Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Joel Walker Sweeney Early Banjo Convergence, 2015

Event Details

Joel Walker Sweeney Early Banjo Convergence, 2015

Time: May 29, 2015 to May 31, 2015
Location: Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park
City/Town: Appomatox, Virginia
Website or Map: http://www.nps.gov/apco/index…
Phone: 919.477.2780
Event Type: banjo, gathering
Organized By: Mark Weems
Latest Activity: Jun 6, 2015

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Event Description

Calling all early banjo, fiddle, guitar, tambo, and bones players to save the date for the second Sweeney Early Banjo Convergence! We will once again gather on the beautiful grounds of the Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park, where Sweeney was born and  learned to play the banjo, for some merry music making and fun. This year will be much less formal in structure than the 2013 event, as we plan to keep lectures to a minimum and banjo stroking to a maximum! The National Historic Park, via Minstrel Banjo member David Wooldridgend us cheap accommodations in a house very close to the park.  Here we can bunk down and have access to toilet and kitchen facilities. In exchange, we will have the opportunity to provide a little concert of period music for their visitors. Period dress is of course suggested, but not required. I will post more info as the event develops. Feel free to contact me with any questions.   

Comment Wall

Comment by Scott Danneker on January 11, 2015 at 8:45am

Thank you for inviting me.  I shall certainly come.

Comment by Michael Randolph on January 11, 2015 at 9:59am

Thanks, Mark, for organizing this event.  A good time will be had by all.  Huzzah!  - Mike

Comment by Wes Merchant on January 11, 2015 at 3:07pm

That might just work, it sounds like fun.

Comment by Scott Danneker on April 2, 2015 at 5:17pm

Hello Mark.

My son does not play banjo.  He plays guitar.  He would like to come to the Joel Walker Sweeney Early Banjo Convergence, May 29, 2015.

May he come with me?  He has period clothing. His name is Thane.

Thank you,

-Scott Danneker

Comment by Mark Weems on April 2, 2015 at 6:10pm

Of course!

Comment by Scott Danneker on April 2, 2015 at 8:37pm

Thank you Mark!



Comment by D. Wooldridge on April 19, 2015 at 7:51pm

Hello All! Sorry to be so incommunicado on this event up to now but we kinda had a little something going on at Appomatox Court House National Historical Park what with the 150th of the Surrender of General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant. But now that has passed & it is time to let the banjos ring!!!! This event will also allow for a once in a lifetime chance to play IN the Charles Sweeney cabin- home of one Joel's many musical cousins! More details to come.

Comment by Mark Weems on May 9, 2015 at 12:34pm

Updates for the The Joel Walker Sweeney Early Banjo Convergence

May 29-31st, 2015, Appomattox, Virginia


 Mission Statement - The Sweeney Convergence seeks to provide a beautiful and historically relevant location where those interested in early banjo history and technique can meet to play and perform mid-nineteenth century traditional and popular music.  The Convergence’s focus is on providing a space where participants can increase their playing skills while enjoying making music in the company of others.    

There is no Registration Fee this year, but we do ask that you consider making a contribution to the Charles Sweeney Cabin Restoration Fund. This fund was initiated to transform the period cabin into a wayside banjo museum, dedicated to informing the public about the accomplishments of the Sweeney’s. The park closes at 5:00 P.M, after which time we will have to move to the park owned house where we are able to sleep, access kitchen facilities, bathrooms etc. There are no beds here, so bring your own sleeping bag or cot. Hotels are also available in the area if you would prefer.  Appomattox Courthouse will also allow “period” tent camping. Remember – all meals are on your own, so you may want to bring your own cooler.  

Comment by Mark Weems on May 9, 2015 at 12:36pm

2015 Schedule

Friday, May 29th

Noon – Evening: Arrival – We will all meet on the Tavern Porch at the Appomattox National Historic Park for social time, playing etc.

Afternoon – Mentoring (informal lessons with experienced players) will be available throughout the weekend. Beginners are especially welcome and this will be a good opportunity to learn a few new tunes and techniques.

5:00 – 7:00  Dinner is on your own.

7:00 -  Jams at the Park House or at Baine’s Books & Coffee.


Saturday, May 30th

Period clothing is admired but not required. Fiddles, Bones, Tambo’s, and other period instruments will be warmly welcomed! Opportunities to play and perform for visitors on The Tavern and McLean House porches will be available throughout the day.

8:30 -12:00 Assemble on the Tavern, Mclean House, or Sweeney Cabin Porches for music making, mentoring, and interacting with the public.

Morning Activities will include:

David Wooldridge’s lecture: “The Sweeny’s Are Indeed a Wonder!!” – A wonderful tribute to the contributions of the Sweeney Brothers (Joe, Sam, & Dick)

Rob Morrison: Presentation of his Original Banjo’s: 1850’s – 1920’s

Sweeney Tour – Includes the Charles Sweeney Cabin (Joel Walker’s Uncle), Sweeny’s travel trunk, and banjos possibly attributed to Joel Walker Sweeney. You may also visit the Charles Sweeney Cabin as well as the other historic buildings on site. David Wooldridge, Minstrel Banjo site member and Appomattox Courthouse Museum Technician will lead.

12:00-1:00   Lunch on your own.

1:00 – 3:00 Preparation for the concert. You may participate in the concert as a solo performer or play with a larger group.

3:00 Concert for the public at Appomattox Courthouse.

5:00 – 7:00 Dinner on your own.

7:15 – Playing at Baine’s Books & Coffee in Appomattox.  www.bainesbooks.com


Sunday, May 12th

9:30 - We will all assemble back at Appomattox Courthouse to play and plan next years’   event.

Please avail yourself of the amenities offered by the historic village at Appomattox Court House. With over a dozen buildings, a museum, theater, and bookstore, there is plenty to do!

2:00 For those who can stay, we will be performing period music for visitors of the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox.



If you have any questions about the Convergence, please contact Mark Weems at 919-477-2780.

Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park

Hwy. 24, P.O. Box 218
Appomattox, VA 24522

Phone: 434-352-8987 x 226


Comment by Mark Weems on May 9, 2015 at 12:38pm

Here is a link to the photo album from 2013!



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