This little quote from Ian got stuck in my head.

"was forced to enter banjo competitions all over the UK in the 1970s by my banjo teacher..."

Banjo the "Classic style!" Amazing.

Banjo styles come and go. Actually, the Bluegrass style seems to have some staying power, but to be fair, the Classic style has been with us since...let's say the 1880's, and THANKS TO THE ENGLISH (and their associates) it never died.

So I raise my glass and salute the banjo-playing members of the Queen's realm.

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Ey Up, somebody better order him a taxi!
The competions were, and still are, held as part of group rallies for Banjo Mandolin and Guitar Clubs from around the UK. There were competitions for all styles of playing.........bluegrass included :(

"THE" National Cup to win for Classic Style was the "John Alvey Turner Cup". My biggest claim to fame is that in 1936 William J Ball won it...and in 1980..I won it. There are a few big differences though.

1) William J Ball was better looking than me and didn't turn into a fat bald old git.
2) William J Ball, when older, was a magnificent banjo player and I am still struggling and stumbling though pieces.
3) He had talent.

ps I agree with David, It looks like Carl has had enough to drink already.
Sadly not many banjo players entering these days.
what tittle did you played when you won it ?
it was the same tittle for all ? or everybody could play anything up to himself ?

Hi Marc,
Competitors could chose their own piece to play, but the panel of judges had copies of the sheet music and they judged on accuracy and interpretation etc. The piece I played was not terribly difficult, as I was not that good! It was the Morley composition "Circus Parade". The piece has great dynamics and a great bass solo section, and with help of Tarrant Baileys Jnr's suggestions I guess I was just lucky to win the cup.

One thing is for sure, is that after a break from playing for 25 years I couldn't even win a saucer, let alone a cup nowadays!

Circus Parade, what a neat tune. You need to play it for us Ian! It is on my "to do" list but all I've done so far is to TAB it out.

So, is there the same "competition" system in Oz, Ray? Banjo contests here in the states are a regular aspect of Bluegrass (and oldtime) festivals. No sheet music, of course. Most are simply crap-shoots as there is no 'standard' set of judging requirements.

Y'all also have a graded system for Classic Banjo, I believe, with specific tests, etc. I can't imagine such a thing here...heck, they have stopped keeping score at kids Soccer matches because "losing" has a negative affect on the kids...
Ian , i am impressed by the fact that you knowed the greatest banjoists ; my opinion is that tarrant Baileys junior should have been a great nor only by the banjo but by the human beeing , i guess ; he is always smiling on the photos
Nowadays American banjo contests tend to be grim affairs and rather listless even though they go on for a long time. It used to be more lively and colorful. In Virginia mid century competitors bragged about spreading Brylcreem on their opponents' fiddle bows when they weren't looking. I've heard of banjo strings being cut. A player would open his case and find all strings severed! In Texas they'd get out in the front row and yell outrageous things at contestants as they were playing to throw them off their game. I haven't entered many contests. But I did place second at the Berkeley Old-time Music Convention in the late 1960s. This was a different kettle of fish. First place went to a local banjo playing math professor who was in Geneva, Switzerland at the time of the contest. They gave him first prize for having the good taste to not show up at the contest. I played a fretless banjo and I learned from the judges (after they sobered up 2 days later) that they awarded me 5 points for every fret I didn't have on my banjo! In the mid 1960s after my band had played at the big contest at Union Grove North Carolina I was taken aside by one of the judges. His name was Loy Beaver and he was a 78 rpm record collector, a Cherokee Indian who spoke Yiddish, and an undertaker. He was said to have embalmed Franklin Roosevelt. Mr Beaver explained to me in a kind tone of voice that he had deducted 10 points for my long hair and another 15 points for playing a minor chord. Then he bought me a piece of pecan pie. I was 18 years old and astonished. The pie was delicious.
David Wade said:
Ey Up, somebody better order him a taxi!

I regret if my initial post sounds a little obsequious or patronizing, I guess I'm not always the great communicator that I think I am. I just wanted to send a little trans-atlantic good cheer, or something like that. We seemed to have morphed into discussing banjo contests, which is an interesting topic. I used to enter contests in my Bluegrass days, and witnessed a lot of spoiled-sportsmanship. I guess it just comes with the territory. In the end, music is less about competing and more about self-expression, especially with an artistic style like Classic banjo.
Carl, don't beat yourself up! We Brits are made of tougher stuff than you think. After all, it was we Brits who invented America, if I remember my history we can stand a bit of being patronized.

As for being obsequiouzed I haven't got a clue what that is but it doesn't sound so good.

I think what may have confused you is David's use of English, Ey Up (short for "Ey Up me duck") is a, sort of, friendly welcome used by the common people in the uncivilized parts of England.
David is from Yorkshire, so that should explain it.
So lets all reach hands across the ocean and have a big sloppy kiss and a group hug.

Ian from Lancashire
Hi Rob,
I know that we shouldn't publicise the opposition, but look at this:

It may be an avenue to research for you. The banjo was alive and well in Scotland, if only in Glasgow. I had never heard of this maker, but there must have been demand for there to be a maker!

Ian the Sassanach
Well, he is nearly right, t'owd lad from Blackpool, "Ey up me duck" is Derbyshire, notwithstanding that it is a friendly greeting. Instead of a hug can we just go for a pint?

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