by Tom Keener This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender… —Pete Seeger Although the banjo has African origins, its
modern configuration is truly an American phenomenon. Along with the fiddle, the banjo is a mainstay of
American old-time music. Celebrating their twenty-third year, the Dallas Banjo Band appears at the Allen Public Library at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 13. From Dixieland to blues and rag time tunes, the Dallas Banjo Band performs a variety of musical genres. This 20-piece band was formed in 1989 under the direction of Smokey Montgomery, formerly a banjoist with Bob Wills and the Light Crust Doughboys. Since then, they have performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Garland Symphony Orchestra and America’s Got Talent. Their arrangements appear on the soundtrack for the film, Lugosi: Hollywood’s Dracula, and oxymoronically, their songs range from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and Gorney’s “Brother, Can Spare A Dime?” Home-builder Harold Poole, the band’s concertmaster, was an ex-guitarist who hadn’t played in 30 years when he met Mr. Montgomery. The connection was made via a flugelhorn player whose new house Poole was building. He notes, “Smokey loaned me his banjo for the week and sent me home with an instruction book. That was 20 years ago.” When asked why he prefers the banjo, he responds. “It is happy instrument; it is hard to play a sad song on the banjo.” Poole then gleefully notes, “One of our numbers includes a wash board.” The
banjo’s popularity sharply declined as the acoustic guitar ascended to iconic status during the 1920s. However, the banjo experienced a revival when “The ‘Ballad of Jed Clampett” debuted on the 1960s hit television show The Beverly Hillbillies. This number 1 country hit made it to 44
on the charts in 1962. Sponsored by Bach to Books, this program is free. The library is located at 300 N. Allen Drive in Allen. For information, call 214-509-4911.
Posted by: Sam Moore
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