Abraham Lincoln died 151 years ago today, and while I contemplated selecting a funeral march (yes, there were funeral marches written for the banjo in the 1800s) I decided that something a little more upbeat would be just as fitting as a positive remembrance for a remarkable man.
This tune comes from Ryan’s Mammoth Collection of Fiddle Tunes, a book of more than 1000 songs that was originally published in 1883 and is still in print today. It was adapted for stroke-style banjo here by Tim Twiss.
It’s no coincidence that I’ve been on this early banjo kick lately – as it turns out I’m going to be performing this style of music (as well as vending) at a couple of upcoming events: The OtherWhere Spring Steam Faire and Eventide Social on April 30 – both part of the city-wide Mill City Steampunk Festival that weekend in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Tim Twiss has a lot to do with how I find myself performing this music! He has been studying recording banjo music of the 19th century for years, and generously sharing his knowledge on YouTube and among the early banjo community at large; when I first began exploring this music, Tim’s videos were absolutely essential to my getting a feel for the style and sound of the period (as best we can interpret it from written sources; there are obviously no recordings from the era.) He has single-handedly created a complete aural record of all of the music from the major banjo tutors of the period, which is both a significant cultural artifact and an invaluable learning resource. Not to mention a fine collection for listening even if you don’t play the banjo yourself.