Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Discussion Forum

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

 All Forums
 Other Banjo-Related Topics
 Other Banjo-Related Topics: Clawhammer/Old-Time
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Banjo Builder Interviews - My 60th Birthday Present.

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

Page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  

ramjo - Posted - 12/16/2011:  06:05:05

Banjo historians--great idea, Craig. Don't forget Bob Carlin.

StPeteNick - Posted - 12/16/2011:  20:21:29

I just saw Vol 1 of the "Banjo Builder" DVDs. Great work Frailin'.

Lots of diffrent approaches to designing and building banjos.

Looking forwar to Vol 2.


frailin - Posted - 12/17/2011:  20:35:44

John Bowlin's Program now posted on Vimeo!


My dad taught me a long time ago that "all good things are worth waiting for."  Been my experience in life that he was right.  smiley

In case you were wondering about the delay in John Bowlin and Chuck Ogsbury's Shows, for the last 30+ days, both have been 95% complete.  In the case of John, I was holding out for some better banjo pictures.  For Chuck, I wanted some performers to send me MP3s.  In BOTH case, the "goods" have finally arrived!  I was able to add John's incredible banjo pics this afternoon.  His Show is now complete and posted at vimeo. 

For those of you than can, head over to and take a peak.  Passwords are the same as for the other Volume 2 Shows.  

If you'd like to watch John's Show and haven't yet PRE-ordered Volume 2, head over to and look for the Volume 2 Buy Now button at the bottom of the page.  As soon as I get the order, I'll email you the codes so you can have a preview.  Then, when Volume 2 is complete, I'll ship you the final DVDs.

Turn this one up loud.  RD Lunceford and Mary Z. Cox both out did themselves with fine tunes, here.  But as RD says, it's hard not to sound great on one of John's banjos.  How right he is!  big


PS - Watch for Chuck Ogsbury's "Ome" Show early this coming week. 

Edited by - frailin on 12/17/2011 20:43:38

ScottK - Posted - 12/18/2011:  09:35:21

Great job, as always Craig! I really enjoyed that Bowlin interview. Those banjo pictures you were waiting for are gorgeous, worth waiting for!

Cheers, Scott

bricklifter1 - Posted - 12/18/2011:  12:20:15

good show

neillconnor - Posted - 12/18/2011:  13:16:42

Another great builder and yet again another great bloke. I reckon there is a a simple message here, as with all your interviews: banjo builders have such a great outlook on life that they build that happiness into their instruments.

R.D. Lunceford - Posted - 12/19/2011:  00:00:17


I've had the good fortune to call John Bowlin my friend for 10 or so years now and you captured the real John with all of his sincerity,warmth, and generosity. Your video shows the hospitable and gracious yet down-to-earth Southern Gentleman that John is. I've always felt truly welcomed in his home, and your video makes one feel as if he/she were a welcomed guest as well. You are a skilled videographer.

This is a truly wonderful video record of a great banjo maker and a great man.

I am blessed in knowing John Bowlin and his wonderful wife Sally, and honored to be included in the Bowlin Banjo installment.

You are doing great work. It was my great fortune to have made your acquaintance.

With Gratitude;

neillconnor - Posted - 12/19/2011:  00:07:37


I've had the good fortune to call John Bowlin my friend for 10 or so years now and you captured the real John with all of his sincerity,warmth, and generosity. Your video shows the hospitable and gracious yet down-to-earth Southern Gentleman that John is. I've always felt truly welcomed in his home, and your video makes one feel as if he/she were a welcomed guest as well. You are a skilled videographer.

This is a truly wonderful video record of a great banjo maker and a great man.

I am blessed in knowing John Bowlin and his wonderful wife Sally, and honored to be included in the Bowlin Banjo installment.

You are doing great work. It was my great fortune to have made your acquaintance.

With Gratitude;

Here, Here great sentiments

frailin - Posted - 12/19/2011:  07:35:22

Beautiful Sentiments, RD!  Thank you!


And yes... I agree with all your reflections.  How fortunate we are that we've been able to experience genuine friendships in our banjo community.  I keep telling people, in doing this project, "I keep meeting NEW, OLD FRIENDS."  That's how I feel about the Builders and YOU!  I'm intensely grateful you took the initiative to come by that day and be a part of the fun at John's house.  smiley


I can tell you for a fact, John's Program is more meaningful with you being there, playing and laughing along.  It actively shows just how genuine, sincere (and comfortable) we, in our music community can feel with each other.  Even first time friends!  That's ONE MORE THING these Programs have demonstrated WITHOUT planning.  


I LOVE our community!  I say a grateful thanks every day.  


How fortunate my life has been because of the banjo.  big

frailin - Posted - 12/19/2011:  18:34:35

Finally!  Chuck and Tanya Ogsbury, now online (at Vimeo).


It was 2 months in the editing... and it runs 45 minutes in length (a new record)... but this Banjo Builder Program is worth every minute!

What can I say about Chuck (the legend) that hasn't already been said?  It's a good thing I wasn't doin' the talkin'.  Chuck and Tanya were, though.  I got lotsa great background and stories... and a few old pics to boot.  And the Ome Shop Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  smiley

In his 50 years as a banjo builder, this guy has probably forgotten more about banjo building than most of us could ever comprehend. But Chuck has clearly put his wisdom in place.  Ome banjos are some of the finest in existence.  Ask any of the roster of performers and players that prefer his wares.  


For those of you already signed up for Volume 2, you know the drill.  Go. Enjoy.  

For the rest of you, you can see too, just go sign up here:  Once I get notified of your purchase, I'll send you the passwords.  You can watch right away.  Then, when complete, I'll send you the Volume 2 DVDs.  


Oops.  I just noticed, Vimeo says it will take another hour or so to convert.  Go read an article or two. Talk to your spouse.  Play a few numbers on yer banjo.  Then pop some corn and come back.  Like all good things, Chuck and Tanya's story is worth waiting for.  big



ScottK - Posted - 12/23/2011:  15:52:19

Another great interview Craig! Coincidentally, I was in Artichoke Music here in Portland this morning and saw one of the new OME minstrel style open back banjos with round wooden dowel stick. It was a really sweet banjo!

Happy Holidays,

frailin - Posted - 12/30/2011:  15:05:36

A Free Viewing of Dr. Patrick Huff's Program


Every year about this time I like to look back on the previous year and count my blessings.  In 2011, there were MANY!  Approaching the top of the list was my opportunity to meet so many extraordinary people... some that just happened to build banjos!  But there were others...

Also on my blessing list was discovering the number of BHO people that not only enjoyed hearing the Builder's stories and seeing their shops with me, but ENCOURAGED AND SUPPORTED me in my efforts!  Wow!  That was huge!!  Yea, the Smithsonian Folkways thing fits in there, too.  But those of you BHO folks that bought the DVDs (even PRE-ordered them, allowing me to support my trips) and THEN followed this thread for 29 pages... you're the best!  I'm very grateful for you!  

It's no surprise most of what I consider my biggest 2011 blessings came from the Banjo Builder Project.  They came mostly in the form of stories... stories about their lives.  Most of you already know some of my key learnings, but they're the most exciting part of what I'm looking forward to in the new year.  If they're not already a part of our character, these are all philosophies and traits we too can learn to practice.  So here's what I'm hoping to do more of in 2012:

* To recognize, acknowledge and appreciate the courage people show in following a creative "calling"... regardless of circumstances or consequences

* To encourage someone with gifts that may or may not fit into mainstream capitalism to explore that creative calling... regardless of the facts

* To understand it's "ok" to take pride in one's work/craft/skills.  In fact, that's a very good thing!  That being said...

* To always remain humble  

* To recognize and acknowledge the importance of community.  That means to support it in the manner necessary

* To appreciate more of the beauty in nature... to enjoy the artistry and wonder in a simple piece of wood

* To share a tune and a smile at every opportunity

* To endeavor to create something that will last several generations, bringing joy and pleasure to each

* To say thank you for all favors, regardless of their size... or source

* To show compassion, kindness and understanding the manner needed, at the time it's needed... knowing it can change the world


These aren't new revelations. But thank to the Banjo Builder Project, I was reminded again and again of the importance of each.  So to start of 2012 right, I wanted to post a free Program of someone that represents the best of these characteristics.  I had many to choose from!  But I decided on Dr. Patrick Huff.  Here's a physician that entered medicine for the right reason... to help people.  Specifically, to help poor people.  Beyond his local community, he started taking his medical skills to others in need around the world (something he still does today).  

Now, in his retirement trade building banjos, his goal is to create an instrument that brings joy and satisfaction to player and audience alike.  And man, does he appreciate good wood!  But I'll let him tell you his story.  Remember, he's one of many Banjo Builders I could use to demonstrate the above list.  smiley

You can see Doc's free Show here:

Happy New Year, everyone!  We can all make it great.  big


Edited by - frailin on 12/30/2011 15:13:47

neillconnor - Posted - 12/30/2011:  16:04:22

I agree entirely Craig, Happy new year.

cmox - Posted - 12/30/2011:  19:21:53

Beautifully put, Craig. Thank you for all your hard work and for sharing it with us.

bricklifter1 - Posted - 12/30/2011:  21:41:55

thanks again


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 12/31/2011:  03:37:11

Well phrased.  Good choice of builders to telegraph the lessons/learnings you gleaned from the project.  Glad I was able to share this ride with you via BHO, the best shotgun seat in the house.  Have a great 2012.  Play hard,



bricklifter1 - Posted - 12/31/2011:  05:10:30

thanks again


bricklifter1 - Posted - 12/31/2011:  05:10:42

thanks again


rubicon - Posted - 12/31/2011:  22:14:52

Thank you and Happy New Year Craig 

sassie - Posted - 01/01/2012:  13:36:53

Hello...just stumbled upon this thread..cant believe i have missed this...looks like a great DVD Craig...will it play in the uk?..if so,im having 1...Z

Cottonmouth - Posted - 01/01/2012:  14:02:22

Craig, I thoroughly enjoyed viewing your visit with Doc Huff and his wonderful banjos. His many different tonewoods teach us that banjo building is more than merely throwing a chunk of maple together and calling it an instrument. I hope that you have a great 2012 and more  continued fun in your interesting visits!

neillconnor - Posted - 01/01/2012:  14:15:24

Sassie, i am in the uk and have a copy and it plays fine

sassie - Posted - 01/01/2012:  14:40:37

nice 1 Neill..ill order a copy..nice list of banjos u got there...Z

Will1717 - Posted - 01/01/2012:  20:37:22


Wishing you all the best for the coming year! The interview of Doc Huff was a real winner. A most interesting and dedicated man to say the least. I bet you there is the basis for a best selling book if you were to document Doc's life!

Bill Rickardblackeyesmileysmiley

Edited by - Will1717 on 01/01/2012 20:38:52

richla - Posted - 01/02/2012:  17:10:26

I agree, Doc is fascinating, and That was a great interview.

frailin - Posted - 01/04/2012:  13:15:37

Other Builder Videos!


As mentioned previously, I regret that - due to time and $$ constraints - I wasn't able to visit every Banjo Builder out there.  But I did run across this video interview with one not included in the original 25 that you should know about:  Cloverlick builder Jeff Kramer.

Check him out!


satchel*jenkins - Posted - 01/04/2012:  13:18:13

Well all I can say is wonderful work Craig on a phenominal project. Thank You!!!!!! I have yet to see all of the interviews but the ones I have I must say, fantastic work! Did I understand correctly that The Smithsonian has collected your magnificent work to save for all time? Wow! I must also say I was sadly dissapointed with one of the builders in particular. I won't mention any names but this particular banjo builder's favorite aspect of banjo building is collecting the check at the mailbox. Huh?! I also found his character more like that of a grumpy old fart rather than a pleasant passionate fellow who loves his job. I say this because as a world famous builder with a fantastic reputation in his trade I guess I just expected so much more. Oh well, to each his own. If that's his approach after building more than 3500 be it. Maybe he is just plum burned out but I bet He wished he changed his words and attitude considering his interview will be saved for "all time" in The Smithsonian. The rest of the folks I was completely impressed with! Just what you would expect from those who build the happy banjo with an aim to please the masses. Bravo Frailin' !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

neillconnor - Posted - 01/04/2012:  14:08:25

I think your being a bit harsh on the builder your referring to. He's been doing it a long time and I guess if you'd be doing the same job for 30 years you'd be looking foreword to your retirement, I know I am, and I've still got 15 years to go. I think he has other interests in bikes and shooting he wants to pursue and I reckon he has a wry sense humour!

frailin - Posted - 01/04/2012:  14:11:33

Howdy Satchel

Thank you for the kind words!  Yes, I'm delighted to report that Smithsonian Folkways is carrying the Banjo Builder Series.  In fact, in order to do so, they're actually starting an "Instrument Builder Collection" (based on the Banjo Builders) with the intent of preserving the philosophies, tools and techniques used in today's banjo construction.  As a part of this new Collection, they also intend to capture today's builders of guitars, mandolins, fiddles and other Americana instruments.  Pretty cool, huh! 

I wanted to put a (good) word in for the unnamed builder you described (and we all know).  big  Way back on page 18, J-Walk was left with a similar uh, less-than-expected impression.  Follow through my adjacent response to him (the "rest of the story").  Yeah, I too was not completely happy Bart choose not to show me what I wanted to see.  But in Bart's defense, he showed me EXACTLY who he is and how he feels.  Yep... after 30 some years, he's ready for a change.  And the changes he has in mind (i.e. riding motorcycles, going places, seeing things) are a well deserved retirement.  

Bart has a well-deserved (read: lengthy) reputation for being occasionally crusty and cynical.  I consider it his "character."  I also found it highly entertaining... endearing, even.  But don't for a minute think that affects his work (it doesn't).  Bart continues to make exceptional instruments.  I have an incredible respect for the man's candor.  I hope you can feel that way toward him, too.  His work is legendary.  And now he's ready to move on.  

Speaking of which...

I'll be finishing up Volume 2 - Banjo Builders West of the Mississippi later this Spring.  I'm headed out to film the California builders (last Swing) in March.  And then, who knows!  Next, I could be filming the construction of the banjo's Africa precursors in Gambia/Senegal.  Or heading over to the UK to meet BHO buddy Neill Connor who has graciously volunteered to help me with Volume 3 - International Banjo Builders in England and Europe!  

I do know, where ever I go, I'm going to be meeting some of the finest people on earth.. those that build banjos, and those amazing BHO folks that appreciate 'em (the Banjo Builders and their wares, of course).  big

Happy New Year, everyone!



clawhammermike - Posted - 01/05/2012:  23:49:55

Craig.  That Doc Huff video brought tears to my eyes it was so good.  You really did have an amazing year and you are a great inspiration.

frailin - Posted - 01/06/2012:  11:55:00

Another Free Show!


For those of you that HAVEN'T noticed, Eric's BHO drawing is now for an "Exotic Wood, Wildwood Banjo!"  I had the good fortune of learning about them up-front-and-personal-like from the man his'self, Banjo Builder Mark Platin.  

I think it's only right that we should welcome Mark as an advertiser to our Hangout by putting his Show out there for free.  After all, there's lotsa new folks joining every day that may not know of the Wildwood legend. 

So... from now until further notice, here's another great Banjo Builder tale for the telling!!

Direct link:


pammiec - Posted - 01/07/2012:  06:55:43

Thanks Craig, what a nice man! Interesting stuff!


Thanks again!


Penchaser - Posted - 01/07/2012:  12:20:58


Another great interview.  I was looking forward to this one to see the guy that "gave birth" to my banjo (a Troubador).  What a nice man!  

Great to get to know the personalities that produce our favorite instruments.





neillconnor - Posted - 01/08/2012:  02:53:39

Another great interview, and again another great guy. What is it with banjo builders, they are all down to earth 'nice' people. I reckon that's why the banjo is such a happy instrument, because they're made by happy people.

neillconnor - Posted - 01/11/2012:  06:47:39

I wrote a review for the uk old time magazine (friends of American old time music and dance) which has just been published this week. here are some photos, hope you can read the article.

neillconnor - Posted - 01/11/2012:  07:18:53

in the same issue of foaotmad there is an article about chuck levy and his visits to Africa and gourd banjos

frailin - Posted - 01/11/2012:  08:44:42

Cool, Neil!  Thanks for posting the well-written articles! 

And the coverage.  smiley

manomusic - Posted - 01/11/2012:  12:09:33

Hi Craig
Thanks again for doing this. Really enjoying the second series.
Individual perception in viewing these interviews is interesting

I really enjoyed the Reiter interview and was impressed by Bart
and His approach to building. I think the whole "cheque in the mail
box" comment has been taken way out of context and it's the kind
of tongue in cheek comment I would probably make on the spot.
let's remember these are ordinary folk such as ourselves, not polished
actors or politicians.

I for one will remember that particular interview fondly and let's
also remember that Bart is also reading this thread and probably
won't appreciate being viewed in a negative way as I'm sure it
was not His intention.

Each time I watch one of the videos it lightens my day. On another
note, as someone who has decided to build as a hobby, the
technical info I'm receiving is brilliant in the workshop tours.

Keep up the good work Craig.
All the best

frailin - Posted - 01/13/2012:  12:57:22

Today, the Minnesota State Arts Board reviewed my application for a grant.  DeAnne and I sat in as audience members.  Seven people were circled around a conference table, dutifully reviewing piles of submitted paperwork which included:  A 700 word project overview, resumes, past work listings and budgets.  Then they watch up to 9 minutes of video clips for each applicant.  I have to admit, it was grueling work.  

All the judges are artists and past grant recipients. They WANT to empower other artists with money to further their educations and work.  Unfortunately, because of various shortcomings, many did not make the first pass.  I'm happy to report, "Conversations with North American Banjo Builders" DID!  Now, this is no guarantee I got a grant.  This was simply the first hurdle to qualify for further consideration.  I won't know final outcome until March.

Interesting to note, for one of my Work clips, I used Jason Burn's doubled-over guffaw to my mere suggestion he was making money building banjos.  Every artist in the room cracked up.  smiley  And the BANJO was the star!  Some "ooh'd" and "ahh'd" at Jason's eye candy in The Goods.  I must admit, that was gratifying.  These artists genuinely appreciate banjo building as an art form!  

Guess it takes an artist to really understand and appreciate an artist.  That includes banjo players.   big

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/13/2012:  13:59:49

That's still great news.  Passing the first hurdle is critical.  Put all 800,000 of us who are subscribed to this thread down as your references. 


Good on you,



ramjo - Posted - 01/13/2012:  14:46:27

Exceptional news, Craig! On to round 2. Fingers crossed. Once again, congratulations on great work.

- Robert

neillconnor - Posted - 01/14/2012:  03:24:25

Fingers crossed, Europe and Africa may soon be a reality

chip arnold - Posted - 01/14/2012:  08:48:22

I want to publicly thank Craig for including Amy and I in a bit of the background music during the OME segment of the 2nd DVD. Craig is a fantastic human being and he's doing a really fine work.

frailin - Posted - 01/27/2012:  05:03:24



Ok.  It's time for a change out.  Up for a free viewing for the next few weeks is one of the nicest guys you'd ever wanna meet, Banjo Builder John Bowlin.  

John makes a wonderfully warm, responsive and LOUD fretless called the Bowlin 1865.  

Not only does he show how he builds one (in this Program), Banjo Hangout's own old-timey ace RD Lunceford stops by to play one for us!  

And don't miss Mary Cox's version of John Bowlin's Ground Hog Strut at the end.  


banjered - Posted - 01/27/2012:  20:09:07

That was terrific Craig - Thanks! Banjo love oozing out from all participants! Banjered

Bone - Posted - 01/28/2012:  09:44:45

Many thanks Craig...and a very Happy Birthday!

ruariver - Posted - 01/28/2012:  14:37:33

Just thank you so much...have spent my Saturday watching this the whole way through and I must say its the most wonderful piece of work. Went through disc one and just got more and more excited that someone had A) thought of doing this and B) went ahead and done it....into disc two and began to waiver what with the BR episode and began to think the format might get a tad repetitive took a break and thought no....BR and the wonderfully disparate group of builders out there just kept it fizzing along. Loved it loved it loved it. Also the extras on each disc...I normally leave these to another time but with this you really must watch everything especially the final one Richard Jones
Bammen....can't wait for that book! BRILLIANT and thanks again
Speaking of books can't leave this without hollering further praise for Bill Malones biography of Mike Seeger Music from the True Vine which is keeping me up nights

neillconnor - Posted - 01/29/2012:  12:33:30

Excellent video, greet down to earth bloke like the majority of the other builders you've interviewed. Looking vat the picture of Mary Cox, I'm just wondering where her chainsaw is , as them boots look like tree climbing spur boots

bvh - Posted - 01/31/2012:  04:31:59

Is there any way, to view these videos, without joining Vimeo?



frailin - Posted - 01/31/2012:  05:12:43

Yes, bvh.  When you buy Volume 2, I send you the Vimeo pass codes that allow you to come in and watch.  Then, when Volume 2 is complete (early this summer), I send you the DVDs.

Edited by - frailin on 01/31/2012 05:13:31

Page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories