Bluegrass Bus Museum


You are here

‘Classic Banjo’ Explores The Versatility And Vitality Of An American Musical Staple

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Classic BanjoThe history of the banjo stretches across a complex, international terrain, from West Africa and the Caribbean, to North America and around the world. On August 6, Smithsonian Folkways will release ‘Classic Banjo from Smithsonian Folkways,’ a 30-track compilation that captures the great versatility of the banjo and how it helped shape American musical identity, including the instrument’s vital role in the 1960s folk revival.

The collection offers an introduction to some of the many faces behind the music of the banjo, such as a recording of a young Pete Seeger performing a rapid-fire banjo medley as well as Doc Watson’s 1976 rendition of “Rambling Hobo,” the first banjo tune Watson, better known for his guitar playing, ever learned. Other featured performers include Elizabeth Cotten, Bill Evans, Snuffy Jenkins, Bill Keith, Dink Roberts, Roni Stoneman, Tony Trischka, and Don Vappie.

Listen to selections from ‘Classic Banjo from Smithsonian Folkways’:

‘Classic Banjo’ was compiled by ethnomusicologist Greg Adams and archivist Jeff Place from over 300 albums in the Smithsonian Folkways collection, and is the 22nd album in Smithsonian Folkways acclaimed ‘Classic’ series. Place, archivist at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s Rinzler Archives, has produced more than 50 Smithsonian Folkways recordings, including the GRAMMY-winning ‘Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection’. Adams is also currently an archivist at Rinzler Archives and has been playing banjo and studying its history since 1994, working closely with scholars, musicians, and collectors to raise awareness of the banjo’s broader multicultural significance.

As with every compilation in the Smithsonian Folkways Classic Series, ‘Classic Banjo’ explores the breadth and depth of a genre while the liner notes offer insight into the cultural and historical contexts of each selection. During the last 10 years, Smithsonian Folkways has released Classic compilations of bluegrass, folk, blues, maritime, old-time, and mountain music, among others.

‘Classic Banjo from Smithsonian Folkways’ tracklist:
1. Fly Around My Blue-Eyed Girl / Cripple Creek / Ida Red / Old Joe Clark — Pete Seeger (2:35)
2. Banging Breakdown — Hobart Smith (1:17)
3. Johnson Boys — Frank Proffitt (1:41)
4. Peachbottom Creek — Wade Ward (1:24)
5. Coo Coo — Dink Roberts (2:10)
6. Josh Thomas's Roustabout — Mike Seeger (2:38)
7. Jaw Bone — Willie Chapman (0:52)
8. Bright Sunny South — Dock Boggs (3:36)
9. Coal Creek March — Pete Steele (1:52)
10. Mississippi Heavy Water Blues — Josh Thomas (3:37)
11. Walk Light Ladies — Rufus Crisp (1:28)
12. Buck Creek Girls — Bill Cornett (1:00)
13. Gut Bucket Blues — Don Vappie (4:15)
14. Skylark / Roaring Mary — Mick Moloney (3:24)
15. St. Anne's Reel / La Renfleuse Gorbeil — Ken Perlman (2:50)
16. Smokey Mokes — Roger Sprung (2:21)
17. Golden Bell Polka — A.L. Camp (2:25)
18. Banjoland — Tony Trischka with Bill Evans (3:00)
19. Sally Ann — Snuffy Jenkins (1:10)
20. Lonesome Road Blues — Roni Stoneman (1:12)
21. Fox Chase — Lee Sexton (0:56)
22. Hop Along Lou — John Tyree (1:08)
23. Cotton Eyed Joe — "Big Sweet" Lewis Hairston (1:23)
24. Foggy Mountain Top — Ola Belle Reed (2:29)
25. Rambling Hobo — Doc Watson (1:37)
26. Old Rattler — John Snipes (2:46)
27. Georgia Buck — Elizabeth Cotten (1:42)
28. I Wish to the Lord I'd Never Been Born — Irvin Cook (3:07)
29. Black Eye Susie — Roscoe Holcomb (1:24)
30. Bluegrass Breakdown — Bill Keith with Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys (3:09)

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer