Calling All Banjos

Roy Zimmerman

Musical instruments, not bombs

By Ginny Masullo

TFW Contributing Writer

What’s so funny about war? Find out March 2 when the Omni Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology presents “Banjos Not Bombs.”
America’s finest musical political satirist, Roy Zimmerman, straight from California, performs as the feature act and as the incisive master of ceremonies. Some of Fayetteville’s finest wits and troublemakers — Dave Malm, Doug Shields, Clayton Scott, Still on the Hill and Emily Kaitz — will focus on the absurd. Better bring a change of pants.
According to a CNN/Opinion research poll this past December, more than six in 10 Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan. (Released Jan. 3, CNN World.) This is an all-time high. But where are their voices? There are many who were against U.S. involvement from the get-go.
Frustrated that various avenues of dissent seem to have no significant impact, the anti-war committee of the Omni Center decided to stage a different kind of event.
“Our intent with this project is to get us unstuck. It feels like people have given up and are keeping their thoughts to themselves,” says Omni member Kelly Mulhollan. “It seems clear that only a complete withdrawal will bring this cycle of violence to a close. We know this is no joke, but maybe we need to use humor as a tool to get us unstuck, and help raise a different kind of awareness. Once that idea formed, I immediately thought of  Roy Zimmerman.”
The Los Angeles Times says “Zimmerman displays a lacerating wit and keen awareness of society’s foibles.” Zimmerman, who is a member of Funny Musicians for a Serious Cause, founded and did all of the writing for the folk/comedy quartet the Foremens. The Foremens, and now Zimmerman as a solo act, have achieved and maintained considerable notoriety.
He has performed with greats such as Pete Seeger and Joni Mitchell. Joni praises him saying, “Roy’s lyrics move beyond poetry and achieve perfection.” Check him out at
Highlighting the evening will be an attempt to break the world record for the number of banjos playing an anti-war song on stage. All banjos and their players are welcome. Just to see the variety of banjos that may come out of these woods will be heady. Banjorines. Pie-tin banjos. Cookie-tin banjos. Antique banjos. Ukulele banjos. Who knows what else?
Says Mulhollan, who for several years has had the “Banjos Not Bombs” slogan written on the head of his own banjo, “We are going to adapt ‘Down By the Riverside’ for this banjo finale, the old ‘Ain’t Gonna Study War No More’ tune. If you can put a few strings on a cereal box, you’re in! Any skill level is welcome.”
During the evening, which is billed as a sit-in (part of the joke, but not to worry, there will be plenty of chairs), Emily Kaitz will debut her song “Banjos Not Bombs.” You’ll really have to hear it to get the full banjo effect.

“Banjos Not Bombs” by Emily Kaitz

For years we’ve debated who are mightier men
Those who wield the sword, or those who grip the noble pen
But in times of endless war when we dread turning on the news
I think it’s wise to re-evaluate the weapons that we choose …
Banjos not bombs is what I have to say
We’ll terrorize our enemies and make them go away
A squadron armed with banjos is exactly what we need
playing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” out of tune at breakneck speed!
Banjos not bombs will put the bad guys on the run
More effective, less expensive, and certainly more fun
For the same price as explosives that would fill a dozen flatbeds
We’ll supply a whole battalion with vintage 5-stringed flatheads!
Banjos not bombs is the answer that we seek
Their troops will cringe in fear at “Old Home Place” and “Cripple Creek”
And tell me who wouldn’t surrender bullets and artillery
when faced with 200 more choruses of “Rocky Top Tennessee”?
Banjos not bombs, banjos not bombs
Let’s all sing together, banjos not bombs!

Sometimes laughter can be the best medicine. Banjos Not Bombs — 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 at the UARK Bowl on Dickson Street — promises to give a hearty dose. Tickets at the door are $10. Students with an ID get in for $5. For more information, call 582-2291.

Categories: Features, Music