By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The American Banjo Museum, located at 9 E. Sheridan Avenue in the historic Bricktown district of downtown Oklahoma City, will host its third annual Americana Fest on Saturday, June 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We’ve put together a wonderful line-up of live music and family-friendly activities and we are really excited to invite everyone to join us for a great time,” said Johnny Baier, ABM executive director.
Music will be provided on multiple stages by local artists including Kyle Dillingham, Brent Saulsbury and Peter Markes of Horseshoe Road; and Wayne Cantwell, afficionado of traditional American “Old Time” and Celtic music.
The festival will include Memphis musicians, the Side Street Steppers, (Christian Stanfield, Vera Victoria, Ben Walsh, Mandy Nicole Martin, and Katherine Elizabeth Whitfield), playing vintage tunes from the 1920s and 30s; along with Shelby Eicher & Cimarron Swing, adding a jazz element reminiscent of Django Reinhart and Stephane Grappelli to the event.
Also scheduled to appear is KAUT-TV’s Lucas Ross, who will perform for the kids on a special outdoor stage. The festival will include crafts and “hands on” musical activities for the kids, summertime treats for everyone, and door prizes.
Originally located in Guthrie, Oklahoma, the ABM was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1998 by Midwest City attorney, Brady Hunt and Indiana industrialist, Jack Canine. It was first named The National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame Museum.
“At the American Banjo Museum, the artistry that goes into crafting highly ornate instruments and the skill and talent that goes into playing them is on full display,” Baier said. “The ABM brings history and art together in a song hundreds of years in the making.”
The museum is home to the largest collection of banjos on public display in the world. Examples include replicas of primitive banjos developed by African slaves in the Old South, Minstrel Age instruments from 19th century, post WWII instruments used in bluegrass, folk and world music, and a collection of ornately decorated banjos made in America during the Jazz Age of the 1920’s and 30s.
A special gallery features a large collection of Gibson Mastertone banjos manufactured during the 1920s and 30s, including a rare, pre-war Gibson five-string banjo valued at more than $175,000.
The second floor displays the museum’s centerpiece collection of more than 200 four-string banjos from the Jazz Era of banjo music. Each of these banjos is a work of art, demonstrating the craftsmanship and dedication of the artisans who created them nearly a century ago.
“There are always a lot of interesting things going on here based on the fact that most people aren’t banjo players and can’t possibly anticipate what they’re going to see when they get here,” said Baier. “We’ve been so fortunate to be able to create such a nice and modern presentation of around 300 banjos. It’s kind of surprising to a lot of folks.”
Tickets for Americana Fest – which include museum admission, shows and refreshments – are $10, children 15 and younger are free with a paid adult. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the door.
Regular museum hours are Tuesday- Saturday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday Noon – 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.
For more information, or to become a member of the American Banjo Museum, visit americanbanjomuseum.com or call 405-604-2793.