[Dixielandjazz] Interesting article on new performances of Minstrel Shows

david richoux tubaman at batnet.com
Sun Nov 16 11:06:23 PST 2003

One thing I forgot to mention - I learned of this article while reading 
a later issue, a letter-to-the-editor triggered my search:

> It may be history but it's not always pretty
>  You wrote: "Minstrelsy hasn't merited serious cultural study since 
> its awkward birth in the 1830s." In fact, there are a number of 
> well-researched and in-depth books on minstrelsy. There are straight 
> histories out there, but the ones that interest me the most are those 
> that discuss how minstrelsy was used to construct and cross boundaries 
> of class, race, and gender. See especially Eric Lott's Love and Theft.
>  The issue of whether this should be performed is a sticky one. Within 
> the context of historical reenactment, it seems a relatively benign 
> activity. I'm led to question the drive to reenact itself and the 
> attendant emphasis on objectivity. Imagining history as a script to 
> perform seems rife with problems.
>  Drew Beck, Berkeley

There was the recent Spike Lee movie "Bamboozled" that gets deeply into 
this subject in a different way...

Dave Richoux

On Sunday, Nov 16, 2003, at 10:48 US/Pacific, david richoux wrote:

> http://eastbayexpress.com/issues/2003-10-08/music.html/1/index.html
> a snip:
>> Written off by most mainstream historians and musicologists as 
>> nothing more than racist theatrics and overwrought melodrama, 
>> minstrelsy hasn't merited serious cultural study since its awkward 
>> birth in the 1830s. However, a very small but steadily growing cadre 
>> of musicians from across the country intends to resurrect it. They're 
>> intently researching yellowing sheet music and sepia-hued photographs 
>> to ensure absolute authenticity -- from constructing period 
>> instruments and donning near-perfect replicas of clothing from the 
>> era, to performing the old minstrel classics exactly as they 
>> originally were, sometimes even in blackface. The endeavor is done so 
>> faithfully that, as one modern-day minstrel player put it, "If you 
>> squint your eyes and your ears a little, you can travel right back to 
>> the 1840s."
>>                   Of course, such a journey would dump you in a briar 
>> patch of racial stereotypes repulsive to modern-day Americans, so 
>> it's not surprising there's a contentious debate over whether such a 
>> project is legitimate at all.
> the whole article is very interesting... not exactly OKOM but one of 
> the many roots.
> Dave Richoux
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