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Banjo versus TV week 91: Granma's pub songs

Posted by jrjenks on Monday, November 30, 2009

A check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s ongoing plan to spend more time on his banjo than on TV. This post covers 11/22/2009 through 11/28/2009.
Banjo 573 hrs, TV 404 hours

I visited my British grandmother this past week. I've blogged about her before, how she was a motorcycle courier during the London Blitz.

We talked about her old favorite pub songs from her days in London. Songs like Knees Up Mother Brown, which starts about 50 seconds into this video:

That's a great old pub song. (And only a truly twisted mind would think it would make a good kid's ditty.)

Another of her favorite pub songs is My Old Man's a Dustman, seen here with a tea chest bass (the skiffle band equivalent of a jug band's washtub bass):

Another notable thing about that My Old Man's a Dustman video is the use of a banjolele, which is what Granma thinks of when she thinks of banjos. Basically, she thinks that banjo players should sound like George Formby:

So now I've taken it as a challenge to learn how to play some pub songs for Granma on my banjo.

I've ordered up a copy of Let's Have Another One: 22 Classic Pub Songs to get started.

Also in the last week:

  • I renewed my membership in the Banjo Hangout Player's Union. In addition to bragging rights, membership entitles me to get the 2010 T-shirt — probably one of these designs.

  • I typed "banjo" into the iTunes U search engine and found...
    • Bluegrass and Old-Time String Band Music from the Florida Folklife Collection (iTunes link).
      The Florida Folklife Collection includes approximately 150 cubic feet of paper records (including field notes and administrative files) and thousands of audio and video recordings, which date from the 1930s through 2001.

      Created by Florida folklorists, the Collection consists of 88 individual series that document the performances by, interviews with, and fieldwork surveys of folk musicians, artisans, storytellers, folklife interpreters, and other Florida peoples and their traditions. Read more.
    • Several iTunes U podcasts from East Tennessee University's Archives of Appalachia (iTunes link):
      • Ballads and Songs — Historical Recordings
      • String Bands & Instruments — Historical Recordings
      • Festivals
    • Quite Early Morning: The Life, Times, and Legacy of Pete Seeger from A World of Opportunity's program Keepers of the Flames (iTunes link)
  • Just Googling around and ran into Max's Sexy Banjo Show, which — with songs like Prom Night Priapism and Vagina Town — is not for the kiddies.

Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog

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