fullfreight banjo overload this saturday in ypsilanti

A dear friend of mine, it would seem, has been cursed to walk the earth as a Freighthouse-loving banjo enthusiast. It would have destroyed most men, but this friend of mine, far from being ashamed of it, seems to revel in it. There have been interventions attempted in the past, but nothing seems to work. Saturday, we’re trying something new, though — a desperate, last ditch effort. We’re going to try to burn it out of him. We’re going to hold him down and cram him so full of banjo music and Freighthouse love that the thought of either will make him vomit faster than Gordon Ramsey after swallowing a mouthful of undercooked chocolate-covered scallops. If you’d like to lend a hand, this poor fellow and all of his friends will be at the Corner Brewery on Saturday. Bring some plugs of wax for your ears, lest you be seduced by the twang of the sirens’ song… Here’s a write-up about the event that I found under my windshield wiper this morning (complete with links!).

Not to be outdone by the ukuleles, this Saturday the Corner Brewery will be completely overtaken by banjos.

For folks who haven’t heard, nine banjo bands/performers will converge on the CB for love of beer and banjo, but most of all, the Ypsilanti Freighthouse. All funds received from the benefit show will go to the Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse. (Thanks, again, to all the performers.)

Fullfreight Banjo is scheduled to run from 5 to 10 p.m., April 5. A $5 donation gets you in. More is quite welcome. It all goes to FOYF. Although folks measure such things differently, it should be a reasonably family-friendly affair, smoke free and all with minimal damage to developing eardrums.

A word to local Hummingbird fans, come early, they’re kicking off the show as close to five a possible and will be joined by banjoist Doug Carpenter. The nine act line-up, in order of appearance is:

The Hummingbirds
Mutual Kumquat
The Red Butlers
Bone Orchard Revival
Annie Palmer
The Lucas Family Band
Andru Bemis
Anna Ash and the Family Tree
Black Jake and the Carnies

As I’ve probably said elsewhere (in notes left around your car), we hope this raises a decent chunk of change for FOYF. But, if nothing else, we hope it’ll get folks thinking, “If the banjo can do it, so can I.” Just like what’s happening May 13 at
The Sidetrack

And I’d be remiss if I allowed there to be a post on banjos without at least mentioning that kid… you know… the one in that movie.

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  1. B. Red
    Posted April 3, 2008 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    This is a cry for help if ever I heard one.

    Not for the Freighthouse or his banjo boy, but for Mark who is obviously in need of new friends. You know, sober friends, friends with teeth.

    They may be hard to come by, but I recommend future friends at least be screened by knowing how to spell hummingbird and ash.

  2. egpenet
    Posted April 3, 2008 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Friends with GOOD teeth.

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 3, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    B. Red,

    With all due respect, I just don’t see how knowing how to spell or being sober has any relevance on whether one is qualified to be Mark’s friend.

    Not that I’m saying I’m qualified, but you know, I don’t want to be disqualified due to a few minor technocalities…

  4. Reynolds Rap
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    I heard that Burt Reynolds is going to show up with a spear gun. I can’t wait to see all them banjoists wriggle like a tick under a thumbnail.

  5. mark
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    He’s a pro with that spear gun. Word is he uses it to kill his hairpieces after stalking them with Ted Nugent.

  6. egpenet
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Then they boil’em an’eat’em.

  7. Doogie
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Mark, I’m addicted to money, sex and power. But, if you can arrange a similar intervention for me, where you hold me down and give me more of each than you think I can possibly handle, I think I might finally be able to break free of my demons.

  8. Kobay Ashi
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    One of Mark’s interventions worked for me. He cured me of my life-long addiction to hot dogs.

    Unfortunately, now I’m addicted to vomit.

  9. Alex Droog
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    His therapy worked for me, too.

  10. schutzman
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Banjoists absolutely LOVE it when people come up to them and make Deliverance jokes- to be associated with that single negative stereotype of Appalachian culture is frankly the only reason they even started playing in the first place.

    I strongly encourage Mark and all the commenters here to not only attend the event, but make it a point to go up to the performers and personally ask them to “Squeal like a pig,” etcetera.

    They’ll adore you for it.

  11. M
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I like Deliverance and I love the banjo scene. Does that make me small-minded somehow? I guess some could see it as an opportunity to ridicule people from Appalachia or banjo players, but it encouraged me to learn more about both, not poke fun. That kid (the character) was one hell of a banjo player.

  12. schutzman
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    “some could see it as an opportunity to ridicule people from Appalachia”

    Yes, some could, and some did.

  13. egpenet
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Them’s shootin’ words …

  14. Posted April 4, 2008 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    The American banjo was one of the earliest tools that brought together whites and blacks through music, as it was an African instrument that was introduced to southern white musicians. Yes, there is much more to the instrument than Deliverance! The banjo is one the most important roots of the American music tradition.

  15. schutzman
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Here, here, Mr. Vinyl.

    I would also add that it’s generally agreed to be the one uniquely American contribution to the world’s pantheon of musical instruments, due to that lineage you refer to. It is centuries old, even if only the modern form is taken into consideration, and has also enjoyed periods of popularity in mass culture- well into the twentieth century- such as no other instrument (except possibly the piano) can claim.

    Flatt and Scruggs, bless their hearts, brought it into popularity again in mid century with the newer style of bluegrass, but unfortunately (possibly beginning with the Beverly Hillbillies) banjo music began to thus be construed as a more limited genre, which obviously Deliverance did little to help.

    Disclaimer: I am sitting ten feet from a banjo as I write this.

    P.S.: If someone from the bands who will be performing, or perhaps just familiar with them, could let me know whether the clawhammer style will be represented at the benefit, I would be interested in knowing that.

    p.p.s.: As a word of advice concerning nearly every other blog announcement I’ve seen made about the event, I would like to also gently remind the authors that “A chicken is plucked, but a banjo is picked.” I’ve noted that error in terminology, and most banjo players can be rather insistent about the difference. FYI.

  16. egpenet
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    There … there … Cousin Vinyl!

    How right you are.

    The banjo was a combo of the drums … which were forbidden to slaves … and a homemade gut-stringged instrument … the African name I do not remember. (A three-string affair, like the Urdu …).

    Anyway, they got away with the combination, and they called it … Jazz!

  17. Posted April 4, 2008 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Ah, yes, Amen! Is anyone recording this event?

  18. Falls Down Laughing
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Any motherplucking banjo pickers that are that uptight aughtta pull that tension rod out their ass before life busts a banjo over their head.

    Some people just have toxic personalities that can’t be fixed.

  19. mark
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I’m actually straddling a hammer dulcimer as I type this. Does that prove my Appalachian street cred? (It’s actually in the closet nest to me. I’d say it’s under 4 feet away.) I didn’t mean any disrespect by mentioning the kid that plays banjo in Deliverance. I like the scene quite a bit, and I remembered that a writer for the New Yorker had tracked the kid down. It’s a good story, and I thought it was one worth a link. You do raise a good point though, Brett. I have heard people humming Dueling Banjos when confronted by things that have a rural mountain culture vibe. I’ve probably done it myself. I would maintain, however, that it’s still possible to appreciate the banjo… Speaking of Dueling Banjos, I believe that’s the name of the song, but, in the film, if I recall correctly, it’s a guitar and a banjo, not two banjos.

  20. egpenet
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Next day … looking things up … Urdu is a language … I was thinking of the Chinese Arhu, I think, a three stringed affair over a skin … thus, the banjo. I’ll let the Koreans and the Chinese fight it out over who invented it first. Slaves brought it from Africa to the USA.

  21. schutzman
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Egpenet, I believe “Ngoni” is the word you’re looking for.

  22. schutzman
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Falls Down Laughing- You can certainly regard anyone as being uptight, if you don’t care about the same things that they do.

  23. Carnie
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I know they’ll be folks who do play clawhammer, don’t know their set lists so I can’t promise they will. Here’s one fellow coming, who can.

  24. schutzman
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Mark- You’re correct in regards to it being a guitar and banjo in the film; I believe the original Flatt & Scruggs title was actually “Feuding Banjos,” but I’m not sure when (or why) it was changed.

  25. schutzman
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Carnie.

  26. Posted April 5, 2008 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I’ve always loved “Dueling Banjos” from the time I first saw Deliverance. Mark, my recollection is a banjo and guitar duet also.

    It’s spelled “next” not “nest”.

    Some other Appalachian/American instruments that come to my mind: washtub bass, spoons, carpenter’s saw either bowed or hammered, strummed washboard. I also like harmonica; but, I suspect (and am too lazy to research it) the harmonica did not originate in America, even if it is uniquely associated with American music.

    I am VERY disappointed in you all for not making a reference to Roy Clark.
    and Grandpa Jones

  27. stella
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    When I was a kid I would have to sneakwatch HeeHaw. “THEY” just couldn’t deal with the whole pickin’ and a grinnin’ concept.

  28. mark
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    I think Hee Haw was kind of an American version of Benny Hill. My grandfather loved it.

  29. Posted April 5, 2008 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    More family friendly than GH. Did your grandfather love Benny Hill or HeeHaw?

    you calling me old?

  30. mark
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    What’s GH, General Hospital?

    And my grandfather loved HeeHaw. I don’t think he ever saw an episode of Benny HIll.

  31. Posted April 5, 2008 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    ooops, meant BH (benny hill)

  32. egpenet
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 2:13 pm | Permalink


    what thread?


    Can’t wait for a repeat of Fullfreight Banjo AT THE FREIGHTHOUSE!


  33. egpenet
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Anyone remember the Firesign Theater’s production of “The Hillbillies”?

  34. Falls Down Laughing
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    schutsman, it’s easy to play the blog comment school marm of banjo etiquette on behalf of tonight’s performers when you aren’t one and they never gave you authority to speak for them. I hope you’re easily impressed with yourself on all our behalf as well.

  35. schutzman
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Falls Down Laughing-

    If I was speaking on behalf of anyone, it was other banjo players I’ve known over the years, including my wife, none of whom appreciate Deliverance’s depiction of Appalachian culture, nor the way it’s associated with banjos in general. And I certainly wasn’t “representing” tonight’s performers, but rather suggesting that snarky jokes are easy to make when the butt of said joke isn’t present.

    I’m not sure that I really understand your point. What part of the above is incorrect?

  36. mark
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Can’t we all just agree that it’s a damned fine song, a damned fine film, and a damned fine instrument? I refuse to sit by and watch my website be torn apart in an east coast west coast banjo war.

  37. schutzman
    Posted April 5, 2008 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I obviously won’t dispute points #1 and #3, and I will even agree that the film did have its merits; That having been said, D.W. Griffith’s work was infinitely more influential in the history of american cinema, but I still wouldn’t advise blurting out “Birth of a Nation was a GREAT movie!” without some sort of additional clarification.

    If they even HAVE banjo music on the west coast, it’s only because a fellow from Alabama went there in 1849 with one on his knee. Or so I have heard.

  38. Posted April 5, 2008 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Deliverance scared the crap out of me, to be honest. But, the song is GREAT.

    I can’t wait to get down there and hear the music tonight

  39. Posted April 5, 2008 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    A friend of mine who runs a music school in Brooklyn says there’s more and more demand for banjo lessons. Apparently, more and more people are realizing they’d like to spend time playing acoustic music with others. Sounds like a good idea to me.

  40. Carnie
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Geez, we live in a great town. It may have its foibles, but any place that will draw young and old for five hours of banjo for a benefit like this… Damn fine town. It was a damn good time.

    I now have the pleasure of apologizing to folks who couldn’t get a seat or waited in line too long for a beer and thanking all you folk who came, the performers, Community Records, FOYF and everyone who spread the word. Good stuff.

  41. egpenet
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    What a fabulous night! Ypsilanti folks … and Ypsilanti musicians and their guests did themselves and the Freighthouse proud!

    OEC did himself proud pulling this all together … result: he pulled US together!

    As the FOYF strongbox left the door an estimate of over $2000 was tossed about. Folks gave and gave, and I think they really enjoyed themselves.

    As FH news comes along, I’ll pass it on here.

    Thanks from me, personally, and as an ersatz spokesperson for the FOYF on the MM blog … thanks, Ypsi!

  42. Falls Down Laughing
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    What a great time that was!

  43. egpenet
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Again, what a fabulous afternoon and evening in Ypsilanti!

    Cidos to OEC for organizing and to Jake & The Carnies for their help and a foot-stompin’, insane climax to the evening.

    The tally is in … not including bonuses coming from Cafe Luwak coupons … $3030.53 gross – $75 rental = $2955.53 NET! Wowie Zowie!

    And all we did was have a great time.

    Thanks, Ypsilanti … and thanks to all of our native sons and daughters who just love to sing, play, hoot and hollar.

    (Now, wait, who’s blog is this?)

    Oh, yah! Thanks, MM.

  44. Posted April 6, 2008 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    It was a most fabulous time. I haven’t had so much fun for a while.

    Click on the thumbnails here to see photos of the event.

  45. mar on Forest
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    The banjo picking was some of the absolute best fun I have had in my whole, entire life. Trite words, perhaps, but the sentiment is sincere. I am a new fan of banjo, and would LOVE to see this event become annual. Jake and the carnies brought delighted bouncing,clapping and laughing out of nearly everyone I saw in the audience. The hootin’ and hollerin’ came easy for me, I’m ashamed to say. Thanks for such a tremendous night.
    It made me so proud of ypsi.

  46. egpenet
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 10:47 pm | Permalink


    Ah, I remember, cidos is an Aztec term like kudos.

    As you might expect, to the Aztecs it had a slightly different connotation: more like … “Nice sacrifice, Chief!”

  47. mark
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    That’s terrific news, Ed. I’ll put it up on the front page ASAP.

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