Photographic evidence as well as field & early commercial recordings show that many western NC banjo players born in late 19th century played old-time 2 or 3 finger styles. This is Manco Sneed, best known for his fiddling, but he first played banjo. Fiddler Marcus Martin also played banjo, 2 finger style. Ernest Helton play 2 & 3 finger style plus, "up-picking" when backing his fiddling brother Osey Helton.
Thursday, September 4, 2014 @1:17:55 PM
The photo, which I'd never seen before, is from a Sneed family ancestry.com website.
Thursday, September 4, 2014 @5:46:01 PM
Great photo. I didn't know he played banjo. Didn't know M. Martin did either! Are there recordings of them playing banjo?
Thursday, September 4, 2014 @7:19:22 PM
There are several cuts of Marcus Martin playing banjo. He played John Henry & Honey Baby, but my favorite was Last Gold Dollar is Gone. The banjo stuff is on 2 different CDs, When I Get My New House Done, put out by the NC Folklife Institute & the Field Recorders' Collective CD of Marcus Martin. He had a spare 2 finger style, very nicely syncopated rhythm and interesting phrasing. I'd never seen the photo of Manco Sneed with a banjo, & have never heard recordings of him playing one, but from the picture, it sure looks like he fingerpicked.
Thursday, September 4, 2014 @9:15:05 PM
Thanks. I'll do some investigating and see what I can come up with.
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