Newspapers said about his shows the night he took his benefit apparently the night upon which he got all the gate receiptsIn Carlin s defense Joe Sweeney died in 1860 at only fifty years of age and before anyone thought it worthwhile to ask him about his Becoming a Cavanaugh (Cavanaugh Justice, life Heeft few documents such as Honeymoon Baby letters diaries etc that would give historians a window into his mind So all Carlin had to go on for Sweeney specifically were those newspaper accounts and handbills for shows But the result is deadly dull andeft me unsatisfied as to how and why this whole blackface minstrelsy thing got startedThe one good chapter in the book discusses Sweeney and the invention of the five string banjo For a Since Youve Been Gone long time those who wanted to claim the banjo as an American read white instrument claimed that Sweeney took a crude slave instrument and added the short fifth or drone string This claim is patently false There are numerous African ancestorscousins of the banjo that have drone strings often than one and the idea that an Anglo American would take a folk instrument and add a drone string which is almost unheard of in other Anglo American musical instruments makes no sense Carlin discusses this as well as theikely construction of Sweeney s banjos who might have made them probably not Sweeney and the construction and sale of banjos before and after Sweeney popularized the instrument It s a great chapter If you get *Book Skip The Rest *skip rest read that one only Bob Carlin s book on the beginnings of the banjo not only covers the instrument s history but also how it was influenced and proliferated by minstrelsy The book gives details about Sw. Of American minstrelsy ie black face and the opportunities it provided for artists such as Sweeney Correcting previous fallacies and misconceptions such as Sweeney's supposed development of the five string banjo the work discusses Sweeney's roots his music and his contribution to the physical development of the instrument An appendix contains a performance chronology The work is also indexe. T African musician to highlight the banjo s rich ancestry From my blog This is one of those books *I M Glad I Read *m glad I read wouldn t recommend It s got some interesting information but is deadly dull The author is Bob Carlin best known to me at any rate as a banjo player instructor and performer Before I go on I should also say that he is an amazing banjo player
listen to his every single day though only the instrumental tunes I find his voice not to my taste He does a medley of the Beatles Norwegian Wood with Waiting for Nancy that is absolutely great His playing with other musicians is understated and perfect etting the fiddle shine while pushing the sound forward But as a historian he has too much in common with someone making a grocery Duello damore listJoel Walker Sweeney was a white man from Appomattox County Virginia who in the 1830s brought the banjo formerly an exclusively folk instrument played mostly by blacks and perhaps a few southern whites onto the American stage He didn t invent the instrument and he probably did nothing to technically innovate its construction but he did introduce it to the world He did so by blacking his face with burnt cork and ham grease and pretending to be a black man There is a LOT to say about the phenomenon of blackface minstrelsy and many historians have done so Carlin says almost nothing We getittle analysis regarding why white Americans and people in Britain and Australia thought it was a good idea to black up and play Negroes for broad humor Instead we get excruciating detail regarding Joe Sweeney s itinerary the cities he played in the theaters and their addresses what the. Outhern sounds to the music he heard in essence creating a new musical form The only avenue available to a professional banjo player was that of traveling minstrelsy shows and it was this route which Sweeney used to bring his music to the attention of the public Beginning with the banjo's introduction to America and Great Britain the book examines early banjo music and covers the evolution. .I Listen To His
characters The Birth of the Banjo Joel Walker Sweeney and Early Minstrelsy.
Carlin gives a particularly detailed account of Nineteenth Century minstrelsy including dates and ocations to a somewhat numbing effect The interesting sections dealt with the history of the banjo which derives from West African instruments and "the spread of the banjo to Australia and Great BritainSome *of the material is interesting but difficult "spread of the banjo to Australia and Great BritainSome *of the material is interesting but difficult read from a cultural distance while other passages sink under *the material is interesting but difficult to read from a cultural distance while other passages sink under Detail is Carlin s aim and he provides a wealth of supporting material When I bought the book Carlin told me that much of the material was researched before the InternetCarlin spends some time acknowledging the reactions of American and British audiences to the crude portrayals of slaves and he acknowledges the disparity of the musical exchange between Africans and Europeans as well as the racism inherent in much of the material He treads a careful path through a history that many Americans aren t aware exists and that many would as ikely prefer to forgetAlthough he displays the minstrel Emergency Kit lyrics in their original form including every offensive concept andine Carlin has bigger aims with regard to the banjo than displaying a sordid part of American history Given the chapter focusing on Confederate General J E B Stuart s personal banjoist the brother of the eponymous Sweeney and Carlin s use of various
terms for the Civil War he treads dangerously close to being accused of the same biases held sway among the Nineteenth Century audiences There is ample evidence that he ooks back with interest in the instrument not the culture that made it famous notably his CD collaboration with a Wes. Joel Walker Sweeney was in essence the Elvis Presley of the 1840s A professional banjo player Sweeney introduced mainstream America to a music and musical instrument which had its roots in the transplanted black culture of the southern slave Sweeney an Irish American born midway between Richmond and Lynchburg Virginia sampled African American music at a young age He then added traditional ,Southern terms for the Civil War he treads dangerously close to being accused of the same biases