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The Rebel: The all-American banjo

Allison N. Evans / Red Dirt Report
My favorite banjo in the building, the “Zombie Killer” banjo.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – It is almost impossible to rent a banjo in the greater Oklahoma City are, so if you are interested in this instrument, head down to the American Banjo Museum in Bricktown, where you can not only learn the history of the banjo, but you can try out your banjo skills.

If you are like me, you know what a banjo is, but actually know nothing more about it. I was offered the task of writing a preview for Banjo Fest and the 2016 Hall of Fame Inductees, but struggled to even get an article started for lack of knowledge around the instrument.

I then decided, I will just find one to rent and try it out myself, (still holding on to the dream that I may be musically talented). One of my dreams was shot when I realized, banjos are actually difficult to come by, who knew! So I get into my little car, drive down to Bricktown, and stroll into the American Banjo Museum.

There I am greeted by a wonderful volunteer who is positioned at the front desk; immediately I get a warm red dirt welcome by several staff members. I was then taken on a private guided tour by Dustin Pyeatt, the Outreach & Development Manager.

Pyeatt educated me on the history and evolution of the banjo. With my rebel heart and rock n’ roll soul; I was pleased to learn how the banjo is just like me. It is the only instrument that truly was born and evolved solely in our country, all by rebels.

It is easy to automatically picture the banjo being held by a dirty barefoot man with straw in his teeth sitting on a wooden porch somewhere in the mountains, but my friends, the banjo is much more badass than that! The banjo is an instrument that was widely played by black slaves in the south, evolved to be grandiose in the midst of drugs, sex, and partying in the 20’s, played by Al Capone in prison at Alcatraz, to more currently Steve Martin and Mumford and Sons.

I was educated on some pretty awesome stories including who was banned from the BBC for songs too racy to Banjo players moonlighting as American spies. Everyone loves a story of a rebel and there are many to hear at the American Banjo Museum.

On the way out of the museum, lays a couple of Banjos you can pick up and play. While I still have hopes that I may find an instrument I am naturally gifted at, I am rather upset to report that, that instrument is not the Banjo. At least I finally found one to try out and now I know!

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About the Author

Allison N. Evans

Born in the red dirt and swept away with the wind, this tumbleweed has traveled the world, lived...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd
Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
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