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Group Description

"Beau Jenkins practising [sic] the Militia Band in the new German Waltz." The last panel of "Martial Law in Jamaica," an anonymous hand-colored satirical cartoon print, published by William Holland (London, 1803), currently in the collection of The Lewis Walpole Library of Yale University. The picture shows five Afro-Jamaican musicians playing cow's horn, 'goombay' (square wooden box drum), jawbone, fiddle, and early gourd banjo. -- Shlomo Pestcoe


Since we arrived in the New World Africans have kept the fires of Black banjo, fiddle, & folk percussion burning from Columbia and the Guiannas, across the West Indies to North America. That fire burns in this humble web group. No one can put out these flames. We continue and celebrate that music and nourish its relevance to the lives and cultures of Black people in the New World and to all who love music.

We aim to celebrate the African roots of the music, and the African New World continuity of Black banjo, fiddle, percussion and string band music by bringing traditional Black string music back home to the Black New World community, to showcase it for the world. In this we privilege Black voices and Black ownership of this music but welcome all who respect it.

Sule Greg Wilson explains:

Since banjo is a New World version of multiple African antecedents, it is a multi-ethnic African instrument. Therefore, playing styles, be they stroke, rappin', thumb-lead, up-pickin', Murphy Gribble-type three-finger rolls, or whatever, must be considered part of the African tradition. Hence, mention of the "African influences" in banjo playing and history starts from a false supposition that the thing ain't All-African to begin with.

* We can talk about Euro-influences with cheese boxes (has that been proven to be a Euro-American adaptation?) Euro-style necks, racist lyric content and Irish melody lines and rhythm structure, and the like. All these aspects are just grafts onto an already-existing tree. Tie an app

Group Information

  • 562
  • Banjo
  • Mar 30, 2004
  • English

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