"But no well informed person ever called the picking of the mandolin music." New York Times, 1897
Yep...I've theorized that, once the stigma of "Welk/Floren/let's polka" subsides (similar to enough generational distance from "Deliverance"), accordians will take over the world
and why not?...
But (somewhat) more seriously, people love banjos and accordians...for whatever reasons, people are attracted by them--not only are they loud, they effectively render kinetic dance music. When entertaining solo, I use banjos and accordians more than any other instruments ..
Last edited by catmandu2; Nov-13-2011 at 5:30pm.
Man, I'm sorry, but I hope that guy didn't get paid much to write that. Boring and hackneyed, right up there with 'Boy, how about that food on airplanes?" and "Women. Am I right, fellas? The guys out there know what I'm talkin' about!"
Proof you can find any point of view on the web, even the most inane, from someone that likely has a good education and (we assume) some intelligence.
Whats stupid is he says he grew up in the "City of Brotherly love".....what, he never saw the mummers parade?
I borrowed this but it is still as powerful
"Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
" - Pete Seeger
See more Newell mandolin pictures
I also have a similar theory--of a cultural image very much influenced by relative proximity to stereotypes like the "Deliverance." In my view, the author effectively hits upon the main points in this short article
I wouldn't be at all surprised if the author were really not put-off by banjo, and perhaps is a player as well. Not unlike what we do here--poke fun at ourselves, without taking busting on musical instruments too seriously (mandolins excluded, of course!)
Just when I was thinking about possibly buying one.........
"Put your hands to the wood
Touch the music put there by the summer sun and wind
The rhythms of the rain, locked within the rings
And let your fingers find The Music in the Wood."
Joe Grant and Al Parrish (chorus from The Music in the Wood)
I took it as dry humor as well.
He missed the obvious banjo-accordion polka buskers.
www.giannaviolins.com - Primarily violin family, The Loar
mandovoodoo.com - Acoustic optimization for mandolins, violins, guitars
gypsyjazzguitars.com - The Loar, Gitane, Cigano, Cordoba, Loriente
I also thought it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, although it wasn't anywhere near as clever as the writer appeared to think.The Onion would do a better job without the smugness, I'm thinkin.
1920 Lyon & Healy bowlback
1983 Giannini ABSM1 bandolim
2009 Giannini GBSM3 bandolim
2011 Eastman MD305
No reason to take affront by anything...I mean, yes, you wouldn't want yer banjo to bite back or antyihg, so, yes, better for the cat to be dead...
One day during a period of time when i happened to be not so interested in banjo playing...I also happened to be down at Greg Boyd's, and happened to mention to Greg that I wasn't playing much banjo. Greg then replied, "well, why not?...they're so....ROUND."
And yu know, he's right. And I've since recaptured some of my enthusiasm for playing. Greg's a genius, of sorts.,
I mean, this guy isn't playing a MANDOLIN or anything!
Ok, now you got my dander up. I do play the banjo and even have built quite a number of them. And mandolins and geetars. (Never made an autoharp yet.) I once asked a friend and fellow musically inclined person why he thought I didn't like (insert your instrument name here.......................................) and he said "It's not the ..................................... It's the people that play them....
So, this person at the WSJ obviously doesn't understand the finer points of playing the round one... On the Bluegrass Sessions album via Bela, Hartford does a little rap-like thing about having room in your heart for the banjo- it's round.
Off my tirade for now......
I was going to get all offended, too, until I saw the author, Joe Queenan. His job is to disparage, dismiss, and generally dislike virtually everything he comes across. The day he writes something positive about anything is the day he gets fired. I'm sort of surprised he didn't take out as many targets as he could have. At least synthesizers and didgeridoos took a hit, we're not alone...
and not on;ly THAT!, by gravy, but you can blame the mandolin for much, much of my banjo interest. Yes, although I had early exposure to banjo when learning Scruggs style at age 16 (yes, young and illusioned), it wasn't until I started on mandlins some 30 years later, that I became obsessed with tenor banjos....which really puts the "anj" in [I]banjo[/I
so there you have it -- mandolins are the real evil
It's a quasi-funny little essay, mocking the obstreperous and hillbilly qualities of the banjo, by someone who at least has listened to a fair amount of banjo music, and probably enjoys that music when he's not pretending to snarkiness.
There's not an instrument going that can't make wonderful music in the right hands, and there's also not an instrument that can't seem terminally annoying in the wrong context. That goes for our beloved mandolin as well. I was contemptuous of accordions until I started playing with some good Celtic musicians -- found electric guitars by-and-large too "pushy" until I worked with some tasteful pickers -- had no use for a drum kit, until I found drummers who could really add musicality as well as rhythm. I'm generally down on hand percussion, bodhran, spoons, rub-board etc., but recognize there are wonderful contributors on those instruments. Even the bagpipes have an honored place -- as long as it's not right next to me in a closed room.
Banjo was my first stringed instrument, and I still play it quite a bit, with varying degrees of success. The PBS Give Me the Banjo documentary spent a lot of time on the instrument's history, which is truly fascinating. I hope no one took the Journal's bit of japery very seriously, since I'm sure it wasn't intended that way.
Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
Natl Triolian Dobro mando
Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
Stradolin Vega banjolin
Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
Flatiron 3K OM
Well, you can take your gravy and....... well, whatever.
I believe I was only swept away by the banjo while in my earlier hippie-like days while living up near Gold Hill west of Boulder in around 1974 or so. Bought my first round one from the Ome factory near where I lived. I believe it's possible that at that time Mike Kemnitzer may have worked there. I don't know. And I have yet to meet him. And I'd like to.
But, back to topic. I don't believe that banjo is ripe to be subject to dismissiveness (?). It's a fine instrument. Just don't play it any closer to the bridge that about 6 or 7 inches... Actually, when my wife hears me playing the ol' 5 string, she tells me she really likes it. I can't remember when she said the same thing about me playing the mandolin.
Well there you have it then -- WIVE's are the real....er...ne'r mind
Drivel. Stupidity. Prejudiced, hackneyed nonsense.
You apologists are giving him way too much credit. I don't see any tongue-in-cheek humor here. This is an out-and-out lambasting. And thank you so much for making it necessary to reread this diatribe to confirm my first impression.
If he were truly interested in analyzing the rise in recent years of usage of and interest in a non-guitar string instrument, he should have addressed the ukulele - quite neglected 3-4 years ago, ubiquitous now. The banjo has always been around, and he has noticed it now only because of the PBS documentary and Steve Martin's album and relentless promoting thereof.
This hearkens back to the article quoted in the OPs signature - "But no well informed person ever called the picking of the mandolin music" - a savage attack on the mandolin by a writer for the New York Times more than a century ago, taking to task an attempt at music therapy on behalf of a patient in Bellevue, I believe. Apparently for some wags precious little has changed since then. I am grateful for Queenan's ignorance in that he didn't even mention the mandolin. I hope he stays that way. Please!
Last edited by journeybear; Nov-13-2011 at 9:36pm. Reason: one more thing ...
Obviously not referring to a TENOR Banjo...
Quote - "....even the most inane,..." Scott wins !!. Dale - A Blue Bluegrass banjo would be cooooool !,
I sincerely hope that the author's life has more point to it than his journalism,
Weber F-5 'Fern'.
Lebeda F-5 "Special".
Stelling Bellflower BANJO
Tanglewood TW-1000SR Guitar
Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.
I thought it interesting that he tries to come off as learned on the subject of banjo popularity, and never brings up Earl Scruggs!
My take on the article was that is was written by someone who is a player of some instrument, and that there was an attempt at humor, but I find it likely that the average non-musician wouldn't get that humor at all. As a result I think it's a bad article. I will crack on the banjo as much as anyone else, but the truth is I own four of them (mando content: one is a tenor) and have an Ome on the way. I love the sound of clawhammer in particular, but a well played resonator banjo is a thing of beauty.
Taking a shot at Moog, now that was low!
Really, I'm all for some good banjo jokes... it's just that when it's another acoustic musician making the jabs, it's all in good fun; when the barbs are coming from an outsider it's another story.
Banjos are a part of homemade music in general. In today's society, there is far too much corporate, manufactured music being listened to. So, from that standpoint, I will defend any kind of acoustic music...