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Narrated by Steve Martin, THE BANJO PROJECT is the odyssey of America's instrument from its African roots to the 21st century.
Narrated by Steve Martin, THE BANJO PROJECT is the odyssey of America's instrument from its African roots to the 21st century.
507 backers pledged $46,098 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$46,098

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"Give me the banjo..." wrote Mark Twain, and you did! But don't stop the music just yet. We are trying to get as many backers as possible to make a more persuasive argument to potential broadcasters. A bigger budget will make it possible to include more and higher quality archival film footage, historic recordings and stills and to license them for home video and film festivals. It means a more comprehensive and higher quality program, an even better showcase for the banjo's history.

* * * * * * * * * * *

"No instrument has ever had to fight its way through such bitter antagonism as the banjo," wrote a music dealer in 1887. What was true over a century ago still appears to be true today -- especially when it comes to funding. The folks at PBS say "there isn't an audience for this kind of program anymore." But we know otherwise -- since 2002, we've traveled through 16 states, filmed over 100 interviews and performances, seen and heard what the banjo and its music mean to people from all kinds of backgrounds...

Narrated by Steve Martin, THE BANJO PROJECT is a 90-minute documentary about America's quintessential musical instrument from its African roots to the 21st century, featuring performances and commentary from contemporary masters such as Earl Scruggs, Pete Seeger, Taj Mahal, Bela Fleck, Ralph Stanley, The Carolina Chocolate Drops and the late Mike Seeger, as well as leading music historians, builders and collectors. Brought to the New World by enslaved Africans, the banjo has shaped most American musical forms: the minstrel show, ragtime and early jazz, blues, old-time, the folk revival, bluegrass and country. Its rich and contested history highlights lingering conflicts -- race, class, region and folk vs. pop -- still at the heart of American society today. THE BANJO PROJECT weaves together the colorful narratives of historic banjo figures such as Joe Sweeney, Gus Cannon, Charlie Poole and Uncle Dave Macon with contemporary performances and commentary, archival footage, stills and recordings.

In its long history, the banjo’s been a black instrument and a white instrument, a working man's escape and a society woman’s diversion, the sound of good times and hard times, a symbol of patriotism and protest. It’s been satirized, patronized, trivialized and marginalized and its rich musical legacy concealed and forgotten – until now...

THE BANJO PROJECT is now in post-production and we need your help to get us through the final cut. It's panoramic history with lots of great music -- and we need your financial support to finish editing!

Join the Banjo Project community on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/thebanjoproject for the latest clips from interviews and performances, and view the trailer and more video clips at www.thebanjoproject.org and YouTube.

Every contribution is tax-deductible (minus the market value of the gift).

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Thanks on the website and shout out on FB Page

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    57 backers
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    8X11 promo photo from The Banjo Project with Marc and Tony's signature; Tony's Top 25 playlist of banjo recordings you should own; Thanks on the website and shout out on FB Page; A download of the finished documentary.

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    156 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Coffee/tea mug with Banjo Project logo and the quotation from Mark Twain that begins, "Give me the banjo...", plus all of the $25 incentives.

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    89 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Pre-release DVD of the full-length documentary with extra performances not in the
    broadcast; Sneak Preview of final cut downloaded with audience response links (your reactions can help shape our film!); 8X11 from TBP with Marc and Tony's signature; Thanks on the website and shout out on FB Page

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    152 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    5 free lessons on Tony's School of Banjo website; Your banjo performance video featured on The Banjo Project website; Sneak Preview of final cut downloaded w/ audience response links (your reactions can help shape our film); 8X11 from TBP with Marc and Tony's signature;
    Thanks on the website and shout out on FB Page

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    3 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Soundtrack CD w/ original performances from The Banjo Project documentary; donor's banjo performance video featured on TBP website; Sneak Preview download w/ audience response links (your reactions can help shape our film); 8X11 from TBP with Marc and Tony's signature; Thanks on the website and shout out on Facebook Page.

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    6 backers
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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Special "Thank You" credit in final film; 5 free lessons on Tony's website; Pre-release DVD of the full-length documentary; Original Tony Trischka ringtone; Pair of comp tickets to Tony Trischka concert in donor's area in US, Sneak Preview download w/ audience response links (your reactions can help shape our film); 8X11 from TBP with Marc and Tony's signature; Thanks on the website and shout out on Facebook Page.

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    2 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Private concert & screening/house party with Tony Trischka and filmmaker Marc Fields (NOTE: DUE TO TRAVEL COSTS, THIS IS FOR EASTERN US ONLY), plus all of the above rewards.

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    1 backer
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Funding period

- (60 days)