Comment by thereallyniceman on December 9, 2012 at 20:47

Here is another video from Mr Sparkes.

Well, for someone who we know little about he certainly is an unbelievable player!

Comment by German David Patarroyo on December 9, 2012 at 22:50

It´s pretty good!!!

Comment by Mike Moss on December 10, 2012 at 11:19

It's definitely an impressive performance... however, and I have noticed this often in classical guitar players who play classic banjo, it's lacking a certain dash and attitude; Cupid's Arrow is a sparkling, impressive showpiece, but here it comes off as a bit sedate, despite the perfect execution.  When you listen to Wm J. Ball's version, the way he recklessly charges through the notes brings to mind the wild, strange battle cry, "Haffely, Gaffely, Gaffely, Gonward"! The recent article on CB in Fretwire magazine mentioned it... there is an impetuousness, a joy in Classic Banjo that classical guitarists seem to have trouble bringing out. 

Comment by thereallyniceman on December 10, 2012 at 11:53

I have lost count of the number of times that I have inadvertently upset those coming to Classic Banjo from a classical background and attempting to re-invent the style. I never seemed to be able to work out why technically correct playing just didn't feel right to me, but I think that you have just put your finger on what I prefer about the way Classic Banjo WAS played at the time, as can be heard in the early recordings... ATTITUDE !

 Many of the original players from the era made as many mistakes as I do (well not really as many as I do!) but it didn't seem to matter! The recordings were vibrant and alive and punchy... even the slow stuff :-)

I suppose I have lit the touch paper again... but we can't change history no matter how much we try.

Comment by Steve Harrison on December 10, 2012 at 14:23

The great cellist Pablo Casals used to say of his pupils "Anyone can learn to play the notes but not everyone makes music" true.  

Comment by Jody Stecher on December 10, 2012 at 14:33

Whether a performance has attitude or is perfectly executed is, unfortunately , evaluated from the subjective point of view of the expectations of the listener. Some highly accomplished bluegrass banjo players reject even the grittiest classic banjo playing because of what to them is  its apparent lack of verve and because of its apparent surfeit of sedateness. They describe it as "all very nice but..."  From my point of view (which I deludedly think is objective) this performance of Cupid's Arrow is *not* perfectly executed. I hear errors in timing, wrong notes (whether deliberate or not, I can't say) and wrong chords (ditto). This does not mean I don't like it (or that I do). It means that I disagree with the *evaluation* of the performance, not with the performance. I also have heard plenty of classical guitarists who play with verve and oomph. Why would they become somnambulant when picking up a banjo?

Comment by Trapdoor2 on December 10, 2012 at 15:34

Oomph. Yah, that's what I want in my playing, Oomph. I'm not a vervy (verval?) guy and I ain't got no panache. I want people to say, "There goes Marc Smith! He's that oomphy banjo player."

Y'know, that has a ring to it. ;-)

Seriously, it takes something extra to squeeze emotion out of any instrument. Those that can put some soul or verve or oomph in their performance are the ones I prefer. Frankly, one of the main reasons I drifted away from Bluegrass is that 99.44% of their emotional content is expended on vocals. The number of banjoists who can impart emotion into their playing is tiny (and yes, this is just my opinion); I could probably count them on the fingers of one hand.

This happens in any genre, of course; technically perfect, emotionally deficient. Give me technically imperfect with a side of "oomph" any time.



Comment by thereallyniceman on December 10, 2012 at 15:52

Marc my problem is too much ganache.. yours too eh?

Ohhh, where are my darned glasses?!   :-)

I agree, I admire anyone who can express feeling out of a string of notes on any instrument, but the "Oomph" was what attracted me to Classic Style in the first place. I have always regarded the banjo as a "happy, lively instrument" and not one that takes well to having the sentiment wrung out of it.

Comment by Jody Stecher on December 10, 2012 at 15:56

Happy is a sentiment.

Comment by Trapdoor2 on December 10, 2012 at 18:34

Ghanoush, Ian, Ghanoush. Eggplant (aubergine) goes in blender, toss in some Olive Oil 'n' garlic and turn on the blender. That's what my banjo playing sounds like.

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