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Banjos are Walking Sticks

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 @2:59:41 AM

 My Dad ,'Jack', started teaching my elder brother 'John' and 'I' the banjo in the mid 50's.' John' learnt Plectrum,and"I "Tenor banjo,and we seemed to pick it up in no time flat. We'd all have heaps of fun  rattlin' off all those great tunes, around back then, sometimes we'd have to sort a chord or two out, fix it, and carry on regardless. " The Old Man,"  as we affectionately  referred to him , in a quiet moment, as fathers would do , after a few rums, would say "Boys playing music on your banjos may never  come to much in making money and fame, but it will be a great walking stick for you both, in  the years down the track in your lives. " How true it turned out. In 1962 my Dad started a "Sunday Morning Session ," at our home. Musicians would roll up for a bash, the pubs couldn't open on a Sunday back then, so as well as bringing an instrument of some sort, you had to knock on our door with your elbows- so you would'nt drop the booze! they were great days.

              Banjo records were very rare back then in  Aust. if you were lucky, you could pick up a " Freddy Morgan or  an Eddie Peabody" L.P. and learn a bit from those  blokes.  We'd never heard of a 5 string Banjo- it wasn't until 1962 we heard "Buck Trent  " on a L.P. record, for the first time, and were gob smacked. I learnt all the songs on that record playing mainly under the top string, duo style, and keeping the rhythm going  at the same time. 

             In the early 60's, I first heard " Chet Atkins " and he was a huge influence on my playing style direction. Just 3 years ago, I decided to actually try and use my last 3 fingers, of the right hand, and interact with a plectrum." Chet," used a thumb pick and 3 fingers. "Chet "  had 6 strings  - I've got 4 on the plectrum banjo. Does this mean I could get  4/6 ths. as good. I wish it  was that simple.  

              " Louis Armstrong " tops the charts with "Hello Dolly, "  in the 60s. From that moment I was hooked. Jazz and Country Music, are my bag and are so similar  in a lot of ways. I've learnt so much from both " Louis " and " Chet " and god bless "m.  

                  The, " Walking Stick " my  Dad  talked about has no boundaries---- A fiddle player from The Netherlands--- A Trombone Player from Memphis--- A  Didgirydoo  Player from Darwin, or a Trumpet Player from New Orleans-- A 5 string player Germany. It'll always be with you forever and a day  .- Good Luck,  Don.

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