Portfolio > Oil Paintings/Charcoal Drawings_Old Time Songs & Stories

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Reddleman and Green Jeans
Reddleman and Green Jeans
Oil on Canvas
60" x 60"

I call this painting "Reddleman and Green Jeans," referring to the Reddleman from Hardy's "The Return of the Native" and Mr. Green Jeans from the 1970s kids' TV show "Captain Kangaroo." Any further reference to these two people ends with this title. "Reddleman and Green Jeans," "Shady Grove," and "Pumpkin Pie," are a sub-set of my Old Time series and refer to the four seasons. Thus, landscape figures prominently in these paintings.

I depict two Old Time musicians. They have set aside their Old Time instruments, the fiddle (to the right of Mr. Green Jeans) and the banjo (on the Reddleman's lap), to contemplate the origins of the banjo and African influences on Old Time music: West African spiked lutes. Reddleman holds a folk-music spiked lute called an Akonting, from the Casamance region of Senegal. Mr. Greens Jeans rests on his knee an art-music spiked lute of the Islamic music caste called an Ngoni/Xalam, from the Sahel region of Senegal.

It is remarkable that these vastly diverse instruments, one whose ancestry is from Western European (fiddle/violin), the other whose ancestry is West African (banjo), one inherently melodic and the other inherently rhythmic, ever were played together! In spite of the United States' ghastly and shameful history of racism, could this union indicate that positive interracial interaction at some point had to have happened to bring these two instruments together?