Skip to main content

Banjo Film Airs Nov. 4 on PBS

Give Me the Banjo, an 82-minute TV documentary resulting from The Banjo Project, will air at 9 p.m. eastern, Friday, Nov. 4 on PBS. The program is narrated by Steve Martin and features a musical score by three-finger player Tony Trischka.

Culling its name from the very same Mark Twain passage that this blog takes its title, Give Me the Banjo details the history of America's quintessential musical instrument. The film includes commentary from such banjo luminaries as Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Mike Seeger, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Ralph Stanley, Abigail Washburn, and many more.

Check out the trailer:

The Banjo Project is producing a DVD that will include many scenes that were omitted from the PBS program. These extra scenes are also available at the project's website. Glory-Beaming Banjo will have its DVR set to record and report back with a review. 

Square Dance Tonight in Euclid, Ohio
In other news, Mark Olitsky will be playing for a square dance tonight at the Shore Cultural Centre in Euclid, Ohio, along with Susie Goehring, Beth Braden and possibly Joe Larose. The event is part of a fall festival to wrap up the community center's farmers market for the year. The music is form 6 to 8 p.m., but the market opens at 4 p.m. Also included are a pumpkin patch, crafts for kids and a pet costume contest. The event is free.


Popular posts from this blog

Getting Blitzed with Tom Collins

A little more than a year ago, Salem, Massachusetts-based banjo player and teacher Tom Collins embarked on a yearlong project he called Banjo Blitz. The weekly YouTube series provided short banjo lessons on technique. Each video is about five minutes long, give or take, and presents a short pattern — or “ostinato” — designed to teach and improve a specific aspect of banjo playing.

The mission was to get the audience “to practice clawhammer in discrete chunks every day without the burden of trying to memorize tunes,” Collins says. He wanted to build skills rather than repertoire.

“Let’s take the tune off the table,” says Collins, who has been teaching banjo for 11 years. “Let’s focus on a simple, mantra-like ostinato that can train your body how to execute a technique properly, while training your ears how to hear it properly. Let’s also make it so that you can do this every day without it sucking every spare minute from your life. The big dirty secret about learning how to play an ins…

Clawhammer Picks and You: A Review

Clawhammer picks are a useful tool for increasing volume or to overcome fingernail challenges, such as broken, too short or weak nails. There are all sorts of commercial and homemade solutions available for banjo players, but it can be difficult to decide which options to choose. Thankfully, I've already done some of the work for you.
Just to be clear, I prefer my natural fingernail for frailing. However, there was a time when I experimented with regularly using a pick, and there are instances now where I find that a pick is necessary. Today, I'll take you through the five options I've tried. These are all available online at prices ranging from about $1 to $13.

Reversed/Reshaped Dunlop Pick ($0.75)
This was the most common suggestion before other companies started addressing the gap in the clawhammer pick market. Take a bluegrass pick, flatten it out and wear it backwards. The problem is that it's hard to get the fit right. While Dunlop picks are cheap and readily avai…

The Ongoing Search for Ohio's Old-Time Fiddle Repertoire

Since the beginning of my journey into old-time music, I have sought to find a connection to my home state. After studying the recorded repertoire of a dozen old-time fiddlers who spent a majority of their lives in Ohio, I have compiled a master list of more than 300 tunes. By cross-referencing this list, there were 12 tunes that I identified as “common,” based on their appearance in the repertoire of at least three fiddlers. The results of my findings follow.

This is far from a scientific method or academic study. I do not claim to be a musicologist or folklore scholar. I welcome any feedback.

Common Tunes:
Arkansas Traveler BirdieCumberland GapDurang’s HornpipeForked DeerGrey EagleJune AppleLeather BritchesMississippi SawyerRaggedy AnnTurkey in the StrawWild Horse At some point I would like to put together a list of tunes that are unique to Ohio or have a particular connection to an Ohio locale, such as Lonnie Seymour’s “Chillicothe Two-Step” or Arnold Sharp’s “Anna Hayes.” However,…