My Old Banjo
A Field Recording Project
In February of 2014 I ordered a banjo from Bob Thornburg. He specializes in making Gourd banjos. I was excited to find out that he also made reproduction quality Civil War era banjos. As a historical reenactor, I was very interested. This was the perfect thing to help people connect the dots when giving demonstrations of the banjo. Letting them see the difference between the old and the new. After receiving my banjo a little over a month later, I spent many hours with it. Learning the fingering is always a challenge at first because the original banjos are without frets.
In late May, I went on a short tour with The Tillers, a string band from Cincinnati Ohio. Members Sean Geil and Mike Oberst were especially interested in the banjo and spent many moments playing it while on the tour. It was in Marshall Michigan that while talking I mentioned that it was funny because I had more video footage of other people playing my banjo than I did of myself. This led to Sean suggesting a project idea. The idea would be to take 10 different banjo players and have them each play my banjo and compile the recordings into a compilation album. In our experience each banjo is it's own animal and each player approaches it differently, sometimes altering their playing according to the instrument. It was a wonderful idea.
So this is the project. “My Old Banjo” will be a very fun experiment as well as a journey through different styles and techniques that all take their roots from traditional playing. We are very excited to be doing this. Please stay tuned!