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…

Master and Apprentice: Banjo Builder Workshop in Historic Peninsula, Ohio

The 191-year-old Peninsula, Ohio, provided the backdrop to a parade of pedestrians making their way from station to station across the bucolic village for Music on the Porches on Saturday.

Inside the close confines of Bronson Church, founded in 1835, a master and apprentice presented a free workshop on the art of instrument building. That master being the renowned banjo builder and artist Doug Unger and his former apprentice Mark Ward.

Unger and Ward began the workshop by playing several old-time tunes, discussing their work and the music, and taking questions from the audience. Unger then invited the spectators to step up to the front to see the instruments.

Highwoods Documentary Not a Lost Cause After All

So, once upon a time, I tried to drum up support for a crowdfunded documentary project about the Highwoods Stringband. I donated money to help out, and more than a year later I provided an update on the slow progress. Last I heard, there was some old footage of the Highwoods they were trying to acquire. It's been three and a half years now that I first heard about the project, and I still haven't received my DVD.

I figured that's the risk you take with these crowdfunded, Kickstarter-type projects. I had all but given up the documentary as a lost cause. Until today. If I managed to convince any of you to help fund the project, I felt it my duty to pass along this update directly from Highwoods mainstay Walt Koken.
"After several delays and setbacks, we, the members of the Highwoods Stringband and Mudthumper Music have procured the vintage footage and photos in cooperation with the original producers and put them into the hands of another videographer, Larry Edelman, in …