If any musical instrument can be said to be quintessentially American, it is the banjo. Even in its construction, it tells a story of cultural exchange: the banjo is a drum with strings, a symbolic blending of African and European musical identities. Brought to the New World in the memories and traditions of enslaved Africans, repeatedly re-invented by African and European-Americans, the banjo has shaped most American musical forms: the minstrel show (the dominant popular entertainment in the US in the 19th century), ragtime and early jazz, old-time folk and the folk revival, as well as blues, bluegrass, country, and new hybrids yet to be labeled.
Give Me The Banjo, narrated by Steve Martin, is a musical odyssey through 300 years of American history and culture, featuring contemporary banjo masters such as Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Mike Seeger, Sonny Osborn, in interviews and performances, combined with rare archival footage, stills, recordings and first-hand narratives.
Dir. Marc Fields