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Piedmont Folk Legacies Receives Half-Million-Dollar Property Gift
Historic Site Slated to Become National Banjo Center

Piedmont Folk Legacies (PFL), Inc., a non-profit group based in Eden, North Carolina, has received a substantial gift of property appraised at $510,000 as a donation from D.H. Griffin of neighboring Greensboro and James Klemic of Charlottesville, Virginia. Extending along Warehouse Street in the heart of Eden’s Spray Industrial National Register Historic District, the site includes two striking early twentieth century textile mill buildings totaling 220,000 square feet. The gift is key towards the anticipated development of the National Banjo Center, an exhibition, performance, education and recording complex that would be dedicated to this uniquely American musical instrument.

According to PFL board member Hank Sapoznik, “Few musical instruments are more closely tied or hold greater significance to American history than the banjo. From its West African roots, to its birth in the seventeenth century Caribbean, and through its meteoric rise in nineteenth century American popular culture, the banjo is an iconic  instrument whose impact is woven into the cultural fabric of the American experience.”

Located approximately 35 miles north of Greensboro in Rockingham County, the small town of Eden has deep ties to America’s banjo legacy as the former home of Charlie Poole. Back when the town was known as Spray, Poole spent  much of his adult life working as a mill hand while his innovative, three-finger picking banjo style and string band recordings helped pioneer the country and bluegrass sound.

“This is where this should happen, where Poole walked the Earth,” declared PFL President Louise Price. “Our ultimate goal is to make sure that this music and this heritage stays alive.”

Piedmont Folk Legacies already honors this native son through its acclaimed Charlie Poole Music Festival. Now in its fourteenth year, the summer festival celebrates Poole’s international reputation with concerts and competitions in old-time and bluegrass music. Scheduled this year for June 12th through June 14th, the festival’s headline act will be Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band. The annual Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to legendary African-American string band musician Joe Thompson.

While the Charlie Poole Music Festival is currently held at the Eden Fairgrounds, PFL’s dream is to one day host the event at the National Banjo Center. With this recent property gift, that dream just took a giant leap towards becoming reality.

Submitted by Dan Peck

See also “Plans for National Banjo Center in Eden Strumming Along”, with video.

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Pete Wernick, photo by Steve Collector

Pete Wernick, photo by Steve Collector

Pete Wernick (“Dr. Banjo”) will bring his renowned Bluegrass Jam Camps to several communities across the country in 2009. Jam Camp is geared to “closet pickers” of all bluegrass instruments. “Many people want to start playing bluegrass, but they don’t realize how easy it can be,” says Wernick. “It’s available for anyone, 8 to 88. They just need a little help.”

Pete and his wife Joan show inexperienced players how to fit into bluegrass jam sessions and develop confidence in making music together. Each camp (most of which precede bluegrass festivals) is a multi-day musical immersion, with hands-on instruction as students play in small groups. Participants are required only to be able to change smoothly between a few simple chords. A recent camper reports, “One of the best experiences in or out of music I have ever had!”

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Suwannee Banjo CampSuwannee Banjo Camp,March 20-22, 2009

Location: O’Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida

We offer instruction in clawhammer, old-time fingerpicking, and bluegrass banjo styles, and a great location with plenty of time for jamming.

SBC Has Grown: Three More Instructors Than Last Year!!!

  • Bluegrass Banjo: Scott Anderson, Janet Davis, Bill Evans, Bill Keith
  • Old-Time Banjo: Laura Boosinger, Paul Brown, Bob Carlin, Adam Hurt, Mark Johnson, Brad Leftwich, Chuck Levy, Ken Perlman

Tuition and board: A single fee of $335 covers tuition and meals.
Everyone should make reservations early so the classes don’t fill up.  We have some great teachers coming.

Submitted by Suwannee Banjo Camp

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Mark O’Connor will bring his prestigious string camp to New York City for the first time ever in 2009. O’Connor has gathered twenty of the world’s top violinists, violists, cellists, and bassists to give aspiring string players as well as advanced and professional string players an extraordinary week of instruction and performance. Featured genres range from folk fiddling to jazz, classical to world music; it’s a unique experience for the students, teachers, and New York City. Camp runs from July 27th – 31st, 2009, with registration beginning 1/11/09, exclusively at MarkOConnor.com.

Born 15 years ago in the hills of Tennessee and later expanded to Southern California, O’Connor’s camps have given thousands of students the chance to try out new musical styles and techniques under expert guidance, play informally with their peers in jam sessions, hear performances by their teachers and fellow students in the evenings, and more – truly a life-changing program. Many current professional musicians were former students at the O’Connor camps, including:

* Natalie McMaster
* Members of Nickel Creek
* Members of Crooked Still
* Members of The Infamous String Dusters
* Andy Leftwich (member of the Ricky Skaggs Band)
* Casey Driessen (plays with Bela Fleck)
. . and many more!

The New York Camp will take place at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School & the Society for Ethical Culture, just a block from Lincoln Center. Please find a complete list of teachers below.

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