Thursday, February 23, 2006

Girl Friday: Women with Banjos

Earlier this week another blog boasted a video of a woman with a hand-held keyboard; the accompanying comment was that this is the way to take an attractive woman and make her immediately unattractive. It was kind of funny, but I couldn't disagree more.

Take an already attractive man or woman, give them an instrument, and to me they become much more than they appear, and all the more attractive. My friends laugh about me and my soft spot for men with banjos, but to be sure, anyone with a banjo is likely no hack in other areas.

And so it is with women and banjos! Lynne Morris, Laurie Lewis, and the extraordinary Alison Brown are just a few.

If you are not already familiar with Brown, she's pretty extraordinary, and like Bela Fleck stretches banjo into areas of jazz and other acoustic/new age styles. But her roots are in bluegrass. At the age of 12 she met fiddler Stuart Duncan and the two began playing together -- recording a duet album when she was still in high school. She played with Alison Krauss when Krauss was somewhere around the ripe old age of 22. Oh, and she's a Harvard grad with an MBA from UCLA. Yah. Do you suppose she cares what you think about how she looks holding a banjo? I doubt it.

During my first trip to IBMA, I was astonished by the number of young kids trolling the event, teenagers hanging out and jamming. These aren't hacks like me, but young people who have mastered their instruments. There is something spectacularly refreshing, inspiring, and yes, even a little vindicating about watching a 15 year old girl wield a banjo like most girls her age wield a tube of lip gloss.

So here's to all you girls and women with banjos, and guitars, and double basses (like the amazing Bryn Bright), mandolins, and fiddles, oboes, and accordions, and tubas, and who bang the drums. Keep on jammin' and don't worry about what the boys think.

Sample Alison's playing.


At February 24, 2006 3:36 PM, Blogger Darkneuro said...

PHHHHFFFTTT... That's what the boys can think. I've never met a musician I didn't like until I met a guy thinking he was a guitar god.
Women with ANY instrument ROCK.

At February 24, 2006 8:26 PM, Anonymous Cassandra said...

I am a guitar player myself (classical spanish guitar is my music of choice). I haven't played in quite sometime, but I started playing when I was eight (my father plays) and took lessons up until I was about 14. Then I was too busy with "other stuff" to bother practicing. LOL!
All of my friends in highschool played something. I always looked up to the girls who could play the bongos. My ex's sister played the violin like a pro, and then graduated to the fiddle when she got older.
I should really pick up the guitar again. Maybe I will...

At February 24, 2006 8:31 PM, Anonymous Cassandra said...

By the way, when I woke up this morning I thought, "Hey, it's Girl Friday!!" I kid you not.


At February 24, 2006 8:48 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hello Ladies!

Neuro, you are SO RIGHT. When you get where you're going, you may find it hard to resist picking up some kind of instrument. Pickin' parties are a great way to meet folks and make new friends!

Cassandra, Awww. Thanks!
And,how cool that you play! I am a genuine hack, but I am thinking lessons soon. For you, with two under age four, finding time to bring playing back into your life might be a challenge but very rewarding, not only because it gives you an extra something for you, but your little dudes might start showing interest or inclination. I was reading an interview a friend of mine did of a little girl named Sierra Hull, who was 11 at the time and had just come off stage from playing with, um, Ricky Scaggs. So hey, you never know what music in the house might lead to!

Happy Girl Friday!

At February 24, 2006 9:02 PM, Anonymous Cassandra said...

Jennie, you're right, it would be great for the boys. I have a lot of great memories of my father playing when I was little. One of the songs he played often was "Ruby Jean and Billie Lee" by Seals & Crofts. :-)

At February 25, 2006 8:40 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...


I'm guessing that the blog you're referring to is mine. Um, I wasn't implying that a woman becomes unattractive when she holds an instrument. That would be pretty damn shallow, and I hope you know I'm not like that.

I would also hope that you know I'm thoroughly thrilled by independent, strong-willed, and talented women; be it musically or otherwise.

My post suggested that people click the link to see why the woman was unattractive. It didn't say she was unattractive because she held an instrument. If you click the link, you'd see her in the clip; which is hilarious and damn unattractive.

Anyway, that's what my post said.

At February 26, 2006 5:30 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Goodness, I go out of town for one night and look what I miss! Anyway, no, Jim, we all know you're smarter than that. I just thought it was funny in a sort of Why I Will Never Understand Man's View of the World kind of way, regardless of how genuinely attractive unattractive an act of music making may be. (By the way, where is the rallying cry damning the same type of oddball behavior from countless male rock stars as unattractive rather than, um, cool?) And it's my perogative to poke fun at that, on Girl Friday or any other day of the week, for that matter.

I intentionally refrained from pointing out I saw this on your blog specifically because I didn't want you to feel it was an attack on you personally, your views, or your blog. Certainly, anyone unfamiliar with Jim's wonderful rants and beautiful photography should visit and see the clip.


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