Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I'm looking for some advice on the issues of playing minstrel banjo in humid regions.  This weekend I went to a reenactment in the Texas Gulf area.  I brought one of my minstrel banjos along to play for the group.  I was only able to play a few tunes before the head on my banjo sagged too much to be playable.  I know this issue has probably been discussed before but can anyone give me some advice on how to get around in humid conditions and still be able to play a minstrel banjo?

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Great story Steven!

Steven Hedgpeth said:

Two or three years ago, I wanted to go see Bob Carlin at the Cumberland County Public Library over in Fayetteville, NC. I had learned to play clawhammer from his early instructional videos and was thrilled that he was doing a banjo demonstration so close to me. He was plugging that From Mali to America CD.


The sky was looking ominous, but at the last minute I decided to go anyway. Ravenous, I went through a drive-thru at a burger joint and got this awesome mushroom swiss burger that I nearly inhaled on the way to Fayetteville.


By the time I reached the library, it was pouring down rain and I wanted to go home, but that burger had turned on me, totally upset my stomach, and I got out and crossed a parking lot ankle-deep in water just to get to the bathroom inside.


When I found the men's restroom and went inside, there was Bob Carlin holding his skin-head minstrel banjo up to the hand dryer trying to dry it out enough to play. We spoke. The dryer ran through at least three cycles before he quit and left. 


I did get out of the bathroom in time to hear most of his presentation, and when he got around to playing that particular banjo during his talk, it was again pretty dull, but the music came across.


That doesn't help, I know, but it's how I met Bob Carlin.

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