Mark Frauenfelder at 9:05 pm Mon, May 9, 2011
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Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His latest book is Made by Hand: My Adventures in the World of DIY
MORE: Down Home • Entertainment • music
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As a Guitar player I doubt that this is faked or sped up. The fingerwork on the Banjo is legit and actually not that hard to pick up, especially for a kid that likes to play. Kids pick up music alot faster than adults cause their brains are not full of adult problems yet. Also keep in mind that there is also a Guitar in this that you only see at the end of the video. A lot of the parts that you dont associate with the banjo come from the guitar that you dont see.
Right on! I used to play a longneck banjo and agree that those kids are really playing, and probably at that speed. Their facial expressions are NOT expressing boredom or desire to “get it over,” on the contrary they express intense concentration and musical spirit, to my observation. The boy’s deft use of the tuning screws is absolutely remarkable. I am totally convinced that these boys are musical prodigies, which is wonderful, but absolutely NOT unheard of. After all, Mozart composed a symphony at about that age, just to mention one famous one.
My dad and his brother were part of a band in Tennessee when they were teenagers, and played a lot of bluegrass. Dad played fiddle, banjo, and harmonica. He even had a miniature Hohner that he could play without his hands. That was a sight to see.
He loves to tell the story of when he got in trouble for secretly playing with his dad’s harmonica after consuming a handful of Oreos.
Sometime before I started grade school he gradually stopped playing instruments, as life started to get in the way. Don’t let life take away what moves you the most, young Sleepy Man Banjo Boys.
It is amazing, but in cases like this I always wonder about the parents, who must have forced their children to learn these instruments in order for them to be so talented so young. I’m sure they have loving parents, but they don’t even seem to be enjoying themselves.
What, ’cause of the looks on their faces? I always make a silly look on my face, playing violin, and so do most the people I know, even when they vastly enjoy playing.
Just takes a lot of concentration; can’t be too concerned with whether you look like you’re feeling the music, or whether you’re just too into it to be aware of your body.
Yeah, because the results of natural talent and hard work are ALWAYS a hallmark of overbearing stage parents.
Christ, there’s always someone who has to thread-shit.
“thread-shit”, well put. How could anyone possibly watch this video and walk away feeling anything other than impressed? Someone even said it made them SAD because of all the work that must have gone into learning to be that good at their instruments. Seriously??? Are we really that namby pamby now?
Also, I can’t imagine having that stuffed fox looking over my bed, at any age, especially theirs.
I just felt the need to reply to this. I happen to be these boys’ aunt (my brother’s kids) and I can wholeheartedly assure you that my nephews started this on their own. They LOVE playing and their parents are the complete opposite of ‘stage parents’ who force their children to practice and practice just to become famous. They are amazing, loving, humble people who happen to have some crazy talented kids. I just wanted to clarify that. These are nice, fun kids who happen to be concentrating really hard on a difficult piece of music. Thanks.
Anybody who thinks this is fake didn’t notice the headboard on the kids bed…
Art direction of the room: excellent!
Sped up? Hell no.
Awesome for sure.
Not only do they play well, they also, even at this early age, have their expressionless bluegrass-faces well-honed. I have always noticed that the only way you can tell that any member of a bluegrass band is actually having a good time is that they will look at another member and raise their eyebrows ever so slightly.
“…only way you can tell that any member of a bluegrass band is actually having a good time is that they will look at another member and raise their eyebrows ever so slightly.”
I get the same impression watching my step-father’s country and western group.
Anyone else surprised the boy was playing a full-sized instrument? Thank heavens for narrow necks on banjos.
It’s not fair! I’ve been playing the banjo for five years and I’ll NEVER be as good as that eight-year old kid.
That’s some jaw-dropping talent right there. The other two boys aren’t slouches, either.
America, Fuck Yeah!
The way his hair is parted is darling!
Those kids can play pretty good, too.
AHA… gotcha… this is a fake… Star Wars was out a full five years after Deliverance!
Hope I don’t seed the boinging of their site, but this is them:
Just sayin in case anyone is feeling daunted right now; a banjo is a great instrument to add to your collection. I dont play guitar or anything (mostly washtub bass and some hand drums) but i picked up a Royal banjo on the cheap, took the resonator off the back and removed the top string and its a fantastic and easy instrument to learn and play. Four strings is easy enough for plebes like me and its very lightweight without the resonator. just memorize some basic chords and you’re off to the races.
The Fox shot first.
Huh. For some reason I’m feelin a mighty powerful need to re-watch Firefly.
Not to diminish them but does anyone else feel like the video was sped up while watching?
It’s fast fingerwork so the frames may not catch everything but the video didn’t feel accurate to me.
I really doubt it was sped up. Here’s them playing the same tune live at the same speed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjOPu4tngc8
“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” – Homer J.
Especially when he twiddles with the chord tuning around 1:05 something just doesn’t look right.
Doesn’t diminish the skills though.
I was coming here to say the same thing.
They are amazing. I watched a few other videos on their YouTube channel. Really inspirational.
Just shows you how easy that instrument is to play.
Well, sort of.
Of course the banjo is an easy instrument to play! In fact, you can play now!
Interesting to note: rolling the tuners like that is almost never heard, and was popularized via this very tune by the legendary Earl Scruggs. Good modern tuners, like the ones on this kid’s instrument, have stops on them that allow you to tune quickly to the exact note you’re looking for. But Scruggs did it by ear.
Behind the music, there is this horrible pulsating feeling of adolescent awkwardness and embarrassment, mixed with a “ok mom, can I leave yet” vibe. It sort of makes me sad.
amanicdroid â€” yes, although I’m sure they are actually playing the music, there did seem to be quite a bit of post-production stuff going on. They’ve added echo, for starters. And the acoustics sound all wrong for a room like that. So they might well have speeded it up a little too. I guess whoever filmed it was just trying to make it seem professional. Good luck to them, anyway! A talented trio!
Do their parents own a front porch? Can we give the kid an effed-up haircut? A re-enactment would be awesome …
The only problem I have is that when I listen to that type of music, I get all ‘Deliverance-d’ out and wonder what they’re doing down the back of the woodshed ;)
some days i weep for the future. Today is not one of those days. Hot damn, those boys can play!
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