Music Hath Not Charms...
June 24, 2021 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Winston Marshall, banjo player, posts "Why I’m Leaving Mumford & Sons," which he says is due to the reaction he has received after tweeting praise for Andy Ngo's book Unmasked.
posted by PhineasGage (120 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
"I’ve had plenty of abuse over the years. I’m a banjo player after all."
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:52 AM on June 24, 2021 [15 favorites]


I mean, maybe some of the response is because the band has also embraced Jordan Peterson in the past?

Wonder what politics he's going to "speak freely" about.

Hell, maybe some links to... other discussion, rather than just the person that's complaining they were cancelled?
posted by sagc at 10:56 AM on June 24, 2021 [29 favorites]


I have spent much time reflecting, reading and listening. The truth is that my commenting on a book that documents the extreme Far-Left and their activities is in no way an endorsement of the equally repugnant Far-Right. The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave. I also feel that my previous apology in a small way participates in the lie that such extremism does not exist, or worse, is a force for good.

That's not it, bud.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:57 AM on June 24, 2021 [56 favorites]


Yeah, the book's subtitle was "Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy". This is also a self-cancelling, so I'm mostly just laughing at him. Shame it'll be used as ammo by the right, but most everything is.
posted by sagc at 10:58 AM on June 24, 2021 [26 favorites]


What books critical of the repugnant Far-Right has Mr. Marshall praised recently?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:58 AM on June 24, 2021 [15 favorites]


Also, is it super surprising that a band with an old-timey affectation fetish is fash?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:00 AM on June 24, 2021 [30 favorites]


He didn't say "we're more popular than Qanon" did he?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:00 AM on June 24, 2021 [12 favorites]


So the Andy Ngo guy was the one who was sitting around with the Patriot Prayer guys as they were plotting to commit mass violence in Portland, yeah?
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:00 AM on June 24, 2021 [23 favorites]


Also, is it super surprising that a band with an old-timey affectation fetish is fash?

I'm in a band with an old-timey affectation fetish, and we're super lefty and queer.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:04 AM on June 24, 2021 [165 favorites]


Why I stopped reading the article about some doofus from a band I don't like: I looked up what Unmasked was and from the premise alone I can tell it's dumb horseshit for morons seeking validation of wild fears and twisted preconceptions. Nobody praising that book is worth reading their whiny cancel-culture diatribe about, don't care if the cure for cancer is hidden at the bottom, ain't even earned the attention.
posted by GoblinHoney at 11:05 AM on June 24, 2021 [22 favorites]


"Also, is it super surprising that a band with an old-timey affectation fetish is fash?"

No. I was at a show at an early s x sw when they entered a garage some workers were resting in. I didn't approach (they aren't my thing and it'd be unlikely I would if they were)- they were VERY Texas.
posted by firstdaffodils at 11:10 AM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


In this here Internet day and age, if you say "I made an apology," but don't link to it, I'm going to assume that your "apology" wasn't one.

The man certainly isn't demonstrating that he feels like he did anything wrong. It has petulant "ugh, I said I was sorry" childishness underlying the whole thing.
posted by explosion at 11:12 AM on June 24, 2021 [13 favorites]


firstdaffodils, they must be very, very Texas to hide the fact that they're English!
posted by sagc at 11:14 AM on June 24, 2021 [19 favorites]


Haha.
I do not mean in accent 🙂

Hope that makes sense.
It was in a bike garage in 2011 (not trying to place myself, really not concerned with this- I could ref the owner and garage (he'd definitely recall) but this is pretty arbitrary bordering on forgettable). Actually didn't know they were English, thought they were from the states, though.

I'm not particularly interested - the main point was to say, based on their music, this isn't surprising.
posted by firstdaffodils at 11:15 AM on June 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


Well, I am shocked that the wealthy trust-fund son of a multimillionaire, active Brexit-campaigning hedge fund manager has regressive personal politics!
posted by haileris23 at 11:20 AM on June 24, 2021 [99 favorites]


Here's a review of "Unmasked" for anyone wondering about it.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:29 AM on June 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


don’t let him boast that he is an academician
This dude's a native speaker? The world contains a lot of talented banjo players who aren't clearly either enthusiastic fascists or dumb as rocks.

I'd argue people who haven't intentionally hurt anyone, personally, usually deserve second and third chances. Recognizing that you've actively supported racist, fascist monsters who are working to destroy civilization is an important intermediate step that's missing here. I guess it's good that he's kind to the other band members. Cheers for civility, if not ethics.
posted by eotvos at 11:31 AM on June 24, 2021 [4 favorites]


They're like an alt reality inversion of the Dixie Chicks (now the Chicks).
posted by firstdaffodils at 11:32 AM on June 24, 2021 [10 favorites]


> Here's a review of "Unmasked" for anyone wondering about it.

> [picture of Andy Ngo, after being attacked with weapons including (almost definitely) a vegan milkshake]

If only someone had yelled "Milkshake! Duck!"
posted by Phssthpok at 11:33 AM on June 24, 2021 [50 favorites]


"And as you might imagine it’s been no easy decision."

Well, when you express fascist views, win fascist prizes.

Also - he's not much of a banjo player. He's managed to take a loud, brash, exciting, and at-times-subtle-and-very-nuanced instrument with a rich history and make it aggressively and irredeemably boring. I don't think much of Mumford and Sons' music (to each their own) but finding a way better banjo player than him has got to be easy. If he's in favour of meritocracy or whatever his white privilege tells him is the way the world should work, he should at least understand that his sorry mediocrity is his own fault.

Jake Blount or Rhiannon Giddens, just to name two ridiculously good banjo players (and they're also singers, and multi-instrumentalists), make him look like a three-year-old with a kazoo.

Hell, Steve Martin, as an old rich white dude who's put in the work on the instrument, kicks ass on the banjo, and has managed to do it without being all "LOL fascism is awesome."

Also, is it super surprising that a band with an old-timey affectation fetish is fash?

As a palate cleanser to Marshall's "oh noes I've been cancelled for coming out as a fascist sympathizer" whinging, I gave Rhiannon Giddens' IBMA speech a re-read. Video here (runtime about 25 min).

The work that Black Opry and Bluegrass Pride are doing is amazing.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:36 AM on June 24, 2021 [72 favorites]


Looking for banjo players with markedly superior talent and politics? Look no further than Jake Blount (interview/jam) and Rhiannon Giddens (tiny desk).

Edit: JINX, MandoConspiracy!
posted by Richard Saunders at 11:38 AM on June 24, 2021 [19 favorites]


Heh. Would just like to add: Marshall isn't qualified to carry Amythyst Kiah's banjo case.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:39 AM on June 24, 2021 [21 favorites]


I give him points for a few things: just like those who engage in acts of civil disobedience are often will to accept that there will be legal consequences for it, he seems willing to accept the consequence of drawing fire, and willing to give up time in the band to make himself the target rather than the band as a whole.

Doing it over Andy Ngo, though? Like, I have my own criticisms of my fellow progressives and leftists (as any good member of the circular firing squad should, right?). I can even be ... *shudder* centrist in outlook sometimes. But of *all the things* to go to bat for in this world, of all the criticisms of the left to make, I just can't imagine picking Ngo's brand of "I have been silenced" that is too common on the political right. Hell, I'd go to bat for Jordan Peterson first, or at least for the idea that Peterson's critics could stand to up their game (and, yes, Peterson is full of shit too).

I think what is going on here has to be that someone who has reasons to think of themselves as a thoughtful person but has never been particularly informed or sophisticated when it comes to politics got sucked into a conservative narrative which tells them the important thing to think about is not the right wing grift, not the resurgence of nationalism and even fascism, not the problems with the moral foundations of conservatism, but the fact that conservatives do face considerable public criticism from (*pearl clutch*) "The Left" without reckoning with the possibility that it's because so many conservatives are self-congratulatory asshats who view any attempt at holding them accountable as inexcusable violation of the privileges that are the primary foundation of their worldview.

Wish the dude more luck in tuning his focus and conscience than he's had in expressing it.
posted by wildblueyonder at 11:39 AM on June 24, 2021 [19 favorites]


I don’t know why anyone uses Twitter. Is there any other way to destroy your career as quickly as a bad tweet?
posted by TurnKey at 11:40 AM on June 24, 2021 [14 favorites]


I guess what is new is that british aristocrats have some shame about fascist affectation?

but i didn't even know these posh brits were appropriating american banjos, i think the scots-irish ancestors in the hills of appalachia would have had opinions

But honestly i haven't paid attention to folk rock since This Bike is a Pipe Bomb gave way to Iron and Wine, and the songs stopped being about Joe Hill
posted by eustatic at 11:41 AM on June 24, 2021 [4 favorites]


Steve Martin is actually a very skilled player. These are great references!

Also:
"Well, when you express fascist views, win fascist prizes" ha!

To each their own is a kind response, I always viewed MnSs as a slight gateway to bluegrass for some, and mostly 'candy,' or just quixotic trend pulses for others. Some people really enjoyed them, tho, and probably still do.
posted by firstdaffodils at 11:41 AM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


I HAVE NO SON (OF MUMFORD)!
posted by Going To Maine at 11:45 AM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


I don’t know why anyone uses Twitter. Is there any other way to destroy your career as quickly as a bad tweet?

On the flip side of that, if I wasn't in love with Jake Blount's music, I would still have all kinds of time for him solely based on his Twitter handle: @forkedqueer.

Context for non-bluegrass/old-time/country adjacent folks: "Forked Deer" is a standard-repertoire fiddle tune, and "forked" is usually pronounced with two syllables, with the emphasis on the second.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:47 AM on June 24, 2021 [8 favorites]


anyway, thanks to this post for introducing me to the Zippers to Nowhere Band
posted by eustatic at 11:47 AM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


"equally"?

Huh. You're not doing a good job of acquitting yourself there Winston.
posted by djeo at 11:47 AM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Amythyst Kiah, Rhiannon Giddens, Allison Russell, and Leyla McCalla make a Voltron of banjo awesomeness on Songs of Our Native Daughters
posted by haileris23 at 11:49 AM on June 24, 2021 [27 favorites]


Educated way beyond his intelligence.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 11:50 AM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Hell, maybe some links to... other discussion, rather than just the person that's complaining they were "cancelled"?

FTFY, and I'm calling it out every time I see it.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 11:53 AM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Is there any other way to destroy your career as quickly as a bad tweet?
Yes, and for the low price of US$1.99 I will tell you how!
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:57 AM on June 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


That’s a good idea. Do you think Steve Martin would go for it?
posted by Sterros at 11:59 AM on June 24, 2021


"Is there any other way to destroy your career as quickly as a bad tweet?" Well, hopefully people realize how quickly and easily context is misconstrued on the internet, or how media can easily be cultivated to construct a viewpoint. I've often thought of becoming a media literacy instructor. (HERE ARE INSTRUCTIONS FOR CULTIVATING TRUE OR OBJECTIVE INFORMATION. STEP ONE. READ THE ARTICLE.)

There's a need. Twitter/FB/big beasts with little relevance will hopefully show themselves out or become irrelevant.

There's probably little misconstrued in obvious fascist behavior, tho.
posted by firstdaffodils at 12:00 PM on June 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


While we're listing better banjo players than this dude, Kaia Kater was invited to record on Songs of Our Native Daughters but couldn't make the schedule work.
posted by haileris23 at 12:00 PM on June 24, 2021 [8 favorites]


So the Andy Ngo guy was the one who was sitting around with the Patriot Prayer guys as they were plotting to commit mass violence in Portland, yeah?

Yes. He was hanging around with Patriot's Prayer guys in Oregon until they found some Antifa to pick a fight with, whereupon he got the shit kicked out of him, after which he selectively edited out the Patriots' Prayer guys to sell the story that a mob of Antifa gave him a totally unprovoked beatdown. It wasn't the first time he used selective editing to create the narrative he wanted; he turned a story about a driver intentionally plowing through a protest into a story about left-wing mobs rampaging that made it onto Fox and into the Wall Street Journal. He's also completely made up stories that went viral despite being completely false, like the quick-drying cement milkshakes nonsense. He's a propagandist, a troll, and a grifter, the book this guy is talking about it is just more of his usual crap, and it is incredibly damning of the mainstream media that anyone, anywhere, still regards him as having any shred of credibility whatsoever. He's a perfect example of how "cancel culture" is not actually a thing, because if "cancel culture" had any actual teeth Ngo would have been canceled long ago and we'd never have to hear from or about him ever again.

The truth is that my commenting on a book that documents the extreme Far-Left and their activities is in no way an endorsement of the equally repugnant Far-Right. The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave.

This guy claims to have "listened" but he clearly didn't listen well enough, or he would understand that thinking that Andy Ngo "documents" the Extreme Far-Left is like thinking The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf was "documenting" grey wolf migration patterns. Just like the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, Andy Ngo is seeking attention, by playing to a certain crowd's fears. He is a parasite and a coward, and if you can't see that you are not a smart or insightful person, no matter how many times you quote Solzhenitsyn.

I do at least respect this guy's decision to try to protect his bandmates by putting himself in the line of fire. He may not be a deep critical thinker but he's braver than the man he's lauding for bravery.

I also like that this thread is turning into a thread of banjo music recommendations.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:00 PM on June 24, 2021 [63 favorites]


Extra fuck-you points to this clown for using relatives who died in the Holocaust as cover.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:06 PM on June 24, 2021 [33 favorites]


"I do at least respect this guy's decision to try to protect his bandmates by putting himself in the line of fire. He may not be a deep critical thinker but he's braver than the man he's lauding for bravery." This is essentially a summary of the feel of their songs.

Pretty nice to see MF acting as a progressive filter for the direction beyond this article/experience.
posted by firstdaffodils at 12:07 PM on June 24, 2021


If only someone had yelled "Milkshake! Duck!"

I think, technically, for Ngo to be a milkshake duck, he would have had to not be an obvious fascist at some point.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:08 PM on June 24, 2021 [9 favorites]


I think, technically, for Ngo to be a milkshake duck, he would have had to not be an obvious fascist at some point.

To be a milkshake duck, he'd have to have had a talent that drew us to him in the first place.
posted by explosion at 12:39 PM on June 24, 2021 [12 favorites]


if anyone inherits the mantle of dawg music, it's alison brown.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:45 PM on June 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


Isn’t it interesting how so many people that call themselves a centrist or moderate of “a little of this and a little of that” and “no labels” actually still support all the right-wing positions when it really matters?

“Social liberal but fiscal conservative”, meaning sure, on a personal level, I’m okay if you’re gay or trans or a person of color or a woman, no problem, but I’m not actually going to support legislators that will uphold your rights to marry or have autonomy over your own bodies or earn equal pay or have equitable access to success and justice in our society.

Or the term I learned when a former close friend posted it on his FaceBook page: “Crunchy Conservative”. Which means you’re all in favor of the environment because you personally enjoy going hiking and dirt bike riding and hunting, so you want there to still be nice places you can do all that. But you’re still going to vote straight-ticket Republican, even when those politicians support drilling in ANWR, strip-mining, and reducing regulations on businesses that pollute. Because you’re affluent enough to be insulated from the worst of the environmental collapse, at least in your lifetime.

Or that you call yourself a “pro-life” centrist and vote for right-wing candidates who will restrict reproductive choice, conveniently ignoring the fact that abstinence-only sex education and restricting access to birth control and abortion actually increases the number of abortions, and the fact that those same right-wing politicians also vote against other legislation that is demonstrably pro-life, if you consider the term to apply post-birth.

I don’t trust anyone anymore if they tell me they pick issues from both sides of the spectrum, and that makes them a centrist. No, it’s just that your stated positions aren’t reconcilable. The reality is that you’re probably actually a conservative trying to fool yourself (or others) into thinking your conservative views are moderate. Especially if you can’t give a full-throated defense of any particular liberal positions you hold, and back it up with a voting record consistent with that liberal position.
posted by darkstar at 12:45 PM on June 24, 2021 [69 favorites]


I mean, people that want to violently establish an ethnostate and people ready to violently oppose them are "equally repugnant", right?

The most charitable reading is that he's a sucker who's fallen for the "both sides" gambit (and to be fair, not everyone is smart, and they shouldn't have to be to avoid fascism in $current_year), but he seems to be quoting Solzhenitsyn in an effort not to seem like a gullible rube, so I'll take that at face value and not give him the charitable reading.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:53 PM on June 24, 2021 [10 favorites]


For delightfully nuanced banjo plucking, my heart is with Abigail Washburn (who hangs out with Bela Fleck).

Nothing much to say about Mr. Winston, but to my ear having been steeped in the shittiness of evangelical church praise music anthem crapola ... that's what every damn song of theirs that I've heard sounds like. So I cannot. And my cup of schadenfreude runneth over.
posted by kneecapped at 12:53 PM on June 24, 2021 [13 favorites]


also, the LAT takedown above is chef-kiss.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:54 PM on June 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


>Also, is it super surprising that a band with an old-timey affectation fetish is fash?

One old-timey affectation band I know of is decidedly anti-fascist -- The Haymarket Squares.
posted by Catblack at 12:57 PM on June 24, 2021 [8 favorites]


The upside of this article is I'm discovering lots of great banjo music! Lovely flowers growing in the cow turd of this dude's shitty politics...
posted by a_curious_koala at 1:16 PM on June 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


Some more nice old-timey music: The Oh Hellos. Kinda nerdy! Kinda religious! But decidedly not fascist.
posted by feckless at 1:23 PM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


Taking Ngo seriously and believing that his description of a "far left" even exists to be criticized? At best, this is a Mr. Magoo level of cluelessness.
posted by Lord Dimwit Flathead The Excessive at 1:32 PM on June 24, 2021 [9 favorites]




Bless his heart.
posted by jscalzi at 1:34 PM on June 24, 2021 [12 favorites]


"I’ve had plenty of abuse over the years. I’m a banjo player after all."

Imagine being a white, cis, able-bodied, wealthy man and finding that worthy of hitting send. This poor, poor misunderstood banjo player. I can’t roll my eyes hard enough.
posted by erinfern at 1:41 PM on June 24, 2021 [37 favorites]


Gotta love that a facsist's claim to fame is (boringly) playing an African instrument.
posted by anansi at 1:58 PM on June 24, 2021 [12 favorites]


I actually think he sounds like a nice, but sheltered guy. (The kind that might accidentally create f*cked up situations, occasionally) Not that if someone were in an inverted disposition, they would feel inclined to mention.

It's pretty easy to call shots from the internet. I don't think he's a fascist but he definitely may have accidentally merged. Oops.
posted by firstdaffodils at 2:00 PM on June 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


I do not think it is an accident that he quotes Solzhenitsyn. Many Western liberals remember Solzhenitsyn for his trenchant critiques of Soviet communism, most especially The Gulag Archipelago, but that is not a representative slice of his life or his writings.

The Solzhenitsyn many Russians remember was a reactionary and a rabid anti-semite, a man obsessed with the formation of an anti-democratic, pan-Slavic ethnostate akin to his imagined version of the old Russian Empire. (And, not to forget, a big fan of Vladimir Putin.)

The irony of quoting a far-right lunatic while defending yourself against charges of far-right lunacy does not escape me, and I very much doubt it escaped the author, either. It seems like an intentional choice.

I think Andy Ngo and our author at hand, Winston Marshall, remember both aspects of Solzhenitsyn's life and work, very, very well. I think they appreciate them both. And I think I can guess which aspect is more relevant to their current beliefs about the political order in America.
posted by your postings may, in fact, be signed at 2:09 PM on June 24, 2021 [36 favorites]


My banjo go-to is Danny Barnes.
posted by Quonab at 2:13 PM on June 24, 2021 [6 favorites]


"I think Andy Ngo and our author at hand, Winston Marshall, remember both aspects of Solzhenitsyn's life and work, very, very well. I think they appreciate them both. And I think I can guess which aspect is more relevant to their current beliefs about the political order in America." I would be inclined to believe this, but have you read their lyrical writing?

It doesn't register as super technical. Neither does the banjo influence. Literacy often requires technical understanding.
posted by firstdaffodils at 2:28 PM on June 24, 2021


I did not need another reason to not give a shit about M&S today, but I'll still take it
posted by elkevelvet at 2:37 PM on June 24, 2021 [6 favorites]


"On the eve of his leaving to the West, Solzhenitsyn published an essay titled ‘Live Not By Lies’."

Repeatedly invoking Solzhenitsyn and then dropping this line to mark the reasoning to exit the band has to be the dumbest shit I've read in a long time... and I read Andy Ngo's book not too long ago so, you know, that's saying something. Banjo guy fell for it. The "far-left" of Andy Ngo's book does not exist. It's a straw man made to further scare the shit out of frightened idiots. Banjo guy was a millionaire before he was ever in a band so any time he and his bandmates "slept on a pub floor" in the early days, they did so by choice. He's never known a moment of real struggle or repression in his whole life and the first time he encountered consequences for his stupid-ass behavior he doubles down. So yeah, he can try to tell the "we worked our way up from the streets to the stadiums" tale all he wants but he's always been wealthy, white, male, and connected. His understanding of any struggle is going to have to come through learning rather than experience. When he said the dumb thing on twitter he was instantly afforded half a million opportunities to learn how warped and ridiculous the Ngo style perspective of the american left is. Instead of taking an opportunity to learn from it he's chosen to live a lie and retreat to the safety of the class he was born into. To a guy like this, politics are academic. He's protected by money and class loyalty. To the poor, minorities, women, lgbtq communities, etc. etc. that comprise the people of the american left taking to the streets in protest, politics have always been deadly as they've struggle to simply live in places where their humanity and basic dignity is not recognized and, as a result, their lives are not valued.

And, as others have noted here, it has to be said that Solzhenitsyn has some pretty intense anti-semitic themes running through a lot of his work so repeatedly quoting the guy in this context combined with the rest of his essay makes me think banjo guy is the sort of dude who has read a lot and thought very little.
posted by Siempre La Luna at 2:44 PM on June 24, 2021 [29 favorites]


You want to know how you're in a really bad neighborhood?

When you accidentally leave your banjo in an unlocked car you come back to find two banjos.
posted by loquacious at 2:47 PM on June 24, 2021 [39 favorites]


"Who's picking a Banja here?"
posted by Windopaene at 2:48 PM on June 24, 2021


You want to know how you're in a really bad neighborhood?

When you accidentally leave your banjo in an unlocked car you come back to find two banjos.


And an accordion ..
posted by mbo at 2:52 PM on June 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


but i didn't even know these posh brits were appropriating american banjos, i think the scots-irish ancestors in the hills of appalachia would have had opinions


the banjo is an african-american instrument

also, i always liked jerry garcia on banjo
posted by pyramid termite at 3:06 PM on June 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


I know I'm supposed to RTFA. But there's no way in bloody hell I'm gonna read an article called "Why I'm Leaving Mumford & Sons."
posted by SoberHighland at 3:10 PM on June 24, 2021 [25 favorites]


I know I'm supposed to RTFA. But there's no way in bloody hell I'm gonna read an article called "Why I'm Leaving Mumford & Sons."

I'll help you out - it's cos he's probably a Nazi.
posted by dazed_one at 3:31 PM on June 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


Wondering if the new season of Ted Lasso will have different theme music now. He didn't give the showrunners enough time!

Aw, no one's gonna mention my banjo god of choice, Otis Taylor, and his work on reclaiming the instrument's African history? Like, literally, one of his album titles is Recapturing the Banjo. He's just fantastic.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:59 PM on June 24, 2021 [7 favorites]


The Fall‘s Mark E Smith has claimed that he threw a bottle at Mumford and Sons at a recent festival. The singer said that he took matters into his own hands because he did not like the sound of Marcus Mumford and the gang warming up their vocals. “We were playing a festival in Dublin the other week,” he told Australian magazine Brag. “There was this other group warming up in the next sort of chalet, and they were terrible.” He added: “I said, ‘Shut them ***** up,’ and they were still warming up, so I threw a bottle at them. The band said, ‘That’s the Sons Of Mumford [sic] or something, they’re Number Five in charts!’.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:35 PM on June 24, 2021 [14 favorites]


Dave Hum died young, but in British banjo circles he was considered among the finest
posted by Morpeth at 4:43 PM on June 24, 2021


Back in the day, it was the late and legendary Bill Keith, a innovative banjo master who played for both Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys and Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band, among others, and made a huge stamp on folk music in the 1960s.
posted by y2karl at 4:59 PM on June 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


Nora Brown is another non-fashy banjo player worth your time: 2020 (virtual) Brooklyn Americana Music Festival performance, 2019 Brooklyn Folk Festival performance.
posted by peeedro at 5:09 PM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


"I know I'm supposed to RTFA. But there's no way in bloody hell I'm gonna read an article called "Why I'm Leaving Mumford & Sons."

Let's give this person a pass.
posted by firstdaffodils at 5:11 PM on June 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


Never go full Eric Clapton
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:31 PM on June 24, 2021 [31 favorites]


You want to know how you're in a really bad neighborhood?

What’s the definition of a perfect pitch?

When the banjo tossed into the dumpster hits the accordion that’s already there….

( told by a banjo player.)
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:47 PM on June 24, 2021 [3 favorites]


I once married a banjo player. I knew he was a banjo player before I married him, so the fault here was totally mine.
posted by mochapickle at 6:30 PM on June 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


John Hartford played the banjo.
posted by mikelieman at 6:33 PM on June 24, 2021 [2 favorites]


I ​don’t know why anyone uses Twitter. Is there any other way to destroy your career as quickly as a bad tweet?

Well, one useful way Mr. Winston Marshall could have used Twitter would have been actually reading it for about 15 seconds, because I have yet to see a Tweet by or about Andy Ngo that hasn't been pretty much immediately inundated with replies debunking and disproving his lies and exaggerations and trolling and bullshit.

Voicing support for Ngo on a platform that regularly provides mountains of evidence that Ngo is a racist, fascist sympathizer and enabler and a bald-faced liar to boot is either 1) a massive self-own or 2) not insignificant evidence that Marshall is the same and just really doesn't give a shit if we know it.

I vote for 2. Fuck this fucking guy.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:36 PM on June 24, 2021 [16 favorites]


I've never actually listened to Mumford closely, so I can't comment on his musical skills. But as a non-trad punk-style amateur 4-string Banjo player, digging at his comparative lack of musical proficiency to other artists while intersecting with his political beliefs seems a bit boggy. But yeah, critique his weird politics for what he says, of course.

(I'm a fan of cool & uncool musical instruments (like accordions and bagpipes, along with banjos); any snide quip has been heard before. Don't get me started on bagpipes, they're great;)

(I'm also a fan of some of the writings of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who was a complex and imperfect person whose work was often misquoted and taken out of context; but that's a derail for another time...)
posted by ovvl at 6:58 PM on June 24, 2021


Also into cool/uncool music (whatever that means for you). I can agree with boggy(?)/slightly reaching, but I do think literacy can bleed into other skills quickly/easily.
posted by firstdaffodils at 7:12 PM on June 24, 2021


I also like that this thread is turning into a thread of banjo music recommendations.
posted by mstokes650


I came for the politics, and stayed for the banjo recommendations.

(And another vote for Steve Martin being the real deal on the banjo. I have some of his albums.)
posted by Pouteria at 7:23 PM on June 24, 2021 [5 favorites]


Not knowing who Andy Ngo is, during BLM he had some of the best live video and photos without anything political attached (which is a hallmark of a propagandist). Thinking I was linking to a neutral or pro-BLM Twitter feed I sent it along to my friends who rightfully told me I was linking them to a fascist. If you're not really up on Twitter or social media sometimes people like this are slippery and sneak by. I personally am not that involved with Twitter that I read replies or bother read the other Tweets.

However, linking to live Tweets to friends and being a bit daft about who you're linking to is completely different than endorsing a book subtitled "Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy".
posted by geoff. at 7:33 PM on June 24, 2021 [6 favorites]


Marshall has no more self-awareness than a dog licking its own asshole, as Jim Wright is wont to say.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:42 PM on June 24, 2021


Take away a fascist’s banjo and he has one less thing to hit you with.
posted by interogative mood at 8:43 PM on June 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


Ngo had good videos because he stripped attribution from videos shot by people on the ground, usually antifascists, and posted them as his own. I don't think he was personally behind the camera much at all, at least not after he participated in the attack on Cider Riot and started attracting attention.
posted by kprincehouse at 9:04 PM on June 24, 2021 [8 favorites]


I'm not dissing his chops, just throwing in a good rec. agree the chops comments are off topic.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:09 PM on June 24, 2021


"I’ve had plenty of abuse over the years. I’m a banjo player after all."

Imagine being a white, cis, able-bodied, wealthy man and finding that worthy of hitting send. This poor, poor misunderstood banjo player. I can’t roll my eyes hard enough.


Oh, FFS, he was making a joke. There's enough else in that piece for you to be outraged about...but OMG he wasn't looking for legit sympathy for being a banjo player.

It's dumbass comments like that detracts from our ability to deal with real issues of equity and inclusion.
posted by prodigalsun at 9:13 PM on June 24, 2021 [23 favorites]


Yes, ovvl, Bagpipes are the best
posted by Windopaene at 9:15 PM on June 24, 2021


I'll be on the record as saying that I quite enjoy M&S music, have seen them live twice, and while they aren't a band I'm drawing life inspiration from, they are stupidly fun to see with a crowd who knows at least the words to the choruses of the songs.

The intersection of Americana and Pub Music that M&S explores is very effective at generating crowd cohesion through shared singing. Lots of fun.

They do this interesting project, Gentlement Of The Road, where they take music festivals to smaller communities which don't usually get them. It's a way to spread a lot of goodwill butter on both sides of the bread, performers and audiences. I saw them in Walla Walla and also saw Foo Fighters and The Flaming Lips and several other bands the same weekend. In Walla Walla. Because M&S have this music project.

I'm entirely NOT defending this guy, I do support his stepping away from the band. I hope the band continues because I don't see much of this controversy reflected in the band's output.

It is possible to be a banjo player and have opinions that don't make your banjo playing less for those opinions.

Just my opinion.
posted by hippybear at 9:39 PM on June 24, 2021 [6 favorites]


Yes, of course the “abused banjo player” bit was a joke. Everyone realizes that. But it was a particularly tone-deaf and tasteless joke in the context of the subject at hand.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:43 PM on June 24, 2021 [21 favorites]


Not knowing who Andy Ngo is, during BLM he had some (...)

Last time I looked, it wasn't over.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:07 AM on June 25, 2021 [9 favorites]


Even only a couple of years ago, if someone had told me that Mumford and Sons dumping their banjo player would be in any way newsworthy, I would have been surprised. Yet here we are.
posted by Grangousier at 12:08 AM on June 25, 2021 [2 favorites]


Oh, FFS, he was making a joke.

Ffs schmffs. If only there'd been a couple of 'dog with no nose' jokes in Mein Kampf.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:10 AM on June 25, 2021 [8 favorites]


The Fall‘s Mark E Smith has claimed that he threw a bottle at Mumford and Sons at a recent festival.

I'm assuming it wasn't that recent.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:14 AM on June 25, 2021 [4 favorites]


at least the bottle wasn't full of cement!
posted by ryanrs at 12:33 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


I am a banjo player myself, but that does not excuse famous banjo players for their public endorsements of fascism.

(it does, however, excuse the long series of banjo jokes in this thread. Keep pitching banjos onto accordions, at least, in a comic manner of rhetoric)
posted by your postings may, in fact, be signed at 12:56 AM on June 25, 2021


You want to know how you're in a really bad neighborhood?
When you accidentally leave your banjo in an unlocked car you come back to find two banjos.


The rarest statement in the English language?

"That's the banjo player's Porsche."
posted by Thorzdad at 3:52 AM on June 25, 2021 [6 favorites]


The rarest statement in the English language?

"That's the banjo player's Porsche."


IIRC, the version from Billy Connolly (a pretty good banjo player himself) goes:

'One line you'll never hear is she's shagging the banjo player.'
posted by Pouteria at 5:26 AM on June 25, 2021 [7 favorites]


I never realized until I read this thread that people make fun of banjos and banjo players. Don't know how I missed that.

[I did know about the accordion, though.]
posted by JanetLand at 6:06 AM on June 25, 2021


GenjiandProust : What’s the definition of a perfect pitch?

When the banjo tossed into the dumpster hits the accordion that’s already there….

( told by a banjo player.)



You owe the drummer an apology for messing up their house.
posted by dr_dank at 6:08 AM on June 25, 2021 [15 favorites]


Obligatory Woody Guthrie.
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:50 AM on June 25, 2021


I once married a banjo player. I knew he was a banjo player before I married him, so the fault here was totally mine.

Fine, we're doing this. I've been resisting this one, but let's put some topspin on it.


What do you call a banjo player without a girlfriend band trust fund?

Homeless.
posted by loquacious at 9:14 AM on June 25, 2021 [5 favorites]


Just chiming in that there are many, many flavors of banjo. As pointed out earlier, originally an African instrument that has spread and mutated far and wide. I play Irish music where the open-backed tenor banjo reigns. While rabbit holes on YouTube often lead to radicalization, I think going down to banjo rabbit holes would be an enlightening endeavor. Lots of great players and genres out there!
posted by misterpatrick at 9:36 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey, if we're recommending banjo-related music, I'll give a quick shout-out to Elliott Brood.

A few tracks with which to start:
- If I Get Old
- Write it All Down for You
- Oh Alberta
posted by The Outsider at 11:02 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


Ngo not only stole other people’s videos and misrepresented them, he tried really hard to doxx them and get them fired/beaten/killed.

You praise that? Get in the sea.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:07 AM on June 25, 2021 [4 favorites]


Every summer when I was a teenager, my family would go on a day cruise on the Erie Canal in an old-fashioned mule-towed canal boat. The onboard entertainment was a guy called Banjo John, who played, told jokes, and led a singalong. He always included these two jokes:

"I don't play the banjo. I play the banjer.

"People always ask me to play like Roy Clark. If i could play like Roy Clark, I woudn't be working on this boat."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:35 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


Every summer when I was a teenager, my family would go on a day cruise on the Erie Canal in an old-fashioned mule-towed canal boat. The onboard entertainment was a guy called Banjo John, who played, told jokes, and led a singalong. He always included these two jokes:

"I don't play the banjo. I play the banjer.

"People always ask me to play like Roy Clark. If i could play like Roy Clark, I woudn't be working on this boat."


Hey The Underpants Monster? Uh, how's the therapy going with all of that? You ok over there?
posted by loquacious at 11:57 AM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


Long as we're doing banjo jokes...

What's the difference between a banjo and a vacuum cleaner?

The way the dirt bag is attached.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 12:03 PM on June 25, 2021 [15 favorites]


The way the dirt bag is attached.

Ooo, I haven't heard this one yet. Totally stealing it.

The beauty of most of these musical instrument jokes is they can be adapted for almost any instrument or even musical genres or subcultures.

I'm also not sure if it's actually punching down humor or not. I've learned most of the musical instrument jokes I know from other musicians.

For the record I don't actually hate the banjo.
posted by loquacious at 12:39 PM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


...and a trampoline?

You take your shoes off before you jump on a trampoline.
(I love the banjo.)
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 12:57 PM on June 25, 2021 [4 favorites]


...and an onion?

NOBODY cries when you chop up a banjo.

(Yes on adaptation, the vacuum cleaner joke was originally about a snowboard when I first heard it.)

One of my favorite things to ask musicians when I meet them is tell me some jokes about your instrument. I met a viola player a few years ago who told me this one:

What's the musical definition of a minor fourth?

Two viola players trying to play in harmony.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 1:12 PM on June 25, 2021 [6 favorites]


(Yes on adaptation, the vacuum cleaner joke was originally about a snowboard when I first heard it.)

Electric scooter, surely.
posted by acb at 2:02 PM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


Tim Eriksen whips out the bow
posted by art.bikes at 2:30 PM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


Uh, how's the therapy going with all of that?

There’s no cure for corny jokes!

Two viola players trying to play in harmony.

I heard that one as “viola players trying to play in unison!”
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:33 PM on June 25, 2021 [4 favorites]


Q: What do you call 400 banjos at the bottom of the ocean?
A: A good start.
posted by jeffen at 5:09 PM on June 25, 2021 [1 favorite]


I like the one about the bass player who was so despondent over his poor timing that he threw himself behind a train.
posted by Crane Shot at 7:13 PM on June 25, 2021 [13 favorites]


Love to get Billy Bragg's take on this.
posted by markbrendanawitzmissesus at 4:21 AM on June 26, 2021


Is there any other way to destroy your career as quickly as a bad tweet?

TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TV talk shows ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:35 AM on June 26, 2021


Dave Rawlings told this one (and the onion one above) while Gillian Welch was tuning her banjo during a show:
What's the difference between a banjo and a harmonica?
A harmonica only sucks every second note.
posted by wilberforce at 3:57 PM on June 27, 2021 [3 favorites]


Adding to the recommendations of musicians playing banjos, Daniel Jatta from the Gambia plays an akonting here, and the instrument and style of play is startlingly banjo-like, specifically frailing or clawhammer.
posted by umbú at 8:18 AM on June 29, 2021


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