The Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) announced this month that Richard Jones-Bamman has won the SEM 2018 Klaus P. Wachsmann Prize for Advanced and Critical Essays in Organology award for his book Building New Banjos for an Old-Time World (University of Illinois, 2017).
"The artisans who build banjos for old-time music stand at an unusual crossroads -- asked to meet to modern musician's needs while retaining the nostalgic qualities so fundamental to the banjo's sound and mystique."
In Building New Banjos for an Old Time World, Richard Jones-Bamman explores the relationship between historic banjos and banjo builders, modern Old Time players, and luthiers today. The photo-illustrated book features interviews both makers and musicians to uncover how they work together to create instruments. Read a profile of Jones-Bamman on the SEM's website.
Jones-Bamman's interviews many banjo-builders and repairers who regularly attend the Banjo Gathering, including Pete Ross, Kevin Enoch, Jim Hartel, and Bob Smakula, as well as offering perspectives from players like Greg Adams, Bob Carlin, and Mary Marxer. At this year's Banjo Gathering, he will be moderating two panels of banjo builders, exploring these questions and more.
Long time attendee and banjo maker Pete Ross was interviewed with Kristina Gaddy on the Hey Baltimore podcast about the early history of the banjo and the instrument's connections to Baltimore, Maryland.
The knowledge and research that are behind this podcast are a result of the last 20 years of the Banjo Gathering. Much of the research into the West African connections to the banjo have been done by participants Ulf Jagfors, Schlomo Pestcoe, and Bob Carlin. Pete Ross, Bob Winans, and Greg Adams did an extensive presentation about banjo maker William E. Boucher, which transformed into an exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. And in recent years, Pete and Kristina have presented on Baltimore banjo maker Levi Brown and early American banjos.
This is a forum for previous years' and on-going banjo research projects. If you are interested in submitting something for the blog, please use the "Contact" page!