Reg Banks | Bowing Down Home

Reg Banks, 1992

Biography

Reg Banks came from a musical family whose roots lie in Ireland and Newfoundland. He began to play at age 10, learning his first tunes from his father – who jigged them around the house – and from older fiddlers in his community, most notably his cousin Jimmy Banks. Another source of tunes was noted Kings County fiddler Jack Webster. Webster drove the local mail route via horse-drawn vehicles and Banks would sometimes intercept him at the family mailbox with fiddle in hand in hopes of coaxing out a tune.

Banks had been a very active dance fiddler in central Kings County during the 1940s and 50s, but a hand injury in 1960 that lopped off half of his fourth finger severely curtailed his ability to note the high passages of tunes. Banks got away from the instrument for quite a while, then returned to it in the 1980s. He was soon playing regularly at Nursing homes and benefit concerts, and in 2006 at the age of 83 he was one of the last remaining traditional fiddlers in central and southern Kings County. He has also composed a number of tunes, including Reg Banks’ Tune, Commercial Cross Special, and Brenda’s Reel.

A keen observer of changes in the Island scene, he laments the disappearance of local tunes, the decline of local square dancing, and the general disappearance of neighborliness from community life.

Of special interest: Banks offers a brief example of “jigging” or mouth music (see Stack of Barley [vocal], below).

Tune Selections

Banks, Reg - Brenda's Reel Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Commercial Cross Special Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Flowers of Edinburgh Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Harry's March Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
info
Banks, Reg - Inverness Gathering Reel Accompanied by: Martin Banks, pno
Central Kings
info
Banks, Reg - Log Cabin in the Lane Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
info
Banks, Reg - Lord MacDonald's Reel Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
info
Banks, Reg - Maggie Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr; Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Mrs. McLeod of Rasay Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
info
Banks, Reg - Paddy on the Turnpike Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Princess Reel Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Reg Banks' Tune Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Rock Valley Jig Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Rosebud of Allenvale, The Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
info
Banks, Reg - Stack of Barley Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Stack of Barley (vocal) Accompanied by: unacc
Central Kings
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Banks, Reg - Turkey in the Straw Accompanied by: Harry Buell, gtr
Central Kings
info

Oral Histories

Banks, Reg - Decline of community life Dances in the schools to support local education, pie socials: ladies would bake a cake and auction that to raise more money for schools. It kept communities together: a thing we've lost with the TV etc. info and transcript
Banks, Reg - Decline of square dancing Decline of square dances, change from square sets to circular formation; stepdancing has changed as well -- much greater movement info and transcript
Banks, Reg - Learning from Jack Webster learned Lord MacD Reel from Jack Webster as latter drove his mail route info and transcript
Banks, Reg - Youngsters learn tunes from away Changes in Repertoire, disappearance of old tunes; a lot of young people play Cape Breton style info and transcript

Video Clips