Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

This Saturday and Sunday I am finally participating in my first reenactment. Here in what is supposed to be the biggest Civil War reenactment on the West Coast, well I will have to take them at their word at it, it's my first. I was driven to this because of wanting to play this style of music. I have a Tackhead from Eric Prust, and have a few songs memorized. I'm also bringing my fiddle. We have rain in the forecast so I bet keeping my banjo in tune will be a challenge. 

Should i go with a pitch pipe or is using a battery operated tuner excepted at a reenactment

Any advice?

Views: 128

Comment by Cory Rosenberg on November 11, 2011 at 9:02am

 I would say bring both tuning options and if it appears that you are among a particularly hardcore group of people, or if you believe your electronics will disturb someone, try to find an out-of-the-way spot to tune up. The key to any CW event is courtesy; you can do whatever you like so long as you don't disturb the mood or activities of anyone else. At a large event like that, things are probably pretty casual overall. Have fun!

Comment by John Masciale on November 11, 2011 at 9:07am

I tend to use my electronic tuner at events, but, for instance, will tune up in my tent, or out of the way.  After that, I tend to make tuning adjustments by ear.

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on November 11, 2011 at 10:41am

Cheers! Thanks for the input. I most definitely don't wish to irritate someone by bad etiquette. I have been given the heads up that they have what is called the Sargent's Tent  for which they store items that might be otherwise be considered modern. Like my cases for my instruments etc.. I will bring both, my pitch pipe and my tuner.

Comment by Tim Twiss on November 11, 2011 at 10:43am

put the tuner in a tobacco tin

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on November 11, 2011 at 10:45am

A good idea!

Comment by John Mikenas on November 11, 2011 at 12:29pm

Relax Nick-- its your first event; you will make some mistakes which, trust me, will be pointed out depending on the expected degree of authenticity.  Ask plenty of questions (like you are doing here) and have fun in this great "hobby". After you've done this for a few years, you'll understand the quotations around the word! The 25 years that I spent with the old Mudsills were the best of my life.  Your accumulated experience will be the best teacher. Research, research, research...

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on November 11, 2011 at 1:55pm

Thanks for the tip John. I wanted to get into this for years, can't believe I'm finally getting my opportunity. I will be making mental notes and absorbing the whole thing. Look forward to sharing my experience.

Here I go!

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on November 17, 2011 at 7:49pm

Hey Dan'l it was awesome! It was rainy the first two days. I had my period banjo and my fiddle. I ended up jamming mostly on the fiddle. As I am new to this I had no gear, no tent etc.. I did end up getting a good start on my uniform. I am in the Hamptons Legion, a confederate group. I tried to bring out my banjo at first, but it was too damp, so therefore some what flappy. So I stuck with the fiddle. Already had a few songs down. Things went great I think I have found my nitch. I am currently awaiting a new banjo from Jay Moschella, that will be sweet. I currently have a tackhead I bought to get me into it and make sure this was something I was interested in,..OH I am,..for sure! Everyone was very helpful, all around a great bunch of people. Thanks for the tips, you were dead on.

Comment by Cory Rosenberg on November 17, 2011 at 8:41pm
If you run into banjo head problems in the future, careful application of dry heat works wonders. A few passes with a hair drier, standing near a campfire etc... And you'll be in top shape! Glad you had such a fine time, keep upthe good work and spread the gut-string gospel!
Comment by John Mikenas on November 17, 2011 at 9:37pm

I'm glad that you got your feet wet and had a good time.  It can become a second lifestyle (sometimes a first).  Civ War living history and this minstrel banjo, etc. thing, unlike most avocations, draw all ages and all walks-of-life into the mix. Enjoy it all! Avoid as much of the inevitable politics and petty squabbling that you can. A decent musician or two and singers are all a plus for any unit.

 

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