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 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:

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StraitsBlueGal - Posted - 07/08/2012:  17:01:53

Awesome!  Can't wait for Vol. 3 (and the Hartford stories).

A few years ago my husband and I took a July trip to North Carolina.  It was HOT and humid and I started getting heat sickness from walking around outside, so in a Chapel Hill I got a big old cold ice tea.  A very, very sweet one.  Nearly fell over from that on top of the heat... Guess I'm not acclimated for regions south of Toledo!

BNJOMAKR - Posted - 07/08/2012:  18:13:27

Nothing better than good ol' Lexington Bar-B-Q!   tongue





May I suggest this tune to be used on Volume 3?;archived= 




Edited by - BNJOMAKR on 07/08/2012 18:25:16

Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 07/08/2012:  21:49:33


Originally posted by BNJOMAKR



May I suggest this tune to be used on Volume 3?;archived= 


I really just dropped by to say that I've just finished watching Volume I (I'm watching them one at a time every couple of days - and really savouring each one), and I think it's just brilliant work, Craig! The only fault I can find with this series is that now I want a banjo from every maker I've met up close and personal in this series!


Anyway - that's all I thought I had to say at this moment, until I read BNJOMAKR's post above, and followed the link to the song 'Banjos on the Moon', and I thought I would concur with that recommendation: There's probably a spot somewhere on your banjo historians series where that song would just fit perfectly!

RG - Posted - 07/08/2012:  22:12:18

originally posted by bnjomakr

"Nothing better than good ol' Lexington Bar-B-Q!"


Oh boy, are you right!!!!! 

olpete - Posted - 07/09/2012:  15:35:36

Aw c'mon the tea wasn't that sweet! I didn't know they made tea any other way. We had a good time meeting Craig and it was nice to get to shake the hand of the man who is responsible for getting all this great stuff together for all of us to see. It gives us a chance to in a way meet people that we may never get to meet otherwise and to learn about them and their banjo building worlds. Can't wait for this upcoming 3rd series to get finished. Craig is welcome back to our little part of NC anytime!

frailin - Posted - 07/09/2012:  18:39:27

NC/VA/WVA Banjo Historian Swing - Day 2


Just when I thought it couldn't get any better... it did.  big

Today started off at the Haiti Lab at Duke University with Dr. Laurent Dubois.  Whoa!!

Yeah, the guy teaches at a prestigious college... and yeah, he's got the 3 little letters behind his name.  But under that nicely pressed shirt is a heart that beats true and deep for the banjo.  Yep, like many of us, Laurent got hooked early on in life (through a book, of course).  And he had the good fortune of attending college in Lansing, MI (near Elderly Instruments).  One thing lead to another and *voila*, another banjo historian is made.  It's magic, I tell ya'. 

Laurent is writing a book for Harvard University Press about the banjo and its development/evolution in the Caribbean.  After listening to his passionate story for 45 minutes, I know why he's so deeply into this (you will too!).  It's amazing what happened down there!  I got so caught up in it, I forgot to ask him one of the few questions I had prepared ("What the heck is a 'merrywang?'").  Oh well, guess I'll never know.  But everything else I learned more than made up for my shortcoming.  

Next: CeCe Conway! 

A short jaunt across Chapel Hill put me face-to-face with another hero of mine (for many reasons).  Yup, years ago CeCe and Tommy Thompson (and others) did some amazing work documenting some of the few remaining black musicians in and around the Piedmont area (i.e. Dink Roberts, Joe and Odell Thompson and others).  But CeCe is also a store house of information on the late Tommy Thompson and the original Red Clay Ramblers.  

I couldn't help getting into that conversation... and was richly rewarded for it!

We looked at some pictures and I got some great Tommy stories.  Also got answers to questions I've had about their music. Then I got to thinking... would any of you folks here at BHO like to see a DVD Series on the story of the Red Clay Ramblers?  I don't think I'm alone in feeling they're a pivotal group the level and caliber of the New Lost City Ramblers.  Anyway, CeCe and I got to talking about collaborating on the production of such a work (similar to what I've done with the Banjo Builder Series).  If you'd be interested in such a DVD Set, let me know here on the thread.  It might be a project worth pursuing. 

Next  I split for Mt. Airy, home of Tommy Jarrell and Paul Sutphin. 

I stopped to pay my respects to a great man in this tradition.  

Take a closer look at the above pic. Note that little jar of... um, whatever it is on the bottom ledge of Tommy's headstone. I didn't take the lid off and smell of it.  Didn't need to.  big

Then stopped by the location of the yearly Fiddle Fest to shoot the final segment in the Banjo Builder series.  You'll have to wait to see what that's about. 

And on my way to the hotel, I stopped by Toast, NC for a quick snap of Tommy's old house.  

Tomorrow, on my way up to Dwight Diller's WVA hideaway, I'll stop in Galax to take in Kevin Fore, the final Banjo Builder in this Series.  He's also going to take me on a Round Peak tour (provides the weather holds... it's rainin' cats and dogs out right now).  Fingers crossed. 

If I get internet up there in the mountains tomorrow night, watch for Day 3 happenings.  

Dang, this is fun!

PS - I could make a habit out of BBQ and sweet tea every night.  big

Edited by - frailin on 07/09/2012 18:46:54

pastorharry - Posted - 07/09/2012:  19:15:02

Great essay in pictures, Craig....I was blessed to spend my 60th birthday in Tennessee and Virginia with John Balch, Ronnie Collins, Judy Thompson...while meeting many along my way such as David Holt,Debbie Delmore, and Flo Wolfe,(who is A.P. and Sara Carter's oldest living granddaughter). The Carter family fold in Hiltons Virginia is a great stop on saturday night if your able. Enjoy the bbq-My wife is making me some bbq porkchops with homegrown corn's my 61st birthday today...gotcha beat,whippersnapper! Aloha, PH

jbalch - Posted - 07/09/2012:  19:46:10


Originally posted by pastorharry

Great essay in pictures, Craig....I was blessed to spend my 60th birthday in Tennessee and Virginia with John Balch, Ronnie Collins, Judy Thompson...while meeting many along my way such as David Holt,Debbie Delmore, and Flo Wolfe,(who is A.P. and Sara Carter's oldest living granddaughter). The Carter family fold in Hiltons Virginia is a great stop on saturday night if your able. Enjoy the bbq-My wife is making me some bbq porkchops with homegrown corn's my 61st birthday today...gotcha beat,whippersnapper! Aloha, PH

 Harry:  Happy Birthday friend.  I'm pleased you can spend this one at home with Raleigh ... but know that we miss you here in Tennessee this year.


Craig:  Keep up the good work (if you can call it that)!

frailin - Posted - 07/11/2012:  05:47:59

NC/VA/WVA Banjo Historian Swing - Day 3


Nope.  No internet in last night's hotel in this part of West Virginia.  So this morning I'm writing from the Marlinton coffee shop... the Dirt Bean.  Check out my spiffy green rental!

Yesterday was a continuation of this amazing journey.  First I met up with banjo builder (and budding historian), Kevin Fore and his wife Trish.  

Kevin and I talked banjos and his astonishing playing skills (the guy has the most amazingly powerful "throw" considering how little he actually moves... you'll see).  I couldn't take the camera off his right hand.  

But throughout the conversation, he kept talking stories about all his local heroes... specifically, Kyle Creed and Benton Flippen.  Where Kevin's banjo structure and design are based on Kyle's work, Benton was especially meaningful to his music development.  In fact, Kevin's favorite ride is Benton's old van (it was given to him after Benton's passing).  Once the interview was done, Kevin offered to take me for a ride in it to see the local sights.  But of course!

A few miles down the road, we passed Kyle's house. 

We were en route to the Blue Ridge Music Center.  

Once there, I was blown away at this regional monument to our favorite genre of music!  But even MORE surprises were in store.  I got to meet yet another hero of mine who just happened to be there teaching for the summer.  

Yep. That's the wonderfully talented and entertaining Erynn Marshall.  After some small talk I put out the big "ask" to see if I could get her to play with Kevin and Trish.  She immediately agree (no surprise there).  

So Kevin and Trish and I hightailed Benton's land yacht back home for banjers and geetars.  We returned in under 15 minutes.  Could you tell we were a bit excited?! 

Erynn took us into the small auditorium that's a part of the Music Center and they played some fantastic old traditional tunes.  I'll be sure to put at least one of them in Kevin's Program.  Wow.  Such energy!  But alas, duty called and I had to saddle up for the trip up to Brown's Creek to meet with my old banjo teacher, Dwight Diller. 

Dwight met me in the drive as I pulled in.  It was great to see him... it'd been 11 years since he first taught me how to play and introduced me to this wonderful music and community.  We pulled up some chairs in the yard and sat and chatted for an hour.  I was reminded again of just how good a teacher Dwight is.  It's been my experience in life that those that teach best are those that genuinely care about the student.  Dwight cares.  In fact he was asking me about some things we'd discussed way back when.  Wow.

I will take some time editing this precious interview.  Like Dwight, I expect some people will like it better than others.  I intend to document the man for the teacher/performer and historian he is.  I owe him that.  If it wasn't for Dwight, I never would have taken this journey.  Heck, I wouldn't even know about the banjo.  He's that important in my personal life's journey.  So much so, I decided to dedicate the Banjo Builder Series to him.  


Ok.  I've got miles to go and the 16 oz of dark coffee I've been sippin' writing this entry has now kicked in.  Yee-haw!  It's time to DRIVE!  

I'm home to begin editing this last Swing for Volume 3 sometime tomorrow.  It's been fun.  It's also been a homecoming of sorts for me.  Bittersweet.  I'm excited to get to work on these stories.  

More later.  Thanks for reading.  smiley

Edited by - frailin on 07/11/2012 05:55:43

Viper - Posted - 07/11/2012:  08:24:02

Volume 3 is becoming more and more epic as the days go by. Cheers to you Craig!

frailin - Posted - 07/11/2012:  09:11:58

Volume 3 is definitely not Banjo 101. Indeed, it should be considered a higher-level course. But like any advanced study, it enhances your understanding and appreciation.

For the right person, Volume 3 definitely will be an eye-opener.

I can't tell you how much the development of this amazing curriculum has affected me. :)

jdulaney - Posted - 07/11/2012:  10:36:24

Well, if while you're in NC and you happen to come near Fayetteville, give me a shout and I'll buy you some real BBQ. That tomato based sauce they use west of here just doesn't quite cut it.

Colin Vance - Posted - 07/13/2012:  14:51:00

This is all fantastic, Craig! I am REALLY looking forward to the third in the series. Thanks for everything...

ramjo - Posted - 07/13/2012:  15:03:12


Originally posted by Colin Vance

This is all fantastic, Craig! I am REALLY looking forward to the third in the series. Thanks for everything...

Hey Craig--

You know you're doing something right when you get your interviewees to make their first post to the hangout.

As Colin says, thanks for everything. And Colin: thank you too!

frailin - Posted - 07/14/2012:  18:40:53

Coming up later tonight:  Peter Szego's Banjo Collection with commentary by George Wunderlich and Greg Adams.


Jeez this one is fun!  It's taken me a long, long time to edit, but it's worth the extra effort.  Peter, George and Greg take you through banjos and banjo history from 1840 to the late 1860s. Along the way you'll see some excellent artifacts from minstrelsy through the Civil War.  The Bouchers and Ashborns (both guitars and banjos) are extraordinary.  And how can you not get involved when exposed to the enthusiasm of these most excellent banjo aficionados?  big

Vimeo is trying to swallow the 3.2 GB files now (the Show is almost 40 minutes long... but sure doesn't feel like it smiley ).  

For those of you that have pre-ordered Volume 3, the address is:  You know what to do when there (password).  If you've forgotten the password, write me.  

Now working on CeCe Conway and Laurent Dubois.  


ramjo - Posted - 07/15/2012:  06:31:00

Just watched this one, and all I can say is WOW! It was so amazing to witness how these guys arrived at their incredible depths of knowledge, seeing them back with some of the specimens they gleaned it from. The stuff you do just keeps getting better and better! Thanks again, Craig.

frailin - Posted - 07/15/2012:  08:06:33

Local Coverage... and an upcoming event.  


I did an interview driving across NC/VA/WVA earlier this week.  It appeared in today's Startribune, our local newspaper.  Article is here (and below):




If any of you folks are near Rosemount, MN this weekend, come on down for the Friday night Square Dance (with the Eelpout Stringers) or the Saturday Afternoon Bluegrass Festival (w/ Singleton Street)!  And be SURE and come up to say "hi."  More at:


Edited by - frailin on 07/15/2012 08:07:34

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 07/15/2012:  12:43:22


You really captured the banjo-focused historical dialectic with this film.   I’ve stood around with these guys at previous Banjo Collectors Gathering and seen them go over the same ground, finger the same instruments, and turn over these same ideas.  Each time they do so they manage to push the envelop in some new way, press the argument in an adventuresome manner, striking out in intriguing new directions, and adding layers of depth to the body of knowledge. 

Thanks for documenting this banjo-centric chat.


frailin - Posted - 07/19/2012:  14:40:23

Two more Banjo Historian Conversations Posted at Vimeo.


I'm taking a short break from Bob Carlin's Program (now editing some favorite John Hartford memories) to update what's at Vimeo.  smiley  For those of you that have already purchased Volume 3, both the following Shows are availiable for immediate viewing (the same access codes apply).  If you've forgotten, write me.  

If you've not yet purchased, you can do so here: and I'll send you the codes so you, too, can watch right now.  I'll also send you the DVDs when the "Conversations with Banjo Historians" Series is finished (sometime late in 2012).  big


A Conversation with Banjo Historian, CeCe Conway.


CeCe has not only done it, she's lived it! It started long before her research and book on the Black Banjo Songsters. Between her time spent with Tommy Thompson and the Red Clay Ramblers AND Tommy Jarrell (et al), she been somewhat writing from her life's experiences!

CeCe shares many of her thoughts and stories, here. Some fine photos, too.  Oh, and a close up and Tommy Thompson's Fairbanks #5.


A Conversation with Banjo Historian, Dr. Laurent Dubois.


With banjo history, every corner you turn leads to a new discovery. For literally hundreds of years, our mysterious instrument continues to amuse, intrigue and survive. Indeed, it's a symbol of both exile and hope.

In this conversation, Dr. Laurent Dubois takes us on yet another adventure. This time, through the Caribbean where the banjo evolves in form, function and repertoire. All the while, it's taking-from and contributing-to many diverse cultures... and cementing its place in history. What tales it tells!

You're going to want to watch this Program several times. Indulge in Dr. Dubois thoughts. It's the stuff books are written of.


Ok.  Now back to Bob Carlin.  This guy is a riot! 

R. Blakeslee Gilpin - Posted - 07/19/2012:  17:29:32

Craig - I'm so glad you and Laurent hooked up - I'm loving series 3...great work!

frailin - Posted - 07/24/2012:  07:41:54

Next up:  Bob Carlin! 


OMG!  This guy is so much fun!  And he's a great story teller.  

Bob and I got into everything from Joel Walker Sweeney (his book... why I was there) to the Virginia Minstrels to Earl, to Bill Keith and finally, John Hartford.  Bob is as candid as he is talented.  He calls it as he sees it... which makes this Program both informative and perhaps a bit controversial.  No matter.  Either way it's highly educational... and entertaining!  I'm still waiting for approval for some visuals/images from the publishers, but the content (conversation) is there now.  

I hope you, too enjoy meeting and learning from one of the most dedicated and involved clawhammer players of our time.  He's certain a fast-favorite of mine.  

I'm rendering the show now.  Will post it to Vimeo later this AM and list the address here.  For you that have already purchased Volume 3, same access codes apply.  

Enjoy!  big

PS - Here's where/how to order Volume 3, if you haven't yet (and would like to):

Edited by - frailin on 07/24/2012 07:42:42

frailin - Posted - 07/24/2012:  10:09:31

Ok.  Bob Carlin is up!


Head over here:


StraitsBlueGal - Posted - 07/26/2012:  06:08:29

The Carlin interview was great - thank you!  I won't put any spoilers here, but wow, those were some interesting insights on John Hartford too (whose work I adore, and I can see how the observations on work and identity were spot-on).  And I can't wait for his next book - great subject choice.

frailin - Posted - 07/29/2012:  11:14:41

A piece of current, living history - Banjo teacher Dwight Diller.


This one was special.  It had been 11 years since I'd seen Dwight.  As I was planning my trip to NC, I had some time to reflect.  A lot has happened since that 3-day weekend in June 2001.  More than I care to discuss here.  But one conclusion is certain; the banjo - as presented to me by Dwight Diller - changed my life.  There's no doubt that at the end of my days, if I were asked to name the 5 most important people that came along 'side me, Dwight would be on that list.  



At the time he first met me, I figured I was just someone else interested in learning how to play clawhammer banjo.  It happened to be an intensely difficult time in my life.  Like a laser beam, within the first few seconds after saying hi, Dwight looked deep into me.  He saw the turmoil within.  He then asked "how old are you?"  I told him (49).  He answered "so, you're starting to consider your own mortality.  Good."  Not your usual salutation.  I didn't know it, but he was already at work.  

Using gifts unique to him, Dwight began to draw on that resource to teach me how to understand the music and play the banjo.  This is soooo beyond technique.  

Looking back now, I understand and appreciate his approach.  During the last 11 years of playing, celebrating the music, moving between the disparate communities that are drawn to this mysterious instrument, it has became clear, Dwight unlocked something inside of me.  Call it a passion, an appreciation, a gratitude... it can go by many names.  But the bottom line is, his banjo lesson opened up my opportunity for joy.  Dwight rocked my world.  Somehow, during this interview, I needed to tell him that.  

So here is my tribute to my teacher, mentor and friend, Dwight Diller.  

Our chat is open and candid. Dwight is not one for hiding his feelings... or his challenges. He's direct and honest.  As such, this Program may trouble some.  Others, those that have had the opportunity to spend time with him will understand the messages contained.  My hunch is, those folks too understand why I feel it necessary to include Dwight as a piece of living banjo history.  There won't be another teacher like him.  

Dwight is more than just the icing on my birthday cake.  He's the ingredients from which it was made. 

Thank you, Sir.  smiley


You folks that have already purchased Volume 3 can watch it now, here.  Same passcodes apply. 

Those interested in purchasing Volume 3 (so you can watch this interview - and others in this Series now), go here:

Edited by - frailin on 07/29/2012 11:16:13

ScottK - Posted - 07/29/2012:  20:34:38

Hi Craig,

What with summer festivals, family visits, and fiddle practice I've fallen a bit behind in my viewing. But this afternoon I found time to watch the last five videos you posted and enjoyed all of them immensely. Great work, as always! Thanks!

Incidentally, Richard Jones-Bamman is visiting Portland, so we threw together a jam in his honor Thursday evening and had a great time visiting with him and playing tunes late into the night.

Cheers, Scott

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 07/30/2012:  02:29:58

Dwight touched so many folks in so many different ways.  He's an intensive teacher, a convincing story teller, and a great local historian.  He's a deep, abiding West Virginian and he represents that life experience with ardor. 

Here's my first effort to capture some of that after hosting a Dwight workshop in 2002:'

Clearly, Dwight has left in his wake a large number of students who continue to wonder just what was this force that entered their lives, banjo in hand...

Dwight's come to the age where he's the "old timer" now, no longer just the keeper of old time traditions and the protector of very specific musical influences -- now, he is an old time tradition himself, and the music he makes is very worthy of protecting and preserving in its own right (despite his protestations that "It Is Not About Me".  I've thought about ways to get this history down, to push Dwight in the direction of producing a "memoir" of life and music. 

However, with Craig's film there no longer seems to be a crying need for that because his video captures the essence of Dwight and gets him down at his best on a wide range of issues and matters close to his heart. 

This is a great video.

Thanks for this, Craig.




frailin - Posted - 07/31/2012:  08:20:57

An Conversation with Banjo Historian Bob Winans.  Joined by special guest, Greg Adams.


It's taken a while, but Bob's show is now finished, rendering and will be available on Vimeo later today.  Bob is a professor emeritus not only of English, but of banjo!  Driven by the "need to know", Bob was one of the original pioneers researching the playing styles of early minstrels.  But he has contributed far more than "just the facts."  Bob's seminal recording of The Early Minstrel Show has made it possible for all of us to hear and understand a rich part of the history of the banjo.  

Bob also gives us a personal tour of his fine collection of banjo artifacts including an Ashborn, a Teed and an 1860's all German Silver model that requires sunglasses just to view.  

Greg Adams joins us in this conversation adding even more depth to the discussion... not to mention fun.  Greg also demonstrates some fine old tunes from the Buckley manual (Japanese Grand March and Briggs' Jig).  Played on period instruments, of course! smiley

Back soon to let you know when it's posted and available for viewing.  


StraitsBlueGal - Posted - 07/31/2012:  08:56:50

Again, can't wait!  As a closet wanna-be luthier, I loved Volumes 1 and 2, but in Vol 3 you are really getting into my banjo geek territory and what I've seen on Vimeo so far is terrific!  Also, because I haven't been playing that long - thank you for introducing me to some folks now who I would probably learn of later.

frailin - Posted - 07/31/2012:  11:59:06

The Bob Winans interview (with Greg Adams) is now posted.  smiley


Those that pre-ordered Volume 3 can watch now (same passcodes apply).  Anyone interested in learning more about the Banjo Builder Series, head over to



Up next is Kevin Fore.  

Edited by - frailin on 07/31/2012 12:04:35

erikforgod - Posted - 08/02/2012:  10:49:32

Those John Bowlin Banjos are 12" rims right?

frailin - Posted - 08/02/2012:  12:17:11

Banjo Builder Kevin Fore coming up later today. 


Kevin Fore is a rare individual. He builds banjos, plays them (and wins awards) and is a walking history book of several of his banjo-related heroes.  Among them, Kyle Creed and Benton Flippen are his personal favorites. 

Kevin's banjo building and banjo playing closely pattern Kyle. His mentor and favorite live playing influence has been Benton. Kevin represents the best of both. 



And as if that wasn't enough, Kevin is a leading player of "Round Peak" style. In this Program, Kevin and his wife Trish demonstrate the regional playing differences in "up the mountain" and "down the mountain" styles.


Here's another Show you'll probably want to watch twice... at least.  big


I'll be back later on today with the Vimeo address... it's uploading (s-l-o-w-l-y) right now.  




Those that pre-ordered Volume 3 can watch now (same passcodes apply).  Anyone interested in learning more about the Banjo Builder Series, head over to northamericanbanjobuilders. com



Edited by - frailin on 08/02/2012 12:20:28

frailin - Posted - 08/02/2012:  13:15:05

Kevin Fore's conversation will be here:

Enjoy! big

frailin - Posted - 08/03/2012:  07:29:59

Star Struck - Erynn Marshall.  More from my day with Kevin and Trish Fore.


Gotta admit, one of the MOST fun things that happened during my year of travel visiting banjo builders was running into folks like fiddler, Erynn Marshall.  Without exception, the musicians I encountered were delighted to sit down and play.  


Having never met Erynn, I've long been a fan of her style and especially, her original compositions.  As soon as I learned she was at the Blue Ridge Music Center, I had to put out the "big ask."  And of course, she said "yes!"



So here's Erynn playing a favorite "D" and an "A" tune with with Kevin and Trish.  What a delight!  



Oh, and if you're ever around Galax, don't miss this incredible museum.



Wheeee!  big




Those that pre-ordered Volume 3 can watch now (same passcodes apply).  Anyone interested in learning more about the Banjo Builder Series, head over to 



Edited by - frailin on 08/03/2012 07:31:36

frailin - Posted - 08/06/2012:  09:07:30

Peter Szego Collection - Volume 3 Extra!


Peter Szego's banjo collection is extraordinary! But as the consummate collector, Peter has extended his focus to include items and communities influenced by the early banjo.


Moments after George Wunderlich, Greg Adams and Peter finished the official Banjo Collection tour (see the Peter Szego Collection Tour with George and Greg in this Series), Peter continued by showing us some "broadsides" (playbills) of many early minstrel groups and players.

At first, I was afraid this (inner hallway) footage was too dark to be used. But after a few tweaks, although still darker than I would like, I believe the content of this Extra is WELL worth the minor inconvenience.

In this Extra, Peter and George also explain more of the development of minstrelsy and the early banjo.


Those that pre-ordered Volume 3, yada yada to see now.  Others,  smiley

Edited by - frailin on 08/06/2012 09:09:12

ScottK - Posted - 08/07/2012:  22:44:17

Finally got around to watching the Jim Bollman video tonight.  shock   Wow!  Simply amazing!   Thanks Jim and Craig!

Folks, if you're a banjo geek/nerd/enthusiast and you haven't ordered the Banjo Historians video yet, you should do yourself a favor....

Oh, and I love Erynn Marshall and loved that video of her with the Fores as well!  smiley  I'll be watching the interview with Kevin Fore next.

Cheers, Scott

richla - Posted - 08/09/2012:  08:04:09

Not sure why I haven't pushed the pay pal button yet, I have watched all the youtube previews, etc., I guess I was thinking I'd get the whole set at Christmas, but I can't take it anymore, I HAVE to have Volume III, so I can start checking out these interviews, this is exciting stuff!
Craig, just a fantastic job on this project.

frailin - Posted - 08/09/2012:  08:32:56

A Short Extra - A Conversation with Banjo Historian, Ed Britt


I was in Boston, wrapping up my amazing banjo tour with Jim Bollman when the one-and-only Mr. Ed Britt walked in.  smiley

Even more good fortune, I HAD remembered to pack an extra, extra tape that day.  So, once done with Jim, Ed and I sat down in Jim's backyard and talked about his experience as a banjo player, collector, designer and historian.  

This is short but relevant, insightful and fun.  What a talented treasure and delight Ed is.  big


Those that pre-ordered Volume 3, you know the drill.  Others, 

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 08/09/2012:  08:57:59

Yes, Craig.  I agree.  Ed Britt is all that.  He has been consistently helpful to me over the years.  BUT, to quote another brilliant banjo player, "Can he make balloon animals?"

atleson - Posted - 08/09/2012:  09:07:09

Ed Britt  certainly has a wealth of information which he can also present in a clear, fascinating manner,  but i have found him to be willing to very willingly respond to questions.  A real good and gracious fellow.




BrittDLD1 - Posted - 08/12/2012:  13:33:42

Brooklynbanjoboy Wrote:

"BUT ..." "Can he make balloon animals?"


Yes... But only daschunds, worms, snakes, and eels.


Ed Britt

Edited by - BrittDLD1 on 08/12/2012 13:41:29

frailin - Posted - 08/13/2012:  15:46:13

Windin' down.  A still from the Tombigbee River/Gum Tree Canoe Music Video at last weekend's MBOTMA Festival. 


Few things in life are more fun that sitting around eating, talking, dancing and making music with a few hundred old and new friends. The MBOTMA fall music festival that DeAnne and I attended last weekend generally boasts close to 6k attendees.  And the loyal fraction of that crowd that congregates up on Old Washmachine Field has bonded into one fine group of human beings. I could go on, but I won't. approve

This last "Extra" installment for the Historian Series is footage from the '12 MBOTMA Fall Festival held just outside of Richmond, MN in a quaint little preserve called Rancho Manana.  It's 1,800 acres of Minnesota beauty... trees, prairies, water.  And the outdoor amphitheater has national artists vying for a chance to play from that stage.  But that's just the backdrop for this message.  It's really about the meaning of community.  

I wanted to spend a few moments with you folks that have followed me for a year as I trekked cross-country to chat with the banjo builders and historians.  I learned many things along the way. But a few touched me deeply. I know, I've been changed.  

One particularly powerful learning was about the Africans... the slaves.  What they suffered through was beyond words. How they persevered and flourished in spite of it all is a story of hope and encouragement for the ages. The banjo witnessed the despair... and helped give shape to the hope that overcame. Nothing exemplifies this more than the role the banjo played in their Calindas - the African's gatherings celebrating music, song, dance and fellowship. It's no small irony that our music festivals are based on the same principles. Where our "homecoming" is no where near the emotional intensity of the first Africans longing for their native country and family, they still celebrate community, love, hope and joy. 

There was a risk to this. I tried really hard not to get sappy in this last installment... almost succeeded.  So be warned, please don't let my emotional intensity get in the way of the love I feel for those special people that gave us their music and dance. But that love also goes out to the builders and historians, those that put me up and encouraged me along this path. Also included are my wonderful Old Washmachine friends, you folks at Banjo Hangout and all the others that have found hope and joy in this amazing instrument.

We are a community. I'm delighted to be celebrating our common heritage with you all.  

Best birthday present ever.  approve

frailin - Posted - 08/16/2012:  10:39:39

A Final Banjo Builder Series "Extra":  Festival


Last weekend was the annual Fall MBOTMA festival.  Close to 6k people attend.  DeAnne and I gather with a bunch of old (and new) friends up on Old Washmachine to play music, tell stories, dance and eat.  I thought it the perfect setting to share a few final thoughts about my Grand 60th Birthday Adventure.  

I love my music community as much as I love the banjo.  And like the instrument, the folks that congregate Old Washmachine come in all colors, shapes, sizes, skills, beliefs, yadayada. "Festival" shows you just how beautiful (and ornery) music people in my community can be.  I've read where we base some of our love for another on their idiosyncrasies.  In that case, like me, there's lots here to love.  big  There's such beauty in variety.  But we all share a love for our musical heritage.  

I ended this Show with my "calenda" singing The Tombigbee River.  I couldn't imagine anything better to represent what community and friendship is all about.  

I hope you, too enjoy this moment of celebration.  

Thanks friends, for taking this adventure with me.  smiley


Volume 3 folks, you can watch now.  Same passcodes.  For those of you that haven't yet purchased Volume 3, I've set up a separate Vimeo with just the music video.  That link is here. But the music is only part of the calenda story.    

Keith Madison - Posted - 08/16/2012:  13:59:16

Yes Craig, a great festival, good to see you & your lovely wife there, brought two of my daughters & a friend, taught one of my daughters to play backup for fiddle tunes on the guitar, next thing I know she's going to a guitar workshop. Music breaks  down those barriers.

inniepie - Posted - 08/16/2012:  21:03:41

Ah Craig, one day I will get down there and meet you.

frailin - Posted - 08/26/2012:  17:31:19

So... almost made it. 


Tomorrow I turn 60.  

The Banjo Builders (Volumes 1 and 2) ARE finished.  That was my original goal... before I got the grant (and started Volume 3).  So I CAN say that birthday wish came true.  And 14 of the (up to) 16 Banjo Historian Shows ARE finished, in the can.  So... I'm happy.  

Since life really CAN begin at 50, I'm wondering what adventures are in store for the next decade?  

Life is good.  smiley

Edited by - frailin on 08/26/2012 17:37:16

StraitsBlueGal - Posted - 08/26/2012:  18:36:20

YAY!!!!  Happy Birthday and thanks for the great DVDs! 

R. Blakeslee Gilpin - Posted - 08/26/2012:  18:40:16

happy birthday craig - you've made every banjo players life a bit richer with this amazing gift. enjoy and thanks!

BNJOMAKR - Posted - 08/26/2012:  19:08:23

Happy Birthday Eve!

ScottK - Posted - 08/26/2012:  19:08:45

Happy Birthday! Amazing year! This could be a whole new career unfolding for you. You're good at it! ;-)


Marc Nerenberg - Posted - 08/26/2012:  19:39:42

Happy birthday, Craig! You gave all of us in the banjo world a truly great present!

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