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Jan 20, 2021 - 11:37:39 AM
9 posts since 1/20/2021

I was just searching the web for any information on a banjo I purchased about 15 years ago. It is an old very heavy Dixie Grand, no other markings other than a name and date of 1967 in black marker on the inside of the resonator. It is in very good condition for its age and much better condition than its case. I would appreciate any info.
Were all Dixie Grands custom ?

Jan 20, 2021 - 11:56:14 AM

2496 posts since 4/7/2010

neanderbrook

Post photos here on the forum for quality information. Take the banjo out of its case, if it has one, then shoot a full front, full back, peghead close and then anything else you might find interesting.

Bob Smakula

Jan 20, 2021 - 12:09:20 PM
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2283 posts since 9/25/2006
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Wow. A Dixie Grand? I owned one. They were made by legendary West Virginia Luthier Andrew F. Boarman. He has a group page here on the hangout which I created a few years ago. Andy, as he was known by, owned a barber shop in West Virginia and was considered to be the "rolls Royce of repairmen" according to some of the pros. Pics please?

Jan 20, 2021 - 12:16:11 PM

9 posts since 1/20/2021

I will send pics soon.

Jan 20, 2021 - 1:29:29 PM

2283 posts since 9/25/2006
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So, Andy made--to my knowledge about 15 or so Dixie Grands.

Here I am playing mine, which was made in 1996. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CrV5XoHuAA

Jan 20, 2021 - 2:14:08 PM

9 posts since 1/20/2021

A few pics...




 

Jan 20, 2021 - 2:29:29 PM

9 posts since 1/20/2021

Few more.




 

Jan 20, 2021 - 3:32:24 PM

9 posts since 1/20/2021

It's quite dusty in these pics. It has no rust and seems to be complete. I am cleaning it up and replacing the strings. I purchased it along with a very old unmarked (other than lots of vintage graffiti) banjolele, in an antique store in Fredericksburg VA. About 15 years ago. I also came across a posting on another site speaking of how one of these grands (a 3 ring ) went to Jim Steptoe, though it was stolen. Likely before I was born. Is this a three ring ? It does have Jim's name on it. Evidently he passed some time ago. Any info or even opinion would be appreciated. Was this likely built in 67 ? Is this likely the same one that was stolen ? If there are only 15 , how many are accounted for ? May anyone still be looking for this particular one ? Where would I find any further markings on it that may identify it further ? Any way I could identity what is original and what is not. One tuner is different than the others , otherwise all seems original ? Thanks for any consideration..


 

Jan 20, 2021 - 4:48:11 PM

3663 posts since 3/28/2008

Jim Steptoe (1951-2009) was an attorney in Martinsburg, WV, but I knew him as the banjo player for the band Patent Pending. I played bass with them from the beginning of 1990 through the summer of '91.

Jim was close with Andy, and would often play ragtimey arrangements of old songs that showed the Boarman influence pretty clearly.

obittree.com/obituary/us/west-.../1357996/

Jan 20, 2021 - 5:34:14 PM

9 posts since 1/20/2021

Thank you for sharing. I am assuming this was his at one point. It's quite a special instrument . I'm happy to learn more about it's story...

Jan 21, 2021 - 5:47:07 AM

2283 posts since 9/25/2006
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Somewhere I have documented the Dixie Grands that I know are out there. I’ll dig that up!

Jan 21, 2021 - 7:24:44 AM

3663 posts since 3/28/2008

quote:
Originally posted by neanderbrook

Thank you for sharing. I am assuming this was his at one point. It's quite a special instrument . I'm happy to learn more about it's story...


I immediately noticed the "Buck-Buck-Bucksnort" bumper sticker, and assumed it was yours, but that must go back to when Jim owned the banjo. 

The Bucksnorts were a club--almost a parody of a social club, with tongue-in-cheek rituals, etc.--in southern Maryland. Their main activity was to hold a weekend-long party every summer, with camping, a stage for live music, and of course massive amounts of alcohol. I played at the party with Patent Pending at least once, and was (like all the members of the band) initiated into the Bucksnorts myself. (I'm Bucksnort #911.)

You can glean some info here: https://forums.somd.com/threads/bucksnorts.99366/. There's also a "Bucksnort Family Reunion" Facebook group.

Jan 21, 2021 - 7:35:28 AM

9 posts since 1/20/2021

Thanks, this seems to be an early one. Would love to know when the first one was created. I looked closer with powerful light and see no further number or initials on or under the surface.

Jan 21, 2021 - 8:36:20 AM

3663 posts since 3/28/2008

Here's a little documentary on Boarman. Starting around the 19:00 mark, you can see him playing with Jim Steptoe, and then with the entire Patent Pending band (probably at the annual Harper's Ferry arts festival). This was sometime before I joined the band. I can't tell whether Jim is playing your banjo in these clips. IIRC, he had a Gibson conversion that also had a flying eagle neck, and that might be what he's playing here.

youtu.be/Ds5OKAvt8iM

Jan 21, 2021 - 9:26:08 AM
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11494 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

Here's a little documentary on Boarman. Starting around the 19:00 mark, you can see him playing with Jim Steptoe, and then with the entire Patent Pending band (probably at the annual Harper's Ferry arts festival). This was sometime before I joined the band. I can't tell whether Jim is playing your banjo in these clips. IIRC, he had a Gibson conversion that also had a flying eagle neck, and that might be what he's playing here.

youtu.be/Ds5OKAvt8iM


Terrific video!

Jan 21, 2021 - 2:31:08 PM

2283 posts since 9/25/2006
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quote:
Originally posted by neanderbrook

Thanks, this seems to be an early one. Would love to know when the first one was created. I looked closer with powerful light and see no further number or initials on or under the surface.


Yours is the earliest that I know of.  Most do not include dates. 

Jan 21, 2021 - 4:17:52 PM
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2283 posts since 9/25/2006
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https://youtu.be/mVBxCQqX_cY

Above is a video that I shot in 2014.  A guy had two Dixie Grands and let me photo them and I played them as well. 

Jan 21, 2021 - 7:31:29 PM
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9 posts since 1/20/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Ira Gitlin

Here's a little documentary on Boarman. Starting around the 19:00 mark, you can see him playing with Jim Steptoe, and then with the entire Patent Pending band (probably at the annual Harper's Ferry arts festival). This was sometime before I joined the band. I can't tell whether Jim is playing your banjo in these clips. IIRC, he had a Gibson conversion that also had a flying eagle neck, and that might be what he's playing here.

youtu.be/Ds5OKAvt8iM


I believe the banjo Andy is holding in the closing picture is the one I have. I can clearly make out that a number of the inlays on the fingerboard and headstock are definite matches. A few I can't tell but I'd bet it's the same. Especially If they are all completely different one of a kind as he said.  I wonder what year that was ? 

  Thanks again for such great info...   

Jan 21, 2021 - 7:53:01 PM
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3663 posts since 3/28/2008

According to this, the film was made? released? in 1987.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Boarman

Edited by - Ira Gitlin on 01/21/2021 19:54:54

Jan 26, 2021 - 8:11:02 PM

2283 posts since 9/25/2006
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I had to look all over but I found the list of Dixie Grand owners that I know of.

Jeremy Stephens, a well known picker down south, knows a few people who have one.
“Heatherella” on YouTube has one
Vernon Huff (I don’t know much about his whereabouts...)
Duke Edwards in Hedgesville, WV has two. Edwards auctions out of Hedgesville, WV is his outfit and he recently sold mine about six years ago.
It seems that someone else here on the Hangout has one

I hope this helps at least a little.

Edited by - revellfa on 01/26/2021 20:11:26

Jan 27, 2021 - 6:13:20 AM

9 posts since 1/20/2021

I appreciate it, any info adds to the story...

Jan 29, 2021 - 1:18:02 PM
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117 posts since 3/7/2006

I have a couple of videos of Andy playing with his unique style on my home page. Listen to his way of playing Home Sweet Home. Andy told me that he and Earl Scruggs sat in the back seat of a car one day and had "fun trading stories and sharing playing ideas"

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