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Jun 24, 2021 - 4:51:35 PM
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rebolz

USA

4 posts since 1/28/2010

Recently 2 or 3 FB groups have listed their Mt Rushmore of their points of interest. I have decided to post mine for the four people who have promoted and moved forward the popularity of the 5-string banjo. Feel free to list yours.
1 – Joel Sweeney. Joel took the banjo from the backwaters of Appomattox to New York, Boston and on to England and Europe.
2 – Charlie Poole. Charlie had a big hand in bringing the banjo to new popularity by recording a bunch of banjo tunes which sold very well. In fact some of his tunes sold over 100,000 back when there were not that many phonographs around. 100K sales would be like platinum today. Besides he was a fellow North Carolinian.
3 – Earl Scruggs. Could there be a banjo Mt Rushmore without Earl. There are probably better pickers than Earl but between Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, Flatt and Scruggs TV show and being on the Beverly Hillbillies, and finally the Earl Scruggs Revue, nobody did more to push the banjo forward.
4 – Pete Seeger. Pete was very instrumental to push the banjo to the forefront of the folk music revival. He helped popularize music by Woody Guthrie and the Weavers as well as nudging the Kingston Trio, the Chad Mitchell Trio and others. Pete also wrote the instruction manual that many banjoists used learn the craft.

These are mine. I'd love to hear yours.

Jun 24, 2021 - 5:26:34 PM
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2659 posts since 3/30/2008

...The Philadelphia Mummers Parade sent out banjo shockwaves every New Year, for decades.

Edited by - tdennis on 06/24/2021 17:27:36

Jun 24, 2021 - 6:45:54 PM

6296 posts since 9/21/2007
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quote:
Originally posted by rebolz

Recently 2 or 3 FB groups have listed their Mt Rushmore of their points of interest. I have decided to post mine for the four people who have promoted and moved forward the popularity of the 5-string banjo. Feel free to list yours.
1 – Joel Sweeney. Joel took the banjo from the backwaters of Appomattox to New York, Boston and on to England and Europe.
2 – Charlie Poole. Charlie had a big hand in bringing the banjo to new popularity by recording a bunch of banjo tunes which sold very well. In fact some of his tunes sold over 100,000 back when there were not that many phonographs around. 100K sales would be like platinum today. Besides he was a fellow North Carolinian.
3 – Earl Scruggs. Could there be a banjo Mt Rushmore without Earl. There are probably better pickers than Earl but between Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, Flatt and Scruggs TV show and being on the Beverly Hillbillies, and finally the Earl Scruggs Revue, nobody did more to push the banjo forward.
4 – Pete Seeger. Pete was very instrumental to push the banjo to the forefront of the folk music revival. He helped popularize music by Woody Guthrie and the Weavers as well as nudging the Kingston Trio, the Chad Mitchell Trio and others. Pete also wrote the instruction manual that many banjoists used learn the craft.

These are mine. I'd love to hear yours.


As far as influence and sheer numbers of people inspired, Frank B. Converse takes the number one spot.  In his lifetime he was much more famous and influential than Scruggs was in his.  Converse is pretty much the reason anyone still plays the banjo today.  Without Converse the banjo might not have ever separated from the minstrel show.  We certainly would not be playing today if it were not for his efforts to make it a concert instrument. 

S. S. Stewart designed the modern form of the banjo.  Three octave neck, 11" x 27" more or less.  Also more influential than Scruggs.  His music was played by more people in his lifetime than any post war bluegrass or folk banjoist.

The Dobson family, as troubled as they were, operated music schools and stores that taught countless numbers of people seeking to imitate their concert work.  They were in business for well over half a century teaching banjo. 

Then there are Vess Ossman and Fred Van Eps.  Both churned out top selling record after top selling record.  Oh, and Charlie Poole wished he could play like Fred Van Eps.  He even tried to record (sort of) one of Van Eps' better selling solos, "L'Infanta March" by George Gregory. 

Here is Van Eps....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D--XUNpmL3w

I can't find Poole's attempt to link to, but if you have the box set it was titled "Sunset March".  They are worth listening to side by side.

Jun 24, 2021 - 7:56:55 PM
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14083 posts since 10/30/2008

Uncle Dave, Charlie Poole, Wade Mainer and Stringbean for banjo life support during the 1920s, 30s and early 40s, before bluegrass. Honorable mention to Sam and Kirk McGee.

Snuffy Jenkins, Earl Scruggs, Don Reno and Ralph Stanley for developing the bluegrass banjo sound in the 1940s. Honorable mention to Rudy Lyle.

Pete Seeger probably deserves his own mountain.

Jun 24, 2021 - 9:45:38 PM
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rcc56

USA

3623 posts since 2/20/2016

quote:
Originally posted by The Old Timer



Pete Seeger probably deserves his own mountain.


. . . and his own river, too, for all the Clearwater has done . . .

And then there was that Rainbow Quest program, which gave us the only existing film I know of of the Stanley Brothers, Mississippi John Hurt, etc, etc.

And giving the young Ms. Travers her first gig, and if you had a draft card in the late 60's or early 70's, you understand just a few of the ramifications of that . . .

And the Folksinger's Guitar Guide, which taught me how to play guitar, and his banjo book. 

Edited by - rcc56 on 06/24/2021 21:56:29

Jun 24, 2021 - 11:24:49 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

24835 posts since 6/25/2005

quote:
Originally posted by tdennis

...The Philadelphia Mummers Parade sent out banjo shockwaves every New Year, for decades.


They did not play 5-string banjos. (As far as I know and understnd.)

Jun 25, 2021 - 8:27:12 AM
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2659 posts since 3/30/2008

The Mummers Parade has been going on since 1901, w/ string bands dominated by banjos. The type & mixture of banjos has changed over time, w/ marchers playing 5 string, tenor, plectrum, & mandolin banjos. They don't create celebrities, but a mummer carved into a mountain face would be a wild sight.

Jun 25, 2021 - 8:38:42 AM
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6807 posts since 9/5/2006
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i would have to put in a vote for bobby thompson and bill keith..bring melodic banjo to the masses.

Jun 25, 2021 - 8:44:47 AM

YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

207 posts since 5/11/2021
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John Hartford is a must.

I don't think there's a single banjo player that did more to keep the 5-string banjo alive than him. He is the father of progressive bluegrass / newgrass, and without him most people under 40 would have never heard a banjo in their life. Nearly every single non-"traditional bluegrass" band that exists today, every newgrass, jamgrass, prog-grass, thrashgrass, [fill-in-the-blank]-grass, none of them would exist without John Hartford.

John Hartford's impact to the post-1970 era of 5-string banjo cannot be overstated. He was, without question, the most influential banjo player since Earl Scruggs.

1 - Earl Scruggs
2 - John Hartford
3 - Pete Seeger
4 - {Someone from Joel Hooks' list}

Edited by - YellowSkyBlueSun on 06/25/2021 08:45:03

Jun 26, 2021 - 4:31:11 AM
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Bill H

USA

1651 posts since 11/7/2010

Interesting perspective from Joel. Many of us think in terms of our own experiences and most of us are not old enough to remember the late 19th and early part of the 20th century. In contemporary times Bela Fleck has inspired a new generation of players and has brought the banjo into new and interesting settings. Though Earl remains king. He is one of the few musicians in my lifetime who made banjo a household word by breaking out of the Country and Western niche and bringing the banjo to prominence in top ten radio, television and big screen movies. There is no argument that Earl's sound track made Bonnie and Clyde the popular movie is was. No other banjo player has done that.

Jun 29, 2021 - 10:42:10 AM

Alex Z

USA

4376 posts since 12/7/2006

1.  Earl Scruggs

2.  Pete Seeger

3.  Bill Keith

Giants, all.

After that, a lot of ties for 4th and 5th.  smiley

Edited by - Alex Z on 06/29/2021 10:42:44

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