Thursday, 10 November 2011

"Give Me The Banjo" Television Documentary; Watch It Online

Give Me The Banjo appeared on American television last week (November 4, 2011). It is currently available for viewing online. This Public Broadcasting System (PBS) documentary is narrated by Steve Martin and was directed by banjo historian and modern banjo innovator, Tony Trischka.

The video is a 1-hour, 21-minute journey through 300 years of American music history and culture. Included are banjo masters such as Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Sonny Osborne, Mike Seeger, J.D. Crowe, Bill Keith, Bela Fleck, Taj Mahal, Tony Ellis, Abigail Washburn and more.

The film explores American music history from the black minstrels, ragtime and early jazz to blues, folk, and bluegrass. There is an extended segment about the role of the banjo in the "black music" of America. This segment of the documentary digs deep into the earliest African-American music culture and offers an often untold story in America's music history.

Other historic names & figures in this documentary include Gus Cannon & The Jug Stompers, Dock Boggs, Bascam Lamar Lunsford, Roscoe Holcomb, Alan Lomax and many more. If you are a musician or interested in music history...remember these names and learn more about them.

Worthy of special note is a segment devoted to one of the most influential and innovative banjo players and songwriters, the legendary Charlie Poole. Poole laid the foundation for what would become the bluegrass style of banjo playing. Kinney Rorrer offers his first-hand family knowledge of Charlie Poole and his great-uncle, Posey Rorrer (Poole's fiddler). You will see Kinney Rorrer's impressive antique Thomas Edison "Talking Machine" collection of cylinder and 78rpm players.

Among other interesting features is a story of Earl Scruggs' that is told during a short walk around his childhood home. Also of interest, especially for instrument enthusiasts, is the few minutes spent with Jim Bollman; an old-time banjo collector and a view of his wall full of antique banjos.

There is much more to be seen, heard and learned in this documentary. Do not wait too watch the video on the PBS website, as we do not know how long it will remain available online.