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The Tackhead Fraternity...

Posted by John Herrington on Saturday, February 28, 2009

No, I'm not initiating a new organization. The words describe an ethereal, mythical, even mystical fellowship of beings committed to the pursuit of the "real" world of banjo. Let's face it, there are those of us who kinda deep down feel that after God made banjo, it has been down hill ever since!

Obviously, the first ones that delighted his newly made man, who existed in the wonderful garden (after the arrival of his help mate) were likewise made from the dust of the ground. Dried gourds lay strewn on the hill sides of the wonderful land. Perhaps it was that God hinted to man that if he cut off the top of the gourd, there was the beginning of one of the finest passers of time in his imagination.

And so it was the banjo came to life. With the smooth deeply melancholy notes of its one string (and then three and finally five), Eve arose and began to swing and sway to the time of Adam's plunking. Great happiness came to the beautiful garden. Perhaps I had better move on, at this point...

We shall not develop the story of the apple, but skip to its tragic outcome. Out of the garden and doomed to wander upon the vast plains and mountains of the earth, having lost all that they had, this once magnificent being and his mate lived in deep depression, until one day...there it was! A patch of gourds, with last year's crop of dried ones scattered about brought the memory of the fine instrument that God had made for them. And Adam brought forth the first of a long line of tackhead instruments to bring delight once again into his family. As I remember the tales that float out of the mists of our past, the first tacks were thorns that grew on the bushes that surrounded Adam and his wife, making their lives miserable.

There you have it, dear friends; the beginnings of the famous tackhead instrument we love so much. As the first family dined and fellowshipped together around their warming fire in the evening, Adam's deep driving notes sounded the primative strum, "Ban-Jo," "Ban--Jo," "Ban--Jo." Over the ensuing years, this beat would be expressed by those who drifted south with a slightly different twang: "Ban--Jar, Ban--Jar, Ban--Jar" The whole thing finally degenerating into the infamous "Bum-Di-Ty, Bum-Di-Ty" of our own day.

There, in this tome is the kernel of truth for us all. We must get back to the famous tackhead banjos of old if we want once again to experience the smooth deeply melancholy notes that brought happiness to our homes.

Long live the Tackhead Fraternity! 

Old John on the Big Horn

1 comment on “The Tackhead Fraternity...”

Banjo75 Says:
Sunday, March 1, 2009 @3:52:17 AM

Well said John!  Well said.  It is that connection to the "roots" of the banjo I hope to make with my Prust Tackhead.  There is something very authentic about the thought of plunking away, with limited sustain, to those old tunes.


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