Danny Barker was a true original. His activities were vast: jazz banjoist, guitarist, singer, songwriter, ukulele player, actor, raconteur, griot, and a tireless torch bearer of New Orleans music. Danny Barker's long and enduring career spans most of the 20th-century and if one listens to him close enough they will hear the entire history of jazz from the 19th century brass bands and dance bands through Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, and Wynton Marsalis, with many, many side streets on the way. Danny Barker is jazz. Danny Barker should be taught in every public school and every college in America and abroad!
Here are ten 6 string banjo songs that showcase the history and versatilty of the instrument. The banjo in these songs is one of the primary instruments used (in some cases the only instrument used) and is not just a faint banjo sound buried in the background of the mix. You can see that these songs range from recordings from the 1920’s to today. They also range in styles from traditional jazz, blues, old time, country, and rock. There are no limits for the 6 string banjo. There are many other songs where the 6 string banjo is an essential part of the song. This list is just a snapshot of a few. Let us know of others in the comments section below!
Unlike a guitar, the 6 string banjo can have its voice dramatically altered by the player. Brighter, warmer, less sustain, more sustain, more mid-range emphasis, etc., by merely changing a couple of components and making adjustments. This “guitar players’ banjo” can meet any musician’s needs. Here’s how: