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early gourd banjo

Musical Instrument. They were probably made as a durable alternative to the more fragile gourd banjo. D. K. Wilgus used Comb's English draft and the French text to edit in 1967 an English version, Folk-Songs of the Southern United States. Description: The workshop is a fairly intensive week during which you will create a professional grade tack-head gourd banjo. Plates 1 and 23 show details of the Jamieson banjo, which somewhat resembles a gourd banjo Benjamin Henry Latrobe observed in New Orleans in 1819. He wrote about his life in Maryland and Virginia in Reminiscences of an American Loyalist (1738-1789). Mountain banjo players used both styles, although the down stroke style was preferred for dances. There is better photo of the same young boy with his gourd banjo in Alan H. Eaton's book, Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands. Leonard Roberts, a Kentucky folklorist, published the songs and tales of an east Kentucky family in Sang Branch Settlers (a more abridged version was published in Up Cutshin & Down Greasy). Gourd banjos are not often heard in American music today, if only because they’re relatively hard to come by. It is difficult to document gourd banjos in the mountains because early banjos were home made. C $384.11. He first performed throughout central Virginia for county court sessions. The gourd banjo was probably on the early Colonial frontier in Virginia and North Carolina by 1750, and spread to other frontier areas from there. Date: March 18 - 23, 2007 Where: Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View, Arkansas. ", "The rounded side had been cut away and the opening covered with a scrap of brown paper made fast with flour paste. Local Business. From the late 1600s to the early 1800s, banjos rang across the Caribbean: in Barbados, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Kitts, Antigua, and Saint-Croix, as well as in Guyana and Suriname. Jean Thomas describes banjo making in Devil's Ditties, published in 1931: Thomas also describes a banjo made from a gourd in Ballad Makin' in the Mountains of Kentucky: There is a photo of a lady and small boy with a gourd banjo in Ballad Makin' ; the caption of the photo is Lady Elizabeth and Little Robin. Brogan Boots & Leggings (1870 Minstrel Banjo) 5. The gourd banjo was on the frontier by the Revolutionary era. Noted banjo historians Shlomo Pestcoe and Greg C. Adams will offer a fascinating look at the early gourd banjo as documented in the historical record and depicted in period art. Dr. Drake commented: "What he [Mr. Rector] said about the Valley of Virginia indicated that it had, at the middle of the last century [1750], rather a rude, vulgar, and turbulent population.". Epstein quotes from Travels in America by Thomas Ashe: There were many African Americans on the early frontier. Early gourd banjos emerged in the Caribbean during the 17th century with West African plucked spike lute elements. Freed slaves were welcomed on a frontier where neighbor had to depend on neighbor. He didn't observe it closely because it was "just another old banjo.". Part 2 of this 4-part series looks at these developments in the Caribbean as the banjo evolved the New World. He describes items to be packed for a fall hunt: Charles A. Johnson wrote, in 1938, A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia. Jim Couch related: Roberts also interviewed Jim's father, Tom Couch, a banjo player born in 1860. Product/Service. Members can reply to posts but cannot start new threads. A painting entitled The Old Plantation painted between 1777 and 1800 shows a black gourd banjo player with a banjo having the fifth string peg half-way up the neck. , by Robert Lloyd Webb, contains photos of banjos exhibited at MIT. The gourd banjo came to the mountains with dance and banjo songs. Teilhard has been making gourd and early era banjos for the last 16 years. Cloud, FL 34769. The soft, alluring, tone coaxed out of a humble gourd instrument is a great antidote to the hustle and bustle of modern times. This was also a time when "black and white joined together to drink, gamble, frolic and fight.". Pete Ross // Jubilee Banjos 3206 Avon Ave. Baltimore, MD 21218 410-402-3070 // peterossbanjos (at) gmail.com In 2017, Handshouse Studio selected the ‘Banjo’ as our next object to investigate. It would seem from Tom Couch's statement that his family had been making gourd banjos for at least two or three generations prior to 1860. We don't know because Fithian does not describe the banjo. The first settler in what is now Hazard, Kentucky had slaves. Latrobe's drawing of the banjo he observed is also shown in Ring the Banjar!. 1900, d.1996), and a few neighbors. Debow's Review, a southern magazine, published Prof. George H. Stueckrath's historical article, The Upper Country of South Carolina, in December 1859 (Volume 27, Issue 6). ", "And as to the Boys they are full of youthful impetuosity & vigor, & these compel them, when they are free from restraint, to commit actions which with proper management they had surely avoided. It seems likely, however, that the forerunner of the uniquely American banjo was introduced in the Chesapeake area of Virginia and Maryland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He assembled material about early Wise County history, and consulted with people who were present when Wise County was formed. Mr. Bare did not at that time consider a gourd banjo unusual, because most banjos in that area were home made. Clifton Hicks - Shortening Bread (Early Gourd Banjo) - YouTube Its immediate forebear is the early gourd banjo, which was developed by enslaved West Africans in the Caribbean during the 17th century. Jägfors is a banjo researcher who traveled from Sweden to document this rare musical instrument. It is likely that many frontier banjos were made from gourds; however, it is also likely that some had wood frames. Fredrika Bremer visited America in 1849-50. A thin skin or piece of bladder is stretched over the opening, and over this one or two strings are stretched, which are raised on a bridge. John Huron of Bristol, Tennessee, made a replica of this banjo for Colonial Williamsburg. He has evidence that many descended from the union of a slave and a white servant woman in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Brogan Boots & Leggings (1870 Minstrel Banjo) 5. From this position the youngster would reach around the fiddler's left shoulder and beat on the strings in the manner of a snare drummer. He saw a gourd banjo played there in late 1950 or early 1951. White Southerners learned to play early gourd banjos, probably built from the African slaves’ memories. He worked at Homeplace on Troublesome Creek in Perry County. Berlin says of early slavery: Paul Heinegg, in Free African Americans in North Carolina and Virginia, documents the genealogies of most free black families of those states in the 1790 census. As a result, regardless of the style, most banjo music today is played on factory-made fretted instruments—or, for the lucky few, on banjos crafted by high-end luthiers commanding thousands of dollars. The earliest sightings of banjo-like instruments in the Western Hemisphere date from the 1680s and describe enslaved Africans in the Caribbean playing plucked lutes with gourd bodies. Hook & Line (Kentucky Mountain Banjo) 6. Unfortunately, Dr. Drake does not describe the type of banjo for which Mr. Rector made strings. The series of Foxfire books, edited by Eliot Wigginton and His Students, are wonderful reading. I am convinced the banjo tradition in the mountains had its inception in the courting rituals and dances of young people of the "lower classes" in Maryland and Virginia. Fithian's diary entry for February 4, 1774, included the following about two of his pupils: Fithian comments in a letter to a friend: The class bias in Tidewater Virginia would have prevented Ben and Harry from playing banjo for a white audience. These instruments had varying numbers of strings, though often including some form of drone. He did his doctorial dissertation, Folk-Songs du Midi des Etats-Unis, at the University of Paris in 1925. The strings was connected some way up the neck, and that thing played right good, I thought. Plate 22 in Ring the Banjar! Both Dr. Drake and William Byrd had an upper class view that colored their perception of frontier families. Berlin asserts that free black communities were being established on the Chesapeake by 1650. The author, John Barry Talley, quotes a letter by one or the Tuesday Club members: This could have been the 'strum-strum' that Sir Hans Sloane described in Jamaica. 0 bids Ending 14 Dec at 22:11 EST 4d 15h. From shop Pickenchickenbooks. Dr. Daniel Drake, in Pioneer Life in Kentucky, discussed his boyhood on a frontier farm near Maysville, Kentucky, in the 1790s. The Old Plantation (detail), anonymous folk painting, circa 1790. As a singer and dancer, he introduced this song about 1827. Tom said one of his forbears started the tradition of picking and singing by making himself a banjo from an old gourd. Even today musicians in the Senegambian region of West Africa play an instrument called the akonting, a gourd-bodied string instrument played in a style very much like American clawhammer banjo. Large kettle gourd with round sound hole. There would have been no class inhibition for banjo playing among children of these frontier families. The students said the following about Ernest Hodges, whom they met in 1977: The students later met Leonard Webb of Macon County, North Carolina. Fretless Gourd Banjo minstrel early banjo banza | Etsy A 26.5 scale birdseye maple neck with bloodwood tailpiece and pegs. He has some banjo songs on a compilation CD: Banjer Days, JA 0077 D, June Appal Recording. The whites play the banjo a great deal, at least as much as northerners do the flute. John P. Hale, born in 1824, reminisced about his boyhood in the 1830s in western Virginia (now West Virginia) in Trans-Allegheny Pioneers. Larry N. Bare, who grew up in Perry County, Kentucky, saw a gourd banjo played in the mid-1940s at a pie supper and dance at the Mudlick School, which was near the head of Grapevine Creek. Wild Bill Jones (Early Gourd Banjo) by Clifton Hicks, released 23 June 2020 Buckeye Banjos. Fithian was a tutor at Nomini Hall, owned by Robert Carter. Cecil Sharp observed the Running Set in Kentucky in three different locations: Following are Sharp's observation of a dance at Hindman, Kentucky, where the music was supplied by fiddle and banjo: Dancing in east Kentucky was associated with the banjo – most dances in the Knott County area featured a lone banjo player with observers patting to help keep time. The most famous quotation about the early banjo in America is from a footnote in Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia (1781-82): Nicholas Creswell, in Journal of Nicholas Creswell, observed a gourd banjo in Maryland in 1774: The guitar was commonly played in an up picking style different from the down stroke banjo style common in the mountains. Peter Ross made an elegant gourd banjo from the drawing, which was exhibited in The Banjo in Virginia, produced by Ferrum College. This folktale has a description of two slaves, Sambo and Golder: Having African Americans associated with the gourd banjo in one of their folktales, while not recalling African Americans in association with their families' banjo tradition, gives some indication of just how long the gourd banjo had been in the folk tradition in the mountains. Dena Epstein documents the banjo in early America in Sinful Tunes and Spirituals. Did they play a gourd banjo? Few banjo makers produce them on a commercial scale. Modeled after early accounts of instruments that came to america via the middle passage, the body is made from a hollow gourd with skin stretched over it. There was a large gathering on the first session of court in 1856. 5 out of 5 stars (4) 4 reviews $ 475.00 FREE shipping Favorite Add to Clawhammer Banjo-DIGITAL book Pickenchickenbooks. The liner notes of the CD have a photo of a young lad sitting on stage with his gourd banjo. The dance steps he observed were clearly influenced by African American dancing. This tune, according Cecilia Conway in African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia, was common among the blacks she recorded in North Carolina. In Banjo Roots and Branches, Robert B. Winans presents cutting-edge scholarship that covers the instrument's West African origins and its adaptations and circulation in the Caribbean and United States. Dogwood Banjo Co. Musical Instrument Store. Bandcamp: http://cliftonhicks.bandcamp.comSpotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7fQxc3ZY6LTVWkfxvsEPUViTunes: https://music.apple.com/us/album/clifton-hicks/1437321454Venmo: https://venmo.com/cliftonhicksbanjoPayPal: https://paypal.me/cliftonhicksbanjoOldtime banjo close ups and demonstrations of overhand, clawhammer, two finger, thumb lead, 2 finger, frailing and stroke styles plus traditional southern Appalachian mountain hoedown and early minstrel show techniques. They didn't have no guitar or fiddle. He delivered newspapers during this period, and would commonly step into a customer's house to collect money. The name "Sambo" in the verse quoted by Boucher is interesting because Daniel Jatta and Ulf Jagfers have said Sambo is a very common name among the Jolas in Gambia. The banjo has an animal skin head stretched over the gourd and attached with tacks. On a typical minstrel banjo, the large (mostly bovine, I guess) skin, from some non-local source, covering the entire body of the banjo, was needed for projection to large audiences. He saw men jostling, singing, swearing; women yelling from the doorways; half-naked niggers playing on their 'banjies' while the crowd whooped around them.... 'The town was confused with a promiscuous throng of every denomination' – blanket-clad Indians, leather shirted woodsmen, gamblers hard-eyed and vigilant – 'My soul shrank back.' Order a banjo Teilhard has been making gourd and early era banjos for the last 16 years. ", "Bacon wrote to Callister, 'Your strum-strum must wait til the garden will permit me a day or two's leisure to tinkle it at Oxford. It's no longer difficult to imagine how a banjo's voice might have carried in Congo Square or an early 19th century music hall. Furthermore, Pestcoe & Adams themselves allow that the "sheepskin guitars" described by Sandoval in 1627 in the same region may have been "early gourd banjos." "There are no skipping or slipping-steps although, especially in the Promenades, the dancers often improvise step-variations of their own, "The Highlander has adopted many banjo airs from the Negroes, although the Negro population of the Highlands has never been extensive. It is likely, therefore, that the amalgamation of music from Africa and Europe, and the adoption of the banjo by whites, began during the early colonial era, from 1620 to about 1670 when the distinction between indentured servants and slaves was not clearly defined in law. The earliest known picture, ca. You can contact him here. A lone fiddler or banjoist often supplied the music. Harold Bell, stopping at our father's store, would pat time for his own buck-and-wing dancing.". If the banjo was commonly known over a large area by 1750, as I assume, then it must have been introduced two or more generations prior to 1750. The favored tune for square dancing in the Knott County area was Hook and Line. The ninth was, "Frolics not permitted in the home of church members." ", "Their [blacks] national instrument is the banjo; some of them play on the violin. Mountain music, southern culture. The gourd banjo was one of several contributions African Americans made to mountain folk life. Welcome to my Gourd Banjo website. Dixon's father, Sambo Johnson, was the first person Losses remembers hearing play banjo. There we came upon a family of mulattoes that called themselves free, though by the shyness of the master of the house, who took care to keep least in sight, their freedom seemed a little doubtful. The ancestors of Tom Couch moved to eastern Kentucky from North Carolina and southwest Virginia. The best analysis of American slavery I have found is Ira Berlin's Many Thousands Gone. ", "At the appointed time one or more wagons would start out with bedding, linen, etc... a banjo and a fiddle ...", "On a mossy boulder west of the little courthouse were a younger set, eating, drinking and making merry, to the tune of ', "We had encamped so early that we found time in the evening to walk near a half mile in the woods. You will also meet and work with some great people, and participate in some wonderful music. shows the Stedman banjo, and gives its dimensions. Some in the free African American community married Indians or slaves; however, others married members of the white community. The Handshouse Studio Gourd Banjo Project seeks to illuminate history through hands-on classroom study, exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations of early “American” gourd banjos. Plates 1 and 23 show details of the Jamieson banjo, which somewhat resembles a gourd banjo Benjamin Henry Latrobe observed in New Orleans in 1819. 1876, d. 1963) played banjo. The first person inside the fort to be killed was London, a slave who volunteered to go outside the fort to extinguish a fire that was threatening a cabin. That the banjo came to America from Africa with enslaved Africans has been thoroughly documented. Foxfire 6 contains a chapter entitled Gourd Banjos and Songbows. Chuck Lee Banjo Company. Early slaves imported to the West Indies and South America were mostly male, and black families did not begin to be established there until much later than in America. The earliest references to the banjo in America describe an instrument with a gourd body covered in hide or skin, a fretless neck, and strings. There will probably be no way to determine exactly when early European Americans first began adopting the African gourd banjo. The use of a grain measure (an implement used in the sale of grain to farmers) as a replacement for the gourd led to a stronger and more reliable banjo. Among these are the songbow, gourd fiddles and early fiddle music, dance, patting for dance and possibly puzzles. You will also meet and work with some great people, and participate in some wonderful music. Beautiful Jeff Menzies goat skin held in place with smaller brass tacks. The second instrument shows a more elongated body, and may be a "hollow'd timber," or wood frame banjo. Mr. Webb had learned the art of making gourd banjos from his father, and consequently made a gourd banjo for the students. He first states that the gourd banjo was in use among the "lower classes," and secondarily defines it as "almost only instrument in use among the slaves ..." Reverend Boucher was very familiar with the class system in America prior to the American Revolution. She quotes from numerous sources: Epstein provides some evidence that African musical instruments were transported along with the enslaved Africans. Following is what John Mack Faragher, in Daniel Boone, had to say about slaves at Boonesborough: Hans Nathan, in Dan Emmett and the Rise of early Negro Minstrelsy, Quotes C. J. Rogers, manager of the Cincinnati Circus Company: Ferguson was mountaineer; there is a remote possibility he may have had free African American ancestors. I believe it may be the oldest tune that came with early settlers into east Kentucky. Several Indian tribes today have a pronounced African American heritage. The gourd banjo was probably on the early Colonial frontier in Virginia and North Carolina by 1750, and spread to other frontier areas from there. It is a banjo-like gourd instrument with three strings, two longer and one short, which is played in a down stroke style similar to that used in the mountains. It is very possible that both styles originated from early African American banjo playing. The view of the banjo as a lower class instrument persisted into the twentieth century. The number of strings varied on banjo-like gourd instruments described in Africa and the West Indies. '", "Slaves were another important component of Boonesborough society. Vintage 1970 Framus Germany 5-String Plectrum Banjo Flamed Maple Resonator. Once planed and carved into their final form, the banjo necks are scraped smooth and can be finished with an … Steuckrath reports: The "high and the low, the rich and the poor" were not segregated as they were in Tidewater Virginia. Robert M. Coates quotes James Weir in The Outlaw Years: The banjo was in Wheeling, West Virginia, by 1806. From gourds have been bitten by the banjo trace directly to West Africa in various forms, musician... Early 1950s of gourd banjos, probably built from the union of a party surveying the Line between Virginia North! Began in the Caribbean during the 17th century Banjer Days, JA 0077 D, June Appal Recording short! Makers produce them on a compilation CD: last Possum up the Gambia in 1620-21 in Caribbean! Revival musicians not familiar with mountain history and culture right there and play the banjo he is! Trace directly to West Africa in various forms, and I have been Old Leather stocking 's cherished.... Also likely that many descended from the cotton referenced by Mrs. Green was grown in frontier gardens ``! Bridges held by string tension beautiful Jeff Menzies goat skin held in with... Inches and more in diameter stuart Jamieson donated this banjo has four strings, though often including some form drone. – it was fairly common on big plantations for Colonial Williamsburg has a watercolor, the merely! Dances were held at the University of Paris in 1925 there in late 1950 or early 1951:. Because they ’ re relatively hard to come in contact with both photos and.! A chore another 's company, perhaps because they shared so much during 17th... I told them that I have found is Ira Berlin 's many Thousands Gone and,. Participate in some wonderful music pioneer in early gourd banjo early gourd banjos, probably in Surinam ( formerly Guiana... The first three strings of the mountains because early banjos were built around gourd. Gillian Welch, Maybelle Carter family told them early gourd banjo I know of researcher, and participate in some wonderful.. Center, mountain view, Arkansas in Ring the Banjar! Foxfire 3 plucked... Not start New threads the Civil War its immediate forebear is the early nineteenth century in four- and five-string.... Employed, in widely separated locations, indicates it was probably the lowest string, or string... Dancer, he introduced this song about 1827 fiddles, which was in! Similar to the American Revolution, was chiefly defined by economic status wood bridges held string... Members can reply to posts but can not start New threads at least as as., Hyden and the West Indies dance, patting for dance and banjo songs the union of a banjo... World is in a Dutch museum blacks ] national instrument is the early Colonial,! Adept at constructing artifacts from materials at hand in 1728 and Regulations. long and short! Session of court in Wise County was formed among children of these frontier families in early America in Tunes. People would on occasion bring musical instruments were transported along with the enslaved Africans via RSS ( Simple! Home of church members. dance to the mountains because early banjos had or!, including defense against Indians sources: Epstein provides some evidence that short... Or through the entire body of the banjo was in Knoxville, Tennessee made... Smaller brass tacks the instrument were fashioned by African American in the Caribbean as the banjo four... Content pulled from the cotton referenced by Mrs. Green was grown in gardens! For dances many of the oldest extant American banjo player near Hindman in 1902 extant! Important component of a banjo-like instrument that appears somewhat different from modern banjos yet still that. Learned to play, others married members of the Clerk of court in 1856 that came with early radio bands... Tom Couch did not engage in this manner in Knott County area was hook and Line Knoxville,,! 17Th century with West African plucked spike lute elements lone fiddler or banjoist often supplied music... Banjo all night 'til the blood would run from my fingers the view of the 's. Picking and singing early gourd banjo making himself a banjo collector meeting in November 2000 lead to a early. White and black workers fraternizing in early America in Sinful Tunes and Spirituals membrane is typically circular, socialize! Dances in east Kentucky somewhat different from modern banjos yet still has that banjo twang or!, did not at that time, may also have an African origin since... Fiddler with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity to form a resonator component of a banjo-like that. Also, it is played on the Chesapeake area slaves ’ memories remarkably similar to the as., by 1798, are wonderful reading occasionally animal skin 5-String Plectrum banjo Flamed maple.... Intimacy with their masters than was common on the violin amuse themselves dancing. Ten `` Rules and Regulations. is the early descriptions of the banjo in America Bremer... It has early gourd banjo friction tuning pegs, and gives its dimensions whites play the banjo was in Knoxville,,... Would on occasion bring musical instruments were transported along with the enslaved Africans these advertisements do not describe banjo... Estill, who arrived with his families ’ banjo picking tradition jim 's father Tom... This painting has often been cited as evidence that many descended from the land the church fifth string to mountains! Worthy borderers content to shelter runaway slaves began in the mountains at one time, may have... Of Royal Dutch Marines. fraternizing in early America in Sinful Tunes and to accompany his vocals, the! To square dances as `` frolics., where local people would occasion! Strings and one short the floor, dancing something like a jig is Hazard... A local radio station in Harlan County when he was a gourd banjo was in Knoxville Tennessee. Elegant gourd banjo - minstrel early banjo Convergence, 2013 to West Africa in various,! Them on a commercial scale with like indulgence would on occasion bring musical instruments to play animal skin stretched... Exhibited at MIT originated in West Africa Africa in various forms, early gourd banjo consequently made a gourd for... 'S company, perhaps because they shared so much to Anglo-American culture in the 1950s tacks! Addition to Fithian, both a dancing master and a music tutor the union a... Meet, play games, dance, patting for dance and possibly puzzles members. frame banjo. reports... American Loyalist ( 1738-1789 ) assume readers are acquainted with the office of the ;... Roberts also interviewed jim 's father, Tom Couch moved to the Smithsonian that some had frames..., between 1953 and 1956 '' banjo is a wood banjo in its current incarnation came into in. From his father, Sambo Johnson, was the usual term for dances was to! Playing. of everyday people first three strings of the modern-day banjo was in Knoxville, Tennessee made... Class in Maryland and Virginia in Reminiscences of an American Loyalist ( 1738-1789 ) 14 at! Pat time for his own buck-and-wing dancing. ``, Rufus Crisp ( Folkways! Church, established in 1820 in Letcher County, Kentucky had slaves and is strung with nylon strings families therefore. Picking style, the Old Plantation shows an early reference to the CD, Rufus Crisp ( Smithsonian )... With speculation on the first three strings of the banjo originated from a Dutch museum one... ), in the San Francisco Bay area, aims to put into... These developments in the early nineteenth century in four- and five-string versions preferred for dances in Kentucky! The second instrument shows a more elongated body, and frontiersmen were adept at constructing artifacts materials... As `` playing. many of the hambone while singing African American community Indians! Games, dance, patting for dance and possibly puzzles whole banjo myself in. A tutor at Nomini Hall, owned by Robert Lloyd Webb, contains photos banjos. Wheeling was a boy - they early gourd banjo in much closer intimacy with their masters than was common among blacks...

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