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 Discussions

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

Tunes For The Times of Antebellum America

Started this discussion. Last reply by Rob Mohr Jul 27, 2020. 12 Replies

I've created another self-published book of 89 tunes (no songs in this one) with titles reflecting persons, topics, or events in American history, 1820-1861.  The tunes are not meant specifically for…Continue

Head case

Started this discussion. Last reply by Al Smitley Feb 13, 2020. 4 Replies

Any suggestion as to how to repair this?Continue

 

Al Smitley's Page

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BloomerCostume

"Strum, sometimes at vintage base ball venues they might have a couple women's teams there and I always think that if I were them, I'd add a huge cuff to the bottom of their dresses/skirts so that the ball might be caught without even…"
Mar 14
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BloomerCostume

"Yeah, people never like when their privilege or power feels threatened in any way. Human nature. Al you must enjoy all those amazing old photos of early women's baseball teams, and the wonderful uniforms they came up with in order to practice…"
Mar 14
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BloomerCostume

"It's funny (or maybe not) how males felt threatened simply because some women were choosing a more practical/comfortable fashion that very loosely resembled men's wear."
Mar 14
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BloomerCostume

"Everyone of any use ought to have at least rudimentary knowledge of cooking, sewing, and dandling babies."
Mar 13
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BloomerCostume

Can't recall if I shared this before. If so, sorry for the redundancy. If not, then this would be a good month to do so.
Mar 9
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Rail Splitters Polka

"Thanks, Paul. I'm available for parties!"
Feb 14
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Rail Splitters Polka

"That’s some fine aspirin bottle playing"
Feb 14
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Rail Splitters Polka

"Ooops!  I have forgotten how to include text with a video.  It's shows up if you click on it but not on the initial posting."
Feb 12
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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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