Posted by chrisb5string on Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I started playing in 1972/73 when I heard Dueling Banjos. I was 12 and I bought a tenor banjo because that all the local music store had. I tried to play DB with a flat pick and using the tenor chords. I didn’t grow up with bluegrass, and in Lower Michigan, I never saw or heard any bluegrass type music until I was in college. I bought the Scruggs book and picked out the tab, but I had no idea what those tunes like “shucking the corn “sounded like. If I was more motivated at the time, I guess I would have searched out some bluegrass music or a teacher, but I didn’t even know where to begin.
I played in a few bar bands always on guitar and sometimes between sets I ‘d play a little banjo on a folkie thing like Neil Young’s “Old Man” or even “Dream boat Annie” by Heart! . I never really saw or heard a bluegrass banjo player up close until probably 10 year ago. I guess I optimized the phase “fake it until you make it”. I really picked up the Scruggs licks after a group lesson with Ross Nickerson a few years ago and my purchase of his Scruggs style book. Mr. Nickerson’s book brought it all home to me and I was embarrassed to see what I had been missing for almost 30 years. In hindsight, I really missed the boat since almost all of my current playing on the banjo is based on Scruggs style bluegrassy stuff.
On the other hand, now that I am ingrained in the bluegrass/banjo world, and banjo music is much more accessible, I do get some credit for being able to play outside the bluegrass genre and my current band really likes the my particular style.
I read a liner note on a Bela Fleck album one time that although he and others had ventured far from the traditional bluegrass music mold, everything he did musically was colored by his bluegrass beginnings and that those roots could not be denied.
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