Banjo Spirits

This is a short preview trailer. You can watch the entire film at no charge on the Folkstreams website. Folkstreams is a nonprofit whose mission is to find, preserve, contextualize, and stream documentary films on American folklife.

Watch the entire film at Folkstreams

The banjo has played an important part in the journey of popular American music of the last 150 years. Banjo Spirits is a down-home and delicate work that explores that legacy through the eyes of two practitioners. From rock solid traditionalist Don Stover playing his final performance in front of his tarpaper West Virginia home while spinning out a sure sense of his place in the universe, to the breathless, high-strung quest of revivalist banjo minstrel Stephen Wade searching out the instrument he has adopted, Banjo Spirits inter-cuts realism and romance. Separated by years and cultural style, Stover and Wade are exotic in comparison to one another as they arrive at the instrument they love from very different routes. In a short time we learn a lot about the banjo in America; and we leave believing that these two players are banjo spirits who resonate in eloquent equivalence with the old and new ages from which they respectively travel. In the hands of players like Don Stover and Stephen Wade the banjo’s future is assured.

  • Film by: John Paulson
  • Produced by: John Paulson
  • Cinematographer: John Paulson
  • Editor: John Paulson
  • Original Format: Film: 16mm
  • © 1998, John Paulson
  • 29mins, Color