Around one year ago I was approached and asked to give a talk/demonstration with my banjo to a local history group, while making preparations it occurred to me to put together a more structured lecture/discussion with a theme that would show the banjo in a more interesting and pleasing light.

With this idea in mind I decided to focus on a time  when the banjo was most prominent, at the British seaside ! Then a musician friend told me he had just returned from a most interesting gig at one of our esteemed colleges giving a talk to the music students on sea shanties from the south west of England I asked if there would be any interest in my own modest presentation and, how should I reach any interested parties, a short video outlining what I was offering seemed the right idea and I at once set about producing the following 4 minutes of shameless self promotion . Please click on the link and give me any constructive feedback you may have, I am able to edit and make changes to the film and, feel sure that at least some may be needed. My hope is that anybody viewing this promo will at least have their interest piqued and, I may gain some wider exposure for my scheme. 

Thanks, 

https://youtu.be/yL5VImhBJVY

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Nick,

Firstly, congratulations on taking up the challenge of producing some original work on the history of the banjo!  There can't be too much of it, and the concept of the banjo at the seaside is a corker.  It will be well worthwhile.  (I was wondering a couple of years ago if we missed an opportunity to produce something about the banjo and the First World War.  As it happens, a neighbour of mine is producing a programme for TV on Shackleton's expedition, and I have made sure she understands the contribution of Leonard Hussey and his banjo to that venture.)  Anyway, I won't carp on about the issues already covered, but I would like to go back a bit to the origins of the seaside entertainment.  There was undoutedly entertainment on the beaches as soon as seaside holidays were made possible, but what was it before Essex's Pierrots?  I have added a painting of a crowd on Hammersmith bridge in 1862 where most of the focus is on a group of black-face minstrels.  Clearly, if there was money to be made at the seaside, this lot would be there.  Also, why Pierrots?  Why did they become so associated with seaside entertainment?  Did they come in from somewhere else?

A small tip: I have learnt from my wife's lectures to students that it is good to leave them with unanswered questions as they are all on the lookout for subjects for dissertations.  You might inspire one of them to do your research work for you!

Regards

Tony

Thank you for the encouraging comments Tony, yes I intend to cover the origins of Pierrot troupes and the debt they owe to minstrelry also, black faced performers are a somewhat taboo issue in these times as of course you are aware ! tread carefully being the watchword. Folkestone, where I live has a rich history of all things "seaside" being mentioned often in Victorian/Edwardian literature as a place to take the sea air, we still retain a bandstand, theatres and,other relics of the era, our excellent local history group is a great source of information about such stuff and, I often work the same "pitches" as Uncle Macs Minstrel troupe ! this is intended to be a small scale presentation for interested parties however and not an important history project, striking the balance between entertaining and informing is the greatest challenge I have found, nothing turns people off like a dry old history lecture, 

cheers, Nick.

No problem here, either, Nick. It's a good video.

nick stephens said:

No problem here Jody ! I asked and, I received, my point being that "banjo orchestras" enjoyed a measure of success back in the day and, as far as I am aware arranged the pieces they played in accordance with regular orchestral arrangements using big uns little uns and in betweenies . BMG is full of allusions to banjo orchestras and it is clear that the CE range of odd sized banjos were built to cater for just those players ! I have done my due research and, continue to pursue this research, I live on the south coast here in England and relics of those times are everywhere you look, most people here in the UK are fairly "savvy"  re; Pierrot troupes, concert parties and their like. Each year for the last four years I have played my one man show weekly on the Broadstairs bandstand (a Victorian bandstand!) I talk regularly with many of those in attendance and, the interest in this style of entertainment is strong believe me ! This is exactly what has prompted me to try such a venture, talk about banjo makes, models, styles and watch those eyes glaze over, sing "Daisy Belle" and hear the chorus swell when the audience join in, I believe I can handle the presentation, what I cannot do is make videos thus, I enlisted help and, because I remain unsure of the quality/validity of this one I thought I might ask here and on BHO  for feedback. I very much value what you all have to say and, I thank you too, I will get there eventually.

The consensus has definitely been change the font, on it right now ! much still to do, thanks.

Yes, while songs were  a big part AFAICT so were banjo solos.  A quick glance at the early issues we have of the BMG shows Essex playing solos as part of the normal act. 

Trapdoor2 said:

I'm straining not to rant on about literal minded pedantry...

Yah, I would prefer period correct music. The problem with this is that much of it was "music hall" vocals, not stuffy banjo solos or orchestral pieces. The troupes usually only had a few players and weren't going to sell tickets by playing pieces that banjoists enjoy. Cheery music, funny routines, laugh-out-loud lyrics and slapstick. Put a pretty girl on stage and let her sing some bright tune. No doubt, the players probably played their favorites backstage, for their banjo-playing groupies.

Nobody in his target audience is going to care about instrument pedantry...unless he intends to bore them to death.

It is a crying shame that there is no Glockenspiel Banjo though...

And if I remember right Clifford Essex first encountered Joe Morley playing solo at the seaside. He had to persuade Morley to use a 5-string fretted banjo instead of a "smooth arm" one with an "extra" bass string or two when playing on stage in London.  Why he thought that would be better is not clear to me. Perhaps because Clifford Essex didn't sell fretless banjos?

Joel Hooks said:

Yes, while songs were  a big part AFAICT so were banjo solos.  A quick glance at the early issues we have of the BMG shows Essex playing solos as part of the normal act. 

Trapdoor2 said:

I'm straining not to rant on about literal minded pedantry...

Yah, I would prefer period correct music. The problem with this is that much of it was "music hall" vocals, not stuffy banjo solos or orchestral pieces. The troupes usually only had a few players and weren't going to sell tickets by playing pieces that banjoists enjoy. Cheery music, funny routines, laugh-out-loud lyrics and slapstick. Put a pretty girl on stage and let her sing some bright tune. No doubt, the players probably played their favorites backstage, for their banjo-playing groupies.

Nobody in his target audience is going to care about instrument pedantry...unless he intends to bore them to death.

It is a crying shame that there is no Glockenspiel Banjo though...

For what it's worth, I had no trouble reading the font. It was perfectly legible.  It was the short duration that was the problem.

nick stephens said:

The consensus has definitely been change the font, on it right now ! much still to do, thanks.

my understanding is that CE could not permit JM to play such an unsophisticated "rural" instrument in his show, whatever would people think ? gotta play a smart new CE banjo ! Further , where was JMs first engagement with the Essex Pierrots booked for ? Folkestone Kent ! my little town.

Essex had Weaver make JM a 6 string fretted banjo (JM was playing a 7 string "tub").  Morley later (according to the story) dug the frets out (if I remember what Eli Kaufman told me correctly-- I am not Morley expert).

Nick, read Anthony Peabody's work here-- http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/34585/

It should answer most of your Morley questions. 

nick stephens said:

my understanding is that CE could not permit JM to play such an unsophisticated "rural" instrument in his show, whatever would people think ? gotta play a smart new CE banjo ! Further , where was JMs first engagement with the Essex Pierrots booked for ? Folkestone Kent ! my little town.

Cool that Morley played your hood!

Joel Hooks said:

Essex had Weaver make JM a 6 string fretted banjo (JM was playing a 7 string "tub").  Morley later (according to the story) dug the frets out (if I remember what Eli Kaufman told me correctly-- I am not Morley expert).

Nick, read Anthony Peabody's work here-- http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/34585/

It should answer most of your Morley questions. 

nick stephens said:

my understanding is that CE could not permit JM to play such an unsophisticated "rural" instrument in his show, whatever would people think ? gotta play a smart new CE banjo ! Further , where was JMs first engagement with the Essex Pierrots booked for ? Folkestone Kent ! my little town.

sorry Joel, dont understand the term "hood". Folkestone is where I was born and raised guys, it was once one of the most fashionable watering holes on the south coast, H G Wells built a house here, (it still stands !) Jerome K Jerome lived here, Charles Dickens lived here, in short it was where it was "at" for nearly a century ! So CE would have played one of the smarter venues in town (there were many ) and JM could have a day at the races too ! Fashionable Folkestone ? yeah right ! 100 years ago.

"hood" is a short for "neighbourhood"

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