The North Carolina Banjo Collection (Review)

The North Carolina Banjo Collection (Rounder, 1998)

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The North Carolina Banjo Collection (Review)

by Gavin James Campbell
Southern Cultures, Vol. 4, No. 4: The South in the World

Rounder, 1998

From 1787, when a traveler visiting North Carolina made the first known reference to a banjo in the Tar Heel state, to the present day, the banjo has been a persistent part of that state’s musical history. The North Carolina Banjo Collection, a two CD set with an accompanying booklet, seeks to provide an overview of banjo techniques and tunes from across the state. Alive to the variations caused by both race and region, the CDs combine historic recordings with more recent field tapes. The result is an interesting mix of styles that demonstrate the creativity this magical instrument has inspired. Those not already well-acquainted with banjo performers and their repertoire may find the annotations somewhat sketchy and obscure. But since the performances- more than two hours’ worth- stand on their own, banjo-lovers will find plenty to engage them.