About this project
"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.
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"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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