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Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Crankie Spectacular at the BOTMC 2023!

Click this link to view the crankies contributed to or created at the 2023 Convention.

Click this link to view the crankies contributed to the Spring 2021 online Crankie Cabaret.


Crankies are back at the 2023 Convention!  The Crankie Spectacular will be showcased to a live audience at the Freight, prior to the Friday night concert on September 22.  In addition, the crankies will be archived online on the Crankie playlist on the BOTMC YouTube Channel.   The YouTube channel will be linked to the BOTMC website forever more.

There will also be a 2-part, in-person, group crankie-making workshop during the festival.  The workshop is free to all ages on a drop-in basis, 3-5:30, Thursday and Friday afternoons, at the Freight.  Together we will make a crankie of "Fair and Tender Ladies" and show it at the Friday night concert.  Not only that: Sheila Kay Adams will teach us this ballad during the workshop.  Check out the Workshops page for more info on how to participate in the workshop part of the Crankie Spectacular.

What’s a crankie?  It is an old storytelling art form, sometimes called a Moving Panorama, popular in the 19th century.   A basic crankie is a long illustrated scroll, which is wound onto two spools. The spools are loaded into a box which has a viewing window. Then the scroll is hand-cranked while the story is told, or a tune is played or a song is sung. The images on the scroll illustrate the music or story telling part of their presentation.  

To view some crankies and/or get more information about them, such as their interesting history and even instructions for how to make one, check out Sue Truman’s terrific website:  

how to Submit Your crankie for the online crankie Spectacular!

Here are guidelines and requirements for our submission process:


  • Music Licensing requirements: Be sure that any recorded music used in your crankie is in the public domain and therefore not subject to any royalty/licensing restrictions.  If you include music that has these restrictions, we will not be able to add your crankie to the Crankie Spectacular.  Here's some guidelines to help you determine the licensing status of a piece of music: If the publication date is before 1928, the song is in the public domain. If you cannot find the song in Wikipedia, you can also try searching the databases at and Finally, Google searching is also a good resource for resolving the licensing question. As long as you can find solid evidence that the song was published before 1928, you are clear.  

  • Home made Live Music: You can use live music that you make.  For example, it's fine to record the version of John Hardy that you learned from Foghorn's recording, with you or your friend singing and use that, but you can't use the actual Foghorn recording of that (or any other) song.  In other words, you can use any song you want to. But you have to make a new recording of that song; you can't use a recording that you downloaded from the Internet or from a CD that you own.

  • Preferred Content: Aligning your crankie with the Old Time Music theme of the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention is strongly suggested!  At the least this could mean using Old Time/Folk Music as background music to enliven your crankie.  Building up from there, the BOTMC values and promotes social justice work in our community, throughout the Convention and beyond.  We encourage using the platform of the Crankie Spectacular to educate and inform us all on social justice issues relevant to the Old Time community.  A few examples, of many possibilities: Hommage-themed crankies about OT musicians who are under-represented/historically and/or marginalized in Old Time music.  The history of the banjo would make a great and highly relevant crankie.

  • Basic Title Info: Include your name, and cite any sources, visual or musical, that inspired your crankie.  It's great to add an introduction to your crankie, via text/words imbedded in your crankie video, or recorded video of you [or someone] explaining the content of the crankie, how it came to be or anything else you think would be of interest to your audience and inform your crankie.

  • Upload your crankie via Google Drive.  If you're not sure how to do this, see Upload files & folders to Google Drive

  • Google Drive Access: Once you've uploaded your crankie to google drive, grant editing access to your crankie to .  This step is required for us to post your crankie on the BOTMC Crankie YouTube Channel, and to showcase it Friday night at the Convention.  For details, see Share files from Google Drive.

  • Email: after you've uploaded and shared your crankie, send an email to, informing us that you shared a crankie with us via Google Drive.  This step will serve as a backup and help us ensure that there weren't problems with the file sharing/access step of submitting your crankie.

  • Time limit: Please keep your crankie to approximately 5 minutes in length, including the spoken intro/titles section.  Shorter is definitely okay, as is a tiny bit longer.

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