Stumbling around the internet for banjo music, you might come accross an album or two by a guy called Banjo Jimmy. His CD’s “Playing Songs to Remember” or “Favorites of New Orleans” are quite wonderful with his style appropriately dubbed “folk ragtime.” He sings and plays 4-string tenor banjo in the New Orleans tradition, but does a variety of folk, dixieland, jazz, and popular songs. Hearing the trad-jazz version of the fiddle tune Soldier’s Joy is proof that he can make anything sound like Banjo Jimmy.
More often than us internet banjo vampires, the ones running into Jimmy LaRou’s music are tourists walking around the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, Pensylvania. Usually he’s accompanied by his band, The Red Rose Ramblers, which may add another banjo, guitar, trumpet, or rhythm bones. This spot is where Banjo Jimmy has played for about 30 years! Because of this there are several tourist quality videos on youtube of Jimmy playing, but his recorded music is well done and not overly polished.
Here’s a video from 2011, including a version of The Darktown Strutters Ball, a traditional jazz standard written in 1917. Just another day in the life of Banjo Jimmy LaRou.
Unfortunately, this man has no website to order the CD’s, but you’ll see them stacked next to him at the Kettle Kitchen performances. You may find these self-released gems on Amazon or Ebay for as much as $70!! If you see Banjo Jimmy in person you should just give him $70 and see what happens.
At 75 years old, Jimmy no longer plays 7 days a week at the Village. Instead he currently plays from Tuesday through Saturday starting around 10am, weather permitting (don’t expect him to play out in the cold rain and snow!)
Top photo credit to Gaby Bernstein.