Several points, one or two even on-topic (shock!):
Roger D. Skiffler wrote:
"Re: Kumbaya. Would that be West Indian rather than African? W.I. lilt is very similar to Welsh and "Come here" in a Cardiff accent, sounds vey like "come by yere" or "Kumbaya" as written phonetically."
The song was, as I recall, collected from the Sea Islands off Georgia, where the dialect is called "Gullah." (Hmmm... that doesn't sound right. Is it "Gullah?"). Whatever, the original language of the inhabitants of the Sea Islands was an African one, though I can't remember if it's east or west. Definitely not West Indian, though.
Re: Long-neck banjos vs. heavy strings. Pete made the banjo to get the pitch to match his voice. In 1945-46, there weren't many places to get specific guages of musical strings, so he didn't go the "heavy strings" route. I suspect he had the choice of Gibson, Vega, Black Diamond or nothing, really, and couldn't get anything but one or two guages of guitar strings if he wasn't getting banjo strings. He may also have known that heavy strings wouldn't sound or feel right on a banjo, particularly one played with strings, not picks.
Re: Folk vs. rock music. Rock music has folk elements in it, and some of it is folk-like. Lots of it, of course, is indistinguishable from noise, as is some folk music (especially if you're from outside the folk culture involved -- Pygmy hocketing, Chinese work chants, Nordic fiddling, or delta blues all have some inharmonious or unsettling features, for example, features which Anglo-American folk-fans probably don't like. Ditto rock; ditto ditto [fill in the blank]).
Get over it.
Re: Return of Pete's banjo.
Hooray! Now, we dance.