I'm not a "banjophile," but I do love musicianship of many stripes. This story of the instrument and its innovators is deep. "You can't talk about the history of the banjo if you can't talk about racism, slavery, misogyny, appropriation, exploitation ... all the things that run counter to what we love about the banjo. - Greg Adams, Ethnomusicologist. 3.5 stars
Glad to have watched it, but sad for all the potential insight and untold stories that flickered here and there at the margins. The promise of hearing America's story went unfulfilled as well. African sources and sounds on top of that. Hope it drives somebody to tell the fuller story with central things at the center.
OK doc about the banjo. I enjoyed learning about some of the early players, but would have liked more detail about the history, construction and playing techniques. It was as if the makers were afraid of boring us. Minstrel shows, touched upon, is a topic that deserves its own documentary.
(2.5 stars) Good ol' banjo music. Pretty solid documentary told in the style of a Ken Burns doc. It's interesting but nothing ground-breaking here. But light and easy and a great tribute to this particular instrument and the music it spawned.