Black Banjo Songsters of North Carolina and Virginia
features 32 tracks of African-American banjo players from North Carolina and Virginia playing in the old-time folk style, recorded between 1974 and 1997. This is one of numerous releases illustrating that the roots of American music have more of a commonality than is often supposed. Many of the standards covered by the musicians on this record were (and are) in the repertoire of white folk artists, and it seems almost arbitrary to try to determine whether this is more of a country or a blues collection. Several of the players use odd tunings, and their instrumental skills outshine the vocals, which often sound like off-the-cuff afterthoughts. This is very well produced (with a booklet giving background on black banjo playing and the history behind the songs), and it's really more of academic interest than something to play for entertainment, historical importance aside.