As part of Lowender Peran‘s 2020 celebrations the festival hosted a virtual banjo band as a tribute to the Goonhavern Banjo Band who had a
large following in Cornwall during the 1950s and 60s (See Tony Mansell’s article on the ‘Goonhavern Banjo Band . ) Lowender Peran’s project was headed up by Penzance-based John Dowling, a professional banjo player and tutor. John won first place at the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2000 with his band the Black Cat Theory, and went on to become the first European ever to win first place at the USA bluegrass banjo championship held at Winfield, Kansas, in 2002. In 2007, he was featured as a master class tutor in a BBC1 reality series “Play It Again” along with Mark Knopfler, Jools Holland and Courtney Pine.
The project brought together 31 banjo players from around the world and as well as a range of five string “G” banjos, four string tenor and Irish short neck Banjos, the band included a banjoline, a cello banjo and a bass banjo. The project was premiered on 31st October 2020 as part of the Lowender Peran celebrations and had 7,600 views
Project Co-ordinator Jowdy Davey:
“We hoped we would have participants from various different locations but never expected to be receiving contributions from as far as Kazakhstan! The reach of the video has also exceeded our expectations, with a reach of 13,800, engagements of 2,325 and 7,600 views at the time of writing. Working with John Dowling – who already had various worldwide banjo player contacts – certainly helped to give the project a bump start.
We were pleased to be able to share Cornish music with people who may not have come across it before – through a common interest in a particular instrument – rather than neccessarily hosting a specific ‘Cornish music’ event. This has inspired us to look at other innovative ways we can be reaching new audiences in the future.”
The tune chosen for the project was the Boscastle Breakdown which had been a popular tune played for Cornish step dancing on a banjo in the earl 20th century
John Dowling’s guide track for the project:
G Banjo Tablature: