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Why the Banjo?

Posted by Mario Rimoldi on Friday, November 25, 2011

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I saw my family yesterday for the holiday and I always bring my banjo with me just in case I see a moment to show  someone a song or something but nobody on my Italian side of the family cares about the BANJO! In fact they look at me and say WHY THE BANJO? And it is hard to explain to them, I always say well I liked Dueling Banjos growing up as a kid , Jerry Garcia played the Banjo on Old and in the Way (a great album) Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Breakdown with Bill Keith on Banjo really did it to me and then one day in my late forties I said why not give it a try I'll just buy a cheap banjo and see how it goes, and then my relatives look at me and say WHY DO YOU OWN FOUR BANJOS? I then make a mistake and pull out the banjo and start to play a few tunes without warming up and I stumble all over the place. I've been playing now for 15 months and practice EVERYDAY for at least an hour or so and it sounded like I've been playing for 15 days, also with not allot of positive energy in the room you eventually put the instrument back in its case and drive home pissed off! But it is my own fault I still have this problem of playing in front of people where I just forget anything I know and I get really nervous , I've played guitar in front of people and I've been in bands but the banjo is a really different animal all together I need to warm up and feel comfortable to play in front of people and of course once I got home and practiced I sounded much better and was able to get some  sleep . I am at a point now where I really need to play with other people, but's hard for other people even just a guitar player because everyone seems to have a life and I am born again with my new found love THE BANJO! Have a great holiday weekend everyone and keep on pickin!

8 comments on “Why the Banjo?”

BanjoFlyboy Says:
Friday, November 25, 2011 @8:55:37 AM

Mario, why would anyone not want to hear and play the only musical instrument that was developed and perfected in the USA? I just don't care to associate with people that don't like banjos and dogs. ;-) I recently started piaying along with the backing tracks on "Beckyboy's" homepage, and think my playing has improved. If my friends and relatives don't agree; well, that's their problem! Ha ha.

Tall Grass Says:
Friday, November 25, 2011 @11:11:34 AM

One of those tough questions. Like your wife asking you why you love her. Questions like that drill a hole in your skull while your thinking of an answer. I agree with BanjoFlyboy, why not play a banjo? The rest of the problem I will have to deal with in my usual careless manner.

tkocason Says:
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @8:51:43 AM

Been there, messed up on that....the last banjo workshop I attended went like this: "Lets go around the room and have each of you play something, so I can see where you are" It came to me and suddenly I couldn't even move my fingers! I wanted to play Rocky Top, I've been playing it a lot and it's a cool sounding tune, so why not? but like you said, I hadn't warmed up, and was now in front of the whole class, I guess i should have went with a warm-up tune like Cripple creek or something along those lines. I freaked out and didn't play anything "uhmm, I'll pass". ugh! very frustrating!

KrissyJean Says:
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @9:35:38 AM

Why the Banjo, because its unique. It makes me think of good ole days before t.v. and the internet. Times when entertainment was hanging with the family and rocking out. Its just sounds cool :). P.S. I choke every-time too! But some day I will nail it. Keep plucking and buy your family bluegrass records for Christmas ha ha..

Banjov1 Says:
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @11:32:15 AM

Hey Mario, you sound like a mirror image of me a few years back. I still feel a little uncoordinated when I first pick up the banjo to play, but believe it or not, it gets easier and easier and the warm up time neccessary to play confidently is definitely less today than it was say 2-3 years ago.

Definitely make an effort to play with other people local to your area. Do searches here and on jam sites and I guarantee you'll find some folks to play with. One of the great things about playing bluegrass is that you don't need to find an organized band to play with, everyone generally knows a similar catalog of tunes and there's nothing more satisfying than playing in your first couple jam sessions. It's completely overwhelming at times, but as you get comfortable it really helps your playing.

lindafhorton53 Says:
Friday, December 2, 2011 @6:24:04 AM

Why the banjo? I think it's in my DNA! I'm also a state licensed investigator for many years and a genealogy nut (my profession helps greatly with my ancestor searches). My Great Grandfather who was born and raised in Alabama (Andrew Jackson Horton--can you tell he's a Southenor?) played the banjo from the time he was a little boy. By the time I was born in East Texas he was an old man living a couple of hours away from us. I heard him on his banjo a couple of times before he died when I was age eight. From that time on, I LOVED the banjo! In the '70's when I began tracing my family genealogy, I discovered his father, John Milton Horton was a traveling fiddler. He traveled all over AL, TN, GA, Miss. playing at weddings, socials, funerals, etc. for a living. Back then, that was not necessarily a reputable "profession" and I can tell you for sure John Milton was a character! For as long as I can remember, every time I heard a note or two of a 5 string, something in me would "lurch" (only way I know how to describe the feeling) and I'd get happy!! Don't remember much about A. J. Horton, but DO remember his banjo!! I longed all my life to learn to play it but we were too poor and couldn't afford extras like that. Even when I was finally able to get my BA degree at age 29, I was a single Mom, and working and the lessons of any kind that I could afford went to my kids. Finally, at age 40 I got a 5 string for $125.00 in a divorce sale (the guy actually had tears in his eyes when he handed it over to me--saying it was the only thing he had left to sell) and then had a heck of a time finding anyone in that Calif. area who could teach me--there wasn't any videos and DVD's back then!! Anyway, I can play a little now, but believe me, I need LOTS of practice with others---I'm now in Murfreesboro, TN and looking to start or join a slow jam--. The thing that finally got me started was Murphy's videos. I've had my ups and downs, having to put the banjo up for awhile several times, but I'm determined to learn this dang thing or die trying!!! And I tell people I'm taking it to Heaven with me when I go!! Heaven is a happy place, I know they'd love the banjo up there too!! I just won't play songs like Mountain Dew for 'em! ( :

BanjoJohnny Says:
Friday, February 17, 2012 @10:09:04 AM

Mario, I had an instructor that told me that he was going to get t-shirts printed up that said: "Honestly, I could play this at home." It happens to all of us.
And regarding your family and the banjo, I have a daughter that was raised mostly in KY that responded to me: "Aw Dad, You are not going to play that hillbilly stuff, are you?"

Mario Rimoldi Says:
Friday, February 17, 2012 @10:28:22 AM

I want one of those shirts!

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