29 October 2022

For banjo players in particular

The BIB editor writes:

John Lawless on Bluegrass Today reports on a real treat for bluegrass banjo players - Daniel Duffin, photographer, writer, and banjo enthusiast, has created the Banjo Legends website, displaying a treasury of superb photographs which he took of Earl Scruggs and J.D. Crowe, none of which has ever been previously published.

The Scruggs archive comprises seventy black-and-white photos taken in 1973-4, of which the first ten are in an informal home setting. Of the remaining sixty, four show the members of the Earl Scruggs Revue (including Josh Graves, Vassar Clements, and Earl's sons) in an Opry dressing room, and the rest during the subsequent performance. The Crowe archive comprises ninety-eight photos in black-and-white and twenty-four in colour, all taken at J.D.'s home in 1983. Many photos of both men are taken specifically to show their hands on the instrument. A minor revelation is that J.D. is always shown playing with picks on, while Earl at home plays without them.

Daniel Duffin is also editing three hours of tape of an interview he conducted at Earl's home, and plans to add the audio files to the Banjo Legends website.
Pamm Tucker's Bluegrass Today article 'Banjo Hall of Famer Alan Munde looks back on the early days' is a valuable account of the early career of Alan Munde (right) - performer, teacher, and writer, outstanding in his ability to integrate Scruggs-style and 'melodic' playing, and (I believe) the first high-profile professional player to use a Stelling banjo. The article, which throws light on the part played in his career by the great fiddler Byron Berline, who died last year, includes a YouTube link to the whole of A traitor in our midst (1972), the first album by Country Gazette, with Alan on banjo, Byron on fiddle, and outstanding harmony vocals.

© Richard Hawkins

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