Books on history of classic banjo? And, CD’s of classic banjo music?

Hi everyone,

Any recommendations on books that include a history of classic banjo?

I am also looking for suggestions on classic banjo CD’s that are available. I just purchased Aaron Jonah Lewis CD. 
I realize that there are many audio files that have been made available for free, but I’d also like to know of any must own CD’s.


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Is the book “America's Instrument: The Banjo in the Ninteenth Century” worth having? It seems to be quite expensive at the moment!

I think "The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century" is worth having. I found it very informative. Lots of good quality pictures. The primary focus is the refinement in banjo construction and the popularisation of the instrument. Another book I have which is well researched is "The Banjo Entertainers: Roots To Ragtime" by Lowell H. Schreyer. It's on Amazon. It focuses primarily on the performers.  An old book that's available for download as a pdf is "Monarchs Of Minstrelsy" by Edward LeRoy Rice. It's on -

Awesome! Thank you very much!

Where does one go to learn more about the history of classic banjo? Is it mostly gleaned through old newsletters (like BMG) and trade magazines?

Just ask Joel Hooks! He knows everything!

But on a serious note. Yes, that's pretty much it, I guess. And playing the music, playing, playing, playing....

No amount of reading would give the insights of first hand knowledge of how it is to actually play the instrument.

Hey Milwaukee - check out the Original Recordings section on this site. 

Here are some other suggestions that should be available (I have them on CD):

Olly Oakley: Banjo Burlesque and Bolero

The Titanic Stringband: Tip of the Iceberg

Black-tie Banjo: At Home/Centennial Souvenir

William J Ball: Just William/More William/Humoresque/Pompadour

Alan Middleton: Only One Pair of Hands

The Belle Epoque Ensemble: Classics

Elias Sibley: The Millennium Classical Banjo Collection

Rob Murch: Still Fretting

The Skirtlifters: A Ragtime Episode (also check out The Old 78s)

Chris Sands and Keith Nichols: Banjo Time Machine

Ray Andrews: Classic English Banjo 

Clive Palmer: Banjoland

Rob Mackillop: Recital: The Art of the Banjo

Hi Carrie,

Thanks for the list!

I have been checking out the great recordings section here!

No worries, it's great that you've caught the banjo bug!

p,s not about banjo history but about the wider history of black American music: Ragged but Right by Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff 

Hi Carrie,

I actually own that book (and two others from that series), but I haven’t read them yet as they are packed away in storage.

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