Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Dear Friends,

For those looking for something to do the first week of August, please consider coming to Augusta Heritage Center's Old Time Week. I'll be there working with people to explore early banjo traditions. You can learn more here: https://augustaheritagecenter.org/augusta-schedule/old-time/old-tim...

Thank you,

Greg

GAdams_PRphoto_October2014

19th Century Banjo

Banjoists of any skill level or background—from bluegrass players to old-time finger pickers, clawhammer players, and anyone else—are invited to take an immersive hands-on exploration of early banjo music and history. The purpose of this class is to provide new learners and experienced musicians with opportunities to become more conversant about banjo techniques and associated repertoire from the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. The goal is for banjoists (whether aspiring or advanced) to take what they do as musicians and place it into a larger framework of history, community, and critical engagement. By exploring the significance of historical manuscript materials, published sheet music, instruction books, and (to a certain degree) sound recordings, participants will enhance their musicianship to become more equipped to represent the history of what is often called “America’s instrument” to wider groups of people within and beyond the banjo community.

What we’ll cover: Throughout the week, we’ll cover down-stroke and fingerstyle techniques that overlap with those associated with old-time and bluegrass traditions. The activities will focus on historically significant eighteenth-century melodies, early banjo repertoire and techniques from the 1840s through the turn of the twentieth century, and genres ranging from minstrelsy, Civil War era songs, parlor music, ragtime, and others.

What to expect: Participants should expect a mixed-methods experience that includes learning by ear, using tablature and sheet music to inform interpretive possibilities, and working together in both large and small groups. Discussions about repertoire will be part of critical and inclusive conversations about how the history of the banjo is embedded within the American experience.

What to bring: Participants should bring their enthusiasm, one or more 5-string banjos, and any other items that will support their learning process, such as an audio recording device or pens, pencils, and paper. Depending on the number of people and the types of banjos they bring (e.g., a modern fretted banjo or an original/reproduction mid-nineteenth century banjo), the primary tuning we’ll be using is gCGBD or the lower tuned dGDF#A.

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Greg C. Adams is an archivist (MLS), ethnomusicologist (MA), and musician. For twenty years, Greg has been collaborating with scholars, collectors, musicians, and instrument builders to foreground the banjo’s multicultural history. Grounded in critical heritage research and programming, Greg’s efforts include fieldwork in West Africa (2006, 2008), developing a work plan for maintaining data about banjo-related material culture through an NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant (2009), and serving as an apprentice to noted Malian ngoni player and griot Cheick Hamala Diabate. In 2014, Greg worked with banjo scholars Bob Winans and Pete Ross as guest curators for the Baltimore Museum of Industry exhibit Making Music: The Banjo in Baltimore and Beyond and was also interviewed by Stephen Wade for the November issue of Banjo Newsletter. Greg currently works as an archivist in Washington, D.C. and regularly lectures about banjo history at universities, museums, and historical sites.

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Hi Greg,

Wow! What a wonderful banjo/old time camp.  Quite a lineup of faculty/musicians!  I wish I could attend, but I will be at banjo camp at Swannanoa Gathering that same week of August. C'est la vie! Maybe it's premature to ask, but will you be at 

Augusta next summer?  Or, will you be doing your early banjo course again next summer at Augusta? Or again
this fall or winter?

I have a second question: was there a catalog for the exhibition "The Banjo in Baltimore and Beyond?"

I hope you're well!

Best wishes,

Mike Ananian

Hello Mike,

Thanks for the message. I assume that they'll wait and see how this year's event goes before talking about next year :-)

Bob Winans, Pete Ross, and I didn't have the budget to do a proper catalog for the banjo exhibit, but we are planning a website to acknowledge all that took place as part of the exhibit and ancillary programming.

Hoping to see you around,

Greg

Thanks Greg for the information.  I hope your course goes well; it sounds terrific, wonderful. I look forward to the website and hope putting it together goes well.

Hope to see you around, too,

Mike


Greg Adams said:

Hello Mike,

Thanks for the message. I assume that they'll wait and see how this year's event goes before talking about next year :-)

Bob Winans, Pete Ross, and I didn't have the budget to do a proper catalog for the banjo exhibit, but we are planning a website to acknowledge all that took place as part of the exhibit and ancillary programming.

Hoping to see you around,

Greg

Sounds like an interesting class. I was at Elkins years ago taking Bob Flesher's banjo building class and took his evening minstrel banjo class he offered for one of the two weeks I was there. Not being a banjo player at the time, that was my first intro to actually playing the banjo. My main banjo is an 1895 era banjo I found in an antique store and do some Victorian reenactment in So California, so expanding my 19th century banjo beyond just basic clawhammer style and a little finger style from guitar playing may be beneficial.

Hello Carl,

I'll be teaching at Augusta once again this summer, so come participate if you wish! Would love to have you there: https://augustaheritagecenter.org/augusta-schedule/old-time/%20old-...

Take care,

Greg

Hi Greg,

I signed up for your class at Augusta this summer.  I'm looking forward to it very much!  Also: will there be a 2016 Early Banjo Gathering?

Best wishes,

Mike

Michael,

That's great! Really looking forward to seeing you and love your beautiful piece! No, 2015 was the last year of the Antietam Early Banjo Gathering.

Best regards,

Greg

Greg,

Finally paid the registration fee for the early banjo class at Elkins just before the June 1st price increase.

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