16 April 2021

By, for, and about banjo-players

The Bitter Southerner online magazine uses as a subtitle 'Better stories * Better South * Better world', and yesterday it lived up to that slogan by publishing 'Love in the minor key', a short story by Elizabeth Johnson with photographs by Bates Littlehales. The covering note on the BS Facebook describes how a few years ago the author

[...] restored an 1890s Buckbee banjo as a way to get her mind off a breakup. Other people run marathons or go backpacking, but she found a broken banjo in the back of a barn, and it just seemed like it might be her way through it. / Turns out it was. / This is the story of how a broken banjo helped fix a broken heart. We love it. Enjoy.

With that as a basis, what's not to enjoy? This is a story by a banjo-player and about banjo-players and banjo-builders - especially Bates Littlehales, whose name will be familiar to many old-time banjo enthusiasts. Now 93, he was before retirement a National Geographic photographer, pioneering in underwater photography.

© Richard Hawkins

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