Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

3rd Joel Sweeney & the Banjo Convergence

Event Details

3rd Joel Sweeney & the Banjo Convergence

Time: May 13, 2016 at 6pm to May 15, 2016 at 2pm
Location: Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
Street: Route 24
City/Town: Appomattox, Virginia
Website or Map: http://www.nps.gov/apco
Phone: (434) 352-8987 X. 236
Event Type: learning/, sharing/, performing
Organized By: David Wooldridge and Mark Weems
Latest Activity: May 16, 2016

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Event Description

Early banjo, fiddle, guitar, tambo, and bones players- have at you all!

Save the date for the 3rd Sweeney Early Banjo Convergence! Once again we shall gather on the beautiful grounds of Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park; the "groud zero" for early banjo music.

For it was along the humble banks of the Appomattox river where Joel Sweeney and his myriad of musical kith & kin lived and learned the banjo!!

Brought to you by the North Carolina School of Traditional Music and the National Park Service at Appomattox Court House NHP, this event is both a chance for learning and sharing amongst early banjo enthusiasts as well as an opportunity to perform for the public in the historic village just as Joel did some 175 years ago!!

There is the possibility for period camping ON-SITE this year as well.

For the banjo appreciative public, there will be presentations throughtout the day, film screenings, and tours to Sweeney sites throughout the Park and an abundance of banjo music!.

Inquiries to this post will be answered with all deliberate speed and veracity as details become solidified.

For those who wish to share their banjo research and/ or revelations with the general public, there are a few slots available among the day long programming to be held at the Park's visitor center.

For those who are versed in the art of the design & manufacture of the blessed banjo, there is space at the Park planned for you to exhibit your craftsmanship!

Dress of the period is encouraged but not required.

For further information, feel free to correspond with:

David Wooldridge (david_wooldridge@nps.gov) OR             

Mark Weems (markweems@frontier.com)

Comment Wall

Comment by Timothy Twiss on January 15, 2016 at 8:33pm

Can you speak at all of the programming? If a few slots are available, you must have some stuff nailed down?

Comment by D. Wooldridge on January 16, 2016 at 12:38pm

Sure Tim! Mark Weems & I (repping for Appomattox Court House NHP) are tag teaming this event with Mark focusing primarily on the instructional, player aspects of the program which I'll let him speak to while I am lining up the programming where the players & the public intersect. As in years past, the Park will offer tours to the Joel Sweeney gravesite, the home of banjo playing cousin Charles Sweeney and -FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER- a tour of the modest cabin of Missouri Sweeney- banjo playing sister to Joel & her other more famous brothers. We will have banjo talks of various topics as well, including the latest accumulation of banjo research done by myself, Mark Weems as well as others. My discussion includes a discovery of mine which supposedly identifies the black banjo player that taught Joel Sweeney how to play the banjo. If you have a program you would like to present for the general public or for the banjo players' sessions PLEASE let Mark and I know as soon as possible.

Sat. evening will be a highlight performance in the park- either on the porch of the very tavern where Joel Sweeney began his public playing career, or the McLean house or the Charles Sweeney cabin.

This event is meant to celebrate the story of the banjo that Appomattox Court House is uniquely able to tell. We have plans to develop a trail that would link these sites and offer interpretation during our busiest seasons to the visiting public.

BUT this event is also a chance for players and lovers of early banjo music to come together in the historic setting where some of the earliest strains of banjo music were abundant. 

Comment by Timothy Twiss on January 17, 2016 at 12:47pm

Is Joe Ayers presenting or playing?

Comment by D. Wooldridge on January 17, 2016 at 1:03pm

I would hope so Tim. 

Comment by Mark Weems on January 20, 2016 at 12:27pm

Pay attention to Rob's advice, folks.

Rob Morrison said:

FYI--I just made reservations at the Super 8 Motel in Appomattox and theystill have a few more rooms available, but you should know that the dates for the Appomattox event are the same as for the Liberty University graduation.  This means  that if you plan to book a room, the sooner the better.  I speak from prior experience.

--Rob Morrison

Comment by Mark Weems on January 20, 2016 at 12:29pm

Rob et al, we have a new hotel opening up just 2 miles up the road from the National Park:


Appomattox has been waiting for a long time for a little more choice for accomadations. There are hotels and motels to the East and North of Appomattox as well.

Comment by Mark Weems on January 20, 2016 at 12:30pm

Yes, if you are interested in coming to the event, you should really consider booking right now. On site period camping will also be allowed if you choose to do that.

Comment by Mark Weems on January 20, 2016 at 2:05pm

Friday's start time will actually be much earlier. I'm going to try to be there by late morning. And Sunday we can stay until the park closes at 5:00 pm.

Comment by D. Wooldridge on January 21, 2016 at 12:04pm

Folks, Farmville is only 37 minutes away from Appomattox. You may want to check hotel rooms there but Farmville's Longwood University's graduation is May 14th. 

Hampton Inn Farmville

Address: 300 Sunchase Blvd, Farmville, VA 23901

Phone: (434) 392-8826



Days Inn Farmville

Address: 2015 S Main St, Farmville, VA 23901

Phone: (434) 392-6611



Comfort Inn Farmville

Address: 2108 S Main St, Farmville, VA 23901

Phone:(434) 392-8163


And although the plan is to have at least period camping at Appomattox Court House itself, there is modern camping available at the state park campground just 7 miles down the road:

Holliday Lake State Park

2759 State Park Rd., Appomattox, VA 24522;

Phone: 434-248-6308


Park Website:  www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/holliday-lake#cabins_camping 

Reservation Website:  www.reserveamerica.com/va/holliday-lake-state-park/campground/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=VA&parkId=140173

Comment by Strumelia on January 23, 2016 at 1:40pm

There's ONE room left at the Marriott 'Courtyard' in Lynchburg (30min drive)- it's got 2 double beds and can sleep 2-4 people for $379/night total available checkin friday May 13, checkout sunday.  Probably will be gone by this evening so act fast.  Could be a free cancellation policy, so call them to find out details.


 If you split it between several people the price is perhaps do-able.  I hear people sometimes used to sleep more than one to a bed way back in the old days...lol. 


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