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First Video Footage of The Shackleton Banjo Prototype Released

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Shackleton BanjoNorwich, Norfolk, UK -- Norwich, UK business The Great British Banjo Company, has released the first video footage of the prototype of the new Shackleton banjo: the first large-scale production British-made banjo in 60 years. The short video features an informal performance by three Norwich musicians, shot outside the company's Norwich city-centre workshop. The prototype Shackleton banjo is played by Mike King from local band 'Hayley Moyses & The Bluegrass Forum', whilst the company's high-end Islander Ash Leaf banjo is played by local singer-songwriter Solomon Amos. The pair are accompanied by bluegrass band leader Hayley Moyses on fiddle.

Simon Middleton, founder and managing director of the company, said: "It's a pretty low-fi video – I shot it myself on my phone – but it captures the fantastic, bright and lively sound of The Shackleton, as well as the rich, mellow tone of the Islander Ash Leaf.

"We are delighted with how well the prototype is performing and we're very keen for people all over the world to hear it, even at this early stage of development," Middleton added. "We really hope the video will encourage people to support us on our Kickstarter campaign."

The Great British Banjo Company – the Norwich, Norfolk-based business founded by brand author and musician Simon Middleton – has launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to fund the development of The Shackleton, which will be the only low-cost banjo that is genuinely manufactured in Britain, and the first production banjo to be manufactured in Britain for many decades. The company is hoping to raise £30,000 on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and has made a campaign film using local musical and film-making talent.

The firm has named the banjo in honour of the Centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's heroic Endurance expedition to the Antarctic of 1914 – because the banjo that Shackleton took on that trip played a vital role in his epic adventure. When his ship The Endurance was trapped in the polar ice and had to be abandoned, Shackleton insisted that the expedition's banjo be rescued, famously calling out to his men: "We must have that banjo! It is vital mental medicine."

Shackleton was proved right: he had to leave a party of 22 men on the icy shore of Elephant Island for four months while he led a small party to fetch help. Those 22 men entertained themselves with concert parties led by their meteorologist Hussey, playing the banjo. All the men survived the ordeal, as did the banjo, which is now in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

In 2011 Middleton began selling imported banjos as Banjos Direct. Last year he launched The Great British Banjo Company in order to embark on a new adventure: to become the first production banjo manufacturer in the UK for sixty years. Middleton, said: “We've already proved that we can build a world-class banjo. Our limited edition hand-made Islander Ash Leaf which we launched last year has had fantastic reviews from some of the greatest players in the world. “We have launched a two month campaign to raise £30,000 on Kickstarter to enable us to bring our vision of an affordable British-made banjo to life.”

The Shackleton is a 5-string openback banjo of similar design to the Islander Ash Leaf which the company launched last year. But where the Islander Ash Leaf is a handcrafted (and therefore premium-priced) instrument, The Shackleton is a true 'production' instrument and as a result will be much more affordable for many more players. The company intends to retail The Shackleton at £300, putting it into direct competition with imported instruments.

Shackleton insisted that the expedition's banjo be rescued, famously calling out to his men: "We must have that banjo! It is vital mental medicine."

The Great British Banjo Company Limited, which also owns online specialist store Banjos Direct, is based in Norwich, Norfolk, UK. The company works with local craftsmen as well as instrument manufacturers in other parts of Britain. The business was founded by brand adviser, business author and musician Simon Middleton and has grown rapidly to become the UK's best known banjo specialist retailer and manufacturer. In 2012, the company launched the Islander Ash Leaf banjo, hand-made in England, which has received glowing reviews from professional players in the UK and the USA. The Great British Banjo Company is a private limited company, owned and managed by a small group of family and friends in Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

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