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The Holy Grail

Posted by country frank on Wednesday, April 10, 2013



Just this weekend I had the total good fortune to have my good friend Bill Evans stay over with us here in London. He had been up teaching on the Sore Fingers Camp and had a couple of days left in the UK prior to him returning home. To my surprise [and utter glee] he arrived with his stunning 1930 Granada and I got a chance to play it......


This is my first and lasting impression;


As soon as I held that banjo I instantaneously felt that I knew it really, really well, almost uncannily well. Looking down at the banjo on my knee was like gazing upon your oldest friend, someone you have known and trusted intensely, a beloved and dear companion who knows from experience every facet of [my] creative mind.

To play the thing made me shake like a leaf, it was the most forgiving instrument I have ever touched, it ebbed and flowed with the full force of a natural tide, yet it moved tonally with the freedom and delicacy of a butterfly in flight. The sonic spectrum occupied by that instrument is otherworldly for sure. Its sound seems to come from the depths of time and memorial whilst at the same time being the absolute pinnacle of contemporary banjo sound and tonal desirability. I am a ham player for sure and this banjo just allowed me to ham it up, it forgave me, it steered me to better musical solutions, it drove me to play better and it did not once criticize me or show me up when I [very frequently] gaffed.

The best analogy for me to express what I feel is a visual one. I studied Fine Art [sculpture] and I work in education of the arts. This instrument was like holding the most perfect palette of colours you have ever witnessed. Imagine that you're about to paint a masterpiece and you look down at you palette, every colour on that palette is the exact right colour for your expressive state at that very moment. No matter how you chose to mix those colours up, you will always end up with the exact tone for your expressive self to flower and bloom fully.

Now i have never achieved that palette in reality and I doubted [until Sunday] that it could ever be realised, its always been a kind of 'ultimate' scenario because you know that if you can get those colours just right, then your painting might just turn out to be a masterpiece.


This banjo was all these things, the ultimate tool of the master craftsman, the oldest, dearest and most familiar friend you ever had, the greatest conversationalist you ever met and your keenest and most sensitive lover [Hope you don't mind me saying that Bill!].


What an experience, I am really very grateful to you Bill for allowing me the opportunity to play such a fine instrument. Thanks for reading.



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