Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Dedicated to Sylvia, a fine banjo player and clog dancer!

Views: 182

Comment by Rob MacKillop on April 24, 2012 at 11:38am

Theories abound for who started clog dancing - North of England mill workers, Dutch cloggers, immigrants to Appalachia, even Blackfoot Indians. I'll keep out of that debate...

Here are nine clog dances from Albert Baur's 1883 publication (New York). Baur was a minstrel banjo player, who lost a leg in the civil war - no clog dancing for him, then. His book contains clogs, minstrel tunes, Irish tunes, and Gilbert and Sullivan song arrangements.  See this thread here for a free copy of his book: http://www.banjohangout.org/topic/234521

These clogs dances are full of wild leaps, characteristic of the dance movements, I imagine. Despite being for wooden shoes, the titles give an indication of how graceful a good clog dancer could be: ''Neat and Graceful'', ''Aesthetic'', ''Light and Airy''. I play fingerstyle, but they can be played stroke or modern clawhammer style if that's your thing.

Can anyone fill in some background on the clog dance in your area?

Comment by Rob MacKillop on April 24, 2012 at 11:41am

PS Happy Birthday, Albert Baur!

Comment by Mark Weems on April 24, 2012 at 12:26pm

Lovely playing Rob. Good to see you on the site - come back more often!

Comment by Tim Twiss on April 24, 2012 at 1:28pm

Good post....rich melodies. I love that stuff....the Baur book.

Nicely played.


Comment by Sylvia on April 24, 2012 at 2:18pm

Hi Rob, Thank you, they really are catchy tunes. and  I  must work through them all.     We do have a clog dancing group on the Island but the dances are imported from the mainland ie, the mill towns and the north of England.  Some Morris Dancing teams wear clogs,some don't, the group I belong to does, and they  are usually  made to measure and cost in the region of £100. and BTW  Last year we did have a Morris Team from America visit the Island, I believe they were from the New York area.  Clogs came in very handy for walking on cobbled streets. It's also thought that tap dancing is a spin off from clog dancing.

Comment by Rob MacKillop on April 24, 2012 at 3:03pm

Interesting, Sylvia! Just the stuff I was looking for. I hope this video will urge you to get stuck in to these quirky and interesting pieces. 

Thanks to the guys for the other comments. Much appreciated.

Comment by Trapdoor2 on April 24, 2012 at 3:39pm

Most excellent, Rob. These are great. "Too, Utterly Too" is one I've played thru in the past. A favorite!

Comment by Ian Bell on April 25, 2012 at 6:28am

In Ontario we still have what is called a clog hornpipe. (with a "pointed" rhythm) One of the old standards is called "Fred Wilson's Clog". I always wondered who Fred was. I guess he was the guy on the front of the music sheet you posted. Thanks, now I know. Fiddle players (and others) play them about the way you play the faster ones here. Step dancers (with taps - not wooden shoes) do very syncopated steps to them. Ontario stepdancing is a mixture of Irish, English, African American and Scottish steps. A real gumbo. Nice to hear from you again Rob.

Comment by Ian Bell on April 25, 2012 at 6:33am

Here's what I was talking about -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUZ_uuYy6-A

Comment by Ian Bell on April 25, 2012 at 7:34am

Here's an even better example of a clog, along with a jig and reel:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDonSfOxl-U  Donnie Gilchrist was a brilliant old-school Ontario stepdancer who would have learned these steps in the 30s and 40s. The late, great Graham Townsend on the fiddle. Sorry about the outfits - it was the 80s!


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