Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Roscoe, Lee & Abadie perform Josephus Orange Blossom at the Historic New Orleans Collection

Friends, we were ever so pleased to be invited to perform at the prestigious Historic New Orleans Collection, located only two blocks from the Jackson Square...

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Comment by Strumelia on October 1, 2014 at 1:06pm

Fun!   This popular song/story theme continues on today in various forms.  Well done, gentlemen.  :)

Comment by Charles Edward Lee on October 2, 2014 at 8:51am

You're too kind! We are certainly not the best musicians - in fact, I don't lay claim to being a musician at all, just someone who beats on stuff that has strings, which is unfortunately accurate. We do, however, genuinely enjoy performing and diving headlong into the songs of the antebellum period. The research element has a great deal of appeal to us, too. Our research led us to the instruments we own - the reproductions of period instruments. My guitar is a reproduction of an 1856 CF Martin guitar; and the banjos I own are these three: two gourd banjos which are reproductions of gourd banjos in the collection of the Cabildo, a State-owned museum in New Orleans; and a reproduction of a William Boucher banjo, made by our friend Terry Bell of Bell & Son. Dr. Abadie, the banjoist shown in our videos, plays a Terry Bell-made reproduction of a William Boucher banjo, as is mine; and a reproduction of an early Joel Sweeney banjo. Our violinist's instrument is a reproduction of one made by a student of Stradivarius. We just dig the music of that period, and everything about it. Thanks for taking the time to give some of our performances a listen! We appreciate you!

Comment by Strumelia on October 2, 2014 at 11:55am

two gourd banjos which are reproductions of gourd banjos in the collection of the Cabildo, a State-owned museum in New Orleans

I for one would love to see some photos of these reproduction gourd banjos of yours, Charles.  I'd love to see them and hear a little more about them- and who made them, when, how many strings do they have, etc...?

Did you know that October is now officially Gourd Banjo Month?  (see my current discussion thread in celebration of all things gourd-banjer-ish).  Bring out your gourds!

P.S. About that 'brain chart' on a stand in these videos....is that like a diagram of "This is your brain on period minstrel music" or something?...with different songs stimulating various parts of the brain?

Comment by Charles Edward Lee on October 2, 2014 at 11:20pm

Assuming we can synchronize our schedules, I had already asked my teenage granddaughter to take some images of me with all of my instruments, individually and in groups, Friday afternoon. Our trio is working on a Christmas card, and we're long overdue in making images of all of our instruments.

Both gourd banjos employ relatively small gourds; save for the shape of the head stock, they are virtually identical. I made both of them. Since the gourds are relatively small, they don't have the deep, beefy tone of my Bell & Sons William Boucher banjo. Then again, they are both tackhead banjos, and have a sound all their own. They are both 5-string banjos. 

I was unaware that October is Gourd Banjo Month, but I plan to check in with your discussion thread and get up to speed on that. Thanks for letting me know!

Comment by Vince Abadie on October 9, 2014 at 1:50am

The brain chart is a Phrenology chart Rev Lee uses when giving phrenology readings. It's another aspect of our medicine show.

Comment by Charles Edward Lee on October 9, 2014 at 8:27am

Dr. Abadie is exactly right: it is a chart of the 37 areas of the brain in which we who practice Phrenology may determine the character qualities and propensities of ladies and gentlemen of all ages and races; and, with our measuring tapes, craniometers, and character charts, may gain and share insight into the inner workings of the human mind. I say, with no little pride, that every reading I have given - every head that I have examined, and whose secrets I have revealed before a public audience who knew the person under examination - has been met by universal amazement at the pure accuracy of each reading. Some have even come to me privately afterwards, and revealed their astonishment at things revealed of the character of those examined, which they thought no other human being could have known. The chart is, in a phrase, the key to the knowledge of others.


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