Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Andy Chase planted a seed in my mind a few minutes ago with the mention of a need for a New England Minstrel gathering. So I thought I would start by asking how many Members of this ning live in New England? And of the membership, how many of you would be willing to get together north of Boston (Danvers MA) because I can offer my home, which is a barn with an attached 24X32 dance hall of sorts and can accommodate 50 or so people. It is unheated so it would be a warm weather event. I could offer tenting space in my 1.25 acre yard (do't mind the chickens or my two mini Dachshunds) and there are a few hotels very close by with easy highway access. Is this doable??? Chime in and lets see what happens. If you know a minstrel player that isn't here on the ning, ask them about their interest too!

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Brian, I was about to respond to your private message when I saw this - you know folks around here love to congregate in barns!  I'm pretty sure there are a good half dozen of us within a reasonable drive of Danvers, probably more.  I am definitely on board.

Thanks for the generous offer of your space; that's always one of the biggest logisitical hurdles to getting something like this together.   If we were interested in getting some bones players involved I have a good contact in that community. 

I don't think there would be much real planning required unless there's a huge response, but let me know if/how I can help!

Bones would be good. I am a realitively fledgling player so I don't know what would be required to do this. Those of you that have been around these gatherings, What do we need to make this work? Do we need a list of songs to learn before we get together. DO people from our pool of attendees offer up some instruction in a song or two that they know well and we all play them together or do I need to get us a professional player/teacher of minstrel style and we all split the cost to have them guide us over the weekend. I do know someone quite near that could do this.....

Andy, I love your comment about barn gatherings!   Obviously, I live too far away (since I was at the Michigan gathering yesterday).  We didn't have any form of play list - I had wondered about that too. It is unbelievable how many songs people have in common!

I think it depends on how many people are interested, and what the average experience level is. 

AEBG IV last year was the first I had been to - my overall impression is that this is a tremendously generous community as far as knowledge and mentoring goes.  I wouldn't rate myself much higher than "advanced newbie" (I've only been playing stroke style banjo for a couple of years, and intermittently at that) but I'd be happy to help out in a teaching/mentoring capacity if appropriate.

We should ask Terry Bell and the other folks who were at the recent Michigan gathering what the overall tone/organization was.  The video looked like it was a pretty informal get-together, but of course that was only about 10 minutes of footage from a longer day.  At this stage, though, I think we can just see what the general level of interest is.  

If you are in or near New England and might think about coming to an event like this, either as a one-day gathering or a weekend-long event, please chime in with your experience level (Let's say 0 is "I've never touched an instrument in my life" and 10 is "My name is Tim Twiss") and what you would hope to get out of a New England Early Banjo Gathering! 

It was so much fun - very informal - only from 2-8 on Saturday.  Terry's parents were incredibly generous at allowing us to invade their living room - AND they fed us dinner!  Terry invited some local music friends - it was pretty much lots and lots of playing.  Some talking about banjos - making of, differences - but they can tell you all about that part (Remember, I don't play banjo, so I heard, "Blah blah blah banjo...banjo rim...blah blah....banjo....John, yours in upside down.....lol!)

I think it is good just to get the people together. It will take care of itself. Environment is everytning...just some space, chairs, snacks...it will take on a life of it's own without an agenda, although there is nothing wrong with a loose plan. As Elaine said, the common ground is amazing.

I've been thinking about a New England gathering myself. I live in Vermont and know there are also some members from Canada that may be interested. I would certainly be interested in such a gathering. I am also a bones player

Count me in -- I can probably walk to your place...

I'm interested.  

Alright then, we are going to have a New England gathering and I am proposing we have it in my barn. I will take a long hard look at the calendar and see what makes sense. We could make it an official sSturday event that could spill into Sunday if we want it to. Chime in with any troublsome dates you might have and we will work it out!! I plan on attending the gathering in Antietam as well.


RE: troublesome dates, July 28 is out for me.  (20th high school reunion, where in the world does the time go?)

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