John Snipes – vo/bjo
Chapel Hill, NC – ca. August 1974
John was a “find” of Bruce Bastin, guided by former Orange County musician Jamie Alston. John’s banjo had a store-bought banjo ring/body and a home-made five string replacement neck… he used a piece of a Prince Albert tobacco tin placed below the nut for fingering, with most of his playing out of the first position. Bruce bought him some new strings and, as a result, he began to play again, becoming quite facile. I recorded him in some depth over a five-year span, capturing some wonderful performances and an interesting repertoire.
As Bruce has said, “I thought him the most interesting musician I’d run across because of the aural time-lapse and the fact that he could not play blues, his repertoire having become fixed before blues became established in his rural neck of the woods.” He played either in the drop-thumb/claw-hammer “frailing” style, or finger-picking with only thumb/forefinger as most Piedmont blues guitarists did. A regional norm.