Posted by Mike Joyce on July 27, 19102 at 21:58:53:
In Reply to: Re: Re-send information on Snuffy Jenkins posted by Bob Lackey on July 27, 19102 at 11:14:43:
Hi Bob and Jack,
Wonderful posts there. It brings back a lot of memories. I grew up about 60 miles from Roanoke and in the late 50's and early 60's, I'd start my day (especially on those cold winter mornings), sitting over the heat duct, warming up, listening to Don Reno, Red Smiley, Ronnie Reno (a little later), Mac Maghee (I'm sure I didn't spell that right, but a great fiddler), while the smells of my mother frying eggs woke me up. Then in the evenings Channel 7 in Roanoke, Channel 12 in Winston Salem and Channel 2 in Greensboro showed the Martha White Grand Ole Opry with Earl and Lester.
I wouldn't trade those musical memories for anything. Although I have to admit that Earl's music had a greater personal influence on me, mostly due to his guitar playing, I have a great love and respect for Don's abilities both with the 5-string, and flat picking a guitar. I believe, however, that it really isn't a fair comparison between Earl's and Don's banjo playing. They both played a three finger style, but a close listen reveals two different styles. In addition to the rolls, Don played a lot of single string parts, and strummed chord solos.
Earl, on the other hand, is a master of fills, both on the banjo and guitar. No one has ever duplicated Earl's ability to play one on one with a fiddle player. Listen to some of Earl's harmonies while playing a duet with Paul Warren. Or Earl's guitar licks behind Lester in the early Mercury recording of Preachin', Prayin', and Singin'. It was always "just right", never over powering or detracting from the other musician, but adding the final ribbons and bows.
The arguments over who invented the three finger banjo style are reminiscent of the arguments over who invented thumblick guitar picking. My great uncle, Norman Woodlieff, played with Charlie Poole and the NC Ramblers in the 20's. He told me stories about Charlie Poole playing the 5-string with three fingers back then, just as he played an elementary thumblick style before Sam McGee, Merle Travis, or Blind Blake.
I guess my point is to agree with Jack and say that all of the debate over the "inventors" will probably never be accurately settled. And so what?
We still have the wonderfully beautiful music of Earl and some incredible recordings of Don's.
I feel fortunate, in deed.
Best regards to all,
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