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Forty Years of Trying

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yes, it is true, I've tried to play the banjo for at least forty years (it's hard to keep track of the exact year, month, day it all began) but alas I've not much to show for it.  Some folks pick it up in minutes or hours like my son who is much better a banjo player then I ever was or presently am and he accomplished it in just a few tries.  I've tried two and three fingers, up picking and clawhammer but with just a modicum of success and that only with clawhammer.  I play twenty or so fiddle tunes more or less but not fast,  I've accompanied many friends (they have to be friends) in several bands, I've played numerous square dances and on and on but never very well.  I have however had a pretty good time of it and have developed a few short cuts to compensate for my lack of talent.  For example, I never (almost never) use drop-thumb.  Can't depend on it  hitting the strings particularly when playing relatively fast.  I use open G tuning with full chords for all keys especially when playing in the key of D.  The capo is my friend.  I try to play individual notes in tunes but usually rely on brushing across all strings and hope the melody note will be heard.  Pull-offs and hammer-ons are a major part of my 'style' to the point of ad nauseam.   I never enter contests.  I have in the past and - that's another story.  I don't play very fast because it takes so long to warm up that the tune is over before I'm ready to play faster.  Did I mention that I also have a genetic nervous condition?  Yes, it is called essential tremor and it is worse any time I play in public.

So if you are wandering around Clifftop or Rockbridge and see a guy sitting by himself playing a jerky sounding banjo - come over and sit down.  I enjoy company.




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Playing Since: 1962
Experience Level: Purty Good

[Jamming] [Socializing]

Occupation: retired

Gender: Male
Age: 86

My Instruments:
banjo (clawhammer), fiddle, guitar, banjo uke, autoharp, harmonica, kazoo,

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
Falling Branch String Band, Mary Caraher, Ken Sheller, Dave Bing, Lo Gordon, Mary Lynn Gordon, Dave and Cindy Proudfoot, John Huerta, Pan Byrnes, Margo Blevin, and all our friends at Clifftop and Elkins, Carl Pagter, Peter and Phyllis Baxter

Classified Rating: not rated
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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 12/2/2010
Last Visit 7/3/2022

I've played old tunes since around 1962, give or take. Most of the time, banjo has been my instrument but usually I end up playing guitar in jams. I love to sing and perform in public but not so much now as age takes it toll. My main (really only) interest is in old-time music. Lately jug band has taken on some importance and also civil war era music also. I've played banjo in a civil war band, Rich Mountain String Band, for over twenty years.

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