Thursday morning, I’m off to Olivet Michigan to attend the Midwest Banjo Camp. Olivet is just short of a 6 hour drive from Toronto (maybe a bit longer for slow-pokes like me who stop and stretch at just about every rest area). The camp is on the lovely campus of Olivet Collage. We stay in the collage dorm rooms, which are the next building over from classes. This will be my third time attending MBC – I was there in 2014. In 2015 I had to cancel because I badly broke my ankle, but I attended again last year. It’s a fabulous event – banjo immersion from Thursday afternoon until lunchtime Sunday. It features workshops, demos, concerts, jams led by faculty as well as late night impromptu jams.
The camp directors are Ken Perlman – the guy who literally wrote the book on melodic clawhammer banjo, and Stan Werbin, who operates the fabulous Elderly Instruments in Lansing Michigan. Once again they have a great group of instructors – some whose workshops I’ve attended at previous camps and some I haven’t yet met – in both the old time (what I play) and bluegrass genres.
The program includes a selection of workshops and demos that covers everything from playing the blues to mid-western square dance tunes, from the songs of Uncle Dave Macon to minstrel banjo technique. I’ve been going over the schedule, trying to decide which classes to attend, and it’s a difficult decision because there are so many excellent choices again this year. I try to attend workshops led by most of the old time instructors while making sure I get to the “must attend” classes I’ve identified.
Last year I was just about overwhelmed by all that I learned and it really took months for me to digest everything and really learn all the tunes I started on. It’s going to be so much fun this year!