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Mad Martigan

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Growing into a banjo player...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Growing up in rural southeastern Kentucky I have always been around bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music. My grandpa always loved it as well as my dad and uncles. As for me, I hated it growing up! My interpretation of Bluegrass music was on the local Christian channel with local musicians who couldn't sing worth a lick. Sure (some) of them could pick a little bit but their vocals destroyed it for me and I went the next 20 years thinking all Bluegrass music sounded that way. I got a guitar for my 16 birthday, I learnt some chords and a few tunes but lost interest due to sports and school. Back then my interest in music was heavy metal, Punk rock ,etc....typical American teenager stuff i guess. When I was 26 my girlfriends dad introduced me to the dobro, and the sound of (good) bluegrass music and I was hooked. I bought his old dobro and took lessons with Bluegrass master Curtis (Dr. dobro) Burch at the College of Bluegrass music in Leslie County Kentucky. I practiced everyday at home in my room.  Id set on the end of my bed looking out my window at the river by my house and play Bluegrass greats like Fire Ball Mail and Foggy Mountain Rock! Everyday my grandpa who was living with us at the time would come sneaking in my room and listen to me play, his favorite tune was cripple creek, and he liked it played FAST! He loved the fact that I plyed Bluegrass music but he always wanted and encouraged me to play the Banjo (his favorite instrument). Grandpa had always loved the banjer as he called it, He had loved it since child hood. He loved the Osborne Brothers and Jim and Jesse, songs like Mule Skinner and o'l Slew Foot and of course Foggy Mountain Breakdown! He'd look at me and say "Adam I don't think people like them Bodros (as he called them) that much, you need to learn how to pic a banjer". 

In August of 07 I was fortunate to go to Ireland for a month with my girlfriend at the time. While i was there I saw some great fiddle players at local pubs and I was inspired to try my hand at the bowed instrument. When I got back home I got me a fiddle and started teaching myself to play. I played for two years religiously, pretty much laying the dobro down in the process. I practiced everyday, all the while papaw still encouraging me to play the banjer, his old Blue Ridge open back to be precise. I ignored grandpa and stuck with the fiddle until finally I developed Carpal Tunnel in my left wrist from vibrato. Around the same time as the carpal tunnel I went through a serious break up and my papaw fell sick with cancer. At some point during this time in my life I realized that I wanted to make my papaw proud and do something he always wanted me to do and something he never got a chance to do the banjo. It wasn't just my papaw that encouraged me into the world of banjo and eventually old time music, it was hearing Doc Watson's Shady Grove and Tommy Jarrell's Cumberland Gap that helped give me the extra desire and push that I needed. Most importantly it was me, stopping to think why I had ignored grandpa to begin with. I had secretly always loved the banjo the only reason I hadn't tried my hand at it was because I wanted to be different and I guess kinda rebel in my own little way. Looking back that was stupid of me but I guess it was a part of me growing into an adult and now a Banjo Player :)



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Playing Since: 2010
Experience Level: Purty Good

[Teaching] [Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: student

Gender: Male
Age: 39

My Instruments:
Fiddle, Banjo and Tin whistle

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
Doc Watson, Steve Martin, Aly Bain, Tim O'Brien, Tim Ericksen, Flogging Molly, Jerry Douglas..just to name a few

Classified Rating: not rated
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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 1/31/2012
Last Visit 2/11/2023

I love playing old time/bluegrass and Irish music....but im a sucker for an Irish melody :)

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