Where do you put the banjo player?

Where do you put the banjo player?

I know, I know. I can hear you all warming up already…
This is mostly for fun, but here’s an issue that comes up continually at our session and I’m wondering how others have dealt with it. We play in a circle, in one corner of the pub. As the evening goes on, we may have as many as ten people playing, and things can get a little crowded. This is not a big deal for the concertina player, or the whistlers. The fiddlers need a middling amount of elbow-room. As a banjo player, I occupy the widest footprint of all, and whoever winds up to my left gets whacked with the neck unless I turn ninety degrees, or play the thing straight up and down like a cello. I’ve agreed to trade places with my neck-ward neighbor, only to have my new neighbor ask the same thing, and spending the night orbiting the table only leads to drinks getting spilled.
Any clever ideas?

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

Invite an Uilleann piper, then you won’t be the one taking up the most room.

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

To the left of a fiddler or left-handed playing flute player sound like your best bet. Or perhaps it might be time to consider switching to mandolin at least for this venue?

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

What sort of banjo do you play that takes up more room than a fiddler? Is it one of those funny 5-string things? If so get a proper 17 fret jobbie. Otherwise, push your chair back out of the circle so the neck is behind the bloke on your left. Moving the banjo out of the circle will help balance the volume levels too.

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

“We play in a circle, in one corner of the pub” There’s your answer – sit in the corner. And try not to be so clumsy.

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Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

The banjo has a shorter foot print than the zouk or guitar, at no point should the banjo be behind anyone, stick in the circle, moderate the volumn accordingly.

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

Along with what gam says, I would suggest sitting in the corner, and directing the neck of the banjo into the corner. Yes, you will be sitting crooked compared to every one else, but I think that’s probably going to be your best bet if you want to use what little space you have efficiently.

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

“Next to the piano accordion”

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Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

Dave Cory lives here so we put him as close to the front as possible.

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

Could it be that your session-mates are trying to tell you something? 😉

Seriously, though, everybody gets a little more compact in a crowded session. Fiddlers bow shorter strokes, pipers turn so their drones aren’t poking the guy next to them, and plectrum players angle their neck up further. If we get crowded, there’s the occasional bumping of each other, with the mumbled “sorry”, since you can’t spit out much more than that without losing the tune. And then people jostle a bit for position. The neck of the banjo can be up at an angle, doesn’t have to be 90 degrees. And it can be in front of or behind the person to your left. Granted, that ends of up pointing the bullseye of the banjo off in one direction. But would you rather be sitting in a room by yourself? (That could probably be arranged!)

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

I remember hearing about a session so tight that a girl playing concertina had a shot glass on her knee to catch the flute drips of the guy next to her.

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

Banjo player sits to my left - then guitar to his left, then Bodhran.

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

If you can obtain an upright piano - and someone to play it - you could sit atop the piano, thus not adding to the floor space taken up by the piano and pianist. Depending on the length of your legs and the proportions of the piano, you could even assist the pianist with the difficult-to-reach notes - or step on their hands when they play a wrong chord.

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

The banjo player sits at the left end of the bench, which keeps the neck out of the faces of the other musicians. Now, all he has to contend with is punters and passersby…

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

Al, what happens if someone else tries to sit at the right end of the bench ?

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

He tells them they are in his seat.

Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

I thought that this was going to be a bad joke, kind of like “how many banjo players does it take to screw in a light bulb”. At the Cleary’s Pub sessions, we get parked in the corner near the men’s toilet. First arrivals sit around the table (you then have a convenient place to put your beer) and latecomers crowd in wherever there’s space. We seem to have gravitated towards a regular seating arrangement, but it’s very flexible and the only scramble is to avoid getting stuck directly between the two pipers when they both show up. We have just enough room that nobody’s had an eye poked out yet.

Put yourself with respect for your neighbours

I don’t see the problem. It’s just a matter of a little self control. So don’t swing around to grab your pint with the neck in tow; & don’t blame the instrument. Whenever I have a long necked player on my right they sit slightly in front of me. Sure it’s close quarters & overlapping, but these are my mates. Close is good, & if anyone gets hurt I always have my first aid kit.

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Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

Put ‘im in bed with the captain’s daughter

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Re: Where do you put the banjo player?

gam, is that musician like the Tardis, and ‘bigger on the inside?’