The more I study the banjo and the people who play them the more I am hooked on the banjo.
When I first took to the banjo some ten years ago, Stephen Wade’s documentary film ‘Banjo Spirits’ was one of the first documented histories I’d seen on the origins of the banjo. I was instantly drawn in as Stephen explored the old banjo’s at Smithsonian Folkways Museum. Learning a little about how the banjo had made it’s way to America from Africa, and the connection that Bluegrass music has with my homeland of Scotland and my mother’s ancestor’s home of Eire. Until quite recently Scotland also shared an industrial connection with parts of America, deep mining for coal. Alas all the deep coalmines in the UK have closed. Don Stover’s personal tribute to coalminers ‘Black Diamond’ is one tune I wanted to learn from the moment I watched him open his case and take out his banjo.
I also love the way Don mixes clawhammer with the three finger style when he sings