One of the most popular sessions at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival over the past few years has been the banjo workshop. The banjo is one of those instruments that, when played badly, can be torture to listen to but when handled by a virtuoso is inspiring. The Traditional Music Festival has been blessed with a collection of world-class banjo players over the years and this workshop provides a high-powered dose of banjo music, enough to last you a whole year.
The banjo is usually associated with country, folk, Irish traditional and bluegrass music. It was also central to African American traditional music before becoming popular in the minstrel shows of the 19th century. Slaves were central to the origins of much American traditional music and the banjo was part of this phenomenon. The instrument is said to have evolved from an earlier African instrument. Banjos resembling today’s instrument with fingerboards and tuning pegs are known from the Caribbean as early as the 17th century. Early, African-influenced banjos were built around a gourd body and a wooden stick neck. These instruments had varying numbers of strings.
Banjos first appeared on the stage in the US in the 1830s and by the 1840s they were popular in British Music Hall performances. Historically, the banjo was played “claw hammer” style by the slaves who brought their version of the banjo with them. In old time Appalachian mountain music, there is also a style called two finger up-pick, and a three finger version that Earl Scruggs developed into the famous “Scruggs” style picking, nationally aired in 1945 on the Grand Ole Opry.
This year’s banjo workshop will be hosted by Princeton’s own Stuart James, who will be introducing the other participants as well as talking a bit about the history of the banjo and describing different styles of banjo music. Stuart has been playing banjo for many years and uses the instrument to play tunes and to accompany himself on both Appalachian and British songs. Joining Stuart onstage will be four other banjo players.
Tim Hall from Seattle is a singer of songs from varied traditions – from old-time to maritime to ragtime. Besides playing banjo he is also an accomplished instrumentalist on guitar and concertina and a collector of wonderfully clever and fun songs. He plays guitar as well as the banjo and writes songs. Jerry Middaugh is originally from Ohio and has deep roots in Appalachian music. He sings and plays guitar, banjo and mandolin. Tom Rawson is a folksinger and storyteller from Orcas Island in Washington, strongly influenced by Pete Seeger’s banjo playing and his passionate commitment to honest music. Bryn Wilkin of the duo, Vazzy, comes from Grand Forks and is an accomplished banjo player and multi-instrumentalist.
The banjo workshop is just one item on the rich menu of music available at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival. The Festival begins at 6:15 pm on Friday 14 August with an opening ceremony and a participatory dance on Veterans’ Way. On Saturday and Sunday there is music from 10 am until 6 pm right in downtown Princeton. It’s all free and everyone is welcome. If you would like to find out more, visit the Festival’s website at www.princetontraditional.org. If you’d like to help out at the Festival or billet a performer the committee would love to hear from you. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 250-295-6010.
Admission is FREE. Events are held on several stages in the centre of Princeton and begin on Friday evening with a public street dance and an Irish ceili band. Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday there's a potpourri of concerts, workshops, and jams.
This event is primarily for and about the performers. Traditional Music lacks venue in the west, so players, singers, dancers, and fans are willing to travel in order to meet up. Professional performers are making personal sacrifices in order to be here, but the many people who come just to listen attests to the unique value of this event. For those new to the Festival please have a look at the Our Story page to learn about how it started and what Traditional Music means to us.
Nestled among rolling hills of ranchland, the little town of Princeton is the gateway to the Okanagan. About 300 km from Vancouver, it is the first town after Hope along the Crowsnest Highway. Summers are hot and dry - just what we like for our festival which takes place mostly in the streets.
In addition to the sponsors, this festival is primarily supported by hard work and artists who perform for free. However, we aim to pay for artist's meals and at least part of their transportation costs. Please consider contributing in order to help maintain this important cultural event.
You can support the continuing operation of the festival by buying a $10 membership.
Every year we need a stage crew, MCs, office staff, and many other important helpers. If you want to be part of this exciting event in this way, please let us know. email@example.com
We encourage the sale of food, crafts, art, and more at the Festival. Please contact the Vendor Coordinator. firstname.lastname@example.org