Music News & Reviews

In banjo heist, competing voices emerge for Sir Walter Raleigh statue

This scroll appeared at the foot of the Sir Walter statue Friday morning.
This scroll appeared at the foot of the Sir Walter statue Friday morning. ccampbell@newsobserver.com

One day after a banjo cutout went missing from the Sir Walter Raleigh statue, a Twitter account and scroll appeared arguing that the statue is happier without the instrument.

City spokeswoman Jayne Kirkpatrick announced the heist Thursday, issuing a statement in Sir Walter’s voice demanding that the “cad ... return my banjo so that the entire World of Bluegrass can enjoy it.”

But a competing voice for the statue emerged Friday through the Twitter account @siwaltraleigh. In Twitter posts, the statue said he had been misquoted, and he promised “my first true public statement since 1618” would be posted at the Banjostand art installation.

A visit to the statue revealed a large scroll – tied with a red ribbon – featuring the Sir Walter Raleigh poem “What is our life?” At the end of the poem was a postscript: “I felt quite foolish with the banjo in my hands. The Spanish had my head before I learned to play.”

Kirkpatrick disputes the authenticity of the scroll and said the city isn’t behind it. “That really wasn’t Sir Walter talking on that,” she said.

She says she still doesn’t know who took the banjo, but city officials haven’t filed a police report about the theft. “I don’t want to make a big deal over it, but it’s city property, it’s his,” she said. “We took care of it all year in the hopes that he could sling it this year.”

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