Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

How does one keep their instrument in shape during the humid months?!?

I played afore an audience 'tother arternoon.
De sun war so hot de banjo could not stay in tune.
I tried to sing ob Uncle Ned and den Old Joe,
but de strings kept kickin' up a'hind and a'foe

When it's humid and hot, my banjo does not play well at all. The strings become too soft and pliable, and keep falling out of the bridge, not to mention it just sounds lousy. How does one avoid this?

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Oh, a Roadie eh? 

I've heard there are tens of dollars to be made playing minstrel banjo.

Timothy Twiss said:

I tell you this, if I were ever booking serious gigs with money involved, I would work with a synthetic head....

That much? Cool.

It is the cool wet nights (45 degrees or below) that tend to kill my banjo.  I prefer gut strings, but mine are varnished, and the humidity does not seem to affect them.  If yours are not varnished, dip your fingers in some shellac and run them along the strings.  That will make a big difference.

Strumelia said:

I've heard there are tens of dollars to be made playing minstrel banjo.

Yeah that's about right Strumeila . . . I play listening rooms, coffee houses, and wine bars, two to four times a month.  Sometimes I get as much as $125, and sometimes I'm just playing for tips (tens of dollars as you say).  But at the other end of the scale is Rhiannon Giddens, who, is probably not making huge sums of money, but probably a very decent living right now.  And what is between?  Nothing is between!  Not for Early Banjo.  So why do I do it?  Well, I 66 years old and nearing retirment and I love it!  I love to play and sing these songs for people by Emmett, Foster, Bland, etcetera and they are dearly loved by people when they are exposed to them.  So, it is very satisfying for me and has its own rewards I guess . . . but not serious money.  Now mind you, I am very picky about where I play.  I will NOT ever play as background music in a bar while people are talking.  Never!

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