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  

erikforgod - Posted - 03/29/2012:  08:19:47


unclekurty - Posted - 03/29/2012:  10:20:24

I quickly skimmed through Colin's video. I love his inlay. And I took a quick glimpse of Bob Fleshers. I look forward to watching all 3 later tonight. It sounds like Bob F has some great stories. These videos are about much more then just banjo building. Thanks Craig.

neillconnor - Posted - 03/29/2012:  10:44:15

Excellent Craig, the interviews are getting better and better if that's possible.

frailin - Posted - 03/30/2012:  14:22:26

Did it!


My goal was to finish Greg Deering's Program today... he's the LAST of the 25 Builders.  As of 10 minutes ago, I succeeded!  It will be ready for viewing on Vimeo later on tonight.  

Whoa... is his place impressive!  Most of the shops I visited were realtive small by comparison - maybe 1,000 square feet or so.  Deering is 18,000 with 35 employees.  And the equipment is mostly custom-designed by Greg.  Like I said.  Impressive!  This Show is really educational... and eye-opening.  smiley

Now only Eric's "Extra" interview remains.  And it's all done... 'ceptin' a little surprise I'm waitin' on.  big

More on that later.  I gotta go stretch.  

cmox - Posted - 03/30/2012:  19:49:01

Nice to know that 35 people are employed building banjos.

ScottK - Posted - 03/31/2012:  17:27:32

Finally found a little time this weekend to watch all of the latest videos. Great work as always Craig! Really really enjoyed all of these conversations! Thanks!


frailin - Posted - 04/03/2012:  14:02:15

A 20 minute Banjo Builder Presentation


I'm now being asked to give some presentations on the Banjo Builders.  I'm delighted to do so, but... where does one start?  There's the excitement, the actual adventure, the discovery, the labor, the joy... and oh yeah, the birthday present part.  But how do you take 11 hours and condense it into 20 minutes?  More importantly, HOW DO YOU CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF THESE CREATIVE HUMAN BEINGS?!  surprise

We'll... I gave it a try.  I'm now putting it out there for some feedback.

Here's the link to a FREE (but limited amount of time) VIEWING of this work.  It's in draft form.  Haven't even fixed all the audio yet.  Want to make sure it's on track before I invest more time.

You wonderful, magnificent, supportive folks that have followed me for a year (and were the early purchasers of the Series before I even had product in hand), I'd like to especially ask you to take a look at this 20 minute "highlight" reel of the Builders.  You've seen the Shows and you know the stories.  And I trust your judgment.  Please TELL ME IF THE PRESENTATION IS ACCURATE/TRUE.  I'm trying to best CAPTURE THE MESSAGES OF NOT ONLY WHAT THEY DO, BUT WHAT THEY'RE ABOUT.  Also, WHAT THEY SEEK.

Keep in mind, I edited down 11 hours from over 60.  And now I'm trying to condense that to 20 minutes.  I can't get it all... but I do want to ACCURATELY SHOW THE WORLD the most amazing aspects of THESE INCREDIBLE PEOPLE.  


Tell me if you think this presentation delivers on the above goals.  And if it doesn't, tell me more of what you think it should have.  

Thanks, everyone.  


Edited by - frailin on 04/03/2012 14:04:22

neillconnor - Posted - 04/03/2012:  14:43:22

Craig, can I share this on Facebook?

frailin - Posted - 04/03/2012:  14:45:47

Not yet Neill It's not finished.

neillconnor - Posted - 04/03/2012:  14:52:34

Ok Craig. It looks a mighty fine snapshot of volumes one and two. I reckon the message your longer individual videos of these fine banjo builders shines through for all to see

ramjo - Posted - 04/03/2012:  15:04:34

I just spent a most enjoyable 20 minutes watching your "trailer." Looks to me like you nailed the essence of the series. I couldn't think of a single addition or subtraction. As always, great work!


frailin - Posted - 04/04/2012:  05:12:17

Thank you for the feedback!  I've also had several folks write me offline with input.  Changes have been made.  

Draft 3 should be up on Vimeo in another 30 minutes or so (it's now uploading).  

Thank you!

Edited by - frailin on 04/04/2012 05:13:03

frailin - Posted - 04/04/2012:  07:17:53



Thank you J-Walk (John Walkenbach) for your review of the Banjo Builder Project in the April issue of Banjo News Letter!  

Thank you thank you!  smiley

frailin - Posted - 04/05/2012:  05:31:32

Another FREE Show (for a limited time).


You know him. You love him.  Now you get to see and hear him upfront and personal-like.  He's MR. ERIC SCHLANGE!!

No, he's not a banjo builder, but he HAS built the largest consolidation of banjo builders, players and (banjo) lovers in the world!  And here's a link to his Banjo Builder Show (included in Volume 2 as an extra).

For more info on the Banjo Builder Series, go to  Volume 2 is now available as a preorder... and will be available for sale here at BHO in about a month.  

Thanks, Eric!  For building our online home!  

Edited by - frailin on 04/05/2012 05:34:18

Shawn Hoover - Posted - 04/05/2012:  10:20:23

It's nice to see behind the scenes of the Hangout. As a software developer I have great appreciation for what Eric has built here. Building things that people use and enjoy is what technology is all about, and it's not easy to pull off so well!

R.D. Lunceford - Posted - 04/06/2012:  11:27:12


Originally posted by frailin

Thanks for the kind words RD. And you're right, technology has made it easier to capture stories.

But the real news is the uniqueness and originality of the builders. I was just lucky enough to be born at a time when I could capture that for posterity. :)

 That's true Craig... a certainly unique group.

The cool thing about this though is that people 100 years from now will realize the same thing from viewing your videos that we would if we could meet our forebears from 100 years ago... We're really the same.  It will make us into actual human beings rather than just names.


howseth - Posted - 04/07/2012:  00:01:38

Excellent. Thanks for posting your latest Craig. Eric Schlange deserved a video. He is the most famous person for me in Lakeport, Ca.

frailin - Posted - 04/09/2012:  06:25:57

Obsession - What can I say?


From today's Huffington Post -



HuffPost Social Reading

Craig Evans




Obsessed: The Banjo

Posted: 04/ 9/2012 7:36 am



Read more


Inspired by one professor's infectious enthusiasm for Emily Dickinson, Obsessed is a new HuffPost Culture series exploring the idiosyncratic, all-consuming passions of public figures and unknowns alike. Through a mix of blogs and interviews, these pieces will highlight the elusiveness of whatever it is you just can't live without -- whether it's blue jays, Renaissance fairs, fan fiction, or in the case of David Lynch, coffee. If you have an obsession to share, drop us a line at

I used to think being obsessed by the banjo was weird. How could a farm boy from Iowa fall in love with an obscure African instrument? Blame Earl Scruggs and the Beverly Hillbillies. But it didn't get any easier as an adult. That's when I found almost 70,000 kindred spirits -- banjo lovers from around the world -- at Banjo Hangout, a site dedicated to banjos. This place is banjo heaven!

For years I hung out in this forum dedicated to discussions of little-known stars, banjo porn (gorgeous pics of new, custom-made instruments), music and tabs for arcane tunes. That. and the camaraderie of peers across the globe, equally obsessed with this delightfully happy, yet mysterious instrument. The rapid growth of membership from 3,000 or so in 2003 to today's community of 69,000 has something to do with the web, but probably more to do with the current resurgence in interest in the banjo by today's popular musicians (i.e. Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers and Taylor Swift). Now, trends is trends, and those new folks may come and go. But a true obsession runs very deep. For at least one lifetime.


My interest in the banjo grew 10-fold when my mom showed me a 1907 picture of my great uncle and grandfather as young men. They were seated cross-legged on a parlor floor with seven or eight acoustic stringed instruments scattered about them. Guitars and mandolins were everywhere. But my great uncle held my holy grail -- an open-back, 5-string banjo. Three generations later, it was clearly still "in the blood" (my son is also a banjo player). I'm not sure we ever had a choice.

Now, this banjo I speak of isn't what Earl (Scruggs) plays. That's too new. I'm obsessed with what the slaves brought from Africa and celebrated as a pivotal part of their heritage. What we know as the banjo is actually some Rube Goldberg job, cobbled together by the Africans from available materials (over here) that may represent one of 62 plucked lutes from Western Africa. There's another key component of banjo obsession -- the mystery of its past. But I digress...

After finding myself with some spare time at age 50, I joined two bands: One, a bluegrass gospel quartet, the second, an old-timey, foot-stompin' dance band. Four CDs later, it's still not enough. I had to learn more about the instrument itself, which led me to the banjo builders. Why-oh-why would anyone want to build a banjo? There's clearly little-to-no money in it. But I couldn't help but wonder -- what kind of people would be drawn to such a profession? That's when my banjo-obsessed world took an extraordinary (even more fun) turn.

Beginning last year as a 60th birthday present to myself, I traveled more than 10,000 miles around the US, interviewing 25 North American, open-back banjo builders. I chatted with banjo performers and retailers along the way, and stayed and played with lots of nice banjo-playing folks. I took along my video camera and recorded the fun. Volume 1 (Banjo Builders East of the Mississippi) is now finished and Volume 2 (Builders West of the Mississippi) is nearing completion (you can see a highlight reel of the series here). What I discovered in the banjo builders is an amazing group of independent-minded, happy people. They know the magical power of the banjo (to make people smile and dance). And they also know their banjo building is genuinely making the world a better, happier place. Where they've come from and what they did in previous lives runs the gamut. What they all have in common is the same obsessive spirit -- reverence, even -- for the banjo. I found myself taking to a group of new, old friends. The Banjo community is alive, well and below the radar of modern society. Thank God for that.

But the real shocker came about halfway into my first interviews, when the Smithsonian Folkways people heard about my adventure. They then asked to include the Documentary Series in their catalog. Whoa! You never know when or where another group of banjo-lovers might surface. In fact, Smithsonian Folkways is even starting a new collection -- The Instrument Builder Collection -- based on the work. So for now and far into the future, even more people will learn of banjo obsession.

But now, I'm obsessed with another part of this banjo experience: Community. Banjo and old-time/Americana music is magic. It's a combination of European fiddle melodies and toe-tapping, banjo-provided syncopated rhythms. It draws people, makes them smile, little kids dance. There's something incredibly primal and satisfying about it. There's more mystery around my obsession the deeper I go. This new discovery is, well, enough for at least one more banjo-related adventure.

So how lucky can a guy get? Plenty! I've got an artist wife who understands my banjo obsession. Call me blessed.

Contact Craig Evans at or

Edited by - frailin on 04/09/2012 06:29:30

pammiec - Posted - 04/09/2012:  07:25:54

Congratulations Craig, nicely done!



bricklifter1 - Posted - 04/09/2012:  18:26:31

just watched the latest installment of banjo builders       great!


you can really see the evolution of your editing and interview styles.......during the interview, you seem very relaxed.  cant wait to see vm 3   


one describe the banjo a kinda being "under the radar"......lets hope that doesnt change.  cant wait for the dvds






frailin - Posted - 04/10/2012:  10:23:10

Whoa!  The Banjo Obsession story got picked up by AOL.  The Banjo Builder Highlights reel at Vimeo had over 1,000 plays by noon.  smiley  And you wouldn't believe all the wonderful banjos stories I'm being emailed. 

Wow.  I love the amazingly warm, emotional connection people have with this instrument.

frailin - Posted - 04/10/2012:  15:13:30

What a difference a day makes.  



The power of the media absolutely amazes me.  The Huffington Post article came out sometime on Monday.  By Tuesday morning, the Banjo Builder Highlight reel was already getting hit.  Then AOL posted the article in their rotating news banner (on the home page).  It's now about 5P on Tuesday afternoon and video hits (loads) will soon surpass 2,000.  

Wow.  Must be a lotta banjo obsession out there that we don't know about.  big

Oplunk - Posted - 04/17/2012:  12:41:24

I finally got around to watching the previews and highlight reel as a result of the reminder prompt in the April Banjo Newsletter. What a delight to get to know the makers of some of the banjos in my own collection (Mike Ramsey, Bob Flesher, Bart Reiter, Greg Deering and Mark Platin) and others that I have met along the way! Thank you for such rich experience! And, happy birthday!

frailin - Posted - 04/23/2012:  18:38:41

New Packaging


Having spent over 25 years in corporate America as a "brand cop" for several advertising agencies, I decided I should probably come up with a "family" or "brand" feel for the Series.  Here's where I get to brag on my wife's artistic talents.  big

I asked her to help design a cover for the Banjo Builder Series. And here is what she came up with. 


Many of the Banjo Builders spoke of the "magic" of a banjo.  Bob Thornburg made the statement:

"We the Builders make magic wands, but the real magic happens when the banjo is placed in the hands of a musician."

Note how the Builder's energy surrounds the release and passage of the banjo from their hands to the many hands of people of all colors, backgrounds and music interests… who then make musical magic.  See also how the surrounding energy resonates and grows with their involvement. 

I love this colorful, descriptive statement about our Banjo Builders!!  This is now the official, visual icon for the "Conversations with North American Banjo Builders" Documentary Series (all 3 Volumes).  approve

pjxndvm - Posted - 04/24/2012:  05:11:35


This looks very cool....I like the use of colors very much. The interplay of hands...(from makers to players or from past to present) is thoughtful. This is a very nice design. Your wife is and artist for sure...

OldTimeGal - Posted - 04/27/2012:  19:55:48

Craig, this is awesome. As a Minnesota gal who likes to build things, especially out of wood, I'm going have to set aside a huge block of time and absorb it all. I picked up an old open back banjo a few years ago, which still needs a bit of help, and always wanted to learn more about those who made them. I've only been a BHO member for two days, and I'm blown away by all the wonderful insight. Thanks:-)

frailin - Posted - 05/03/2012:  07:33:00



Yesterday I dropped Volume 2 Master DVDs off at the duplicator.  

Providing all goes well, I'll be shipping Volume 2 sometime the end of next week.  Thanks for your patience, everyone.  smiley

I did want to take a moment to personally thank both John MacDonald and Robert Manes for providing me with shippers for this round of mailings.  In addition to their ongoing support and enthusiasm (since day 1 for this project), these fellows are true friends!  Thanks, guys!!


Now (drum roll)... here's what's coming next!  


Available January 2013! 

Volume 3 - “Conversations with Banjo Historians”

This fascinating collection of programs features “A day at the Smithsonian” looking over historic Bouchers, Ashborns and more with Smithsonian curator Tony Seeger and Banjo Builder George Wunderlich. 

Ethnomusicologist Dr. Greg Adams discusses the history behind 62 west African plucked lutes that contribute to today’s banjo. And vetted banjo researcher Bob Winans comments on what we have yet to learn. 


Volume 3 also includes a personal tour of Jim Bollman’s extraordinary banjo collection.  And banjo collectors from around the world show and tell about their favorite history instruments. 


To place your PRE-order for Volume 3 now, use the “Buy Now” FOR VOLUME 3 button at:


Onward we go.  big

Edited by - frailin on 05/03/2012 07:35:20

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 05/03/2012:  07:47:33

Love the cover design.

Gotta make T shirts like that for festival season!

frailin - Posted - 05/03/2012:  08:07:08

And here come the pre-orders for Volume 3!  YAY!!  bigbigbig

THANK YOU WOLFGANG!  You've been such a great supporter all the way along.  It's only fitting that you're first to register!  smiley

I'll be handing this production the same way I did for Volume 2.  When you pre-order, as soon as footage/Programs are finished, I'll post them at Vimeo and give you the passwords to preview.  Then, when the Volume is finished, I'll ship you the DVDs.  

Thanks folks!

R. Blakeslee Gilpin - Posted - 05/03/2012:  08:39:47

Hey Craig,
Sounds awesome, I've wanted to get a peek at Bollman's goodies for a LONG time.
Just wondering if you'd considered chatting with Laurent Dubois at Duke University?

He is a really amazing historian (extremely well regarded in my line of work) and he's currently working on what I am sure will be THE history of the banjo.

Just a thought...he's also supposed to be a super-nice guy.

frailin - Posted - 05/03/2012:  08:51:38


Duke University's Laurent M. Dubois is under contract to write a book on banjo history for Harvard University Press. Plus, the National Humanities Center AND Guggenhiem have given him Fellowships.  I need to check this guy out. smiley

Thanks, Blake!

Edited by - frailin on 05/03/2012 08:55:34

willieco - Posted - 05/09/2012:  20:57:23

i'm relatively new to the BHO, just bought my first good banjo, a Ramsey from 1996! I would like to order the DVD that has your interview with Mike first. Is is available now, and how do I pay?

R.D. Lunceford - Posted - 05/09/2012:  23:15:05

This just keeps getting better.

I wasn't aware of Volume 3.

Sounds great!!!

Amazing that we can sit back and watch hours of

banjo-oriented programming.  If even one of your

builder episodes had been on TV, people would be

talking about it for weeks....and we have dozens of

them to enjoy.

Thanks Craig. You made my year!!!

frailin - Posted - 05/12/2012:  05:53:37

They're here!  And I'm not yet 60!  


Yesterday afternoon I picked up the DVDs of Volume 2 - Banjo Builders WEST of the Mississippi.  Since I'm almost out of the (second) run of the "original" DVDs of Volume 1, I had some of those produced, too (you can see the new packaging design of those in my right hand).  If you still want an original, I'm down to about a dozen.  

The orders are now all packaged up and ready to take to the Post Office (they're expecting me Monday morning at 7A).  So by the end of the week, most of you should have what I'm holding here in YOUR hands.  I'm really excited for you to see/meet this incredible group of amazing human beings.  approve


So here they now are... Two Volumes of Conversations with 25 North American Banjo Builders.  And my original journey - started the 17th of March in 2011 - is now complete.  

Happy 60th Birthday to me!!  big  

As you may recall, I set out to find answers.  And I do have findings to report:  "Yes.  Through the work of their hands, the Banjo Builders know they're adding joy to the world."  And they clearly do it for love, not money.  That makes it even more meaningful.  What a remarkable group of people.  And what an incredible adventure I had.  Thank you all for sharing it with me.  


And now I'm on to the "reprise" - Conversations with Banjo Historians.  This new adventure is already looking to be another heck of a fun ride.  I'll have more updates to talk about and show in a few weeks.  But for right now, I'm going to go watch a few of the past year's travel movies with my incredibly patient and supportive wife.  I'm going to be introducing her to some of my delightful new "old" friends.  big  And I'm also going to take a few moments to say "thank you God" for one more blessed day in the sun.  

And thank you, my friends, for your ongoing support of my journey.   


Edited by - frailin on 05/12/2012 06:02:24

Old Cremona - Posted - 05/12/2012:  06:09:19

Really looking forward to your "Banjo Historians" DVD. Hope you get a chance to talk to Clarke Buehling!!

bricklifter1 - Posted - 05/17/2012:  18:24:58

Love to hear more about vol 3!



unclekurty - Posted - 05/17/2012:  21:24:59

Got it today. Yippee. Thanks Craig.

ScottK - Posted - 05/18/2012:  11:10:45

Congratulations, Craig! Amazing accomplishment in one year!

Received my copy of Volume 2 in the mail yesterday. I know what I'll be doing this weekend! :-)

Cheers, Scott

Delfield - Posted - 05/18/2012:  14:58:13

Got Vol. 2 in the mail today. Thanks Craig!

BNJOMAKR - Posted - 05/18/2012:  18:14:08

I got mine today... Thanks Craig!

pjxndvm - Posted - 05/19/2012:  03:30:13

Anyone having any problems playing the DVDs ? Mine won't play on either my computer or DVD player.

frailin - Posted - 05/19/2012:  04:43:07

Hi Pete

You ordered 3 units of Volume 2.  Are none of the DVDs from any package playing?  If so, can you tell me please:

1 - The age of your DVD player (what year was it manufactured)?  Brand, too. 

2 - The age of your computer...

     - Is it a PC or a Mac?

     - What software are you running (i.e. PC/windows 7, Mac/Lion)

We test the replicated DVDs on DVD players as old as 8 years (the average lifespan is 4-5) and different computers to make sure they work.  But this sort of thing can happen. I'm sorry you're having trouble, Pete.  

I'll get you some disks that play on your machines.  


Edited by - frailin on 05/19/2012 04:46:57

BNJOMAKR - Posted - 05/19/2012:  05:04:18

Hi Eric

The DVD's will not play on my DVD player also. The player is at least 6 years old. They will play on my computer, but the sound is "jumpy".It's a Dell running Windows XP. I guess it's time to buy a new DVD player!


frailin - Posted - 05/19/2012:  05:39:09

Hi Marvin.  I'm sorry the DVDs aren't playing on your DVD player.  But I'm also concerned about the sound being "jumpy" when played on your computer.  I'm not sure I know what that means.  The sound on all the final edited programs is smooth and consistent (I hired a professional to make sure).  I'd need to understand more of the issue.

You should all have received the Programs by now.  Is anyone else experiencing issues with these new DVDs?  Please open them up and try them out and let me know if they're working.  

Thanks folks.  Again, sorry for the trouble.  


mworden - Posted - 05/19/2012:  06:09:25

Mine play on my DVD player (relatively new Sony blueray player) but will not play on my Mac (15" MacBookPro5,1 running 10.6.8).  I get the error message "Supported Disc Not Available".

pjxndvm - Posted - 05/19/2012:  06:14:33

For Informational purposes for others...

I use a iMac running 10.5.8 and the current version of DVD player... whew.... I am glad I am not the only one

pjxndvm - Posted - 05/19/2012:  06:21:59

No, none of the DVD's play...

frailin - Posted - 05/19/2012:  06:35:56

Ok. Houston, we have a problem.

In order to understand the issues (and fix), I need to figure out where the problem(s) lie. This is the way I'd like to organize this reporting.  

For those of you experiencing trouble playing the new DVDs (I shipped both Volumes 1 and 2), please report:

If it your DVD player... 

      - Which Volume are you having trouble with? 

      - Is it only one disk, two or all three?

          + Tell me the problem:  I.e. which disk(s) don't play or what other experience isn't right (i.e. "jumpy sound") - If there's an error message, please tell me what it says. 

      - What year was your DVD player made?  

      - What is the brand name?

If it's your computer...

     - Which Volume are you having trouble with? 

     - Is it only one disk, two or all three?

          + Tell me the problem:  I.e. which disk(s) don't play or what other experience isn't right (i.e. "jumpy sound") - if there's an error message, please tell me what it says. 

     - Is it a PC or a Mac?

     - What is the operating system? 

If it's BOTH, please report on each. 

And if your DVDs ARE working and you have the time, please tell me that, too.  

I'm turning this back over to the pros to find the problem and a solution.  I'm traveling to DC next week to start shooting Volume 3, but I'll have them coming up with an answer so I can make it right (send replacement DVDs?) the first week I'm back.  

Again, I'm sorry some of you are experiencing trouble.  It will be fixed.  



Edited by - frailin on 05/19/2012 06:49:07

BackDraft307 - Posted - 05/19/2012:  07:12:56

My Vol 2 showed up yesterday... and I have not had time to look at them yet....  Hopefully tonight I can and will give you a thumbs up or down on the DVDs working or not...


BUT over all thank you for all your hard work you have done for your very own Birthday... That is AWESOME! 

ramjo - Posted - 05/19/2012:  11:31:10

All the DVDs from both Vols 1 and 2 work in both my DVD player and computer. Sound and sight are fine. Hope everything gets sorted out soon for those experiencing difficulty. These exceptional documentaries can't be missed!

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