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My very own Banjo Camp

Posted by Tom Meisenheimer on Tuesday, November 22, 2011

note to all who visit here: I am an opinionated Old Fart. I earned that appellation!

Read at your leisure (and peril).

I'd like to put together a banjo camp worthy of the name. Here on the edge of the Ozark Plateau, a few hilly miles from the Missouri river. We've got some acreage, a couple of ancient buildings, good water and lots of firewood.

First day or two would be setting up a camp. How to build a fire (fire-bow, flint and steel, etc.) where to find water, how to make a lean-to from cedar boughs. How to gather wild edibles.

Then the second day (for those of you who are quick studies) we'd learn how to keep from gettin' chiggered to death, how to identify ticks, poison ivy, copperheads etc. We'd conduct classes in cast iron cooking, how to make pistol rock chicken, how to skin a squirrel, where to find duck potato and to identify Queen Ann's Lace and edible mushrooms.

Third day we'd learn the arts of making butter, stuffing sausage, gathering eggs, and the proper way to cut and stack firewood. 

fourth day we'd all sit around a bonfire with various handmade libations and tell lies, tall tales, jokes and entertaining life stories. And... see below...

Banjo music? well that would be going on all the time between chores and such. Especially in the evening around the various campfires and at the closing bonfire. We'd go around the circle (I prefer clockwise as an expression of respect for native American culture) each person would announce what they wanted to play (or hear) they would announce the key, the tempo and whether they would be singing or not.

Then the piece would be played through once or twice so everyone could get the tune, and then we'd play the piece for 2,3,4, minutes or what ever length of time was appropriate. When the person playing deemed the piece was coming to an end they'd raise their foot at the start of the last run-through and we'd all stop when it was over.

We could all play or not and who ever didn't want to join in making the music could sit and listen.

Fifth day? depends on how much fun we're having. Might just extend the whole thing for a week or two, who knows?

Fees? Charges? bring something to share. Respect the land, be polite to all and leave your egos at home. Bring dogs if you can control them by voice or other signals (Its a big place and we have coyotes in abundance).

How would you learn anything banjo-wise? Well more than likely there would be some folks who are purty good and some who are just starting out and some who would bring a guitar or two, mandolins, autoharps etc. fiddles. You'd learn something for sure. All the stuff that would be going on would be a learning experience and a teaching experience and an interacting experience.  It would be fun and it would be free and it would start friendships and provide a respite from the homogenized-plastic world we all live in.

This type of "event" was common at one time. The San Francisco Folk Music Club had camp-outs and adventures on a regular basis. There is no reason we can't revive that sort of thing.

There is every reason that we should.



5 comments on “My very own Banjo Camp”

rferg Says:
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 @9:17:44 AM

Everything sounds great except the chiggers. You gonna invite banjo pickers from Arkansas?

george pereda Says:
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 @8:52:12 PM

I grew up on a farm-this sounds like work to me.

Tom Meisenheimer Says:
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 @9:18:10 AM

Well in this part of Missoury chiggers are a part of life... except in the winter, such as it is. Arky pickers (or pluckers as our Ozark Hens like to say) are always welcome. And why sure its work, work is FUN or so I've been often told. Especially when said by she-who-probably-should-be-listened-to-if-not-obeyed, its her farm.

Tom Meisenheimer

SidBarone Says:
Tuesday, January 3, 2012 @9:00:57 PM

Wishin' my place was closer to yours!..

SidBarone Says:
Wednesday, January 4, 2012 @2:53:47 PM

Hi Tom, just tried sending you a prvt msg.. but your "send a prvt msg" is currently disabled at your homepage.. if this is not your wish, you can enable it at your "edit profile" option..

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