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Paul Bock

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Playing Again!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Have recently had several practice and "what-can-we-do-together" sessions with our (condo) next-door neighbor, an 85-year old retired PhD who plays an electronic keyboard (with lots of bells & whistles & electronic instrument sounds) and entertains regularly in our 55-older condo complex, plus a couple of outside venues.  Tomorrow (Monday) we'll be playing three songs together at the "First Monday Happy Hour" in our particular building:  "You Are My Sunshine", "Bill Bailey", and "Five Foot Two". 

All of the songs will be played in G, which is fine for starters; I'd rather use open D tuning and the D-tuners a la J.D. Crowe on "...Sunshine", but maybe we'll transition to that at some point.  Our "G" version is at a faster tempo, of course.  For "Bill Bailey" I started with the version Johnnie Whisnant taught me years ago as a basis, but slowed it quite a bit and simplified it to have more of a "dixieland bounce".  On "Five Foot Two" I leaned heavily on the Allen Shelton version (from his 1979 record album) which I have always liked a lot; it's really easy to play and has a nice bounce to it (which typifies Allen's playing on many songs), and it's pretty easy to throw in a little flourish here and there, just a simple run or lick where it fits cleanly.

Working with Ray (the keyboardist) has really helped me tremendously by loosening up my hands a *LOT* and especially by motivating me to practice more.  I've found it *VERY* useful to push myself of late to "re-learn" some of the roll patterns I've struggled with, like the forward-backward sequence in Scruggs' "Cumberland Gap".  Much work remains to be done before I'm any semblence of a "good banjo player" again, but I have to say that in the past six months I have come much farther than I did a few years ago when I attempted to resurrect my playing.

Ray and I have also worked out "Cripple Creek" (in G) and "Wildwood Flower" (in C and played out of a C chord on the banjo) but we're holding those back for another day.  Reason?  As Ray correctly observed, "They (the residents) really want to talk and eat pizza and sip wine, so we'll just give them a taste of our duo and see if the reaction is positive.  If it is, maybe next month we'll make our 'duo' segment a little bit longer."   Good approach, methinks.

Keep on picking!   ;-)

 

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Playing Since: 1956
Experience Level: Purty Good

Paul Bock has made 3 recent additions to Banjo Hangout 

Interests:
[Jamming] [Socializing]

Occupation: Retired Navy (E-9) and retired electrical engineer.

Gender: Male
Age: 78

My Instruments:
Circa 1982 "Snowflake Special" hand-built flathead 5-string Bluegrass resonator banjo. Victor 5-string Banjola serial # 9. Gold Tone CC-100+ 5-string openback.

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
Most everybody is a favorite now, especially Tom Adams & Craig Smith, but Don Reno was my first favorite back in 1953. Also into classic-style bare finger picking of ragtime, etc.

Classified Rating: (+2)
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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 2/23/2005
Last Visit 10/15/2019

Born in Richmond, VA, and raised on a farm. Started teaching myself banjo in 1956, won the North Carolina State Fair banjo contest in 1963. Played with local groups between 1960 and the late 1980s but had to quit due to injuries to the fingers of my right hand. I've been trying to get back into it since 2005 but it's slow going because of arthritis in the finger joints. I jam occasionally and for almost two years played a number of gigs as half of the Bluegrass Duet "Lost Corner" but it was too time-consuming. At present I am dabbling with classic finger-style using a Gold Tone CC-100+ with nylon strings. My instruments include a 5-string banjola by Victor (formerly EVD) Instruments which is a lot of fun for folk music, jazz, classical & Irish pieces. **************************************************************************** In the real world, I'm a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer (E-9) and a retired electrical engineer with over 20 years experience in radio broadcasting, defense electronics and telecommunications. I have B.S. and M.S. degrees, am a Life Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and co-holder of a patent in electronic design. I also hold several commercial radio operator licenses (Radioelegraph, General Radiotelephone, and GMDSS Maintainer, all with the Ship Radar Endorsement. ***************************************************************************** My other hobbies include Amateur Radio (licensed as K4MSG since 1957 and have always been an avid radiotelegraph operator). I've also spent time dabbling in various digital modes including meteor scatter and Earth-Moon-Earth (aka "moonbounce") communications. I'm also a sporadic amateur astronomer. I love to read, especially history, and have dabbled in historical research on topics of interest including evolution of the 5-string banjo, development of certain types of telegraph keys, wireless telegraphy, the Revolutionary War involvement of my ancestors, etc. My wife & I enjoy travel, especially cruising on Princess Cruise Lines (15 cruises so far, including 6 transatlantic crossings).

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