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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Jazz banjoists do stand!

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

malarz - Posted - 11/12/2018:  14:15:40

Here is a photo (if I was able to insert it correctly) with proof. Eddy Davis, standing far right, from the cover of his lp from 1976. And, a great recording, too. Thanks, Eddy, for all the music you've shared with us.


guitarbanjoman - Posted - 11/12/2018:  16:17:02

When in my twenties, I was quite happy to stand behind the band... in front of the band... anyplace.

Now that I am in my sixties, I begin to appreciate a maxim I heard from my late father. I googled it, but was unable to find the author...

"There are few human urges stronger than the urge to sit down."

Don Lewers - Posted - 11/12/2018:  18:11:11

Quote .......

Jazz banjoists do stand! by malarz.

Ken, I've always stood, and have taken it for granted that all banjo players in trad bands did likewise. To name a few headline bands that follow the trend .... Kenny Ball, The Dutch Swing College, Chris Barber, Acker Bilk, and The Village Stompers to name a few.

In past years, when I was playing with trad bands here in Brisbane, all other banjo players stood up while'st playing in their bands, full stop. The only time I ever saw a banjo player sitting, was in New Orleans at Preservation Hall .....  but that followed the norm with the New Orleans tradition.

Here's a photo I posted recently of Eddy sitting in, jamming with a 7 piece trad band I was playing in, at ''The Noosa Jazz Party'' just 2 hours north of Brisbane, back in the mid 90's.  Cheers Don.

Banjosephus - Posted - 11/12/2018:  19:06:31

I've really enjoyed Eddy's contributions here, although I've only been exposed to one which is probably my fault, but learned from it he accompanied Big Tiny Little for a time. Knowing this and Big Tiny's association with Lawrence Welk, AND that "standing jazz banjoists" was the topic here, I couldn't help but remember an episode of Welk I saw as a child, where he gives Buddy Merrill a lesson in jazz banjo. Searched on YT and sure enough, there it was. Also, the great Eddie Peabody. (Keep in mind, Merrill had been with Welk from the beginning -- 1955-- but was drafted in '59. Here he has just returned from his service, and banjo was not his primary instrument, so his being a little rusty on it is excusable. Neal Levang stepped in to fill in for Buddy in his absence and he WAS an accomplished banjoists. I wonder why Welk didn't use him here, instead? Really, I think Welk just wanted to show off a bit. But that's O.K. It was his show. ) :

Ryk - Posted - 11/12/2018:  20:09:10

I always thought Welk was a jerk ... his lack of kindness to someone returning from military service here proves it. And on Veteran's Day!

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 11/13/2018:  02:38:15


Since you mention DSC (Dutch Swing College Band): navigate to YouTube, type in 'Arie Ligthart, Saint Louis Blues'. That'll take you to black-and-white footage of a banjo feature from DSC's 1961 Berlin Sportpalast concert. Performed standing up; on this occasion anyway.

However, I spoke to Arie Ligthart a couple of times, some thirty years later. In upper middle age then, he definitely preferred sitting down. He also kindly allowed me to try his banjo. The same Vega as in that 1961 Berliner Sportpalast feature. I didn't get any sound out of it, due to unusually high action, but I don't remember it as particularly heavy.

I still have the LP of that 1961 stadium concert on audio cassette, but no means of reproducing it on BHO, at the moment. Pity, since even 57 years later it's still a real blast!

Veerstryngh Thynner

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 11/13/2018:  08:31:05

I have one of those units that will transfer cassettes to CD's if you would like me to transfer it for you?


PS It isn't particularly high quality, but it does work...

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 11/16/2018:  03:35:33


Thanks for your kind offer. Thing is that my life is a bit upside-down, at the moment. Therefore I have no access to my audio cassette archives, at the time of writing.


Would you say that standing up is the norm in Australia too?

Veerstryngh Thynner

Don Lewers - Posted - 11/16/2018:  15:36:22


Originally posted by Veerstryngh Thynner


Would you say that standing up is the norm in Australia too?

Yes Veerstryngh,  IMHO that's the norm down here. As well as working in pubs and clubs with jazz bands on stage, there were also lots of walk around gigs at racetracks, footy games, theme parks, and public venues ..... on such jobs, being on the hoof, ...... you more or less were forced to play banjo in the upright position!. Thanks for posting The Dutch Swing featuring Arie Ligthart, enjoyed it. .... Don.


Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 11/17/2018:  03:00:10


I did a lot of streetparading, too, in the day. Often dressed up. Good fun for a while, but later increasingly less so, because my Morris is so damn heavy that neck and shoulders kept hurting for up to a week afterwards, usually. At pub and club gigs, though, sitting down remained the standard.

So I'm curious now, Don: are your banjos for marching different from those for club and pub gigs? And if so, in which way(s)?

In hindsight, I wish I had used my much smaller and lighter "Marma" for marching jobs. I probably didn't because there was no way of putting a strap on. On the other hand: more likely is that the thought simply never occurred.

As to the Arie Ligthart banjo feature, I reconstructed that, chord by chord, from a record, in my late teens. Can't remember how long this took, but several weeks at least, I guess. YouTube, for visual reference, still some three decades in waiting then. But more than half a century on, I still play it flawlessly. With my eyes shut, if need be.

Veerstryngh Thynner

Edited by - Veerstryngh Thynner on 11/17/2018 03:06:46

Don Lewers - Posted - 11/18/2018:  22:38:43

Veerstryngh, I've just posted photos of my banjo strap set up ect. on Rockyjo's similar forum topic if you'd like to take a look. The only thing I missed out mentioning, was my banjos tare ..... luckily,my Vega Whyte Ladie is'nt that heavy, compared to some, but by the same token, they're not light either, so after playing a live set with a band, a break was most appreciated. I've only ever had the one banjo, and used it also for the walk about gigs. All the best, Don.

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 11/19/2018:  08:27:12

Hi Don,

Thanks for letting me know. And yes, I had a look at your pictures, in the meanwhile.

Like you, I have only the one instrument to take to gigs and streetparades. But it hasn't been out for ages, since my streetparading and gigging days are well and truly over. Still playing and practising, though, but presently on my compact and lightweight electric tenor guitar, at home. But for the banjolele and the big, heavy acoustic "Morris" I'm now considering silent nylon mesh, so both may still have a role to play.


Veerstryngh Thynner

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