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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Essex catered only for the 'upper crust', the titled and the wealthy. He purposely sited his studio in the premises formerly occupied by Sir Henry Irving, on Grafton Street to give dignity and respectability to the banjo which had previously been looked on as a bit 'lower class' and vulgar. Queen Victoria played a large part in popularising, and making respectable, the banjo, by allowing her children to learn to play it. Essex & Cammeyer sold only the very best banjos, initially imported (until the established their own workshop) from the USA, made by Cole and others. He could not allow Joe Morley to perform on a fretless 7 string banjo at the concert or his pupils/banjo customers would have been asking him why they needed to buy very expensive banjos, when the most proficient banjo player, JM, could play the most demanding of banjo solos on such a primitive instrument. I've never seen a fretless banjo with the Clifford Essex label on it (which doesn't mean that there isn't one waiting to be discovered) so presumably , until evidence to the contrary emerges, he didn't sell fretless banjos. Weaver certainly made fretless banjos, I've owned several, and there  is one illustrated (but not attributed to Weaver) in the 1001 banjo book. Alvey Turner and many other British banjo manufacturers also made many fretless banjos. I think that it was Pat Shortiss who told Essex , 'you will never be a banjo player until you play a five string banjo'.

Jody Stecher said:

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...

wow ! thanks for the clarification Par, I shall use the expression myself, two nations divided by a common language eh ?

Thanks, Richard. It's as I suspected/expected.

Richard William Ineson said:

Essex catered only for the 'upper crust', the titled and the wealthy. He purposely sited his studio in the premises formerly occupied by Sir Henry Irving, on Grafton Street to give dignity and respectability to the banjo which had previously been looked on as a bit 'lower class' and vulgar. Queen Victoria played a large part in popularising, and making respectable, the banjo, by allowing her children to learn to play it. Essex & Cammeyer sold only the very best banjos, initially imported (until the established their own workshop) from the USA, made by Cole and others. He could not allow Joe Morley to perform on a fretless 7 string banjo at the concert or his pupils/banjo customers would have been asking him why they needed to buy very expensive banjos, when the most proficient banjo player, JM, could play the most demanding of banjo solos on such a primitive instrument. I've never seen a fretless banjo with the Clifford Essex label on it (which doesn't mean that there isn't one waiting to be discovered) so presumably , until evidence to the contrary emerges, he didn't sell fretless banjos. Weaver certainly made fretless banjos, I've owned several, and there  is one illustrated (but not attributed to Weaver) in the 1001 banjo book. Alvey Turner and many other British banjo manufacturers also made many fretless banjos. I think that it was Pat Shortiss who told Essex , 'you will never be a banjo player until you play a five string banjo'.

Jody Stecher said:

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...

I put some stuff about all of this in the Joe Morley Biography. there are also details of  the Pierrot  Troupe's performances and repertoire mentioned in the various newspaper clippings which Antony Peabody discovered.

Jody Stecher said:

Thanks, Richard. It's as I suspected/expected.

Richard William Ineson said:

Essex catered only for the 'upper crust', the titled and the wealthy. He purposely sited his studio in the premises formerly occupied by Sir Henry Irving, on Grafton Street to give dignity and respectability to the banjo which had previously been looked on as a bit 'lower class' and vulgar. Queen Victoria played a large part in popularising, and making respectable, the banjo, by allowing her children to learn to play it. Essex & Cammeyer sold only the very best banjos, initially imported (until the established their own workshop) from the USA, made by Cole and others. He could not allow Joe Morley to perform on a fretless 7 string banjo at the concert or his pupils/banjo customers would have been asking him why they needed to buy very expensive banjos, when the most proficient banjo player, JM, could play the most demanding of banjo solos on such a primitive instrument. I've never seen a fretless banjo with the Clifford Essex label on it (which doesn't mean that there isn't one waiting to be discovered) so presumably , until evidence to the contrary emerges, he didn't sell fretless banjos. Weaver certainly made fretless banjos, I've owned several, and there  is one illustrated (but not attributed to Weaver) in the 1001 banjo book. Alvey Turner and many other British banjo manufacturers also made many fretless banjos. I think that it was Pat Shortiss who told Essex , 'you will never be a banjo player until you play a five string banjo'.

Jody Stecher said:

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...

Nice video.  Have you come across The Seaside Follies?  Not a banjo troupe but they are harking back to the idea of Pierrot seaside entertainers https://seasidefollies.co.uk/

Personally would not be seen dead in such an outfit :)

Carrie, I have seen the Seaside Follies, not impressed !

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