The American Folklife Center has recently acquired a five-string Fairbanks Vega banjo donated by musician, photographer, and filmmaker John Cohen before his death in 2019. The John Cohen banjo is extraordinary for three reasons: it is in itself a classic instrument, a beautiful example of a Fairbanks Vega banjo with a Whyte Laydie tone ring and an unusual tone projector; it belonged to John Cohen, one of the most significant figures in the revival of the five-string banjo; and it was often played by Roscoe Holcomb, a singular artist and crucial figure in American traditional music. Read more about the banjo's history, see pictures, and follow links to some video of the banjo being played, all in this blog post!
The American Folklife Center is delighted to announce the acquisition of the Missouri Friends of the Folk Arts collection from Julia Olin and Barry Bergey. The collection includes concert recordings of iconic blues and old time musicians like Henry Townsend and Robert Jr. Lockwood; festival performances from the Frontier Folk Festival; fiddling traditions from Ozark and Midwestern regions; and traditional arts documentation from around the state of Missouri. Communities documented include the French speaking towns around Old Mines, Native American communities, and several Spanish speaking communities. Bergey and Olin wrote this blog post to introduce the collection to researchers at the American Folklife Center.