Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cello Banjo!

I was poking around on the Flea Market Music bulletin board this morning, & ran into a thread about a really wonderful looking machine, the cello banjo. I knew something of this sort existed in the days of the banjo orchestras (which more or less succeeded the mandolin orchestras way back when), but wasn’t aware such an instrument was still being made, especially by a pretty big name banjo maker like Gold Tone. I will be writing about the banjo orchestras at some point down the line.

Now Eberle & I have the dangerous habit of instrument acquisition as our friends can attest, but I’ll assure you that one of these beauties is not now on its way to Indian Valley, nor is it likely to be in the foreseeable future—I’ve got plenty to work on with my old Windsor 5-string, not to mention a tenor banjo I only occasionally take out of its case, & a mandocello I could stand to get lots better at playing (not to mention my main instruments, guitar & uke). But since Robert Frost’s Banjo is at least, say, 10% about banjos & unusual musical instruments, I thought I’d write a shortish post about this lovely item.

For eye candy: you can see the banjo cello (both a 4-string model & a 5-string) here at the Gold Tone site. For some ear candy: do check out this link, & watch & listen to the video. This gal can really play clawhammer on both a standard 5-string & that cello banjo—& frailing a banjo in 7/8 time is no joke. In fact, the whole Banjo Meets World site is about the most intriguing clawhammer site I’ve seen. I notice Banjo Meets World got a short write-up on the J-Walk Blog as well. I’m adding this blog to the Robert Frost’s Banjo blogroll right away. Any clawhammer folks out there, definitely check it out (tab & videos), but this site is also worth a look from folks who like to see someone “thinking outside the box” on a traditional instrument—or if you just like to hear some great old tunes. The Gold Tone site also links to some YouTube videos showcasing the cello banjo, including ones by such well known banjoists as Mary Cox & Bob Carlin on the 5-string, & Marcy Marxer on the 4-string. Check out Marcy Marxer & Cathy Fink duet on “The Kitchen Girl” here—some really good stuff.

Fun music to check out as we keep our fingers crossed (difficult to play the banjo when doing this) & wait for election results….

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