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Courtesy of Jim Bollman and Philip Gura

America's instrument:
The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century

by Philip F. Gura and James F. Bollman

    To Purchase:
Please Visit
The University of North Carolina Press
$45.00 Hardcover

Courtesy of Jim Bollman and Philip Gura

 

". . . clear[ing] away the mist and the moonshine . . ."(p.253).
Indeed they have!

Whether a historian, a musician, a collector, or a curious reader, America's Instrument: The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century provides comprehensive information not only about the banjo, but also about its people, its cultures, its conflicts and personalities, its patents, its evolution, and its influence. Just pick up this book, feel its weight, and gaze at the 19th century fretless banjo on the cover with its scalloped-rim, beehive scroll, and the graceful ogee curving its way about the 5th string peg. The cover photo is just a taste compared to the invaluable assemblage of daguerreotypes, patent drawings, prints, and further photographs.

Courtesy of Jim Bollman and Philip Gura


The close-ups of priceless inlay work and meticulous heel carvings leave the reader inspired and in awe. Such beauty, though, is undeniably set amongst the inhumane and grotesque minstrel origins of the banjo's popularity. Not only may we gaze upon the craft of the luthiers, but we are brought closer to the lives, anonymous and otherwise, of our past. The pictures tell their own story, each one of them, of displacement, of war, of survival, of ingenuity and risk, of brilliance, of spirit.

Courtesy of Jim Bollman and Philip Gura


After reading this work
, one will come away with a dynamic perspective of the banjo and the landscapes in which it grew. Prof. Gura and Mr. Bollman have brought alive the journey of the banjo from its vital yet tragic African roots, through Appalachia and into the industrial revolution of Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Boston. We learn how American culture affected the instrument and how the instrument affected the culture; we learn about the changing styles of popular banjo music and technique.

Courtesy of Jim Bollman and Philip Gura


Without doubt, a tremendous thanks
to both authors for what is obviously a culmination of love and passion, for sharing with us everything they have. As we benefit, may we all take note of your generosity and effort to put forth and publish such a project. Thank you!

Jon Henry Place
February 18, 2003

  To Purchase:
Please Visit
The University of North Carolina Press
$45.00 Hardcover