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My Epiphany

Posted by FretlessinTexas on Wednesday, December 23, 2009


My epiphany, my awakening, my turning point with the banjo took place 15-17 years ago at the Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers' Convention in Athens, Ala. I really think it's why I'm playing banjo today.
I had placed an open-back banjo on the ground, leaning against a tree. I was standing there and watching the music onstage, when an old man, probably in his 70s or 80s, approached me. "That your banjo there?" he asked.

"Yes sir."
"Do you play in the old-style, clawhammer?"
"Yes sir."
"You follow me."

So I did and life has never been the same since. The old man turned out to be an old-time fiddle player and while he never may have realized it, he brought me out of the closet, so to speak. That night, I performed with him onstage with an impromptu, put together old-time string band. I'm sure I was just about awful that night, but it was huge turning point. Never again would I shut myself away with my banjo. From then on, I was turned loose on a whole new world. My only regret is that I never got that old man's name.


“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cock sure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” -- Bertrand Russell


If the weather cooperates, my close friend Gil Sewell, an old-time fiddle player from Pikeville, Tenn., will be visiting my home for three or four days in mid-January. We will play the Firefly Coffee House here in Fort Wayne on Friday, Jan. 15, as the "Dogtrotters." On Saturday, the 16th, we will join the Spy Run String Band and play a contra dance at the University of Saint Francis.  On Sunday, we'll go to church and then figure out something to do in the afternoon. With tongue in cheek, Gilbert, who has a real archaic style to his playing, refers to midwestern and New England fiddle tunes, some of which he begrudgingly likes, as "Yankee tinkle music." We both generally prefer southern Appalachian tunes.


On Aug. 19, 2007, an oil tanker off the coast of Austrailia split in two, dumping 20,000 tons of crude oil into the ocean. A member of the Australian Parliament appeared on a TV news program to reassure the public. See link below for interview.


And now I have seen it all: A BHO member asking for the tab of "Freebird."  I almost responded, but held back.


Most important, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God Bless.






5 comments on “My Epiphany”

pauwac Says:
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @1:35:57 PM

William Butler Yeats: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of a passionate intensity." That being said, sometimes the best do find some conviction, and that's when things go right. I enjoyed reading your story of the old fiddler and I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas.

Dock Jekel Says:
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @4:34:50 PM

I was brought out of the closet by an old time fiddler too! He turned me on to a whole new world... or other world! I didn't get his name either.... who was that man? :- ) Hey, I enjoy your good writing.

dbrooks Says:
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @5:39:23 PM

Great story about the fiddler, Dean. Several folks on the Hangout have helped me in similar ways. I hope I have the chance to play that role for someone as well, but we usually do not really know how we influence others -- for the good or the bad.

strokestyle Says:
Thursday, December 24, 2009 @3:35:28 PM

Many happy days behind and ahead for you Dean. Best to you and your banjo's!

RWJonesy Says:
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 @10:06:38 PM

*** God Bless you this New Year and the days that follow !!!

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