18906 Shepherdstown Pike
The Antietam Early Banjo Gathering (also known as the Early American Banjo Conference) is the premier event for enthusiasts and scholars of the 19th century banjo music and culture. The conference, held at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum on the Antietam National Battlefield, raises awareness of the early banjo’s significance in the development of American popular music. It also underscores music’s importance in the lives of Civil War soldiers.
The event is a truly unique forum for both experts and novices to meet and share knowledge, playing technique, and passion for banjo history and its meaning in the 21st century. Each year, the conference brings dozens of people–researchers, collectors, musicians, and instrument builders–from across the nation to participate in workshops, jam sessions, and scholarly lectures. The gathering takes place in and around an 1840s threshing barn on the Antietam National Battlefield, lending an appropriate setting and atmosphere that is at once scholarly and casual.
The banjo gathering features five different program sessions throughout the weekend. Presenters on each day talk or demonstrate on a wide range of subjects, including instrument construction, playing techniques, music, history, and other topics closely tied to the culture of the early American banjo. The conference’s schedule allows ample time for “jam sessions” and mentoring with some of the nation’s most experienced players.
The cost of registration for the Sixth Antietam Early American Banjo Gathering is $60. The museum will provide a continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Participants are encouraged to stay overnight on the Pry House property, either in the threshing barn or in period or modern tents on the grounds. Camping overnight is encouraged, but hotel accommodations are available in nearby Hagerstown, MD.
Registration opens at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum on Friday afternoon. Formal sessions begin on Saturday morning and conclude with a public concert given in or near the Pry Barn at 5:15PM. Formal sessions resume on Sunday morning and the event concludes with a public performance at the Dunker Church on the Antietam Battlefield in the early afternoon. As a part of the gathering, registered participants are invited perform in the public concerts. While participation in either concert is purely voluntary, attendees are encouraged to share. Each performance gives participants an opportunity to play publicly with well-respected musicians in very unique and special venues.