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Customer Review

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Banjo Documentary Falls Short of the Mark, October 6, 2013
This review is from: Give Me the Banjo (DVD)
The PBS Documentary "Give Me The Banjo", while praiseworthy for an attempt to trace the history and music of the instrument in America, falls short of giving an accurate portrayal of banjo history. The film almost entirely focuses on the five-string banjo and its relation to bluegrass. In doing so, it almost completely ignores the four string banjo and its relation to jazz and popular music, and does a tremendous disservice to American musical history and the instrument itself.
From 1910 through 1960 the four-string banjo WAS America's banjo, while the five-string banjo and bluegrass music passed into relative obscurity. The four-string banjo was significantly more popular than the five-string ever was, and was seen and heard in concert halls, dance bands, radio, television, and recorded music. While watching this documentary, my thoughts were: this is great history, and very interesting in terms of bluegrass, but when are they going to begin a discussion about the four-string banjo in American music?
They never did. A few seconds of Don Vappie, and a brief segment on Cynthia Sayer in the special features is all the listener is given. This video has re-written the history of the banjo in America, and not in an accurate way. While praising to the skies the great bluegrass stylists on five-string the producers and writer completely ignored contemporary four-string mega-talents like Buddy Wachter, who is arguably the greatest living banjoist in the world. And the legends of the four-string banjo, both tenor and plectrum, such as Eddie Peabody, Perry Bechtel, and Harry Reser are either glossed over or completely ignored.
This video should be titled "Give Me Bluegrass: A History of Country Banjo in America". We are still waiting for the quintessential history of banjo in America. This video isn't it.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 29, 2014 4:22:09 PM PDT
Alice Hill says:
The 4 string banjo is a Yankee banjo and therefore not a banjo. Sorry.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2014 12:20:54 PM PST
A. Debban says:
Not true. Much traditional Irish music and many Dixieland bands used 4-string banjos. In Brazil, the 4-string is widely played and known as a Samba banjo. I don't think you get to determine what is and what is not a banjo. (There are even 6-string banjos).

Posted on Mar 25, 2015 2:02:33 PM PDT
L. Bullock says:
I am shocked, shocked to find that this DVD skews towards Mr. Martin's banjo interests and not my own, which I could easily find if I spent even ten minutes looking for them.
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