On a July afternoon in 1978 a little banjo contest was held in front of the court house in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Having played three finger banjo for a couple of years, I asked now long time friend John Balch if he would back me up and we met along with a dozen or so other players to participate. A fellow from Alabama took first playing an SSS Thoroughbred. His tune was Whiskey Before Breakfast and it was the first time I had heard beautifully played clawhammer music. It sounded like a music box. Bluegrass and clawhammer was all tossed in the same competition; John and I took second. My primary tune was Under The Double Eagle. The weather was perfect and the crowd enthusiastic. John and I have gone on to play together over the years while he went on to win championships at contests in Murfreesboro and Smithville. That little contest has grown beyond the court house square into a larger venue that entertains thousands of attendees annually. A few years after we played together the event was recognized by Congress as the U.S Old Time Banjo Contest.
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