The Series

Conversations with North American Banjo Builders

 

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I’ve always been fascinated with the banjo. What inspires me is how many others share my interest - there are over 80k members at banjohangout (dotorg). When I discover individuals that are creative, innovative builders and players of this historic, joyful instrument, I’m even more delighted. As of this writing, I’ve found 38. But there are many more!


I’ve always wanted to talk to banjo builders... not only to learn what makes a great banjo, but to understand what it is that makes these people so passionate about this instrument. As a 60th birthday present to myself, I decided to give myself permission to do just that. And there in lies my big adventure. 

 

The North American Banjo Builder Documentary Series

The banjo’s roots are in Africa. It was introduced to the north before the Civil War. Today, player/luthiers have brought its state of development to an amazing art form while still paying homage to its historic roots.


This Documentary Series captures the philosophies and inspirations of 38 of today’s most passionate open-back banjo builders... and captured some interesting history along the way. 

Your host:

Craig (frailin) Evans

Interviews with VOLUME 1 and 2 Banjo Builders are now available for immediate viewing for $4.00/show here.

Want to learn more?  You can watch individual Programs with Pay-per-view: $4.00/Program

Available NOW!

Volume 1

DVD (3-disk set)

“Banjo Builders East of the Mississippi”

Features Builders:  BIll Rickard, Jason Burns, Jeff Menzies, Greg Galbreath, Pete Ross, Bart Reiter, Lo Gordon and Tim Bardner, George Wunderlich, Mike Ramsey, Will Fielding, Chuck Lee, Kevin Enoch Doug Unger and Jim Hartel.


Volume 1 Bonus Tracks feature conversations with current banjo performers (i.e. Bruce Molsky, Paul Brown, Steve Arkin, Howard Bursen and Riley Baugus on what they look for in a banjo), observations of trends in banjo buying from Elderly’s Stan Werbin and Donald Zepp of Zepp Country Music and insights on today’s banjo building renaissance from ethnomusicologist Richard Jones-Bamman. 


To place your order for Volume 1 now, use the “Buy Now” button. 

“The most fascinating banjo people you will ever meet. Period.”

The Conversations with North American Banjo Builders Series is to be housed in the newly-created “instrument builder collection” of ...

Note!  This is for Volume 1!

Note!  This is for Volume 2 ONLY! Shipped within 5 business days.

So in May of 2011, I started eastward... intent on capturing the images, thoughts and sounds of 14 of the 38 banjo builders I’d selected to include in my documentary adventure. Volume 1 - Banjo Builders East of the Mississippi shipped in August of ’11.  In October of 2011 and March of 2012, I traveled West and picked up the West Coast Builders.  Volume 2 shipped in May (2012). Along the way I won a $10k grant from the great state of Minnesota, so Volume 3 - Conversations with Banjo Historians was produced in the fall of ’12 and shipped in January 2013.  And in December of ’13, Volume 4 - More Conversations with North American Banjo Builders is both finished and shipped. 


All FOUR Volumes are available for sale.* You can even see a free show (further down the page).


You can follow the course of the project as it happened, here: http://www.banjohangout.org/topic/202324/1 - This Banjo Hangout thread has now had over 110k views!!

Features Builders:  John Bowlin, Greg Deering, Bob Flesher, Brooks Masten, Jason Mogi, Chuck Ogsbury, Mark Platin, Doc (Patrick) Huff, Jason and Pharis Romero, Bob Thornburg and Colin Vance. 


Volume 2 Bonus Tracks features an interview with the builder of Banjo Hangout (dotorg), Eric Schange.  This online forum is home to 70,000 banjo lovers worldwide!


To place your order for Volume 2 now, use the “Buy Now” button. 

Note!  This is for Volume 1 ONLY!  Shipped within 5 business days.

This fascinating series of programs features tours of large private collections, discussions of yet-to-be-written banjo history and interviews with “living history” performers and teachers.


Ethnomusicologist Greg Adams discusses the 62 west African plucked lutes that contribute to today’s banjo. And vetted banjo researcher Bob Winans comments on what we have yet to learn.


Other interviews include Dr. Laurent Dubois. CeCe Conway, Bob Carlin, Taj Mahal, Adam Hurt, Dwight Diller, Kevin Fore and Ulf Jagfors.


Volume 3 also includes a personal tours of Jim Bollman’s and Peter Szego’s extraordinary banjo collections. 

Available NOW!

Volume 2

DVD (3-disk set)

“Banjo Builders West of the Mississippi”

Available NOW!

Volume 3

DVD (3-disk set)

“Conversations with Banjo Historians”

Note!  This is for Volume 3

ONLY!

Shipped within 5 business days.

Watch!

Banjo Builder Highlight Reel

(Click on picture)

Copyright 2002-2017.  All Rights Reserved.

Contact:  Craig Evans - frailinflix Productions - frailin@mac.com

www.frailin.com


You can order all 4 Volumes in the Series
at once below...
Current News
Herehttp://www.frailin.com/frailin/Banjo_Builder_News.html

And finally...

Here’s an excerpt (the music video) that ends

the Banjo Builder Series.  It’s found in the “Festivals” program on Volume 3.  I experienced many wonderful people, learnings and events throughout this adventure, but none touched me as deeply as the story of “calendas”... where the slaves gathered to sing, dance and tell stories.  This clip tells more. 

Click on pic

And on this channel, you can watch

3+ minute PREVIEWS of

each Builder’s Show

(Click on picture)

ORDER ALL 4 Volumes at once, HERE - Available NOW!

$30 + shipping (domestic)

$30 + shipping (domestic)

$30 + shipping (domestic)

Now shipping!

Volume 4

DVD (3-disk set)

“More Conversations with North American Banjo Builders”

$30 + shipping (domestic)

Features Builders:  David Ball, Noel Booth, Glenn Carson, Randy Cordle, Jeff Delfield, Wyatt Fawley, Patrick Heavner, Dan Knowles, Jeff Kramer, Ken LeVan, Luke Mercier and Mac Traynham. 


Volume 4 Bonus Tracks feature interviews with vintage instrument retailers George Gruhn and John Bernunzio.


To place your order for Volume 4, use the “Buy Now” button. 

Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Greece, Iceland, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Russia, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Norway, Hong Kong, Germany, Israel, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Mexico

Internationally shipping to these counties ONLY. 

Write me if you’re elsewhere.  frailin@mac.com

June 13th, 2014 

The Banjo Builder Series heads to Smithsonian Folkways!

I've been copying and transferring files since January. I'm happy to finally announce I have 6.5TB of Banjo Builder movies (on 5 hard drives), along with another 40 pounds of Banjo Builder records, CDs, notes, calendars, articles, release forms, correspondence and more securely packed into 4 boxes... all heading to Mr. Jeff Place (Archivist) at the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Heritage Center in Washington DC.  Yee-ha!!

Click on THIS LINK to order

Click on THIS LINK to order

Click on THIS LINK to order

Click on THIS LINK to order

Click on THIS LINK to order

$30 + $5 shipping (domestic)

Internationally shipping rates apply.  Currently shipping to these counties ONLY. 


Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Greece, Iceland, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Russia, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Norway, Hong Kong, Germany, Israel, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Mexico


Write me if you’re elsewhere.  frailin@mac.com

Volume 5 features the following Performers and Banjo Builders (in alphabetical order): 


  BANJO BUILDERS         

Matt Acara

Jan Bloom

William Seeders Mosheim

Taz Philp

Dean Robinson


  OLD-TIME PERFORMERS         

The Canote Brothers

John Grimm

Carl Jones

James Leva

Dan Levenson

Erynn Marshall

Beverly Smith


Volume 5 Extras: 

Don’t know what they might be yet.  I usually decide after I  return and review the additional footage.


To place your order for Volume 5, use the “Buy Now” button.

After 5 years and 40,000+ miles recording some stories while cruising by other important folks - only to return to film them at a later date - I figure it's time to smarten-up.  

As such, I've decided to combine my 2 favorite "Conversations" subjects from our Old-time/Traditional Americana Music Community.  And since I just happen to already have 4 Volumes of Banjo Builders and 4 Volumes of Old-time Performers...


VOLUME 5 (due late this fall - 2016) will include more Conversations with BOTH!


SOMETHING NEW!!

Added October 14, 2016