A superb recording of the outstanding Classic fingerstyle banjo playing of Ernest Jones has just been made available. Ernest Jones’ technique often makes use of the most amazing finger tremolo that I have ever heard. The piece sounds as though, at times, he is using a plectrum… but no, fingerstyle it is.


Prepare to be amazed!



This a tune from the “Yankiana” Suite composed by T.W. Thurban.


There is an article about Ernest Jones playing on David Wade’s Zither Banjo site, if you would like to find more about Ernest’s playing:


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I come to this discussion entirely from left field.  I play jazz on piano and cornet, and am an avid collector of mostly Pre-War 78s.  On a visit to a little record shop in New Orleans three weeks ago, I stumbled upon two English Columbias by one Ernest Jones:  "Nigger Town" / "Mississippi Bubble" and "Pompadour" / "Swanee Echoes."  Intrigued by the titles, I just had to hear them and brought them home to Venice, California, thereby discovering the superb artistry of Mr. Jones.  

More surprising yet was to learn that classic ragtime and cakewalks were alive and well in England as late as 1929.  In America, by then,  this music was thirty years out of date.  I am used to hearing it on turn-of-the-century Berliner discs and Edison Cylinders, not on brilliant late-'20s electrical recordings.

The search for further information about Mr. Jones brought me to this website and discussion page.  I see that his six sides from 1930 are uploaded here; let me add these four to complete the collection.  As you will hear, the records are quite clean and sound wonderful.  



Thank you very much indeed Brad, that is a great contribution.

I have added these to our on site JUKBOX and made them playable from within your post.

I have also made the MP3  files downloadble from the JUKEBOX.

I had never heard Swanee Echoes played but recently recorded a video of my "interpretation" of the banjo score.


It is great to hear it played properly!.... how E. Jones played it.

Thanks Brad, excellent contribution. I like Ernest's rhythmic flair -- the way he speeds up the B parts in Pompadour is very nice and it makes the whole piece far more interesting. It sounds very dull played at a constant speed throughout. Swannee Echoes was amazing -- what a feat of execution!

Mike... you are talking about "MY" Swanee Echoes I assume ;-)

I too love the way the Ernest Jones uses these dramatic tempo changes. His "Joy Dance" is a delight to listen to... it moves your insides (in the nicest way) as he accelerates and decelerates!

Ernest Jones was a turf accountant/bookmaker in Birmingham in the 1930s, as well as being a pretty good banjo player. The house in which he lived still has a mosaic floor in the hallway which features a zither banjo in the design. He is reputed to have run into trouble with the tax man as a result of a dispute with his pianist Jack Venables. I used to talk to Charlie Bramley about Jones, he told me that Jones moved to Herstmonceaux in later years but still remained prominent in musical circles, Charlie called on him one day and found Jones entertaining the entire Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to dinner. Jones' banjo ended up in the Channel Islands, forget which one, his Grandson has opened a Bistro/restaurant/cafe/winebar,recently, called THE BANJO and I think that the 'Vibrante' is nailed to the wall somewhere in that establishment. Ernest was a wonderful player.

Its a year since this string of posts ended but just say that Ernest Jones's family are mostly resident in Jersey. I am his great grandson and eldest son of his son's eldest son!  He has two grandchildren, 11 great great grand children and 21 great-great grandchildren living in Jersey and a grandchild and great-grandchildren in Australia. Leslie Bartleet was married to Ernest's wife Maude's sister and so was also part of the family.  I and my four siblings work in our family business started by Ernest's son Clive. Jersey Pottery makes ceramics (www.jerseypottery.com) and also operates several restaurants ( www.jprestaurants.com) which include Banjo (www.banjojersey.com) which also has rooms and has Ernest's Banjo, many photographs and also his six 78s (12 sides mentioned above) recorded with Columbia records. We are very proud of our family history and delighted to be able to celebrate it with Banjo. Ernest retired to Lychett Matravers in Dorset (I have visited his last home) and when he died following a car accident his widow moved to Jersey to be with his two children who moved to Jersey in the 1930s. I'd be delighted to hear from anyone with any interest in Ernest Jones. 

Thanks for this post, Dominic. I half expected that the sentence about the great number of descendants would end with "and they ALL play the banjo" !

I, too, am appreciative of Ernest Jones' playing technique. What force he had. I am enclosing some recordings of his that are on ClassicBanjoRadio.com.


Here are some more tunes of Ernest Jones:


And here are some more:


Here are the The Return of the Regiment and The Kilties.

Hal Allert said:

Thanks David, for the correction. I think I got the music from you some time ago along with John Pidoux and Bertie Owen. I just assumed it was Ernest Jones. I will make a note of it in my music. I am sorry for misleading the rest of you. Thank goodness it really wasn't Grandpa Jones.

David Wade said:

Great stuff Hal, well done.

BUT  I must correct you the first two sides that you have uploaded are NOT by Ernest Jones, they are played by Alfred Oswin Warriner Kirby. Indeed these are the only two sides commercially recorded by Kirby. The sheet music was published by Ernest Jones and the two were close friends which is where you may have got confused. Kirby played zither-banjo on these recordings which were done in London for the Piccadilly label during July 1930, Norman Hackforth was the pianist.  

Ernest Jones recorded on a Cammeyer Vibrante a total of 12 sides in three recording sesssions - the first session was in April 1929 and consisted of : Niggertown; Mississippi Bubble; Swanee Echoes and Pompadour. The pianist here was Jack Venables.

The six sides that you have uploaded were recorded in two session in 1930, April and September. Leslie Bartlett was the pianist. The two sides missing from these sessions are two Grimshaw numbers: The Return of the Regimant and the Kilties.
Jones "retired" in the 1940's at "His Majesties Pleasure"......the family moved to the Channel Islands.


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