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Oh, just some kids trying to play Dueling Banjos
March 13, 2012 6:59 AM   Subscribe


 
Poor Robbie. They got the Millenium Falcon; he got the Lego Slave Trader. They got the guitar and banjo; he got a violin. They'll get dualie pickup trucks; he'll get a used Camry.
posted by Xoebe at 7:08 AM on March 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


At first I thought the youngest kid must not be as sharp as his older brother; he was watching his hand on the frets a lot, and he seemed to not be able to keep up with the picking speed of his brother.

Then they got to the part where the song takes off and I realized I had been utterly fooled. That kid is good.

(Also the Millennium Falcon seems a bit out of place amidst the instruments, rustic bedframe, Western decor, and quiver of arrows.)
posted by caution live frogs at 7:08 AM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


That little boy is WAY cuter than the creepy inbred freak from Deliverance!
posted by Mooseli at 7:12 AM on March 13, 2012


I'm 45 and suck at guitar.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:14 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd bet good money that there is one damn proud parent behind that camera
posted by Blasdelb at 7:15 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow...those are some talented kids.
posted by biscotti at 7:18 AM on March 13, 2012


These kids are amazing. Previously
posted by Ad hominem at 7:19 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This made my day.

Oh, and CLF, I felt the same way about the Millennium Falcon in the log cabin style bedroom. Then I remembered all the fiery explosions (and loud sounds) in space that Star Wars portrayed. It seemed much less odd after that.
posted by J.W. at 7:22 AM on March 13, 2012


That was awesome. :)
posted by zarq at 7:23 AM on March 13, 2012


The funny thing is they are from New Jersey.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:24 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Love that look at 1:30--"We're doing this, right?"
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:24 AM on March 13, 2012


I will never not love Dueling Banjos.

And caution live frogs, exactly! That's what I love the most about this -- I'd seen these kids before, and I knew the banjo player was something else, but his fingers looked awfully familiar to me from those early days of learning the cello. So the anticipation was even better :)
posted by Madamina at 7:25 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe because I am dead inside, I actually preferred this related video in the sidebar.
posted by COBRA! at 7:26 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I shouldn't admit this, because I should just hand my nerd card over right f'ing now and never get it back, but god help me, I said, "Oh, cute! The Starship Enterprise!"

Just kill me now. I mean it.

posted by Madamina at 7:27 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're ever out in our part of the world during July, try to make it to Uncle Dave Macon Days. I've seen quite a few family groups that are positively mind-blowing. Giant crowds and little pick-up groups popping up and playing all over the place. We've seen the Ward sisters a few times and they can seriously cook.
posted by jquinby at 7:32 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]




At first I thought the youngest kid must not be as sharp as his older brother; he was watching his hand on the frets a lot, and he seemed to not be able to keep up with the picking speed of his brother.

Then they got to the part where the song takes off and I realized I had been utterly fooled. That kid is good.


I got the impression that he had to pay attention in order to slow himself down. The opening passages may be at a pace where he actually has to "think" about it instead of relying on muscle memory.
posted by endless_forms at 7:42 AM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nothing short of amazing.
posted by ColdChef at 7:43 AM on March 13, 2012




As someone trying to learn fiddle, I can say with some authority: hot damn that last kid is good. His tone is amazing and his fingering precision makes me weep with envy.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:44 AM on March 13, 2012


They don't look like they're having any fun.
posted by msbrauer at 7:46 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where did that violin come from?!
posted by Peevish at 7:55 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Excellent! What I loved about the 3 boys playing country music on a log-framed bed: when the camera zoomed in on the fiddle player and there was a scale model of the Millenium Falcon in the background!
posted by Uncle Grumpy at 8:06 AM on March 13, 2012


the millenium falcon makes total sense. geek kids are geek kids -- regardless of teh particular geekery, almost all of them think han & chewie are cool.
posted by lodurr at 8:20 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like some Deal With It shades should have descended down from the top of the frame once the truth kicked in.
posted by SharkParty at 8:30 AM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


> They don't look like they're having any fun.

Are you joking? Did you miss the satisfied little smiles they give every once in a while? They're having a blast; they're good and they know it.

Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 8:33 AM on March 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Amazing, and that is the most boyish boy's bedroom in North America.
posted by Scoo at 8:35 AM on March 13, 2012


hadda be joking. you just don't take the time to get that good without loving it.

plus, the fingertips on that kid's fret hand must be like teflon.
posted by lodurr at 8:40 AM on March 13, 2012


9? 13? 14? And one of them still found the time to build that deluxe LEGO Millennium Falcon on the bedside table??? (*Sob* If you'll excuse me, I'm off to practice walking and chewing gum at the same time. It's a start.)
posted by Mike D at 8:40 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


So at what point exactly did these boychicks put in their 10,000 hours?

In the womb?
posted by tspae at 8:46 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Holy goddamn!
posted by penduluum at 8:49 AM on March 13, 2012


you get some bonus talent points for starting early, when the neurons are more plastic.
posted by lodurr at 8:50 AM on March 13, 2012


I would like to commend to you my favorite nine year old (though I think she's ten now), Magdalen Fossum (more here).
posted by rodii at 9:00 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Have these kids never been posted here before? Because somewhere I saw this video of them (specifically that ungodly nine year old) playing How Mountain Girls Can Love and I basically sat there staring at the screen for about 5 minutes while my brain caught up. Best YouTube comment ever: "This is what happens when you DON'T get your kids an XBOX."
posted by The Bellman at 9:12 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you take the Millenium Falcon out of there, that bedroom looks like it is straight out of a 1950s comic in Boy's Life magazine. The turkey feathers. The hand-crafted log furniture? Some wood burnings? Looks like a set of Hardy Boys books on the shelf. The musical instruments. Is that a quiver of arrows?

I think I got a few merit badges for just watching that.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:15 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The last time these boys were on MetaFilter, the banjo was at least as tall as the player.

And about Magdalen Fossum, a good friend of mine teaches music at her school, and says she just an adorable kid.
posted by MtDewd at 9:22 AM on March 13, 2012


They don't look like they're having any fun.

I think what you're seeing is the blank expression that appears on a musician's face while he's "in the zone," which is way more fun than it looks.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 9:31 AM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm a neophyte banjo player. I found myself thinking, "huh, he's having a hard time hitting that G 3 times fast with his thumb. Wonder why he doesn't work in his index finger?"

"Oh. Because he's mocking me, that's why!"
posted by gurple at 9:34 AM on March 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also, I'm excited about seeing Give Me the Banjo, which is coming to my local film festival next week.
posted by MtDewd at 9:35 AM on March 13, 2012


They don't look like they're having any fun.

Actually, it looks to me as if they are trying very hard not to crack up in giggles, especially at the beginning when they are struggling to appear ham-handed.
posted by chavenet at 9:35 AM on March 13, 2012


Those poor North Korean boys.
posted by zippy at 9:36 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


MrMoonPie: "I'm 45 and suck at guitar."

Don't wory, I'm only 34 and I suck at guitar. There are all ages out there, sucking at guitar.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:45 AM on March 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm wondering who the six sad people are who clicked "dislike" over on youtube.

This was fantastic. Lucky kids, lucky family, lucky us!
posted by rtha at 9:49 AM on March 13, 2012


Awesome cool.

[As a musician who has played banjo and guitar in bluegrass since about the same age, imagonna point out that the guitar flatpicking solo was nonstandard, bitchinkewl, and if improvised-- hellanifty. The fiddle is also pretty good. The banjo line is pretty much the standard banjo line, but played just fine. And let's face it, the banjo player gets another five years of practice to "catch up" to his brothers. Heh!

One more thing: learning to smile while playing (or at least not drool, in my case) takes a long time. Them brain cells are doing a lot more important things. Scowling and weird twitches are par for the course.]
posted by lothar at 9:55 AM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was all "Yeah, that's OK" until the camera pans at the 4min 53second mark to reveal yet *another* kid, this one wearing a Leatherface mask playing Flight of the Bumble Bee in the key of Dog Whistle on a french horn made of toothpicks.
posted by gwint at 10:19 AM on March 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Without having watched the video (work) I'm assuming this ends with one kid going off on a kick arse solo, then the other ultimately winning by shooting the banjo out of his hands with a pistol?
and then they go off and be pirates together.
posted by litleozy at 10:46 AM on March 13, 2012


They aren't the only kids out there being awesome. The Tuttles started out young. The current band is the Tuttles with A.J. Lee. There's a Father's Day Festival at Grass Valley, California which hsa an entire Kids on bluegrass performance.
posted by blob at 11:17 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It looks to me like the video was sped up.
Still, impressive at any speed.
posted by ilovemytoaster at 11:25 AM on March 13, 2012


I'm wondering who the six sad people are who clicked "dislike" over on youtube.

That'd be the parents of those North Korean kids, granted internet access for their achievements in the great war of cultural ideology.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:56 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Regarding smiling while playing: I was in a violin performing group as a kid. It took forever to school my face to maintain a not-horrible-looking smile while I played. I hated having to do that. Hated it.

I've been playing the banjo for my toddler, lately. I'm not very good at it. Sometimes she'll look at me while I'm playing, and then she'll run away, and I'll realize that I've got this intense look of concentration on my face that's probably pretty scary. Then I try to slap a smile on, instead, and it's even worse.
posted by gurple at 12:09 PM on March 13, 2012


Ad hominem: These kids are amazing. Previously

Yup, this is two of the three Sleepy Man Banjo Boys.

msbrauer: They don't look like they're having any fun.

Perhaps you're joking, but taking this comment on its face, they're not ones to grin a lot (Letterman performance, so they might be a bit nervous at the crowd and being on TV).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:19 PM on March 13, 2012


I often wonder what the banjo's place was in popular culture before Deliverance was made into a film in 1972. Yes, surely the instrument's Appalachian and southern roots were known and there was Grandpa Jones and all, but it's kind of nice to think of a time when banjo was not shorthand for "mentally impaired inbred hillbilly."

And yeah - if you've ever tried playing bluegrass at even a quarter of that tempo (which is about as good as I ever got at Scruggs style banjo), you know that all of your brain power is going to your fingers, not your smiling muscles. Those are some talented kids! For another clip that will make you want to bust your instrument(s) up and use them for firewood, watch Sierra Hull and Ryan Holladay playing Salt Creek. Those two have grown up a bit since then... one can only imagine what they're doing now!
posted by usonian at 12:24 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd always suspected that the learning curve for banjo was quite steep. I mean, he went from beginner to pro in about 2 minutes, people! This is one easy instrument to learn.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:37 PM on March 13, 2012


This works so f-ing well with a kid who doesn't look old enough to play the banjo. The tentative beginning bleeding into a mindfuck is great.
posted by pjaust at 12:41 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the Letterman performance that filthy light thief posted above, does the banjo player re-tune his instrument three times in the middle of the performance? Why does he do this?
posted by d. z. wang at 12:46 PM on March 13, 2012


I had the terrifying thought: this is how long it will take the machines to learn.
posted by greytape at 12:48 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I often wonder what the banjo's place was in popular culture before Deliverance was made into a film in 1972. Yes, surely the instrument's Appalachian and southern roots were known and there was Grandpa Jones and all, but it's kind of nice to think of a time when banjo was not shorthand for "mentally impaired inbred hillbilly."

People really think like this? *shrug* Their loss.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:52 PM on March 13, 2012


O Brother Where Art Thou seemed to have gone a good bit towards rehabilitating the reputation of the banjo (and bluegrass as a whole).
posted by zombieflanders at 12:58 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


d. z. wang:
For the Letterman performance that filthy light thief posted above, does the banjo player re-tune his instrument three times in the middle of the performance? Why does he do this?


In the earlier thread, ElGuapo had the answer:
... 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 filthy light thief at 1:00 PM on March 13, 2012


People really think like this? *shrug* Their loss.

There are degrees of banjo stigma and I think the instrument has started to find its way out of the bluegrass pigeonhole in the 10 years or so that I've been playing... but yeah, there are still people who see someone holding a banjo and think it's hilarious to yell "yeehaw!" and start doing the hambone.
posted by usonian at 1:06 PM on March 13, 2012


Right, I saw that. It explains how he tunes five strings that fast, but it doesn't explain why he wanted to retune his banjo in the middle of the performance. Is playing in two different keys some sort of conceit in bluegrass, like the way some piano pieces have a different time signature for each hand?
posted by d. z. wang at 1:14 PM on March 13, 2012


"For the Letterman performance that filthy light thief posted above, does the banjo player re-tune his instrument three times in the middle of the performance? Why does he do this?"
Actually, it's not so much a re-tuning as it is building in a modulation -- or some such gol-durn fancy music term -- off a single string. (The technical term for it, in fact, is "showing off". I've been known to do it myself with my clawhammer Gibson, but only by accident when a string jogs a sixteenth of a turn off tune, and only recovering the actual note with the help an electronic tuner and about three hours in a completely quiet room.) Earl himself also does it in this tune, called, appropriately enough, "Earl's Breakdown".
posted by Mike D at 2:07 PM on March 13, 2012


What I've never gotten is WHY is it called DUELING BANJOS when its instrumentation is made up of A BANJO (1) and A GUITAR(also 1)??????????

Oh and A FIDDLE (1) now I guess.
posted by item at 3:01 PM on March 13, 2012


Trioing Banjos?
posted by item at 3:02 PM on March 13, 2012


Menage à banjeaux
posted by zippy at 5:08 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the name of my next band is...menage à banjeaux.

My kid aspires to be the youngest of these (that's the little banjo dude) but holy hell, if getting there isn't hard.

I aspire to it too but it's a lot harder to fuck around on the internet with whilst wearing finger picks so that's putting a damper on my success.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:14 PM on March 13, 2012


...oughtta be
under a tree
with a love-lorn admir'r
thnkin' 'bout me...

posted by ovvl at 6:03 PM on March 13, 2012


i subscribed
posted by goutytophus at 8:35 PM on March 13, 2012


d. z. wang:
For the Letterman performance that filthy light thief posted above, does the banjo player re-tune his instrument three times in the middle of the performance? Why does he do this?


He's not retuning. He's intentionally tweaking the tuners back and forth
to do the banjo equivalent of a whammy bar on a guitar.
posted by MikeHoegeman at 11:49 PM on March 13, 2012


Try telling the banjo player that he has to wait until he is pretty much twice his current age before he can even see Deliverance.
posted by rongorongo at 1:51 AM on March 14, 2012


I've been playing banjo (albeit sporadically) since I was 16. 34 years later, I couldn't shine that kid's sneaker. And the flat picking brother is a stud (not to mention the fiddle playing sib). I will now toggle over to eBay and put my instruments up for sale. That was awesome.
posted by VicNebulous at 9:26 AM on March 14, 2012


So I was wondering if they do Foggy Mountain Breakdown (my favourite 'getting shit done' piece of music)... of course they do.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:02 AM on March 14, 2012


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