The banjo occupies an unique space within American culture, acting both as an emblem for black folk music and African heritage, and an instrument used for white cultural appropriation and minstrelization.
Rosploch recently joined the East Bay Banjo Club, performing at civic events and parties around San Francisco Bay Area. Her playing ability has grown greatly since she joined.
It’s a fable
Fables are narrative stories based on fact or fiction that serve to teach moral or ethical lessons while providing entertainment. Banjo on my knee is one such fable which emphasizes not judging books by their covers – as well as people. Additionally, this fable teaches readers not to judge friends by looks or actions alone.
McCrea stars as a shanty town boy who marries Stanwyck (played by Barbara Stanwyck). After getting married, however, Stanwyck finds herself unable to conceive and the patriarch of their family is obsessed with playing banjo so McCrea is sent out on an adventure to see the world and earn some extra income while waiting for his wife.
Tintype photography from the 1850’s and 60’s utilized a process of reverse imaging that resulted in banjos appearing upside-down in many Civil War era photos, such as Matokie Slaughter finger picking & clawhamming her Resonator Vega banjo on her right leg and Abie Horton with his Openback Alvarez on his left leg. This practice allowed for photographs to be developed quickly.
It’s a myth
A banjo has long been used as a cultural signifier, symbolizing both collaboration across cultural lines as well as blackface minstrelsy. Furthermore, its instrument has been seen as being emblematic of racism and stereotyping but can also serve as an avenue to maintain African aesthetics and beliefs. This book investigates this controversial instrument’s history.
This collection of songs contains both traditional and contemporary compositions composed specifically for banjo, along with extensive historical notes and an exhaustive bibliography. This book serves as an invaluable resource for scholars of American music or anyone curious about banjo culture.
Some individuals fear banjo playing because they worry that at any moment, their strings may suddenly start cracking up and emitting “gum stump.” These individuals should consider getting rid of this fear for an affordable fee: I will fly directly into their hometowns and help cure them of their desire to play banjo.
The banjo is an incredible instrument to learn, yet not for everyone. Even professional musicians may find the banjo challenging due to its unique techniques that take some practice before mastering them fully; nonetheless, many players have over come these challenges to become accomplished musicians themselves.
When in a desert and you encounter Bugs Bunny, a cactus and an excellent banjo player – who should you approach for directions? Answer: Cacti are considered mythological creatures.
There are various jokes regarding banjo players and their music; some can be funny while others not so much. Here are a few popular examples:
It’s a story
Banjo on my Knee was a 1936 film adaptation of Harry Hamilton’s novel that kept audiences guessing as to where it would head with each scene change. Joel McCrea portrayed a shantytowner who marries Barbara Stanwyck (Barbara Stanwyck was playing Susanna). To satisfy their father who is desperate for grandchild, McCrea travels the world for six months accompanied by Susanna while busking on street corners with banjo in hand for spare nickels to bring back home to Susanna (Barbara Stanwyck was playing Susanna).
Due to its distinctive sound and limited artistic value, banjo players and music composers were often subjected to “banjojokes.”
It’s a song
The banjo has long been the subject of humorous or otherwise offensive jokes and puns. While its distinctive twang can help open nasal passages or tear off stubborn wallpaper, many view its artlessness and lack of musicality as antithetical to its value as an instrument and musician. Due to these characteristics, numerous jokes relating to its players (and/or the instrument itself) have arisen surrounding its usage, including many offensive ones.
Banjo on My Knee was inspired by Harry Hamilton’s novel of the same name and stars McCrea as a shantytown boy who marries a land girl (Stanwyck), then embarks on an international trip. On his return home, his grandfather is desperate for grandchildren – something McCrea demonstrates quite effectively throughout this film.
Add some old-time American nostalgia into your classroom with this lively medley of Stephen Foster tunes, set against an easy yet pleasing banjo-like piano accompaniment. This book/CD pack features 16 of his pre-Civil War songs arranged for minstrel banjo – including some of the first and most beloved banjo songs ever composed – with fascinating historical notes explaining their meaning, performance history, significance of musicians who first performed them and of Foster himself, America’s first professional songwriter! Plus complete original lyrics and an extensive bibliography!