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Hey, Cynthia! I
had the opportunity to see you play at the Carlyle hotel not long ago. It
was fantastic! I was in the back of the room, off to the side. I couldn't
help noticing your oistrich pants! Did you bag that critter yourself, or
was it on safari you apprehended the beast? Will you be wearing any
other wildlife soon? and if so, where will that be? Have you ever experimented
with Okapi or Kudu?Helmut Hedde
CS: Dear Helmut Head, I mean
Hedde, yes I did nab the poor helpless thing myself while on safari.
And yes, I do make it a habit to wear as many trophies as possible.
It gives me an aura of the exotic, and my audiences clearly respond
well to it (you are a perfect example). After all, what else
is there in life? I certainly don't want to do meaningless things
like, say, play the string bass.... [a bassist sent this
-- yes Greg, I recognize your style anywhere!]
Hey, Cynthia! A question...while reading Eddie Condon's
We Called It Music, he says he started on Ukulele, then moved on to
then his brother buys him a
plectrum banjo. He writes that he has to learn a whole new set of chords
"because the tenor banjo was tuned like a
ukulele." I play the ukulele...can
I get a tenor banjo and just tune it say like a baritone uke? Or
should I consult Mel Bay and learn it tuned to
fifths??? -- jp -- email@example.com
CS: Tenor banjo tuning is C-G-D-A
(low to high). I'm afraid I don't know baritone uke tuning.
But frankly you are asking a question that has a
subjective answer, JP.
Some people feel that one should tune an instrument only the proper
way and others feel it's fine to tune it however it
suits you and makes you happy,
that there are no "rules." In principle I definitely agree
with the latter. But if you are looking for the classic sound
associated with the instrument,
then you will not quite find it by tuning differently. Also,
if you plan to use instructional materials, then of course
using a different tuning could
be difficult. But there are many wonderful players who used tunings
different from the norm -- like my
hero Elmer Snowden, who played
tenor banjo pitched in 5ths but starting with a low G instead of
a C. He did this because he used to play
mandolin and so he preferred
to keep the same tuning, and in the process he not only had a hot,
swingy style but also his own unique lower
banjo sound. Good luck
with whatever you choose, JP!
Hey, Cynthia! i don't understand why you would
post some of the nonsense that people write in. some is ridiculous
and shouldn't be up. lms
CS: I agree
some is ridiculous, but it's also amusing -- at least to me, and since
it's my page I get to choose.
Hey, Cynthia! Are
you still working on your film about the banjo? I know it's
a big process. Did the trailer get finished? If so, what
are you working on now? Marty T.
CS: Yes Marty,
the trailer is finished and I'm proud of the results. I am currently
researching and applying for grants. It's lots of work, so progress
is slow but steady. I am committed and determined as ever, though!
I became a fan via the McPartland interview. I play plectrum banjo
tuned to DGBE, because I'm a guitar player. Is there any advantage
for me to switch to standard plectrum tuning? I want to find a dixieland
band to play in again after a long hiatis - any suggestions as to how to
find one? Keep up the great work, Ken S.-- firstname.lastname@example.org
CS: I think whether or not to switch
to plectrum (or tenor) tuning really has to do with whether you
want a more authentic banjo sound, Ken. As a non-purist, my own
opinion is to do whatever suits you (I'd choose to keep it easy with
the same tuning). But many disagree and feel that guitar tuning
undermines the banjo sound. I agree it alters it, but consider
that to be of lesser importance. I feel it's MUCH more about
playing approach than tuning. Playing with banjo "character" requires
a different approach than guitar -- and I don't mean adding corny nonsense
that people often think sounds banjo-ish. So, on a practical
level there may be little difference which tuning choice you make, unless
you are working with purists. But musically, it depends on your
I have two basic suggestions for finding
a band: 1) Network -- check newspaper listings and go to hear
bands in your area. Introduce yourself and give them your card, tell
them your background and offer to be a sub for their regular banjoist when
he/she can't make it. Ask about other players who might need a banjoist.
2) Put together your own band. You can get out there and dig
up a gig and then assemble a band via networking or advertising, or
you can advertise in the newspaper that you are looking for players
of this genre to jam with on occasion. Basically, whatever your
musical intentions, networking is the key. Good luck, Ken!
Thanks for writing.
Hey, Cynthia! i
hope you and everyone in nyc is doing better now that some months
have gone by after the attack. i visited there recently on business
and saw ground zero. it seemed right to pay my respects in person.
it also reminded me to appreciate people in music and other arts who
give us so much joy. it makes an important difference for everyone.
lenny -- email@example.com
CS: Ground zero is intense,
to put it mildly. I went there for the same reason as you. I
agree that the arts make the world a better place, and after the attacks
I definitely felt reaffirmed about what I do. Even something as small
and odd as playing banjo matters! Thanks for writing, Lenny.
Hey, Cynthia! I hope your film is as
successful as the trailer shows it can be. Now that your director, Rob Fruchtman,
received the director's award at Sundance this month, perhaps more attention
will be given to your whole project. Perhaps you should post the trailer
to your website so anyone can see how beautiful and talented you are?
CS: Thanks for the good wishes
and compliments. However, Rob is not my director. He
is a good friend who has been incredibly generous with his guidance,
support and time. I couldn't have gotten this far without him!
I was so thrilled to learn that he and his partner won Best Director
at Sundance for their documentary film. A well-deserved honor.
I won't post my trailer as it is only for funding promotion, but I was
considering posting some short live-in-concert clips. I tend to
be slow about improving this website, though, but hopefully I'll get
it done reasonably soon.
Hey, Cynthia! Hi
! Like your stuff ! What do you hear from Jack Graf,
GOOD pianist & potentially good banjoist. Do you know banjoist
Carl Lundsford ? Evil Andy -- firstname.lastname@example.org
CS: I haven't heard from Jack
lately. Nice man, and yes, good pianist. But I don't
recall knowing he plays banjo also! Yes, I know
Carl L. as well. But now it's my turn for a question, Andy
-- why are you evil??!
Hey, Cynthia! I just wanted to say hello.... please
keep in touch. Joe Nania -- email@example.com, http://www.hollywoodjoe.com,
music for all ages.....
CS: I've no idea
who you are, Joe, but thanks for writing.
Hey, Cynthia! Your kind words of encouragement to
me are now posted on my new website at: www.nouveaubanjo.com
, under the "quotes and links" page. Maybe you and your friends
can find something of interest elsewhere on the site. Best wishes
for all your endeavors." Brad
CS: Check this guy out,
folks -- he's great. Brad, I'm looking forward to jamming with
you this October in Germany. Thanks for writing!
Hey, Cynthia! Just writing to
say hello and to find out if you ever found out about that banjo music
for "Curse of the Jade Scorpion." I'm especially interested to
figure out what the chord is that was used in the "vamp." It sounds
like a G9th but I can't be sure. From "Good Mike" -- firstname.lastname@example.org
CS: Great to hear from you,
Good Mike! It's been a while. Geez, I DID know about that music,
but it's been a while so I must find out again. I'll post it when I
What has been going on with this page? Seems like
it stopped for a while. A computer glitch? I doubt people
stopped writing. But then again, I rarely write, so figured I should.
I see you are busy as ever. Keep playing that great music. Marc
A. from Wisconsin
CS: Thanks for being proactive, Marc! Well,
I must admit that the page freeze is my fault. I don't have a
good excuse -- I just took a break for a while. But I'm back, so
I welcome your posts. And I particularly appreciate that you continued
to check in!
Hey, Cynthia! When
you play in Italy?? Can I have the lyric of L-O-V-E?? Thanks.
-- Chiara -- email@example.com
CS: I'll e-mail the lyrics to you, Chiara.. Nothing
planned in Italy at the moment.... to my regret! But hopefully
Do you know of the whereabouts of Woody Allen? I must jam
with him in this lifetime.... I play a lot of the Django Reinhardt style
songs that Woody so admires.... Please keep in touch, Joe Nania -- firstname.lastname@example.org
-- I am here if you need to hear me... www.hollywoodjoe.com, www.mp3.com/hollywoodjoe
-- and from Memphis with love... www.hollywoodjoe.8m.com
CS: Of course I always know Woody's whereabouts.
At every second. And I can tell you that he particularly
loves jamming with strangers. But Joe, if you love Django then you're
probably an OK guy, so I wish you the best with your music.
Thanks for a great show as usual in Toms River. We see you
every year. My husband looks forward to it for weeks! Your
nice personality adds even more to the great music. The other musicians
were also wonderful. We wish you a happy and prosperous year and
we will certainly be back next year! Martha (and Gerald) Harvey
CS: Thanks for your nice note, Martha! We all had a
great time there.
Hello again.... I wanted to jam with Woody... how do I do that...
you mentioned how he likes to jam with strangers.... can you please keep
in touch with me by your site here as well as at my e-mail address....
Here I am on the internet www.hollywoodjoe.com which you can her lots
of my originals...from pop to love songs to swing to rockabilly to country....
I do exist... "anology" is my solo guitar tribute to Django Reinhardt...being
my name is Nania.... and from Memphis with love to you all... please stay
in touch --- Hollywood Joe again...! --- email@example.com
CS: Joey, Joey, Joey!!
I mean... Nania, Nania, Nania!! I honestly thought it was
clear that I was being facetious, particularly when I wrote that I know
Woody's whereabouts at every second. Nania, Woody is not
going to jam with you. I'm sincerely sorry -- I never meant to mislead
what's the deal with this hollywood joe character? did
you check out his website? (ok, i admit i was curious) he's an
elvis impersonator! go figure. i mean, what does that have
to do with jazz, and django? keep playing your great music, cynthia.
hope to catch you this weekend at la belle epoque. -- suzannah
s. from nyc
CS: You got me
curious, Suzannah, so I checked him out. I agree he does seem rather
colorful, but hey, wouldn't life be boring otherwise? And I know
perfectly well that some people think that what I do is wierd as hell
too. I suppose it all comes down to one's taste in music... and
occasionally in hairstyles...
Please excuse my persistence, but I've tried several times
to post a message on Hey Cynthia, but I keep getting a response from Earthlink
that it would not transmit (and I am using Explorer). I hope this
one reaches you. I did get posted once before and you replied. Thanks
I write songs -- words and music -- and I really
want to send you a lead sheet and demo CD of my bossa nova song, titled
"Mantra Samba." I'd love to hear you sing and play it. I
really believe it would work wonderfully. It's a classic bossa
nova tune and a good lyric. If you can tell me where to send it,
I'd be delighted. I'd be even more delighted if you give it a listen
when you get it. And I'd be really stoked if you would mess around
with singing and playing it. And I'd be blasted out of the universe
if I could ever hear you sing and play it. Hope to hear from you
soon. Best wishes, Ken Shuey -- firstname.lastname@example.org
CS: I emailed my address
(it's also on the record order form). I look forward to receiving
your tune! Sorry about the problems with posting. I only recently
learned that it's been a problem for a while now. And, unfortunately,
I learned that I must call Earthlink about it -- it's nothing I can fix
on this end
and Suzannah, If you think just because a person resembles a
certain famous entertainer such as Elvis....but cannot possible be into
jazz as well as swing....you are both wrong....have a look and yes it is
true I do have a sort of 1950's look....but I love all styles of music such
as Django Reinhardt and Oscar Aleman...Stephane Grappelli...Charlie Parker...Bing
Crosby...Duke Ellington...Tal Farlow was a good friend of mine...I have
listened to Django since 1967... and he helped me with many things on the
guitar ... so do not go by a book's cover ...closed minded people only hear
what they want to hear ... Wayne Wright ... Les Paul's one time rhythm guitarist
is a buddy of mine.... I love many styles of music ... Oh, Suzannah won't
you listen a little more to my ..."Nanology"... it is a solo guitar tribute
to Django Reinhardt. I wrote it because of a great love of his music
and playing --- Hollywood Joe --- Hollywoodjoe@usa.com
CS: OK, I admit it... this
page can get boring sometimes, so I'm glad when things occasionally sizzle
a little. Now Joe, I can't speak for
Suzannah -- hopefully she will for herself! -- but I'm sorry if my hair
joke offended you. I was being funny at your expense. Well,
at least I think I was being funny.... And when I wrote that "it all comes
down to one's taste in music," I'm not sure if you misconstrued... I
meant that some people think what I do is wierd, and often these same people
also don't particularly connect to my music, while others who do connect
often also find me to be, well, normal. And I imagine that kind of reaction is pretty common.
Now of course I appreciate that people frequently have diverse taste
in music! That's a no-brainer, to say the least. I mean, I
do too. But if people didn't have these differences, then geez, we'd
have no diversity in the arts! And that would be incredibly lame.
Not to mention boring. And, of course it's also fun when others
share similar tastes. By the way, please say hi to Wayne for me. Haven't
seen him in years. We used to gig together when I was first starting
to play. I enjoyed the cool stories he used to tell! I understand
he stopped playing ages ago... is that true?
glad you wrote that about the earthlink problem cause i tried to post
a couple times and gave up. guess i should have tried regular email
before. my question --- did you choose an open-back because of the
sound? your instrument ROCKS. -- email@example.com
CS: Delighted you like my banjo! But actually it's not
an open-back, though people generally think it is because I have a clear
plexiglass resonator on it. I took off the wood resonator and also
the metal flanges and screwed on a piece of 1/4" plexiglass, using 1/2" spacers
so there is airspace between the resonator and the rim, and viola
-- my banjo became a couple pounds lighter plus a smaller, more comfortable
size. The sound is unaffected in that I was not able to discern a
difference between this and the wood resonator. However, I also learned
that this doesn't work with every banjo -- it can screw up the sound, so
one must first experiment to see if it can be an option. Luckily, with
my banjo it ROCKS.