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Nov 13, 2019 - 1:28:40 PM
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2371 posts since 12/11/2008

Another of my Elder banjo heroes: JENES COTTRELL. Please watch this short video of the man who built banjos out of Buick torque converters and had such a unique playing and singing style. I'm certain he didn't use the term "clawhammer" in his area of W VA.

Please read all the information about the video and all the comments about this one of a kind genius.

If you can, find the reissue CD, "Elzic's Farewell" featuring Mr. Cottrell and fiddler French Carpenter. A must have if you prefer your OT music authentic. 

The original liner notes by Ken Davidson and supplemental notes by Bill Hale are fascinating including descriptions of Carpenter's famous "midnight supper" music parties. Also included is the hair raising story of Jenes father's presumed killing of the "Witch of Booger Hole". The witch had put a spell on the Cottrells...that was a mistake. Andrew Cottrell was aquitted. Chalk one up for vigilante justice!

Okay, enough. Enjoy... 

Nov 13, 2019 - 1:38:06 PM
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8118 posts since 10/5/2006

BHO member Christopher Dean builds banjos in the tradition of Jenes Cottrell. He used a Buick car part as the pot for his banjos and Christopher continues to source these hard-to-find parts for his Cottrell-inspired banjos. It’s fabulous that this banjo tradition is being continued. I’ve played an original Cotterell banjo and several of Christopher’s banjos and he is right on the mark. They feel and sound great, and look exactly like the originals in every detail.

Edited by - m06 on 11/13/2019 13:40:24

Nov 13, 2019 - 5:42:51 PM
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591 posts since 5/19/2018

I have always been fascinated by his particular banjos.

Seen one. Not sure if it was one of his or a solid copy, but it was so long ago, I can’t remember and I can’t imagine anyone back then trying to replicate one.

Made from Transmission and refrigerator parts. Talk about using being innovative.

Solid player to boot.

Thanks for the reminder of a unique builder and musician.

Nov 13, 2019 - 8:21:24 PM
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2937 posts since 8/7/2008

Thanks for posting this Don, GREAT stuff! I've had that LP (yep, actual vinyl) since I was 14, it is still one of my favorites!

Nov 14, 2019 - 12:48:10 AM
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2371 posts since 12/11/2008

Two little notes!!!

Nov 14, 2019 - 1:06:05 AM
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2371 posts since 12/11/2008

Here is a Christopher Dean replica banjo played by the wonderful W VA banjo player David O'Dell. I have a CD of fiddle/banjo duets by O'Dell and Dave Bing that is wonderful. They do a great version of your recent tuneof the week, Gunboat, RG. Alas, Davis isn't playing this banjo, but sounds great anyway.

Nov 15, 2019 - 5:21:01 AM
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3626 posts since 5/12/2010

There is a young man I see at Clifftop every year, can't remember his name, but he has one of the copies of a Cottell banjo, and I think it would be difficult to tell it is a copy.

He is a friend of Trevor Hammons and always camps near them at Clifftop, and we usually camp near them too. The banjo sounds real good.

Mid 50s Buick transmissions are getting scarce in the junkyards, but I like seeing the creativity of using something like that to build a banjo.

I have been told Mr Cottell used aluminum industrial knitting needles for the fretboard markers and other decorations on his banjos. I used to use the aluminum shaft of pop rivets for side markers.

Edited by - OldPappy on 11/15/2019 05:25:33

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