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Smithsonian Folkways Presents "Conversations with North American Banjo Builders"

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Conversations with North American Banjo BuildersIn May of 2011, Craig Evans packed up his video equipment and headed out across the United States to capture the thoughts and methods of the modern-day individuals who build one of America's most iconic instruments: the banjo.

Conversations with North American Banjo Builders is a 4-volume, 12-DVD series that includes 38 interviews with open-back banjo builders, historians, and retailers. Each episode in the series devotes 20+ minutes to a single builder, and includes a personal statement, workshop tour, production information, and images of finished banjos. Many include sound tracks of the banjos being played by recognized old-time musicians and/or the builders themselves.

The series covers a wide range of building styles, including gourd, minstrel, traditional, and modern. Although construction techniques and philosophies may vary, the common thread uniting this series is the practice of banjo building as both art and craft. The four volumes, with three DVDs in each, are divided into builders east of the Mississippi (1), west of the Mississippi (2), historians/performers/teachers (3), and even more builders (4).

"I've always wanted to talk to banjo builders, not only to learn what makes a great banjo, but to understand what it is that makes these people so passionate about this instrument. As a 60th birthday present to myself, I decided to give myself permission to do just that. And therein lies my big adventure." - Craig Evans

"Fascinatingly personal." - No Depression

"It's a safe bet that this documentary will be talked about for a long time to come." - Banjo News

Volume 1: Banjo Builders East of the Mississippi
Volume 1 features banjo builders east of the Mississippi. Interviewees include: Bill Rickard, Jason Burns, Jeff Menzies, Greg Galbreath, Pete Ross, Bart Reiter, Lo Gordon and Tim Gardner, George Wunderlich, Mike Ramsey, Will Fielding, Chuck Lee, Kevin Enoch, Doug Unger, and Jim Hartel.
Volume 2: Banjo Builders West of the Mississippi
Volume 2 features banjo builders west of the Mississippi. Interviewees include: John Bowlin, Greg Deering, Bob Flesher, Brooks Masten, Jason Mogi, Chuck Ogsbury, Mark Platin, Doc (Patrick) Huff, Jason and Pharis Romero, Bob Thornburg, and Colin Vance.
Volume 3: Conversations with Banjo Historians
Volume 3 includes interviews with banjo historians, performers, and teachers as well as tours of private collections. Featured are: Greg Adams, Laurent Dubois, Peter Szego and Friends Banjo Collection Tour, Bob Winans, Bob Carlin, CeCe Conway, Jim Bollman Banjo Collection Tour, Kevin Fore, Ulf Jagfors, Taj Mahal, Dwight Diller, Adam Hurt, Festival (DVD Extra), Peter Szego (DVD Extra), Taj's Tunes (DVD Extra), Adam Hurt's Tunes (DVD Extra), Ed Britt (DVD Extra), Erynn Marshall and the Fores (DVD Extra), The Tombigbee River / Gum Tree Canoe Music Video (DVD Extra)
Volume 4: More North American Banjo Builders
Volume 4 features more North American banjo builders, such as: David Ball, Noah Booth, Glenn Carson, Randy Cordle, Jeff Delfield, Wyatt Fawley, Patrick Heavner, Dan Knowles, Jeff Kramer, Ken LeVan, Luke Mercier, and Mac Traynham.

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