The North American International Banjo Convention will again return this weekend to its central location, The Doubletree Hotel Dearborn, 5801 Southfield Highway (at Ford Road).
The annual April 28-30 banjo extravaganza is sponsored by an all-volunteer committee along with The Ban-Joes of Michigan (Southfield), The Windsor Banjos (Ontario, Canada) and The Flint Banjo Club (Flint) “for those who love banjo music and those who love to play the banjo.” The banjo convention patrons can enjoy three concerts this weekend (evening concerts $10 at the door, and a $5 Saturday matinee), along with off-site performances in Dearborn at Oakwood Commons and the Ross-McFadden House.
“Ernie May has been running our off-site concerts for years,” explained North American International Banjo Convention Chairman Brian Newsom. “They’re highly popular, and I believe they are open to the general public.
“Our concerts (at the Doubletree) are done by professionals, from across this country and Canada, and one all the way from England, the best banjo artists around. Some are also local professionals from this area, so they blend together,” he said.
Some of the headliners at the concerts, Newsom said, will be performers such as Sean Moyses from Cambridge, England, Johnny Baier (who formerly performed 20 years at the Rosie O’Grady’s and Walt Disney World Resort, and is currently curator of the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City), and Paul Erickson from Wisconsin. The shows will take place in the showroom away from the Doubletree Hotel Dearborn’s atrium, he said (the doors will open at 5:30 p.m. before the 6:30 p.m. concerts on Friday and Saturday, which Newsom said should wrap up by 10 p.m.).
Anyone wanting to attend the Thursday off-site performance at Oakwood Commons must assemble in the Doubletree lobby by 6:30 p.m. (see Ernie May to sign up, or sign up at the convention registration table). The free banjo concert for the Dearborn Historical Museum (donations are cheerfully accepted) will take place at 1 p.m. Friday on the Ross House Lawn at 915 Brady St. For more information on the museum concert, call (313) 565-3000 (convention patrons will also be assembling in the Doubletree lobby at 12:30 p.m. Friday, register with May or the registration table).
The doors open at 1 p.m. for the matinee concert at the Doubletree. Open jamming will take place in the Great Room in Doubletree throughout the convention (practice rooms available at the registration desk from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday.), except during the 10-11:30 a.m. Dixeland Brunch, and after the doors open for the concerts (the jamming will resume after the concerts, and the cash bar will be open in the Great Room during the jam session).
Registration will open up for the convention from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, as the vendors do their set up for 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and after 10 a.m. Saturday. Jamming will also place in the Great Room after 9 a.m. Thursday. According to Newsom, the vendor displays will have banjos, as well as sales people providing supplies and parts, as well as licenses to work with Gibson instruments.
There will also be four workshops presented on Friday, and two workshops on Saturday (attendees should bring their banjos) at the Doubletree.
“It will be like being in classrooms, away from the atrium,” Newsom said. “We have six different people presenting different subjects, so the workshops will be very informative.”
The Friday morning workshops presenters will be Erickson at 9 a.m. in the Allen Park Room, and Debbie Schreyer at 10 a.m. in the Southfield Room. The Friday afternoon presenters will be Moyses in the Allen Park Room at 1 p.m. and Ron Hinkel in the Southfield Room at 2 p.m. The Saturday presenters will be Baier at 9 a.m. in the Southfield Room and Stephen Caddick at 10 a.m. in the Allen Park Room.
Those attending the convention can also participate in the North American International Banjo Convention Band, which is essentially an “off the street band, and they’re having fun and playing something that’s not difficult.” Newsom also added that women also have their choice of participating in the All Girls Band, which not only have women playing banjos, but have all gals on the drums, bass and piano as well.
George Sinnott and his Dixieland Band will be providing sounds for the 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday Dixieland Brunch in the GRILL-39 (restaurant will open at 7 a.m.). The price is $11.95 per-person for food, friends and music.
“The whole idea behind participating in the convention is for everyone to enjoy a bit of camaraderie,” Newsom said.
Registration forms for the North American International Banjo Convention are located on the musicians page of the www.naibc.org website, and at the door of the Doubletree Hotel Dearborn. A $15 registration fee covers the jamming, workshops, vendor displays, bands, concerts, as well as tours of local attractions (like Canada, Fairlane Mall shopping or The Henry Ford) and hotel activities (pool, sauna, whirlpool and cards). Free on-site parking will be available to banjo convention patrons (parking tickets validated at registration desk).