Thursday, April 23, 2009

***Professor Banjo***

Straight out of Portland, Oregon comes the Dean of Five Strings, the Chancellor of Claw Hammer ... that's right, folks, it's Professor Banjo, and he's here to teach you a few things about Old Time music.

Paul Silveria, aka Prof. Banjo, teaches music at Portland's Village Free School by day, and spreads the joys of banjo playing and square dance calling by night. Old Familiar Tunes is his first CD for kids, and, true to the title's word, it's full of ancient songs you swear you've heard in movies, on TV, or floating through the breeze.

Old Familiar Tunes features well-known oldies like "Old Joe Clark," "Arkansas Traveler," "Black Eyed Suzie," and "John Henry," along with long-lost treasures like "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground," "Polly Put the Kettle On," "Soldier's Joy," and the instrumental "Salt River/Flatfoot in the Ashes." But two of the highlights have to be "Cripple Creek/Square Dance" and "Reuben's Train": the former highlights Silveria's square dance calling skills, while the latter shows off his one-man-band prowess, as he plays banjo, washboard, tambourine, spoons, bike bell, kazoo, and suitcase all at once!

"So, why don't you just listen to an album of banjo tunes by, say, Dock Boggs or Roscoe Holcomb?" Well, the fact that Professor Banjo performs regularly in the Oregon/Washington area gives kids and families a chance to experience this style of Old Time music first hand, and then they have a CD of Old Familiar Tunes to make the connection. Class dismissed!