This month's international banjo meet-up picks a winner: Detroit


Who's that pickin' and a-grinnin'? It's the NAIBC Steering Committee! Left to right, it's John Smith, Bob Ervin, Richard Shinske, and Brian Newsom. - PHOTO COURTESY NAIBC
  • Photo courtesy NAIBC
  • Who's that pickin' and a-grinnin'? It's the NAIBC Steering Committee! Left to right, it's John Smith, Bob Ervin, Richard Shinske, and Brian Newsom.

Few Northern burgs have as much Southern flavor as Detroit. Thanks to the a half-century of immigration from the South, Detroit is endowed with everything from classic barbecue joints to outdoor blues jams to suburbs given the endearing suffix “-tucky.”

And so it’s a little strange that we don’t have a little bit of everything from the South, especially the banjo. I mean, sure, you can hear it in the music of Lac la Belle or Frontier Ruckus, or when Steve Martin comes to town, and that’s great. But there’s nothing here like, for instance, banjo night, which fills up an Elks Club in Pittsburgh with oldsters and hipsters each week.

This month, however, comes the exception that proves the rule: The North American International Banjo Committee is hosting its annual conclave in Dearborn this month. It’s a banjo-riffic convention that will involve a music festival, with special performance, jam sessions, and “toe-tappin’ fun for the whole family.”

Best of all, if you think you have what it takes and want to play Roy Clark, bring your instrument and you can join in the fun. “Musicians will be playing for free in the lobby on Thursday, as well as before and after the shows on Friday and Saturday,” says Brian Newsom of NAIBC. “People are encouraged to bring their banjo, guitar or whatever they play and sit in with some dedicated players.”

The North American International Banjo Convention takes place Friday-Saturday, April 28-29, at the Double Tree Hotel, 5801 Southfield Expressway, Detroit; admission $10 at the door, $5 for the matinee; tickets and more info available in advance by calling Richard Shinske at 810-229-7304 or emailing

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.