By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The public is invited to enjoy a lineup of special events for January to ring in the New Year at the American Banjo Museum. ABM is located at 9 E. Sheridan Avenue in the historic Bricktown district of downtown Oklahoma City.
A live performance of traditional music of the open prairie on banjo, fiddle, and mountain dulcimer with Wayne Cantwell will take place on Saturday, Jan. 5 from 1 – 2 p.m. Hear old style tunes as Arkansas Traveler, Old Bill Jones, Frankie & Johnnie, and more. Performance is free with museum admission.
“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.
Never played a banjo, but want to try? Come to the American Banjo Museum on Sat., Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. and “Learn to Pick a Tune with Lucas,” led by Oklahoma native and Emmy winner Lucas Ross. The session is free, but reservations are required. To learn more, email [email protected]
Join other Bluegrass enthusiasts during the ABM Bluegrass Open Jam Session on Sat., Jan. 19 from 1 – 4 p.m. Admission is free when you bring an instrument and participate in the Jam Session. Museum visitors are encouraged to sit, listen, tap your feet and enjoy the music
Celtic players will gather at the museum on Sat., Jan 26 for an Open Jam Session from 1 – 4 p.m. Entry is free when you bring an instrument and participate in the session. Museum visitors are encouraged to come on down and enjoy the music.
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.”
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.