Bud Bennett, archivist at Radford University in Virginia, has released another set of his interview videos with top banjo players. Over recent months he has recorded lengthy, detailed conversations with banjo masters like Butch Robins, Sammy Shelor, Jens Kruger, and John Bullard plus one with innovative banjo luthier, Tom Nechville.
Each typically contains roughly two hours of recollections and discussions, with each artist detailing what drew them to the instrument, how they initially learned to play, and then into an overview of their life in music. And of course, each musician includes some banjo picking along the way.
The longer format allows Bud to keep all the goodies in each set of videos, and the unhurried presentation make it feel more like an afternoon chat with a friend than a carefully crafted production. Bennett’s training and expertise as an archivist is surely at the root of this series, which he has told us was spurred as much by his desire to know more about these talented artists as it did his urge to capture something to retain over time.
This newest edition of Bud’s Banjo Master series features Rex McGee, a North Carolina musician who has earned the distinction of being called a banjo player’s banjo player. In fact, it might be fair to say that he is much better known by other players than by the average bluegrass fan. His passions run to almost every imaginable style of music on the five string which he display in his eclectic band, Kripplekrunk.
The two, one hour videos can be viewed online, and Bud has edited a brief preview to offer a taste of the interview.
Banjo players should absolutely be required to schedule the time to watch all of Bennett’s videos, and they are worth the attention of anyone with a fascination for the instrument. He also maintains a active blog called Appalachian Music and Culture, which includes a very interesting photographic study of banjo construction.
Thanks again to Bud Bennett for this service to our music.