Monday, March 3, 2014

My Views On The Banjo

From the first time I heard a friend strum his banjo, back in 1978, I fell in love with it and wanted it to be part of my life.  Since that day, the music has carried me through good times and bad, has brought me life time friends and opened doors I would not have otherwise touched around the world.
At one point in time, when I was broke, I considered selling my banjo, I wasn't playing it that much and needed rent and food.  My brother Tony told me, "Never sell your instrument, because when you are broke it gives you something to do that's fun and you can do it for free." Thanks Bro!

I have had the good fortune of having great influences in my journey.  I don't have one favorite banjo player, I have many!  I suppose like most banjo players Earl Scruggs was one of the greatest!  I would listen to my LP's in awe and work so hard on my rolls, hammer on's and pull offs.
The others include JD Crowe, John Hartford, Jerry Garcia, Bela Fleck, Danny Barnes,
Nick Hornbuckel and many more.

Everyone has a different philosophy on their approach and attack on the banjo, I have read, talked and listened to many players, some I liked and some I don't.  I have always had a hard time with players who always have to play loud and fast.  The banjo is a beautiful instrument and a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. I would challenge those of you that play to become dynamic, to be smooth and tasteful, to stay out of the way when a singer sings and to sometimes not play at all.  Listen and be aware of all the musicians you happen to be playing with and do no harm.

I have taken lessons in the past and the two most influential instructors I have ever had are
 Nick Hornbuckel and Danny Barnes.  To this day I am thankful for my good fortune.
Both amazing musicians with very different styles.  Both, helped me not only with my playing but also with the way I think about the banjo and unlimited possibilities we have as musicians.  They encouraged me to listen to more than just bluegrass, to explore, to not try to sound like someone else, to develop my own style, to create.

So for now I will leave you with those thoughts and sincerely hope you will continue to endeavor your true passions in life.


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