Banjo Safari: Back to the Roots

Feeling adventurous? I know a few banjo players who feel like the king of the bluegrass jungle, so how about a trip back to the land where the banjo began (yes, I know the fifth string was added in America). In what would have to be the most amazing banjo camp ever (apologies to Dr. Banjo), Idube Photo Safaris has, in conjunction with Ross Nickerson, planned what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to combine a banjo workshop with an African safari.

Attendees will travel to South Africa and spend mornings and early evenings on safari, seeing all of the animals in their natural habitat that most of us have only seen in zoos — not just elephants, lions, rhinos, and zebras, but seventeen different species of antelopes, 365 different species of birds, and much more, guided by a local game warden.

Host Kevin Dooley, operator of Idube (the zulu word for zebra), has been leading African safaris for the past sixteen years. In addition to being a professional photographer, Dooley just happens to be a banjo player. Sandwiched between the morning and evening excursions into the South African savanna, participants will enjoy daily small group and individual instruction by master banjo player and instructor Ross Nickerson. Although Nickerson has traveled all over the world performing and teaching, this banjo safari will be a first for him.

Experiencing the wild won’t require sacrificing comfort, with accomodations in a beautiful safari lodge, and exceptional African cuisine. Sound expensive? Well, perhaps a little more than your average bluegrass festival, but according to Dooley the limited capacity is 80% filled. This adventure will take place from November 1-9, 2012.

It may be that music hath charms to soothe the savage beast, but I think if I came face to face with a lion in the wild I’d rather have something other than my banjo in my hands.

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About the Author

James Gabehart

Jim has been playing the banjo, and other string instruments for nearly 40 years. Since joining the musicians union and becoming a performing musician at the age of 15, he won five West Virginia State Banjo Championships, as well as dozens of other competitions, and has taught hundreds of students. Jim was elected as Prosecuting Attorney for Lincoln County, WV in November 2012, and is an active touring performer with his wife and musical partner, Valerie. Learn more about their music at