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Playing Since: 2015
Experience Level: Novice

Occupation: Illustrator

Gender: Male
My Instruments:
Tanglewood Union series banjo

Classified Rating: not rated
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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 4/29/2015
Last Visit 2/18/2020

My musical career started late. At school (aged about 8 yrs) whilst auditioning for the school choir I was told to mime by the teacher! This marvellous bit of teaching practice convinced me for years that I couldn't sing. Nevertheless I still liked music and over the years tried a variety of instruments, piano, guitar, tin whistle, bodhran, dulcimer etc. all with limited success. Well with very little success actually. Then about 10 years back two significant things happened. I got married to my (second) lovely wife who happened to be a very good tenor singer singing in various classical choirs (doing stuff like Bach, Tallis, John Rutter, Carl orff, etc.) and we started going to Boat Band nights at our local pub. Now the Boat Band played a mixture of English folk, blues and cajun music but half way through the evening they opened it up to the floor and invited others to give a performance. Naturally my wife sang (old music hall songs, English folk - her dad had been an accordian player in a Morris side so she knew quite a few traditional songs) and after a while encouraged by the friendly atmosphere, I thought I might give a song too. My first performance was of a comedy Monty Python song, as I thought if the singing is bad at least it will be funny. However it went down very well and my wife said that actually I had a very good voice. She taught me techniques she had learned from her choir singing and my voice and confidence grew and I began to expand my repertoire. At the same time I was researching my family history and coming across interesting snippets of history that I hadn't previously known about, which seemed to have been skipped over in the history books I had read. So I started writing songs in order to raise awareness of these people and events ("They don't make oatcakes in Ohio" for instance deals with the Brunt family who left Staffordshire for America in 1842 and became potters in East Liverpool) and performing them. Two years ago I made a CD of some of these songs which sold quite well. I was still singing a cappella though and felt that some of the songs could do with some instrumentation. I had tried the guitar years ago but found it difficult with my stubby fingers, mandolin was out for the same reason. I decided I wanted an instrument that wasn't all that common either a) to in order to stand out and b) so that I wouldn't be compared to harshly against some of the undeniably very good guitarists around the area. I briefly thought of the ukulele but there is quite a fashion for them at the moment so everybody and their dog is playing one, in fact we have a local 15 strong ukulele orchestra who play the local pubs and halls. So I hit on the banjo and loved it! It is the first musical instrument I have continued with and which seems to "naturally fit me" if you like. I have now started to compose tunes to go with the songs (early days yet) and also to learn some trad tunes so that I join in the pub sessions I go to. Onward and upward!

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