|October 20th @ 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM — Theatre 12||reserve|
Narrated by Steve Martin, Give Me the Banjo is television documentary that traces the odyssey of America’s quintessential instrument from its African roots to the present. It brings together contemporary players in all stylesâ€”Earl Scruggs, Pete Seeger, Bela Fleck,Abigail Washburn, Mike Seeger, Don Vappie and The Carolina Chocolate Dropsâ€”with folklorists, historians, instrument makers and passionate amateurs to tell the story of Americaâ€™s instrument in all its richness and diversity.Brought to the New World in the memories and traditions of enslaved Africans, repeatedly re-invented by African- and European-Americans, the banjo has shaped most American musical forms: the minstrel show, ragtime and early jazz, old-time folk and the folk revival, as well as blues, bluegrass, country and new hybrids yet to be labeled. The banjo is at the root of roots music, and through its diverse musical styles, contested social history and colorful players we can explore in a new light many of the issues at the heart of American culture today, including lingering stereotypes of race, class, regionalism and tensions between pop and folk culture. It’s been a black instrument, a white instrument, a laborer’s pastime and a socialite’s diversion, a young person’s fad and an old-timer’s friend. But mostly it’s been a snubbed instrument. Far from gaining respect and status as an American icon, the banjo has been the symbolic prop for a pernicious assortment of stereotypes right up to the present day.Give Me the Banjo had its PBS broadcast premiere in November 2011.