Banjo Origins (3): Jesusland

This entry is part 9 of 34 in the series Breakdown: The Banjo Poems

I made another short video from a poem in my new collection, Breakdown: Banjo Poems. If you missed the other two, I created a new album on Vimeo for Breakdown videos. Or simply scroll down through the latest posts in the Videopoetry category here.

The music for this one, found once again on SoundCloud, is by Tem Noon (tabla) and Christen Napier (banjo), one of seven improvisations they recorded, all licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence.

Thanks to the Prelinger Archives once again for the public-domain footage: a 1928 short documentary called Queerosities: A Negro Baptism (yes, the framing was ever so slightly racist) and two untitled home movies of church camps, one also from 1928 and one from 1970. I wanted to include both Southern whites and African Americans in the scenes of religious enthusiasm, since the banjo, like Pentecostalism, has such a potent history with both groups. I don’t know if it matters that the different source materials in the video are so easily distinguishable in quality. My hope is that that just lends it more of a documentary feel.

Thanks also to Rachel for critiquing an earlier version of this video. (If you’re one of the three other people who watched it before 10:00 PM East Coast time tonight, please watch again.) I think it tells a more coherent story now. I also turned down the volume of the music just a bit.

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  1. I’m glad you lowered the music level, it sounds much better (to me). Thank you.


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