Welcome to the home page of the Old-time Performer Project!
I'm the guy that filmed the Banjo Builder Series from March of 2011 to October of 2014. I had the crazy notion to drive around North America and interview today's leading open-back Banjo Builders. And what an adventure that was! The resulting 4 Volume DVD series is now at Smithsonian Folkways but you can buy DVDs and stream single shows here.
THIS page is about the amazing group of people I've interviewed in my lasted documentary series, "Conversations with Old-time Performers!"
When I finished the Banjo Builder series, I was actively looking for even more sources of knowledge and insights to help explain both traditional Old-time music and our incredible music community. I didn't have to look far. Today's roster of Old-time Performers not only continue to research, present/teach and write Old-time music, but they carry on the traditions of those that first-taught them. So, cameras in hand, I set out again in the fall of 2015 to meet new friends.
As I was preparing, I started wondering if this group of creatives would be similar to the Banjo Builders in their reasons for choosing this form of art as a career. For instance: Why would anyone pursue work that paid so little? Beyond the reward of performing, it must be something about the community or the history of the music. As with the Banjo Builders, what I discovered is of much deeper significance than one might expect. Once again, I learned about the pursuit of one's gifting, sacrifice and endurance. I learned about timeless connections... what we share as human beings across smiles, miles and generations. And once again I witnessed something beyond simple happiness. Indeed! Herein lies satisfaction, peace and joy! Wow!!
18 months later, here are another 4 DVDs (and streams) of conversations for your entertainment and education.
Want to purchase DVD Volume Sets?
Volume 1 DVDs - "Conversations with Old-time Performers" includes the following 11 Performers plus 1 "extra": Mac Benford, Howie Bursen, Chris Coole, Rayna Gellert, John Herrmann, Walt Koken, Lukas Pool, Clare Milliner, Seth Swingle, Stephen Wade and Rebekah Weiler. The extra is an interview with Dwight Diller from Volume 3 of the Banjo Builder series.
Volume 1 can be purchased here.
Volume 2 DVDs - "Conversations with Old-time Performers" includes the following 10 Performers plus 1 "extra": Steve Arkin, Laura Boosinger, Mary Z. Cox, Dan Gellert, Mark Johnson, Frank Lee, Michael Miles, Arnie Naiman, Joe Newberry and Ken Perlman. The extra is an interview with Adam Hurt from Volume 3 of the Banjo Builder series.
Volume 2 can be purchased here.
Volume 3 DVDs - "Conversations with Old-time Performers" includes the following 10 Performers plus 2 "extras": Paul Brown, David Holt, Brad Kolodner, Brad Leftwich, Reed Martin, Terri McMurray, Steve Rosen, Art Rosenbaum, Chirps Smith and Richie Stearns. The extras are excerpts and cameos from Clifftop '15.
Volume 3 can be purchased here.
Volume 4 DVDs - "Conversations with Old-time Performers" includes the following 11 Performers plus 2 "extras": Kate Brislin, Clarke Buehling, Cathy Fink, Evie Ladin, Molly Mason, Bruce Molsky, Jody Stecher, Clelia Stefanini, Rafe Stefanini, Jane Rothfield, Jay Ungar. The extras are an interview with Historian Dr. Alan Jabbour and a reel of the Old-time Performer photos used throughout the series.
Volume 4 can be purchased here.
Volume 5 DVDs - "Conversations with Old-time Performers & Banjo Builders" includes the following 7 Performers and 5 Banjo Builders: The Canote Brothers (OTPs), William Seeders Mosheim (BB), Erynn Marshal (OTP), Carl Jones (OTP), Tas Philp (BB), Beverly Smith (OTP), John Grimm (OTP), Jan Bloom (BB), James Leva (OTP), Matt Arcara (BB), Dan Levenson (OTP), Dean Robinson (BB).
Volume 5 can be purchased here.
Notice the listing of Performers on the right-hand side of this page. These are PPV Programs. Shows can be viewed individually for 7 days for $4.00 each.
A portion of each sale goes back to Banjo Hangout... the forum that makes our amazing, global banjo community possible. Thank you for your support!
You must log into your myHangout account to access any purchased videos.
'Luke Mercier LM-D60' 11 min
'Open Back Banjo Kit' 4 hrs