i"ve strung it up with nylgut and I'm really pleased with the sound. I'll post sound clips if I came remember how to play the dang…


DAN EMMETT and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy

Posted on August 9, 2013 at 4:00pm 8 Comments

 I came across this digital book today and thought some others here might be interested. You can navigate to the various pages and songs by clicking the arrows by the bar  in the center of the page, a lot of Dan Emmett songs and tunes are shown as well as some songs of the late 18th /early 19th century. 


Happy 4th of July

Posted on July 4, 2013 at 12:27pm 1 Comment

I was thinking about going to a July 4th anvil shoot ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anvil_firing ) at the home of a black powder enthusiast  I know, so I found this on Utoob, 


Joe Bussard's Annual Banjo Podcast

Posted on April 19, 2013 at 3:02pm 6 Comments


For those of you unfamiliar with Joe, he is one of the world's premier collectors early country, blues and jazz of 78's. He's also the subject of the Australian Documentary "Desperate Man Blues". I've known Joe for many years, and actually played in a band with him for a while, he's quite a character and a great resource Here's the play list : Taylor's…


Comment Wall (8 comments)

At 11:49pm on March 25, 2013, Vince Abadie said…

Hi Wes...good to have you here! There are some fine folks among us. Welcome!!

At 12:16am on March 26, 2013, Jeff said…

Welcome... Wes good to see you found us here.. Kick back and enjoy... 

At 1:11pm on March 26, 2013, Bell Banjos said…

Welcome Wes!! My boy plays Irish Tenor too. One night in the shop we had him on the Irish 4 stringer, me on the minstrel, his buddies playing clawhammer and a banjolele. And it sounded GREAT.

At 8:34pm on February 13, 2014, Nicholas A Bechtel said…

Thanks Buddy!

At 11:06am on June 23, 2014, Marek Bennett said…

Thanks Wes -- We'll be back next year, or perhaps paths will cross before then.  What a beautiful weekend.

~ Marek

At 7:18pm on June 27, 2014, Michael Randolph said…

Thanks, Wes.  Enjoyed the dual fiddle quartet as well.  We'll have to try some other tunes when we get a chance.  - Mike

At 10:02pm on June 29, 2014, Al Smitley said…

Wes.... My printer/scanner is not working but until that time, I see that (for some reason, at an earlier time) I scanned the front cover that you are missing.

You can find it in my photos.  When I get a working scanner, I will send you a better representation.

At 10:08pm on June 29, 2014, Al Smitley said…

Wes.... On second thought, I'm not so sure.  The index that accompanies what I think is the entire publication seems to be accurate on some of the entries but not others.  If you can read the index from the photo, you can see what I mean.

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