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The Banjo Monologues 

(fossil 1707)

(click on picture for a larger, clearer view of cover)

Released  May 1, 2007
how to order this cd
(available for download, too)

click here to read reviews

This is a unique album of oldtime banjo (clawhammer 5-string) with traditional songs and tunes wedded with storytelling. The monologues tell of 1930's radio (WLS Barn Dance, Crazy Water Crystals) and my family's career as professional "hillbilly" musicians in downstate Illinois. Also speaks to why oldtime music -- and the banjo in particular -- matters.

Who might this CD appeal to?  Well, if you are a fan of the banjo, especially in the clawhammer style, this was made for you.  If you are a fan of oldtimey country music in general, you would like to hear the stories of WLS barn dance and my folks working for them doing road shows in downstate Illinois. Also stories of the Crazy Water Crystal folks and other characters.  I also talk about the "inner life" of a tune and the questions of repetition and variation -- again, why the banjo matters.  

Or maybe you are simply a fan of my music.  If you like the way I tell a story onstage, then you would like this CD, too.  I speak the monologues as I play the banjo.  There are also several songs and a few instrumentals too. 

I had a lot of fun putting together this album, and I hope you check it out. 

        [click on or right-click & save "mp3 sample" to listen]

  1. Foreword Looking Back    2:34   mp3 sample

  2. The Dragonfly   2:15    mp3 sample

  3. Cindy / Gerald & Jerald Lee   6:07    mp3 sample

  4. Three Nights Drunk   3:04    mp3 sample

  5. Cripple Creek / The Desert Island   6:51    mp3 sample

  6. Whistling Rufus   1:57    mp3 sample

  7. The Uncloudy Day / Leonard Lively   5:31    mp3 sample

  8. Wondrous Love (Captain Kidd)   2:00    mp3 sample

  9. No More Cane on this Brazos    3:26    mp3 sample

  10. Roll Down the Line   2:52    mp3 sample

  11. Liza Jane / WLS & Prairie Farmer   8:17    mp3 sample

  12. Uncle Joe   2:25    mp3 sample

  13. Crazy Water Crystals    3:17     mp3 sample

  14. The Other Rock the Cradle, Joe   1:32    mp3 sample

  15. Down In the Willow Garden    4:23    mp3 sample

  16. John Henry’s Hammer   3:26    mp3 sample

  17. Paddy on the Railroad / The Reel with the Beryl   3:24    mp3 sample

  18. Cluck Old Hen / One Gentleman’s Opinion   6:01    mp3 sample

      Total time 69:28

(The italicized titles indicate the monologues, the rest are songs or tunes)

Click here to read the liner notes and see photos

Click here to read the lyrics and transcriptions of the monologues
(it is better to hear them!)

click here to read reviews

ordering information

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© 2008 Joel Mabus, All Rights Reserved