banjo

Banjo pickers and Bela fans, tune in! Bela Fleck shares his latest announcement (well, two, actually): he's heading up an intensive camp at the Brevard Music Center this August called the Blue Ridge Banjo Camp with Tony Trischka, Kristin Scott Benson, & others. They are currently taking applications, including 2-3 minute videos to show your level, through the end of February. Bela talks via telephone with Martin about this and more.

Old image of a man holding a banjo
Center For Cultural Preservation

David Weintraub will be presenting a special series this week during NPR’s Morning Edition, produced by WNCW's Kim Clark. The feature is a radio adaptation of A GREAT AMERICAN TAPESTRY: The Many Strands Of Mountain Music - the latest documentary film from Weintraub and The Center for Cultural Preservation, based in Hendersonville, NC.

The roots of the banjo trace directly to West Africa. White Southerners learned to play early gourd banjos, probably built from the African slaves’ memories. The banjo was popularized in the 19th century by minstrel shows.  Though it seemed close to disappearing in the late 20th century, the African-American banjo tradition has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, led by such young artists as Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, Jerron Paxton, and Amythyst Kiah.