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Jun 16, 2021 - 5:58:01 PM
2591 posts since 12/31/2005

Jun 16, 2021 - 6:05:56 PM



2871 posts since 1/15/2014

The author seems to have largely missed the essence of the classic banjo tradition, conflating it with "classical" music.

The section titled "The Banjo as Other..." is terribly researched. Even a cursory review of period documentation shows that there was not any significant attempt to whitewash the history of the instrument until the old-time/folk music movement of the 1910s-1920s. The wealthy, white classic style players the author refers to tended to be upfront about the black origins of the instrument.

Edited by - csacwp on 06/16/2021 18:07:39

Jun 16, 2021 - 7:51:09 PM
like this

6288 posts since 9/21/2007

I started reading through it and have had a couple of eye rolls. One, the insinuation that Stewart contributed to the Sweeney 5th string myth, the author picks one early mention from a lecture Stewart gave where he uses the phrase “it said to have”. The rest of the story is that he later openly doubts the myth.

The other is the old “Picayune Butler was Black”... which was a figment of Robert Toll’s imagination when he wrote “Blacking Up”. Had anyone bothered to check, it was always clear that the was not. Carl Anderton first questioned this and was heavily criticized for it at an Early Banjo Gathering. Tony Thomas later fully researched this only to discover that “Pic Butler” was white.

My only guess as to why this Pic Butler thing keeps getting recycled is that it supports author’s narratives. IDK.

The world has changed since this was written and most of the citations can be found with a smart phone and internet access. I recommend that everyone always check citations to see what was actually written and not the author’s interpretation or opinion of what was written.

Jun 16, 2021 - 7:58:02 PM

6288 posts since 9/21/2007

Yep, the author builds an entire narrative around Butler being black.

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