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TRUJO - Posted - 03/30/2008: 17:41:08
I have Harry George's orginal TRUJO Banjo that was with him when he died comming back from playing with Roy Clark on St Patrick's day March 1934 in Klamath Falls Or.
Harry's TRUJO Banjo has not been out of its case since that event 74 years ago. The orginal strings last played by him are still on it. In the case are also spare strings still in the orginal TRUJO BANJO Company wax paper packages. Harry's personal TRUJO of course has his patented (#1826969) sound mutting device (dampener) installed on it.
If anybody is interested or has knowledge of who may be an authority on TRUJO history, I would like to discuss it.
Please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Casey - Posted - 03/30/2008: 19:12:27
I don't know much about Harry George, but I'd like to see the banjo and some history on his playing.
and The End Crowd
mtnpckr - Posted - 03/30/2008: 19:18:51
I knew Roy Clark was a prodigy but he would have been 11 months old at that gig! Wow!
"Never take yourself seriously, others are always ready to do it for you"
"I Crack me up!"
RONLD - Posted - 03/30/2008: 20:39:07
quote:I knew that Roy was born to pick!!!!!!!!
Originally posted by mtnpckr
I knew Roy Clark was a prodigy but he would have been 11 months old at that gig! Wow!
"Never take yourself seriously, others are always ready to do it for you"
"I Crack me up!"
bnjoplr - Posted - 03/30/2008: 20:48:56
Now, that's funny!
Gotoh Tuning Machines, Banjo Instructional Materials, and Accessories
Bluegrass and Clawhammer banjo taught in Northern Virginia
phischer - Posted - 03/31/2008: 06:00:10
Besides the "fact" that Harry died after a gig in '34 with the then 11 month old Roy Clark - who is he? What is he known for? No info on the web about him except google pulls this one post.
Barretone - Posted - 03/31/2008: 07:35:14
Harry George was a well-known sorcerer and time shifter.
Hobbyhorse - Posted - 03/31/2008: 09:20:36
TRUJO - Posted - 03/31/2008: 18:56:01
Ok, Ok! For all you Yahoos out there - I didn’t mean the “He Haw” Roy Clark – come on, grow up - that was his son!
The REAL Roy Clark was playing the 33rd Annual St. Patrick’s Dance on Saturday 17th March 1934 in Malin Oregon which was just south of Klamath Falls Oregon. Harry H. George – the inventor of the TRUJO Banjo – was headlining with Roy that evening.
On the way home after the gig, at about 2am Harry swerved to miss an oncoming car and died in the rollover accident. We know what happened as his pianist; Earl Pearson who accompanied him survived the accident.
Harry already had five songs cut with Columbia records by that time and he and TRUJO Banjo name were quite famous and in high demand. Harry’s most remembered Columbia record cut, which is still being sold today, was “Ghost Dance” which he actually played on the guitar.
For those who had trouble finding information on the internet – search on TRUJO and don’t miss listening to “Ghost Dance” By Velma Stevens Truett and Harry George – it is often referred to as “diabolical” and has never been equaled. Most every banjo and guitar anthology includes a copy of it. There are several sites that let you listen to the recording – it is definitely different - but enjoy!
Now, for those who answered seriously and sent email to me – Thank you very much! Yes, Russ Presting did an excellent job with his “Trujo, Trujo… What’s A Trujo?” article. I so wish I could have met Russ! He did get a few details wrong (Harry and Velma were never married etc.) but Russ’s work will remain the most read source on the TRUJO history and I and my family will forever be grateful to him.
If anybody knows how I may get in touch with Russ’s son, Keith in San Francisco please let me know. I have been trying to locate him. Please have him email me at: email@example.com
If anybody is still reading this and still interested – here is a brief outline from our family history on Harry George – none of which has ever been made public before:
The following is the continuing time line on Harry Hendricks George II and the TRUJO story:
1923 Harry played the guitar for a local radio station – possibly KPO - located on Sutter Street in San Francisco. Radio was just starting up in 1923 with the first broadcasts coming from department stores and hotels. Several “studios” actually just one room hotel suites were located on Sutter Street also the location from which Harry’s last known contact “Hotel Rialto” was from. Radio needed live talent as there was no recording capability at the time. Due to the unsophisticated radio equipment of the day – the banjo with its twangy sound would not carry well over the broadcast. The microphones and speakers would “break-up” trying to reproduce the banjo sound. That is why Harry played the guitar and not the banjo on the radio.
But this is where Harry got the idea of re-stringing his banjo with guitar strings and tuning it like the guitar so it could be played over the radio. This gave the banjo a deeper sound that carried much better. This worked very well and was his claim to fame. For the first time banjo playing could be heard over the radio and this boosted its popularity and started the banjo craze.
NOTE: According to Russ Presting who wrote them most comprehensive documentation on the TRUJO-George company: The Trujo was originally designed for radio broadcasting and phonograph recordings. It gained instant recognition by the dance Banjoists as well as the soloists to be so mellow and powerful. Being very resonant and having great carrying qualities, this banjo gives the ensemble new tonal character. The real banjo tone remains and is refined, equalized and augmented. It has been declared to be the first banjo manufactured in which all strings are equally powerful."
1924 Harry met Velma Stevens Truett playing the banjo at a local night spot and they moved in together. Velma was 23 years of age at the time and came from a well to do cattle ranching family with means in Nevada. She, also a free sprite, went west to get away from the dull farm life. She was intelligent, outgoing, educated, proficient on the banjo, and had money.
There is no record that Harry and Velma every married or devoiced as some researches assumed. In fact, Harry was still married to his wife Elisabeth in Philadelphia. There is no record that Velma ever used the last name George in any context.
1925 Harry published the Book – The Truett-Harry H. George 100 Banjo lessons – A typed written 115 page book. Actually, it is just the complete collection of Harry’s 100 individual Banjo lesson designed to be a self taught guide for his new style “Guitar Tuned” Banjo. The book had International copyright protection and a copy is on file at the Library of Congress (LC # 25018158, call number MT568.G46). A copy of the 2nd edition of the book is still available in Germany.
Harry must have written the individual “100 Banjo lessons” prior to partnering with Velma as her name is nowhere on the inside the book. Each of the 100 lessons is headed with: “H.H. George System of Banjo Instruction.” Only on the cover page of the 2nd edition of the book is the title “Truett George system for the banjo - 100 Lesson.” So, it is assumed Harry finished writing the lesson plans earlier when he created his “Guitar Tuned” banjo and Velma funded the cost to publish the collection of lessons as a book some time after. For funding the publication of the 2nd edition of the book, Harry put Velma’s name along with his on the cover.
This book became the core material for the TRUJO Banjo Company and the Truett-George Studios Company’s method of teaching the “Guitar Tuned” TRUJO banjo. Each TRUJO Banjo they sold also included a copy of Harry’s book.
This course of training or “Style” of playing became known worldwide as the “Chicago style” of plectrum playing.
1926 Harry and Velma formed the Truett-George “TRUJO” Banjo Company. “TRUJO” was actually a play on their names TRU-JO. At first, they took Gibson made banjos, changed them a little – carved animal faces on the peg heads – painted designs on them - “guitar tuned” them and re-sold them. They marketed the modified banjos through music stores where they taught students. They would encourage their students to buy the TRUJO banjos from the store. Harry and Velma then received a commission from the sale.
In this way, Harry and Velma didn’t have to front the money for the Banjos – which when they first started out they didn’t have. The music stores bought the banjos from the Gibson Banjo company based on Harry’s specifications. Harry modified them, converting them into TRUJOs and then the store sold them to their students. This method of doing business didn’t require Harry or Velma to need any capital, as the music stores provided the funds.
As time went on, the TRUJO Banjo became more sophisticated and singularly unique. With orders from Harry, the Gibson Banjo company modified their production units to his customized specifications. With Harry’s background as a metal machinist – he further retooled the Gibson banjos continuing to refine them. Later units even had spun brass metal sound enhancers to provide their unique mellow but strong sound that carried well in dance halls and most importantly – over the radio and on records. All this was never before possible with the poor sound carrying qualities of the standard banjos of the time.
One must remember that the Banjo is the ONLY truly American instrument. Prior to this time, Banjos were just an American novelty.
Their chance location in San Francisco combined with the opening of the new Panama cannel uniquely provided a direct transportation system for the TRUJO banjos to Europe and the Orient. The Panama cannel was now in operation and heavy European shipping traffic was using the Port of San Francisco for re-provisioning on their way to the orient and for returning home to Europe.
Due to their uniqueness, many of the ships captains and crew would purchase TRUJO banjos and bring them back to their homes in Germany, Spain, Portugal, and England. Europe had been the birth place of almost ever know musical instrument of the day. For them, the TRUJO banjo was the first “new” musicale sound to come along in hundreds of years. Being uniquely American made them highly desired “travel trophies” – like tourist buying a model of the Eiffel tower when visiting Paris.
The TRUJO banjo also made the perfect shipboard instrument. It had little wood to absorb the heavy sea moisture that plagued other string instruments which would deaden their voice. Also, the Banjo had very little metal to tarnish and no valves to corrode and stick as in wind and horn instruments. Consequently, the Banjo “stowed-away” on many ships bringing it to worldwide attention within a few short years. There may actually be more TRUJO banjos in Europe than still left in the US.
This “multimedia” exposure of the TRUJO brought the Banjo from the small cult instrument it was to world wide acclaim.
1927 (7 Oct) At the Columbia recording studio in San Francisco Harry and Velma cut their still famous Banjo and Guitar duet : “Ghost Dance” and on the flip side was "Wabash Blues" released on Columbia record label number 1182-D, recorded October 7, 1927. It was also released on the Australian Regal G 20297 label.
These were black shellac 78 rpm records (two tunes on each record, one per side). According to Columbia's records, there was a third tune recorded at the October 1927 session, "Slue Foot", but it was never released. It's possible there were a few test pressing of it made available but it never was officially released by Columbia.
Their sound tract of “Ghost Dance” is still available on four current CD labels selling today.
1928 Harry and Velma had employed several additional roving teachers covering most of the California coast teaching students and pushing their TRUJO Banjos. It was at this point that they formed their second company, “Truett-George Studios” and opened two of their own combination teaching studio and music stores with one located in Oakland and the other in San Francisco. They sold their TRUJO banjos Models A, B, and C, and a line of three TRUJO Guitars. The Truett-George Studios Company eventually had five studios up and running and many additional rotating teaching locations placed in upscale music stores.
1928 (20 Apr) At the Columbia recording studio in Los Angeles they cut their other two songs "Chloe (Song of the Swamp)" and "The Burning of Rome" on Columbia record label number 1419-D, recorded April 20, 1928.
1929 Glen Spencer, who taught and managed the Oakland studio for Harry and Velma, became a managing partner in the TRUJO companies. By this time, Harry and Velma were in such high demand for public events and concerts that they couldn’t find time to run the businesses. Hal Roberts was hired to help Glen.
1929 (Sep) Harry, not one for the details of business, quietly leaves Velma moving to Klamath Falls, Oregon N42 13.771 W121 47.070 to just teach and play the banjo on his own. We believe he met “Helen” prior to leaving San Francisco and followed her to Klamath Falls Oregon as we could find no other reason he would have pick this location to move to. She may have been a student of his or met him while he was performing on the road. …
If anybody is interested, I can supply pictures of the most authentic TRUJO there is - as it is Harry’s original and is in the same mint condition from the last time he played it on the 17th of March 1934.
TB-4 Guy - Posted - 03/31/2008: 19:03:27
This is a very interesting thread! I noticed the Roy Clark issue when this thread was first posted. As mentioned, the contemporary Roy Clark was born in 1933.per Wikipedia.org.
I figured it had to be his father or something like that. Thanks for the information. It's fun to read!
TRUJO - Posted - 03/31/2008: 19:43:58
By the way, For the real TRUJO lovers out there - If you have ever played a TRUJO for more than a couple of songs you know that it's 12 pounds becomes quite tireing to hold. Well - so must of it had been for Harry - You may not have known this - but Harry also invented the lap cradel for the TRUJO. It is patent number #1708285 (19 Apr 1929). With his stand and/or lap cradel - you place it accross your knees and it holds the TRUJO for you while you just play. I have one and it is unique.
Edited by - TRUJO on 03/31/2008 19:49:33
ambpicker - Posted - 03/31/2008: 19:54:26
Earlier today, on another thread, I described how I had been given a stack of old columbia records. I glanced at those last night, and I TTHHIIIINNNKKK Ghost Dance was among those records. I work until 10 tonight, but as soon as I get home, I'm gonna go through those again.
jims38134 - Posted - 03/31/2008: 20:13:39
I'd love to see pics of the banjo.
TRUJO - Posted - 03/31/2008: 20:29:15
Ok - if someone will tell me how best to post pictures here I will
bearface - Posted - 03/31/2008: 20:52:27
thats a neat lookin banjo
TRUJO - Posted - 03/31/2008: 21:03:25
Ok - I posted a couple of pic and an mp3 of Harry's Ghost Dance
phischer - Posted - 03/31/2008: 23:58:00
I hope no offense was taken. Part of it is in good fun. Thanks for the replay. I definately learned a couple of things.
mps.bob - Posted - 04/01/2008: 05:10:21
I have two trujo's, a plectrum and a five string made from a plectrum neck. Great banjoes. I knew Russ Presting. He was the Trujo man at the time. He said there were no five strings made, but I have seen a few tenors. I know where there are a couple Trujo's for sale including a rare Special[strange looking even for a trujo}.
dschuck - Posted - 04/01/2008: 12:14:18
Well now. It would seem we are a little gun shy on here about certain things, like somebody crying wolf. LOL
I must say, this thread started out a lot different than it headed!
Thanks for posting all of this info! Most interesting read!
TRUJO - Posted - 04/01/2008: 18:40:07
Ok - here is a VERY FIRST! ( the pic to the left of this reply under the TRUJO pen name)
Never before seen anywhere - a photograph of Harry H George in 1933 - Inventor of the TRUJO Banjo.
Nobody has ever seen what Harry looked like - so here he is for the first time.
He is sitting on the car he die in six months later. We beleive it is an 1932 Essex super six. The locaton is the McCready Ranch north of Kalmath Falls Or.
TRUJO - Posted - 04/01/2008: 18:49:24
I placed an MP3 copy of Harry's most famous "Ghost Dance" here for al who wish to hear it. Just click on the musical note above and it will take you to the song. Turn up you sound! As I said - it is different. But, you have to give Harry credit - he can play! Remember - this was cut in 1927 and there were no WA WA devices invented at that time.
TB-2 - Posted - 04/01/2008: 21:42:02
Ghost Dance was really neat! Which one was playing the Tri-cone slide, Harry or Velma? And the other instrument was a banjo? It sounded like guitar backup to me. Very interesting stuff.
Can you post a picture of the lap cradle device? Thanks for sharing!
baygawker - Posted - 04/01/2008: 22:13:38
Thanks for sharing all of this with us Jim. It is so wonderful to hear these details from you and to see that beautiful old banjo ! Ghost Dance reminds me a bit of the playing style of Roy Smeck who was also a very inovative banjo (and other stringed instruments) player of the period. Maybe i missed it somewhere in the thread but i am still wondering what relation are you to Harry George and how did his banjo come to you? Thanks again Jim !! Great stuff here !!!
" i have no name - i werk fo no man" ... a blind railroad prophet
XXXris - Posted - 04/01/2008: 22:30:26
What a peghead!!!!!!!!!!!
jims38134 - Posted - 04/02/2008: 19:34:39
Thanks for posting the pics. Cool instrument!
Strangg1 - Posted - 04/02/2008: 21:11:56
That has got to be the coolest peg head I have ever seen. It's just wicked. I'd love to have a banjo with a peg head similar to that.
Pickin' & Grinnin'
8UPwbanjos - Posted - 04/02/2008: 23:53:02
Thanks for posting the information on the Trujo Banjo , also the recording of 'Ghost Dance". I love Banjo history, and this is a good addition to that. The artist that played on the recording had a great deal of talent. I'm glad you have the banjo, and appreciate the history behind it.
TRUJO - Posted - 04/03/2008: 20:57:34
For all of thoes who E-mailed and asked:
Yes, I am Harry H George's grandson. Harry's son (my father) Harry Hendricks George III is still living here in Clearwater Florida at 86 years old.
Harry's TRUJO has been in the family since he died in 1934. But, It was stored sealed closed with many of his artifacts until I opened it about a month ago. It was last seen and played by him in 1934.
I intend to try to finish the TRUJO saga started by Russ Presting for history's sake.
Anybody with information they wish to share or questions - please e-mail me. firstname.lastname@example.org or call 727-709-5022
Thanks to you all on this board - I am now in contact with Keith Presting who has all his dads research work. Between the two of us, we have quite a story that needs to be told (before we are all gone)!
neplusultra - Posted - 04/10/2008: 05:33:03
Thanks for starting a great thread...I had heard Russ Presting's TRUJO stories for years and was always amazed at how much he had uncovered about these fine instruments. Glad to hear that you and Keith have hooked up...a lot of terrific information was lost when Russ passed away...glad to hear that you are doing something to preserve some of that.
dschuck - Posted - 04/10/2008: 10:25:12
I must tell you, I just listened to the recording for the first time. It creeped me out. I loved it!!!
About the peg head. If I am not mistaken, I have seen that as someone's avatar on here before, makes me wonder where they got the pic for that? Just curious. What a design.
Edited by - dschuck on 04/10/2008 15:44:59
Dogface - Posted - 04/10/2008: 11:02:24
I think I read somewhere that the A & B pegheads are actually Lion heads...the difference being the ring thru the tongue on one..B I think. I used the think they were Monkey and Gargoyle and always had heard that. Quite a story about to be told...
Jim, did you ever find the Serial # ? The resonator should be held on by only two thumb screws.. The res. flange is very thin metal so be careful not to bend it.
If there are no dogs in heaven then when I die I want to go where they went...
5stringJim - Posted - 04/10/2008: 11:56:51
The Trujo banjos were featured in one of the first Pickin' magazines in the mid- 70's. It was an article about the Mandolin Brothers, and the cost of vintage collectable instruments. That peghead always intrigued me
Also, Gibson made non-tonering banjos similar to the PB11 with the Truett name on the peghead, for sale by Harry and company. I have a 1933 pot from one, now converted to flathead 5 string status. Hear it on my Hangout Homepage.
Jim Hyndman www.longway.org.uk
TRUJO - Posted - 04/10/2008: 20:48:37
For all of you that asked:
I have uploaded three more of Harry's record cuts:
BURNING OF ROME
So enjoy! (Just click on the Music Icon above)
Also, for all the TRUJO playes out there who complained about how heavy the TRUJO was to play - Well, Harry also thought so - so he invented and patented the TRUJO Lap and floor stand - see the photos of it I have attached.
Edited by - TRUJO on 04/10/2008 21:04:04
GerryH - Posted - 04/10/2008: 22:01:09
A very interesting thread. Thanks for posting the info, photos, MP3 file, etc. I'd seen the Trujo banjo on Howie's site but didin't know much about the inventor Now I am more informed.
xfiltrate - Posted - 09/29/2008: 19:37:28
It was indeed Roy Clark's band (the Father of the contemporary Roy Clark) Harry H. George was playing in the night he died in an automobile accident possibly caused by blinding head lights of an oncoming car. Just thought I'd drop in to help cover my brother Jim"s "six". Pilot talk for "watch your back" He is for real and everything stated about both Harry H. George is true.
Dad, Harry H George III (the son) does have Grandpa's Harry H GeorgeII (the Father) Trujo banjo and we are all very thankful to all of you who have kept Grandpa's memory alive. I discovered Grandpa Harry H. George on a web site listing banjo makers of the 1920s. If it had not been for that web site we would have never known the fate of our Grandpa, so a big thank you to all of you with interest in banjos and banjo history.
I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina and have written the very first Argentine copywritten tango with lyrics in English..Here is my thank you to you all..... It is "Tango Wind" available on YouTube...and was performed at the Buenos Aires world famous Cafe Tortoni (September one year ago).. Here is a link to the music video, be sure and see credits after the music... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=166a3E3QpWA yes, that is a pic of Harry H. George with my brother Jim's posts... thanks again Ed George
Edited by - xfiltrate on 09/29/2008 19:41:53
Adk Rebel - Posted - 09/30/2008: 08:53:49
Thanks for bringing this back up as I missed it the first time. Very interesting read. Nice music that you wrote BTW.
Have your brother and Harry been able to piece anything else together? I must have missed the pictures when they were first posted.
Kateyz Banjo Bridges
Custom Scrimshaw by Ed Weber
Price Banjo Cases
My Fawley Retrotones
xfiltrate - Posted - 09/30/2008: 13:02:41
Rich, thanks for the encouragement. Yes, my brother Jim and Dad, (Harry H George III) have a novels worth of data and very interesting speculation regarding the life and times of Harry H George banjo maker, banjo teacher, composer and player of banjo and guitar. He was also an accomplished artist. Although his driving skills could have been better.
He spent the last years of his life living on a ten thousand acre plus ranch in Oregon, so I assume he also became a cowboy of sorts, if a poor, uneducated street kid from Philadelphia could ever be a cowboy??? I guess all "cowboys" or their families were originally from back east or immigrants from other countries...
The following is a little off topic, but speaks to the credibility of previous posts...
Both Jim and Dad are retired United States Air Force officers and command pilots. Both have traveled the world in very meaningful ways...
I opted for the Peace Corps and served two years in Costa Rica during the Vietnam War.
By the way, when we had a draft.. being, or having been a Peace Corps volunteer never prevented anyone from being drafted into the army..., just to correct an urban myth.
If you are interested in finding out more about Harry H., George and trujo banjos etc... I am sure Jim will be more than happy to share with you. E-mail him at his posted e-mail address.
Would like to learn more about you and your banjo experiences, Come visit Buenos Aires , the art scene here rivals any city in the world....
Re: Tango Wind, I wrote the lyrics, as indicated in credits after music.... Ed
Edited by - xfiltrate on 10/01/2008 19:33:45
JIMBO53 - Posted - 10/01/2008: 04:53:58
Now I know the "rest of the story...." about my avitar. I found it surfing around the internet years ago, but don't remember any history of it. I even kinda looks like me the morning after a grueling, late night banjo session!
"YOU CAN PUT LIPSTICK ON A BANJO PLAYER, BUT HE''S STILL A BANJO PLAYER"-BARACK OBAMA
xfiltrate - Posted - 11/04/2008: 16:31:55
A little off topic, but not enough to start a new topic. "They call him the Jimi Hendrix of jazz banjo"
" For the second time in Argentina, after his successful debut in 2007, US banjoist Bela Fleck and his band The Flecktones will offer two concerts in Buenos Aires today and tomorrow night. They are presenting their latest album Jingle All the way and follow up to The Hidden Land (2006), which received a Grammy award for best contemporary Jazz Album in 2007." Buenos Aires Herald Nov 04, 2008.
As I only recently discovered that I am a grandson of Harry George, banjoist and with Velma Truitt, creator of TRUJO banjos, I have never been to a banjo concert. Any advice, what to listen or look for is much appreciated. I will be going to the concert tomorrow night.
Buenos Aires is an exciting place to live. Anyone visiting Buenos Aires is welcome to contact me. We have garage parking for international motorcyclists and drink a lot of coffee, beer and wine. Thanks again to all of you have contributed to the TRUJO topic... xfiltrate
xfiltrate - Posted - 11/05/2008: 10:50:35
Whoa cowboys, look what I found , this is on topic, and found here at the
National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame.
Just scroll down until you find TRUJO. Under Gibson... My grandpa Harry George sold the TRUJO banjo rights to Gibson.
I learned something here.
Trujo (made by Gibson) Style A Plectrum Banjo - 1930
Because of its appearance, the Trujo banjo is often unfairly malaigned by banjo players and collectors. Made by Gibson to the specifications of the west coast banjo duo of Harry George and Velma Truitt, the Trujo banjo - with its deep body - was designed specifically to accentuate the bass frequencies of the banjo thereby making the instrument more musically pleasant when used in recordings and radio broadcasts. Also, as Harry George was an early proponent of tuning a four-string banjo like the top four strings of the guitar (known as "guitar" or 'Chicago style" tuning), the depth of the body and unique tonering incorporated into the Trujo banjo were ideal for that particular tuning. Unfortunately, these very positive elements of musicality and design are all too often overlooked when one gazes upon the lion's head (often mistaken for a gargoyle) carved into the peghead which is playfully sticking his tounge out at you! From the Jack Canine Collection
AND A QUESTION.... Could anyone advise if there is now or could be created with proper promotion, a market for banjo lap stands that double as floor stands as designed and patented by my Grandpa Harry George.
A machinist and I have have manufactured one here in Argentina, (photo available from my brother Jim George) screen name TRUJO above.... Jeff and I copied exactly as possible from Grandpa's patent and could custom produce others, one at a time, all parts were crafted crafted by hand at a makeshift shop on my balcony.
My Grandpa, Harry George, invented the lap stand to support the weight of the TRUJO. The TRUJO was constructed en part, for early radio microphones and thus was "heavier" than more conventional banjos in order to have a deeper, richer sound.
Edited by - xfiltrate on 11/05/2008 11:12:33
xfiltrate - Posted - 11/05/2008: 20:38:17
Just as I said, Iarrived at the Grand Rex theater on Corrientes street..about 9:15 PM tonight and one of the largest theaters in Buenos Aires (home of the Tango) was already packed. Argentines, from teenagers to the old, were there to see and listen to Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Tickets were 50 pesos to 180 pesos, divide by 3 if you care to and that will be the cost of tickets in US dollars.
The mood was vibrant and everyone seemed very happy...., the warm up band was playing when an usher escorted me to my 80 peso seat. I did not know what to expect, but what I was to experience was mystifying and totally absorbed me.
After Fleck and the Flecktones , (2 blacks and 2 whites) casually took the stage there was not a sound in the theater, when they began to play, the sophisticated Buenos Aires audience applauded jazz style after each amazing rift. I was hooked immediately.
After a few jazzy numbers , with bass guitar, saks (yes one of the Flecktones played 2 saks at once) , electric banjo and Syntech Tom Tom, (created by "Futureman" who is one of the black Flecktones) the strangest banjo box looking invention I have ever seen,, Fleck stepped up to a microphone and said, in Englis< "today is a special day for the United States." the crowd numbering in the thousands, began to chant OBAMA OBAMA....
Banjo politics I like it....
Everything was perfect, the music, the players, the polite manner of the banter between them and the audience, Argentina loves Fleck and his Flecktones.
Fleck played several solos to standing ovations and there was a curtain call and the Argentines urged Fleck on with applause and by standing up to recognize his great talent.
Now, to justify this reply to the "collectors" topic here you go:
found here: http://www.banjomuseum.org/banjohistory.htm
"In the early 1900s, a new dance craze - centering around the Latin Tango - coincided with the introduction of brass and reed instruments in the typical Ragtime dance orchestra. In an effort to simply be heard, classic five-string banjo players began experimenting, often removing the fifth string altogether and replacing the remaining four natural fiber strings with strings made of steel. For additional volume, rather than plucking the steel strings with bare fingers in the traditional manner, they were strummed with a plectrum or "pick."
"And the banjos of the jazz age! During the 1920s, thebanjo reached a level in design and manufacture that can only be described as perfection. With the demand for ten of thousands of instruments, manufacturers dedicated all of their resources to banjo design and production. In addition to perfecting the banjo as a musical instrument, the ornate decoration adorning the instruments reflects the artistry of their creators as well as the demand to produce a dynamic visual impact on a large theater audience in that era before television and sound films. It is a generally accepted fact that manufacturers of the jazz age produced the finest banjo that have ever been - or ever will be - made."
Now, those of you who have read this topic know that I write tangos, Here is an offer... I would very much like to create a Tango with banjo, bass .and bandeleon... Anyone interested in helping out? 2 por 4 2- 4 time No drums in real Tangos... and the lyrics must be sad, but with hope... xfiltrate
Edited by - xfiltrate on 11/05/2008 20:39:55
baygawker - Posted - 11/05/2008: 21:28:00
Hey Edward, Just wanted you to know that i have been reading this thread with great interest. i am afraid i don't have anything intelligent to offer in the way of Trujo history but i will say that the whole atmosphere of respect and passion created here in this thread is a suitable tribute to your Grandpa's legacy. i have already come to admire him from what i have learned by reading this. What an amazing journey you and your family are on as you discover the legacy left to you by a man of vision and talent. Apparently the apple has not fallen far from the tree. God Bless you all ... craig
" i have no name - i werk fo no man" ... a blind railroad prophet
country frank - Posted - 11/06/2008: 03:24:18
Ghost Dance, what an incredible track. Thanks for posting, my life is richer for hearing that song.
Proud Union Man
Regards from London.
xfiltrate - Posted - 11/06/2008: 08:00:55
Thank you baygawker for that heart felt and soul stirring commentary regarding Harry George and his TRUJO banjos. Perhaps "Future Man" of the Feecktones said it best last night during the Fleck and the Flecktones concert here in Buenos Aires, Argentina when he said in his deep yet softly whispering voice:
"You don't jump to the absolute, you must evolve"
There was a brief pause while those who understood English translated for friends and those sitting close, and then there was mountainous applause. I mean "Future Man" really struck a chord with the Argentines, and their response must have been inspiring to Fleck and the Flecktones for they perfomed brilliantly.
Kind of how I feel today, thanks to you and the Banjoists of the worlld, who have joined my family in the discovery of Grandpa.
Our family: Harry George III, Jim (TRUJO here) , Patty and Tom and their families and Bob's family..., like Jim, Bob was a United States Air Force Officer and pilot, who flew F-16s and died young, and Mom, also gone, but who, I am certain, always believed the unknown Harry George, banjoist, must have been a great man... at least that is what she always told me...
Yes, we are evolving and you and Russ and others like you have trail blazed for us toward our newest horizon.. thank you
Edited by - xfiltrate on 11/06/2008 08:02:38
xfiltrate - Posted - 11/06/2008: 20:27:52
Country Frank /Union Man, how does a "forum fixture " like yourself stay fixed long enough to write more than 3000 posts at Banjo Hangout, jam, teach, sculpt and help others and still have time to ride your motorized COW?
We might be the only two with wheeled avatars... well, probably not, but yours is very interesting...
Thanks for commenting on Harry George's "Ghost Dance" I checked out "The Hanging Ropes" and invite everyone to see the videos and listen to your music. And, I believed all the beautiful women lived in Buenos Aires, guess I was wrong.
see for yourselves... http://www.myspace.com/thehangingropesuk
As for Harry George's "Ghost Dance", it speaks to me of the routines of existence and then breaks away into something very, very spiritual that earns the name.
I know Harry George's route from Philadelphia to San francisco, in the early 1920s, afforded him the opportunity to see and maybe even communicate with, Native Americans as he passed through the southwest. In Flagstaff, where I lived on my ranch for years, the Navajo and the Hopi held pow wows at the train station and bartered with the passengers.
Not too many years before Grandpa's journey west, the Ghost Dance was danced by the Apache and the warriors believed that dancing the Ghost Dance before battle would make them impervious to the bullets of the US Army assigned to round them up and relocate them.
Maybe Grandpa needed some protection too and, like the Apache and other Native Americans sought refuge in the spiritual realm with his own Ghost Dance.
This is pure conjecture on my part.
There are no more pow wows at the Flagstaff train station, they are held annually in the parking lot of the mall now......and the revered Ghost Dance of the Apache has been pitified (new word) into a circus act for paying tourists, but Harry George's Ghost Dance strengthened within me the belief that life can be much more then the repetitive chores of bodily existence, that life can and should be a spiritual adventure and that I myself can be free.
Thanks Frank, now go immediately to a web site where I post frequently:
a web site for international motorcycle over landers, and post that photo of your motorized cow for the motorcycling world to see...tell'em xfiltrate asked you to do it.....and ride your cow to Argentina where I will promise you a warm welcome and more beautiful women. xfiltrate
Edited by - xfiltrate on 11/07/2008 16:25:47
mikehalloran - Posted - 11/08/2008: 07:01:49
Living in the San Francisco Bay area, I have wondered why I have run across many TRUJO banjos over the years -- especially as I have read that they were rare. Now I know. BTW, I have seen tenors, also, but mainly plectrums.
What a fascinating thread. I may have to buy the next one I see for sale.
xfiltrate - Posted - 11/09/2008: 15:57:20
Mike, thanks for the info about the number of TRUJOs you have seen in the San Francisco area..., There are TRUJOs manufactured by TRUJO and TRUJOs manufactured by TRUJO/Gipson.
Velma Truitt, the TRU of TRUJO was not only musically talented, but an astute businesswoman. As the GREAT DEPRESSION, like a great cloud, was darkening the horizon of most business ventures, she probably realized that the high end (quality) TRUJOs price tag was inhibiting sales... The TRUJO was priced among the most expensive banjos of twenties, Bread lines were forming, shanty towns being created and the "dime" was a lot of money.
What to do , What to do? I believe my brother Jim figured out exactly what she did. She allowed Gipson to begin manufacturing lower end, less expensive banjos as TRUJOs.
From our research, Jim and I believe Grandpa was a purest and demanded TRUJOs be manufactured to his specification, and maintained very tight quality control for each of his TRUJOs. Jim and I both believe he would not have anything to do with his TRUJO altered just because the economy had collapsed, and it could be sold for less.
It could be that Gipson was capitalizing on the TRUJO name and fame to manufacture and sell less expensive banjos, Mike, I would suggest most of those you have found in San Francisco were manufactured after Grandpa split for Oregon. No offense Gipson, you guys probably saved the TRUJO name and we probably owe you a debt of gratitude.
I will leave it to Jim , who assures me he will post here soon, to continue the discussion of why Harry George left San Francisco and Velma Truitt in his dust, and recreated himself in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Why am I posting this? Because, there are TRUJOs. and then there are TRUJOs. I will leave it to the experts who post here, to advise of the differences, materials/parts, construction, sound, serial l numbers and etc.etc etc.
Will the real TRUJO please stand up?
TRUJO or not I want a banjo.... I play a little guitar and have only held the oriental banjos I could find at music stores here in Buenos Aires. Got a feeling I will be doing some picking, not just picking them up real soon.
Thanks for your posts. xfiltrate
Edited by - xfiltrate on 11/09/2008 16:11:43
xfiltrate - Posted - 11/12/2008: 13:33:43
While we wait for Jim to post his findings regarding the split up of Velma Truitt and Harry George, TRUJO, I am gearing up for the manufacturer of Harry George's combination lap and floor stands for TRUJO and other banjos.
These banjo stands will be custom made/hand crafted by myself and Kiwi craftsman Jeff Condon, who is not only an expert machinist but a Globebusters motorcycle guide who was featured in the National Geographic special "The Ride" ...18 BMW motorcycles that toured for 4 months from Alaska to the southern most tip of Argentina. He is a true craftsman, who has already built a prototype from Harry George's historic patent. (Photos on TRUJO's home page)
Anyone interested is requested to contact me via Banjo Hangout. We need some specific measurements from your banjo.
The new manufacture of these banjo stands might be a footnote in TRUJO history.
All comments, for or against this idea are welcome here. What I really need is pertinent commentary from banjo experts, especially those familiar with TRUJO, Thanks xfiltrate
Edited by - xfiltrate on 11/12/2008 14:10:49
skybolt - Posted - 11/14/2008: 18:28:13
Thanks Trujo. I now know more about you and George and Roy than my longtime neighbors. Very intresting.
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