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Sleepy Man Banjoy Boys: not at all like the Jonas Brothers
July 20, 2011 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Let me introduce you to the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, fans of the Earl Scruggs style and sound. Don't be fooled by their name or their youth, as they have two speeds: fast and faster. Their name comes from their youngest member, Jonny Mizzone, who often played the banjo on a bed.

Though their website is thin at the moment, they have more clips in their YouTube collection.
posted by filthy light thief (17 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Re your "fast and faster" link: Supposedly it was a great honor if Johnny Carson walked out to the performance stage to shake hands and interact with a comedian or musician. Looks like Letterman might have meant that in the same way.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:32 AM on July 20, 2011


> Looks like Letterman might have meant that in the same way.

Nah, he does that with every musical guest. That's pretty much their standard ending for every show.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:38 AM on July 20, 2011


That's not to say that he wasn't impressed by these kids, though.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:39 AM on July 20, 2011


Bluegrass is making huge inroads to the music festival scene in the last few years--just about every hippiefest will have some bluegrass, and the bluegrass conventions are seeing lots of hip young folks. Most recently, I was impressed by some young men from Roundhill, VA.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:42 AM on July 20, 2011


The Letterman performance is fun. A bit too show-offy for my tastes, I prefer my bluegrass humble, but they play really well. The look on the banjo kids' face is adorable, he seems genuinely startled to be there and be loved by an audience.
posted by Nelson at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"... shouldn't you kids be in Shri Lanka making t-shirts?"

Letterman can still deliver a zinger.
posted by philip-random at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2011


Holy shit these kids. Was Johnny retuning the banjo two or three times for it to go sharper/flatter?
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 9:01 AM on July 20, 2011


Prophet, he's using specialty D-tuners, most likely Keith Tuners, which are an improvement on Earl Scruggs cam tuners that required drilling holes in the peghead.
posted by ElGuapo at 9:10 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks, ElGuapo, I was wondering about that, too.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:12 AM on July 20, 2011


As a Scruggs-style player myself (lazy and unaccomplished as I may be) it's important to point out that the banjo playing sounds fast and flashy, but there is very little going on most of the time.

You can make it sound like a machine gun without really doing much of anything, and a lot of the runs are are motifs that, once learned, are easy to insert into any point in the song.

I'm not dissing anyone here; these kids are fine bluegrass players. I'm just saying that banjo players may sound fast and faster, but most of the time they are not really playing anything that complicated or particularly fast. In this manner, they are similar to some of the ways heavy-metal guitarists "cheat" by inserting simple phrases that sound fast and complicated while waiting for the chorus or bridge bars to come around.

It's all in the picking rolls, timing, and hammer-ons and pull-offs.

Now, mandolin players, those guys play /fast/.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:16 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Letterman performance is fun. A bit too show-offy for my tastes, I prefer my bluegrass humble, but they play really well. The look on the banjo kids' face is adorable, he seems genuinely startled to be there and be loved by an audience.

I don't think they've really learned how to showboat yet, but I'm pretty sure they will. Was just thinking of the first time I saw Nickel Creek on TV...
posted by brennen at 9:17 AM on July 20, 2011


(That being said, the nod to Scruggs with detuning stuff was well done, and indicates he has a decent ear for this sort of thing.)
posted by clvrmnky at 9:17 AM on July 20, 2011


I loved Johnny's wry smile on the Letterman clip.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:48 AM on July 20, 2011


On it, I'm making a push for these kids to make a stop in Branson, Missouri. So odd to think about this coming out of New Jersey!
posted by shinynewnick at 11:01 AM on July 20, 2011


Oh wow, those kids are amazing. Thanks for posting this.
posted by essexjan at 11:54 AM on July 20, 2011


Thanks filthy light thief, you just turned me on to my new favorite band.

clvrmnky, I think you're selling yourself and picking in general just a little short. And quit giving away trade secrets, people have seats to fill and shows to book!

Seriously, though, these kids really do it for me. They have the speed, technical ability and soul. Surprising coming from kids, but they work the blue notes like they actually have some life experience. Beautiful stuff!
posted by snsranch at 2:55 PM on July 20, 2011


That is fun to see; thanks for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:37 PM on July 21, 2011


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