The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #61138   Message #983293
Posted By: Frankham
14-Jul-03 - 05:58 PM
Thread Name: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
Subject: RE: Pete Seeger's Banjo virtuosity
Hi Peter,

Thanks for your interest. Nonesuch is the name of the recording by Folkways. It is Pete Seeger and I doing instrumental folk music.

Hi Rick,

Thanks for your kind words. I know that Pete learned it (Battle of New Orleans) directly from Jimmy. It probably didn't make it to the Johnny Horton version.

It would have to be "finger ring". Figurine is pretty good though. A nice mondegreen. :) "Where's that Mondegreen I gave you!"

Thanks so much for your nice comments about the album. It was pretty much a jam session. Only thing we sort of worked out was Meadowland and I don't think we played it the way we worked it out.

Martin, Pete had impact on many old folkies and that's why the Bluegrass movement took off in the North. I was around Washington Square in the early fifties and saw Pete promote Earl Scruggs in that community.

Actually, Scruggs got a lot of publicity but Don Reno was his equal in technique and in musicality. Reno never had the impact because during the crucial revival period, he was in the army.

You say,
" Earl Scruggs took the banjo to a whole new culture and will long be remembered as the true master."

The idea that Earl Scruggs will be remembered as a "true" master seems a bit pedantic to me. It seems that this is what is happening in the Bluegrass community these days. Bill MON-roe and Earl are lionized to the point of disregard as to where they may have picked up their artistry. The "true" masters have been consecutive, historically and one builds their technique on the shoulders of their antecedents.

Actually, bum-ditty has been the staple of many Appalachian style banjo pickers for years. It is being remembered right now with the artistry of clawhammer specialists who are as every bit as musical and exciting as bluegrass banjo pickers.

The Weavers may not have sold quite as many records as the KT but for their time, they might have sold proportionately the same. Remember that the music business was going through a down-turn in those days in general. The "crooners" were going out of business and the "rockers were just starting to come in. The Weavers popularized "On Top Of Old Smoky" and "Goodnight Irene" which in that time was as significant in terms of record sales as "Tom Dooley".

There is no one true master of the banjo. There was a time when Eddie Peabody was the crown prince of the banjo and many people knew him. He is still considered one of the "true masters" by the four-string banjo crowd. SAme goes for Perry Bechtel.

This isn't meant to denegrate Earl at all. He was one of the most consistent in his rhythm. If you slow his records down, his playing is metronomically precise on the beat. Not wobbly at all. He is sort of the innovator of the style but then there's Reno. BTW, the Stanleys were playing early on too. They were not marketed as well as Scruggs but they were and are wonderful.

History shows us that different banjo styles go through phases. Bluegrass is in now but some other style will eventually come along that changes the picture as did Fred Van Eps, Peabody, and others.
It may bet that people will be saying the same thing (True Master) about Fleck, Keith and others.

Frank Hamilton