Michael J. Miles | The Magic Banjo

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Michael J. Miles

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United States - Illinois

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Folk: Traditional Folk Folk: Minstrel Moods: Solo Male Artist
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The Magic Banjo

by Michael J. Miles

Using 8 different banjos, including Senegalese Halam and fretless minstrel banjo Miles plays the music from his one-man show entitled "From Senegal to Seeger: Stories of the American Banjo."
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Yaya
1:35 album only
2. Abraham Lincoln
3:36 album only
3. Black Mountain Rag
1:47 album only
4. Lakes of Ponchartrain
6:06 album only
5. Aviator / Soldier's Joy
2:52 album only
6. Oh Susanah / Sweet Georgia Brown
3:22 album only
7. Elanoy
2:47 album only
8. Cripple Creek Variations
1:27 album only
9. Come On In My Kitchen
2:26 album only
10. If I Had A Hammer
2:31 album only
11. Pretty Boy Floyd
2:15 album only
12. Waterbound / Salt Creek / Old Joe Clark
4:00 album only
13. Illinois
3:39 album only
14. Will The Circle Be Unbroken / I'll Fly Away / Take This Hammer
2:48 album only
15. Oklahoma Hills
3:36 album only
16. Union Maid
2:31 album only
17. Where Have All The Flowers Gone
3:41 album only
18. Hard Times
2:52 album only
19. Suite de Schottische
3:16 album only
20. Roll Em Easy
3:04 album only
21. Untitled
2:17 album only


Album Notes
created and performed by Michael J. Miles

"Highly recommended....an exhilarating musical and multi-dimensional journey....a provocative political and social history of America." HEDY WEISS, CHICAGO SUNTIMES

The Magic Banjo is a one-man show featuring the musical and written works of Pete Seeger, Carl Sandburg, Woody Guthrie, Walt Whitman, Johann Sebastian Bach and others.

This is a journey into Americana--a social and political portrait of American through the eyes of the banjo. Mixing compelling songs and driving banjo instrumentals with superb literature and journal extractions from some of America's most telling writers and thinkers, Miles has woven together a magical journey into the heart of America.

Punctuated by humor and music, this show provides a thoroughly enjoyable experience that has played to sold out theatres across the midwest and at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

Eight different instruments are used including a Civil War minstrel banjo and an African 3-string Halam carved from a tree trunk,. The sounds include folk songs, ragtime, union songs, train songs, and selections from Miles' own compositions.

"Musician's one-man banjo show is magic. Captivating...entertaining.. thoughtful...vivid images of America....a treat to hear."
Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2004

"Miles gives a mesmerizing performance because of his charisma and apparent love for storytelling and the banjo. His voice is strong, warm.... And it seems as if Miles' fingerwork on the banjo entranced the audience."
Roseanne Wasielewski, UWM Leader, 2004



to write a review

Bob Clayton

Remarkable banjo playing highlighting a traditional style
I didn't know what to expect from this CD -- despite the samples online, I didn't have time to give it a deep listening. Once I put it on, though, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a modern player using the early Minstrel style fretless banjo so much. The Minstrel banjo is tuned lower than modern ones, it's fretless, and has a large, deep shell (13-14" across). The result is a thumpy, lower-pitched tembre that is felt as much as heard, sometimes. You expect Minstrel banjo players to present only Stephen Foster or Dan Emmett dance tunes, and modern players, even those who do play the old-time down-picking style, seldom play that banjo. Michael Miles does, and it's very refreshing! Of course, not all the tunes are on a Minstel banjo, but all the playing is top-notch. His sense of rhythm is impeccable, and the tune-playing doesn't get old. The singing is good, too, though vocals are not his strong suit. Not every song is perfectly chosen, but every one is perfectly played. I recommend the CD, even if I sound negative (I have high standards). You'll like it, I'm sure.