Jimmy Banks | Bowing Down Home

Jimmy Banks, 1991

Biography

Jimmy Banks grew up virtually surrounded by good fiddling. Both his father John Daniel Banks and his uncle Patrick Banks played for local dances, as did his neighbors Charlie and Barney MacMaster, and Anais Campbell. Sometimes fiddlers from Northeastern Kings such as Neil Cheverie and Pete Simon Chaisson (grandfather of Kenny, Kevin and “Young Peter” Chaisson) would come down to Poplar Point to play at local house parties and benefit dances.

Jimmy started fiddling at age 9, and learned his repertoire by ear from listening to all these good players. Mostly he had to figure things out on his own, but occasionally he would get a few pointers from older players. He started playing for local dances when he was about 20: “Most every community had a hall or a center where they held entertainment,” he said. “They used to have concerts and dances and parties of different kinds. Then there used to be Tea Parties, too, and picnics in the summertime, and they always had square dancing [there], mostly all square dancing in them days.”

Banks tells us that it was routine at these events to be asked from time to time to play for step-dancing. He also notes that the old style of step-dancing was quite different from the style that developed on PEI after the 1970s, and that each dancer used to have their own special tune they liked to dance to.

In the late 1930s, Jimmy and a few other young people from the surrounding area put a band together that played for dances throughout the eastern part of the Island. The instruments featured were fiddle, mandolin, piano, and (occasionally) guitar. Jimmy and another fellow played fiddle, but – following Island custom – they generally took turns on the instrument instead of playing together.

Banks composed a number of tunes, two of which – Patsy MacDonald's Reel and Poplar Point Reel – are included here.

Tune Selections

Banks, Jimmy - Judique Reel Accompanied by: unacc
Central Kings
info
Banks, Jimmy - Northside Tune Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
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Banks, Jimmy - Patsy MacDonald's Reel Accompanied by: unacc
Central Kings
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Banks, Jimmy - Poplar Point Reel Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
info
Banks, Jimmy - Road to India, The Accompanied by: unacc
Central Kings
info

Oral Histories

Banks gets help from older players The older fellows might give you a few pointers if asked, but basically you were on your own; Campbell's father would tell us if we weren't playing it right. info and transcript
Old-fashioned Island step-dancing Stepdancers would get up and compete with each other, several at once; best style was smooth, not too much body action: just work from hips down; in his day they only danced to reels and each dancer had their own special tune info and transcript

Video Clips