FRC 209 - Dink Roberts: African American Banjo (Recordings from the collection of Bob Winans)

by Dink Roberts

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1.
01:16
2.
3.
01:14
4.
02:48
5.
01:22
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
00:49
11.
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14.
00:52
15.
01:21
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18.
19.
01:02
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21.
22.
00:39
23.
01:00
24.
00:52
25.
00:28
26.
00:53
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28.
29.
30.
00:53
31.
32.
00:56
33.
00:53
34.
01:07
35.
36.
37.
38.
01:20
39.
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41.
00:42
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47.
48.
00:38
49.
01:38

about

(From the collection of Bob Winans)

In the mid-1970s, while I was researching and writing about the connections between minstrel banjo and clawhammer/frailing banjo, other researchers (Bruce Bastin, Kip Lornell, Cece Conway, Tommy Thompson, and Mike Seeger) had been discovering and recording African American banjo players. Early in 1978, feeling a need to gain first-hand knowledge of these banjoists, I embarked on a trip to interview and record a number of them, with the assistance of Kip and Cece who generously introduced me to players they had been working with. One of the most important of these African American banjo players was Dink Roberts (1894-1989), whom I recorded outside his home in Haw River, NC. His playing sounds noticeably different (among other things, more rhythmically complex, i.e., “syncopated,” for lack of a better term) than that of southeastern white banjoists contemporary with him, so much so that when I first heard recordings of his playing I mistakenly thought he did not know what he was doing. But further listening and then visiting him convinced me that he was fully in control of the musical effects he wished to create; he was just operating from a different aesthetic. His playing was, in the most positive sense, “archaic,” and an essential link to an earlier African American playing style (he learned from black banjoists born in the 1870s). Dink’s music is truly “roots music.” – Bob Winans

credits

released November 19, 2015

Dink Roberts (tracks 1-29, 34-35, 37-38, 40-49), James Roberts (tracks 31-33, 36, 39).

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