This past weekend Earl and I attended the NAIBC (pronounced Nay-Bic), short for North American International Banjo Convention. It was hilarious, although I hope none of the banjo players who were there are insulted by this description. It was also reasonably priced, great fun, and musically impressive. Banjo players don’t get a lot of respect these days; but after attending this convention, I believe they are under-acknowledged.
The convention included various workshops, jamming sessions, and vendor displays along with three concerts over two days. Such banjo groups as The Ban-Joes of Michigan, Six Man Trio (which had four musicians – go figure!), and The Ragtime River Boat Rats regaled us with all kinds of banjo music. And, yes, there ARE all kinds. As each successive act adjusted its instruments and microphones, an MC attempted to entertain the audience with jokes more suitable to the vaudeville era than the twenty-first century. But we endured.
At first, I couldn’t fathom an evening concert that claimed to go for almost four hours; but at the end of the evening I was wishing for more. It was that contagious. And even though banjo music seems to be the brunt of many jokes these days, I came away from the convention with a greater appreciation of the instrument and its devoted musicians. We’ll be back.