WBEZ | Mark Dvorak http://www.wbez.org/tags/mark-dvorak Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The cross-continental roots of American music http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/cross-continental-roots-american-music-105849 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/banjo%20flickr%20rubin.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Flickr/Rubin)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F81406331&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.markdvorak.com/">Mark Dvorak</a> remembers the first time he saw a banjo. He was a child, maybe seven or eight years old, visiting a historical reenactment park with his family &ndash; the kind of place where they have log cabins and a mule farm &ndash; and he came across an old man strumming the classic five-stringed American instrument.</p><p>&ldquo;This guy seemed ancient to me. He&rsquo;s sitting there playing this thing &ndash; I&rsquo;d never seen anything like it,&rdquo; Dvorak recalled. &ldquo;He called it an &lsquo;old fashioned boom box.&rsquo; He told me that when he grew up he didn&rsquo;t have electricity and so forth, so if he and his friends wanted to make music had to do it themselves.&rdquo;</p><p>Dvorak channeled that ethos of communal music-making as he grew up, and now the multi-instrumentalist &ndash; who WFMT once called &ldquo;Chicago&rsquo;s official troubadour&rdquo; &ndash; can be found doing regular gigs around the region and teaching at the Old Town School of Folk Music. He&rsquo;s also developed a strong interest in the history of American folk music and instruments, especially when it comes to the old Appalachian mountain tunes common to the banjo.</p><p>&ldquo;Historians pretty much agree that the banjo was brought over by Africans during the slave years,&rdquo; Dvorak said. &ldquo;Of course the banjos Africans were able to make were made from hollowed out gourds and animal skins.&rdquo;</p><p>Then, Dvorak said, the common historical understanding is that an Irishman living in Virginia named Joe Sweeny adapted those early African instruments into what we would recognize as the banjo today.</p><p>Those duel African and Scotch/Irish influences are also present in much of early American folk music, according to Dvorak. In the audio above, he demonstrates the cross-continental currents of early American music by deconstructing the lineage of one particularly well-known song: &ldquo;You get a line, I&rsquo;ll get a pole&rdquo; &ndash; also known as the crawdad song. His aural breakdown is both fascinating and tuneful.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range</a></em>&nbsp;<em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="https://soundcloud.com/chicago-amplified/a-conversation-with-u-s">Chicago Amplified&rsquo;s</a></em>&nbsp;<em>vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Mark Dvorak spoke at an event presented by the Illinois Humanities Council in April of 2006. Click</em>&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/banjo-all-american-instrument">here</a>&nbsp;to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Sat, 02 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/cross-continental-roots-american-music-105849