Hopefully this is not too far out there, but think about it. How has your music (banjo playing and other musical endeavors) affected your life? Here are a few of my observations. What are yours?
1. Connection with others: My long time friend and playing partner and I have shared many years of common experience producing music. All the gigs, the bad weather, the strange venues, wonderful audience interaction, etc. These are wonderful memories that have brought us closer together!
2. A sense of purpose: For many years I played several rest home gig each month. This was a wonderful time, and I felt a sense of purpose sharing the music with the elderly. At the time I considered it my "calling" and it was very fulfilling.
3. An excitement watching my fingerpicking skills and chops get more solid: It's amazing how quickly your chops get locked in by playing several hours of gigs and teaching each day. This was so exciting to me and lots of fun. If you have complete control of the fingerboard and can just improvise at will, that is very satisfying. What I played was folk music and the songs that old people enjoyed - not hard driving bluegrass, so we just had fun with it.
4. Building gratifying relationships: Over the years some of my students have become my great friends. We have a unique relationship and share a common passion. And we still keep in touch over the years.
So, this is a little bit personal I know, but how has your music enhanced your life?
Last Saturday we hosted a party/jam session. One purpose was to honour someone who, while not making music, contributed to the open mic session with all his hard work in the kitchen, but said he couldn't hear the music with all the talking behind where he sits. There were five pickers (who also sing) plus a singer. They were people I met at sessions. Their spouses came, as well as a few neighbours, plus our daughter, son-in-law, and five-year-old granddaughter. The granddaughter "played" her strum stick (a gift from BHO member Al White - Figmo to most of us). One picker drove up from NY state and stayed overnight. The Mrs. went all out preparing the food (and the Christmas decorations). Our next door neighbour sat in rapt attention, taking it all in. It was a great time. The memory will last as long as I do. It wouldn't have happened had I not been part of sessions here in Kingston.
And that's just one example. I've been to similar sessions in other people's homes - people I met playing music.
After two years of weekly private lessons, I stumbled onto a flyer for a Bluegrass festival. I had a couple weeks & a brand new Scruggs book to prepare myself. it was a two day event so I packed the family in the VW camper & pointed it east towards Norco. I was blown away by all the accomplished pickers. Whod'a thought there would be that many people in the Los Angeles area that were into Bluegrass? I also got blown out a the water before I even got my picks on.
But what a weekend that was. I met a couple other banjo pickers who were about the same level & in the weeks following we got together & had our own little pickin party. Jerry brought a friend that played guitar. I soon got a call from someone who got my number from one of those guys. Roy showed up with a Gibson flat top guitar & a gold fly swatter RB-250 arch top,,,,with Keith tuners. And he knew how to use them!
Under Roy's tuteladge, I progressed quickly & was soon participating in local jam sessions. One thing led to another, I met more pickers, learned more about the different styles of playing banjo, & bluegrass banjos. My world was beginning to open up like a flower blooming in the spring rain.
Earl Scruggs talked about finding banjo's in pawn shops so I started haunting the pawn shops in downtown L.A. Roy had an Asian banjo & wanted a better neck made for it. Together we began visiting local luthier's. I never had a clue about any of these guys, but it was an education & I was paying attention. Roy had Tom Norwood build a rosewood hearts & flowers neck for that little Iida banjo & it came out so good Roy had Tom build a pot for the neck.
Tom Norwood was a hippy who had built a guitar from a kit while he was in high school. That guitar led to all of his friends wanting one. Tom was living the dream, (& truth be told, I was kinda envious) in a back corner of his shop, building guitars & banjos. Tom built my first really nice banjo, just the way I wanted it. He was willing to work on a pay as you go basis. A year & a half later, I had my banjo.
When I laid into a break with that banjo, I was now a force to be reckoned with. That banjo changed my life! It inspired me to become a better musician, it opened doors, it preserved my sanity from the rat race that was L.A. & a failing marriage. Being able to say I was musician, that I played Bluegrass banjo, was not only a talking point, it was a confidence builder.
In the years that followed, I made a lot of friends, fellow pickers, thru BG festivals, the South West Bluegrass Association, & jam sessions. A lot of friends. All on account of a flyer for a Bluegrass festival.
Edited by - monstertone on 01/13/2019 19:23:44
i got a sense of accomplishment from learning...banjo, piano, guitar, bass...
I've been learning to play the banjo since about 1967. Virtually all of my life long friends are folks that I met as a result of my association with the banjo and Bluegrass music. Making that choice to try to learn to play the banjo was the best decision I've ever made.
I spent the past weekend at Banjothon. When I started going to Banjothon, it was because of my interest in the banjos. Now that I've attended the event for many years and met many of the people who also attend each year, it has become more about the people than the banjos. Everyone I talked to there expressed the same sentiment.
I think that passion for a worthwhile endeavor brings out the best in people.
'New (old) banjo!' 19 min
'Hombre Mio' 1 hr
'Hells hollow' 1 hr