Feb. 11, 2019

The ever opinionated, well-humored  Tony Thomas advanced the movement to bring black banjo player together. His well-thought-out article from Banjo newsletter is linked here

Daniel Jatta Akonting player from Gambia. Hear him play this haunting song as recorded by Chuck Levy. You can read Chuck's article from the Old Time Herald to find out more.

One statue that still remains in our collection

John's Corner February 11th 2019. statue controversy

Good Morning Folks,

February is Black history month.... with all that has been going on in the news lately maybe we should talk about minstrelsy, the banjo and it is African roots. Several years ago I was called out for displaying a statue in my store that came from the collection of Akira Tsumura. It depicted a tall African-American man, life size with bowler hat, striped vest and a papier-mâché banjo. Upon seeing the statue in my window I was called a racist by some members of the community.  I was quite taken aback and not quite sure what to do.  There was a sign around the statue that said to inquire about the history of the Banjo in its relationship to the statue. Still it seemed very offensive and we removed it from the store.  Julie suggested we have a forum and invite people from both sides to have a dialog about the banjo and its place in American  history. I had posted this before to Facebook but if you would like to read the full contents of my talk click this linkMuch credit for our perspective comes for the work of Tony Thomas, banjo scholar. His article can be read here.

I have always felt that "pre-judging" was an excuse for not having enough knowledge of a topic, an art form or a person. I hope I never stop learning and acquiring knowledge. That is why I have just ordered Tom Piazza's novel, A Free State. It will be in the mail this week.