Miscellaneous Rumbles

And Speaking of the Banjo

2

Even though I love the banjo and can play a little, that IS pretty funny.

3

Reminds me of the bumper sticker, "USE AN ACCORDIAN, GO TO JAIL!"

4

"a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn't"

:)

5

"a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn't"

:)

– João Erbetta

I believe that is attributed to Mark Twain. Heh heh!

6

"a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn't"

:)

– João Erbetta

Same for the bagpipes. The only problem with those contraptions is that you can't decide who's a gentleman because it's impossible to tell the difference between someone 'playing' one and someone who's simply making noise!

9

I thought the banjo was never to be spoken of?

10

That banjo part coulda been sequenced or looped and saved a lot of premature joint wear.

Oh sure, that kid’s young and immortal now, but joints have a numbered life span before crappy tunnel or arthuritis set in. Someday he’s going to want to pick out Moon River or Flight of the Bumblebee for the ladies at the rest home, and he’s going to rue the joint flexions he wasted on this stunt.

11

"a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn't" I believe that is attributed to Mark Twain. Heh heh!

Well, Twain's views of the banjo seem to have been a bit divided. He also wrote this:

"The piano may do for love-sick girls who lace themsleves to skeletons, and lunch on chalk, pickles and slate pencils. But give me the banjo. Gottschalk compared to Sam Pride or Charley Rhoades, is as a Dashaway cocktail to a hot whisky punch. When you want genuine music -- music that will come right home to you like a bad quarter, suffuse your system like strychnine whisky, go right through you like Brandreth's pills, ramify your whole constitution like the measles, and break out on your hide like the pin-feather pimples on a picked goose, -- when you want all this, just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo!"

Being a gentleman may be one thing, playing genuine music another. Both good in their own right, but perhaps not compatible. Up to you to choose?

http://www.twainquotes.com/...

12

Actually, Twain's longer statement may be a detailed restatement of the shorter. He does attest to the relative power of the b***o, but it's not clear that a bad quarter, strychnine whisky, Brandeth's pills, measles and goose pimples are desirable things.

Beaming glory is all well and good, but in the Bible-besotted wake of the late 19th-century Great Awakening, the image might also suggest Thor-like bolts of divine power, smiting left and right with cosmic retribution - something I suspect Twain would have been anxious to side-step.

In that general connection, I've often thought Maxwell's silver hammer as a pretty good image for the effect of banjo-playing on the innocent ear.

13

this banjo player will skin hippies alive

– THE NOCTURNE BRAIN™

I got scared when the guy rolled in on his riding mower with his trusty accordian.

I seen Deliverance.

14

I see your point. But still, he does evoke a strong desire for genuine music - banjo music - be it pleasant or not. Even what the best piano player of the time can accomplish on his instrument seems weak compared to what a real banjoman can do. Also, is it really clear from the short quote that being a gentleman is desirable thing?

15

Well, my point was mostly for the sake of rhetorical entertainment.

All b***o discussions (not strictly technical in nature) - and practically any discussion of Sam Clemens which takes his acerbic nature into account - will naturally involve a lot of tongue in cheek.

That said, I suspect Twain, even while posing as one himself, would recognize the contradictory and ambiguous nature of "gentlemanliness." Snakes and rascals in expensive suits are not an invention of the recent past; from riverboat gamblers to carpetbaggers to bankers to politicians to shucksters, hucksters, and shysters, the type would have been familiar to him. He certainly built on the archetype with his duke and king.

When you hear a congresssnake referred to acidly by an equally serpentine colleague as "the gentleman from [insert name of province of hell here]", you get a true sense of the checkered character of the term.

So, no, it's not at all clear a gentleman is always - or even usually - a desirable thing, whether or not toting a b***o.

16

Those guys ain't reg'lar rednecks. They gots all there teef.

That, and the Swedish license plate on the tractor sort of gives it away.

17

Well, my point was mostly for the sake of rhetorical entertainment.

That was EXACLY what I was after, rather than building a defense for ungentlemanly banjo banging. I just happened to come across that long quote from Twain in a book I read recently. I found it interesting; the mix of horror in the pleasures to be had by that instrument and the surprising comparison with the piano. And this thread reminded me of it.

the Swedish license plate on the tractor

Swiss perhaps? In any case, Swedish license plates are white, not yellow. Oh, I just checked the Youtube channel: they are from our brother country Finland, home of non-regular rednecks.

18

Here’s a link to the man Bill Monroe called “The greatest fiddler in Bluegrass,” Kenny Baker. The banjo break is amazing. This is my long time band mate Bob Black playing with Kenny on “Bluegass in the Backwoods.” Recorded in ‘75 or ‘76. Monroe said Bob was better than any other banjo player at playing fiddle music.

19

this banjo player will skin hippies alive

– THE NOCTURNE BRAIN™

Sounds like hippie music to me. Here’s a to link a hippie who had Jerry Garcia’s dream job of playing banjo with Bill Monroe. This is fiddler Kenny Baker and banjo player Bob Black. Both were Bluegrass Boys when this recording was made in 1975. Kenny was an ex-coal miner from Jenkins, Kentucky. Bob was a young hippie from my home town, Iowa City, Iowa.

Edit: the second cut is one of my favorite Baker tunes called “Ducks on the Millpond.” This is a modal, trance inducing tune that was also played by Ozark fiddler Gene Goforth, who taught John Hartford how to play. Jamming with Gene was always a wonderful experience. He would practically go unconscious playing these tunes. He would show up at the motel whenever we were in his neighborhood to jam as long as any of us dirty hippies cared to play, or until we had to go play a show. He’d come back and jam all night after our gig.

20

A Sunday morning chuckle.

– Ric12string

This is hilarious, by the way.


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