02 March 2012

Classic banjo: online treasure houses

The BIB editor reports:

Readers may feel that this is pushing things a bit after my post last week on The well tempered string quartet. In defence - the present post concerns an essential instrument of old-time and bluegrass music; there are close links to notable players in both these genres; and the original lead came to me direct from the UK's old-time music association.

Thanks to FOAOTMAD, then, for the lead to the UK-based Classic Banjo website, a treasure house of performance videos, music scores, historic photos, instructional material, and more. One contributing member of this site is the highly respected Jody Stecher (photo above), a major figure on the old-time and bluegrass scenes of the US West Coast. Watch Jody playing his original composition 'Gryphon and Star' in the classic banjo idiom.

A link on this site led me to the second, US-based Classic Banjo website, which is similarly a wealth of entertainment and information - through the links on the site you can also reach material directly relating to bluegrass, old-time, and (of course) minstrel banjo music, notably Robert B. Winans's WinansBanjo site and Bob Flesher's Dr Horsehair site.

Charlie Poole, an icon of North Carolina banjo history, admired and was influenced by the playing of the classic banjo maestro Vess Ossman. Charlie's life was shortened by over-indulgence, and perhaps a health warning is appropriate here: classic banjo music can be more addictive than roast peanuts. Trust me on this.

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