Banjo neck contains four black wooden tuning pegs supporting four strings; upper side of neck is dark brown with seventeen metal frets and five position marks. Back of neck is natural wood color with black stripe down center. Body has metal tension ring above dark wood waist (circular frame); waist and tension ring are held together by 22 tension screws. Belly is grey with thin wood bridge in center. Hollow underside of body has wooden support spanning diameter.
KERSHNER/UNIQUE; PATENTED/5-19-16; REMO/(in crown)/WEATHER KING/BANJO/MADE IN U.S.A.
This banjo was owned by James Palao, a leader of the Original Creole Band of New Orleans, later known as King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. Palao was originally from New Orleans, and the band settled in Chicago in 1918. The donor is Palao's daughter.
This banjo helps document the some of the earliest Jazz Age musicians in Chicago as well as James (Jimmie) Palao's own musical career. During the 1910s and 1920s, many African American musicians traveled from New Orleans to Chicago as part of the Great Migration. Musicians including James Palao and Louis Armstrong, for example, lived and worked on the South Side and made Chicago the capital of American jazz. Palao also played violin and saxophone. The Original Creole Orchestra of New Orleans was among the earliest jazz bands to play outside of New Orleans.