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The Frenzy Brothers

Monday, January 1, 2007

It's 1992.  I am going to grad school and working at Elderly Instruments, and I am seriously unhappy playing electric bass in a college bar band.  A few guys come into the store and ask me if they know somebody who could play string bass in a folk/old-time/bluegrass band.  That's the day I joined The Frenzy Brothers.

Early on, the Frenzies actually practiced.  We often did this on Tim's front porch.  I played bass and some guitar.  Dennis Nairn was the primary guitar player; Jim Hall played mando, fiddle, guitar, and harmonica.  Tim Nault was the banjo player.

Timmy had two wonderful Bart Reiter banjos.  One was a White Laydie, the other an internal resonator.  They were his prized possesions and he treated them like gold.

Tim was a Navy Vet and he ran his own word processing/desktop publishing business.  He had a number of professional associations as clients; this was before everyone and their grandparents had a computer.  During the time I knew him, business got rough for Tim.  And his health deteriorated.  He had a wonderful deep voice, and he smoked like a chimney.

I remember Tim being a great dad--one of the many reasons he left the band was to be more involved coaching his son's baseball team.  He also kept up this 100 year old house in Lansing.  He was a handy guy--he could fix or paint anything (picked up the painting in the Navy).

I played with the Frenzies every Monday night from 1993-1998 at a very cool restaurant called the Traveler's Club International Restaurant and Tuba Museum in Okemos, MI:

Pay for the gig was a meal (for me, usually a buffalo burger or fried filafel), a chocholate malt, and 1/4 of the tips.  The owner of the place is a musician, so he always treated us well.  In fact, he's the guy who restored my 1911 Czech factory bass.

After I moved to Flint and got married, I dwindled off with the Frenzies.  They all play regularly in the Lansing area, except for Timmy.  Tim died a few years ago, and the three of us got together to play a set at his funeral.  It was a really moving experience.

The Tunes

I've posted 5 Frenzy Brothers tunes to the site.  These were all converted from cassettes I've had in a box in the basement.  In every case, these were living room recording sessions with a few mics and ordinary hi-fi gear; nothing fancy.

Sally Ann:  The first tune I posted is Sally Ann--Craig wanted to hear more of it.  You can hear Tim's banjo pretty good here.  Toward the end, we all sing the verse "Pork fat makes my chicken tan," which I heard on a recording by the Horseflies.  I think that's hysterical.

Glendale Train/Know You Rider:  The Frenzies had this Greatful Dead bluegrass thing going that wasn't exactly my thing, but this was fun to play. Timmy had a great time with this tune, and everytime somebody added that "Aw, that's bad!" part we'd all tear up.

Boatman/Roscoe:  This was a transition tune for me; when Timmy left the band, I got drafted on banjo. I used to begin this tune on tinwhistle and end it on bass. Here I switch to banjo, and I'm late coming in!  I've never been a good whistle player, but I love the breathy tone of the Shaw "D" whistle I play here.

Late Last Night:  The Frenzy Bros. circa 1995 doing one of my favorite Uncle Dave Macon tunes. Timmy on banjo. Yeah, the "knock, knock" on the side of my bass is pretty hambone, but it's all fun...  This is classic Frenzy Brothers.

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Playing Since: 1994
Experience Level: Novice

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Occupation: college administrator

Gender: Male
Age: 51

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I enjoy most music. My banjo interest is exclusively old-timey, and that's why I joined this site. I love the Skillet Lickers, Uncle Dave Macon, Earl Johnson and the Clodhoppers, the New Lost City Ramblers, and the Holy Modal Rounders. My favorite banjo players are Fred Cockerham, Tommy Jarrell, Bob Carlin, Paul Brown, Joel Mabus, Bruce Molsky, and all kinds of others. I'm also a HUGE fan of Curtis Eller's American Circus. Curtis is one of my oldest pals in the world, and the first banjo player I ever met.

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Created 12/26/2006
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I play clawhammer banjo, as well as flatpick some guitar and string bass. I love country fiddle tunes and songs along the lines of the 1920s and 1930s "old-time" and "hillbilly" recordings by The Skillet Lickers, The Carter Family, Uncle Dave Macon, Earl Johnson, The Stripling Bros, etc. I'm not actively playing banjo these days, and my presence here is kind of inactive. I'll always keep my banjo, though, and you can bet I'll be back here some day.

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