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Playing Since: 1959
Experience Level: Expert/Professional

BanjoDaddio has made 3 recent additions to Banjo Hangout 

[Teaching] [Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: Banjo Maker Teachet Luthier Entertainer

Gender: Male
Age: 77

My Instruments:
I love them all. I play a old Washburn style "C" with a copy neck that someone made. lan to make another neck for it soon. Also play a simple Baystate very light so I can throw her around like Uncle Dave-I try. When it's a special occasion and if the stars are aligned just so, I'll take out my tubaphone #9 DeLuxe. I do like the fancy stuff...And the oddball designs and real early patent banjos that you don't see to many.

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
My dad, Uncle Dave Macon, Charlie Pool, Billy Faier, Don Reno, Scruggs, Roy Smeck, classic banjo players of all types, Allen Munde, Bella Fleck, Paul Prestopino, Doc Watson, Nickel Creek, Don Stover, Bill Keith,

Classified Rating: (+4)
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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 7/27/2006
Last Visit 3/29/2024

Banjodaddio or sometimes banjodaddy Don Rusnak. Banjo player since 1959. My father Leonard Rusnak taught me my first chords on the tenor banjo, an instrument he played at the professional level in Pittsburgh from the late 1920's till the 1950's. He played on a Kel Kroyden, made by Gibson and a B&D Senorita.. Family moved to Alexandria VA. from Pittsburgh in 1960. The year before moving my dad took me along to the race track in Wheeling W.VA. On the way there we heard what my dad then refered to as country 5-string banjo. Turned out to be Sonney Osborne playing Bugle Call Rag. I was hooked. When we got to Aleaxandria that Summer my dad bought me a old KAY 5-string at Sunny Surplus no less. The guy behind the counter-wish I could remember his name took out two picks, a thumb and a metal one for his index and started to pick an old time two-finger tune. I was hooked again and on old time...My dad thought I'd better take a few lessons and decided a classical 5-string teacher was best for me. WRONG. I lasted two or three lessons. Couldn't handle it. Turned out I had a pretty good ear and could pick out the melody pretty fast then I'd try to adapt it to the frail I'd learned in the Pete Seeger book. SInce then I've found out that I'm ADHD to the max which explains why I couldn't sit still for those note things. It also explains why I have not stayed with any one style of playing. I just love it all and it shows when I play. Sometimes I'll mix styles within a tune, something that dosen't go over well with the purest folk. But, there's a time and place for everything and if you're playing solo you can do anything you want. Now, if there's a fiddle playing you'll want to tone it back and maybe try to stay within a certain style not to over-run the fiddle and the tune etc....I listened to everything banjo I could get my hands on and for awhile there I wa really involved in Pete Seeger and all the other players that where in the folk revival taking place. Eric Darling, Kingston Trio, Paul Prestopino, The Limelighters, and of course the master long neck player Billiy Faier were all on the turntable when I had the chance. A friend introduced me to authentic roots music by way of black guitar players like Lightn John Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Bukka White. From that I moved along to Folkways recordings of real oldtime music and made my first trips to the Library of Congress to listen to the wonderful field recordings they have there. I was playing bluegrass and oldtime during highschool but I was not that accomplished. Looking back I wish someome would have told me the best way to learn is to find others to jam with and to just play as much as you can. That's what I tell all my students now. I can show you the basics but the real and eventual understanding of the music will come to you gradually and it will continue to grow and evolve in the best sort of way. Plays well with others. That's the key boys and girls. That's the key.......When I was about 16 or so my dad called me from a local bar on route 1 South near Fort Belvoir to say that there was a bluegrass group playing live there and that I should drive up to see them. It was Don Stover. First time I actually saw and heard great bluegrass music up close. Man, that was a night...Back then, Don Reno and Red Smiley had a 15 min local tv show that aired at some God awful time. Sponsered by Ingleside furniture.Man, that man sure could play. This is just a personal thought here, but Don Reno was the better over-all banjo player at the time. He could, if he chose to, play the straight bluegrass roll to match or beat anyone at any time. But, he chose to persue his own style of bluegrass banjo playing. He new the fingerboard better than anyone and could use it all in more ways than anyone else could. His rendition of Won't ypu come home Bill Bailey still puts a chill on me....I started making banjos in 1969 while I was attending Junior college in Beckely West Virginia. While there I played at local coffee houses and jam sessions on the steps of the old court house in the center of town. At this time I got to hear some local oldtime and bluegrass music. While on a break I got to know Alberto Vazquez a oldtime banjo player who new a lot of the old styles of playing the old five, from index lead to thumb lead to clawhammer and to his favorite Uncle Dave. He showed me some of Uncle Daves tunes and some of the picking tecniques UD used. What a wealth of talent and know-how. He was also a master craftsman and got me interested in making a banjo,m doing inlays and cutting pearl and engraving . He had some very nice old banjos a he showed me all the different ways one could be made. I started making my first banjo in 1969. Eventually got into making the first reproduction tubaphone tone ring which I sold through Mugwumps magazine run by Mike Holmes. I sold some to Mark Platin who used them in the Wildwood banjos he made. He's still going strong and still makes a wonderful banjo..... Teaching both bluegrass and all old-time styles since 1967. Charter member of the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria VA. making and repairing banjos and other antique musical instruments. Originator / banjo player with "Home Brew" bluegrass band performing in and around the Washington D.C. area in the mid 70's and early 80's. Performed at the Birchemere restaurant and Wolftrap Farm Park. Founder of the Capital Area Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Association, Arlington VA. 1978 - present. Opened up Vintage Music specializing in bluegrass and Oldtime music in Arlington VA. 1977- 1983..Also published the Musical Instrument Classified magazine 1978 -1983. Master wood carver & engraver. Banjo design and restoration of rare banjos. Custom open-back banjos made from my own designs are again being made.( See coming soon. I am now semi-retired but have taken on more students and will now be attending more music festivals. I will also be gearing up for my on-line banjo web-site offering my custom banjos and banjo parts. I am in the process of learning the art of metal spinning which I will use to reproduce some of my own parts and some replicas of the old tone rings of the past. I love the old Washburn style "C" spun tone ring. Just a great sound. The old spun over A.C. Fairbanks "Electric" # 5 is another winner in my book. I'll be offering that shell assembly in different OD"s AND with a tubaphone tone ring if one wants.........I love old cars and have owned many: Cords (Two convertables and one sedan), Ford Model A.Ford sedan deliveries (1931).,1957 Buicks, 1958 Chevy Impalas, Morris Minors (6) Austin Healey Bugeye Sprites and two Austin Healey 3000's. Simca Plein Ceil 1959. I plan to sell all my cars and go car-less for awhile....Well, untill another hits my fancy. So many banjos and cars, so little time.......Don Rusnak contact in Arlington Virginia is: 703 303 0539

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