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What song was your watershed moment?

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Oct 9, 2021 - 9:21:11 AM
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1858 posts since 7/4/2009

What was the song that made you decide to pick up a banjo, or guitar, or whatever, and want to learn to play? Mine was The Dubliners' recording of Whiskey in the Jar. I'd been scratching around unambitiously on the violin for a couple years, but after hearing that, I stole a mandolin from my dad, learned how to chord, and never looked back.

If there's no specific song, what made you want to play?

Oct 9, 2021 - 9:32:07 AM



65179 posts since 10/5/2013
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No flashpoint moment or song for me,,,, just an accumulation of pop folk stuff my brother had in his record collection (KT, Ian & Sylvia, etc) . I do remember a Cisco Houston album I took out of the library,, just the basic flatpick way he played guitar with hammer-ons sprinkled throughout.
Banjo?…. Tom Dooley, MTA , then later Mr. Earl and Randy Lynn Rag.

Oct 9, 2021 - 9:41:59 AM
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2442 posts since 2/4/2013

Mumford and Sons first album got me interested. I did buy a guitar banjo though. The song that really got me to move on to banjo was Waterbound by Dirk Powell in particular the Transatlantic sessions version.

Oct 9, 2021 - 9:45:33 AM
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2403 posts since 12/16/2007

From playing backup guitar in an old time band, I just wanted to try and remember all the melodies, so I started playing clawhammer banjo.

Oct 9, 2021 - 11:27:31 AM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)


27553 posts since 8/3/2003

I fell in love with the sound of the banjo while listening to the Kingston Trio. Couldn't wait to find one to purchase and take lessons. That was way back in the early 70s and I've been hooked on banjo ever since.

Oct 10, 2021 - 7:50 AM
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1372 posts since 4/12/2004

For me, it was not a song. My epiphany was hearing the sound of a live banjo, played Scruggs style, in the context of a Bluegrass ensemble. After I heard it, I wanted to be able to create that sound.

Oct 10, 2021 - 8:35:34 AM
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1039 posts since 10/4/2018

I wanted to play banjo when I heard the part where the banjo takes off right after the announcer said "The Beverly Hillbillies".

Edited by - Good Buddy on 10/10/2021 08:36:25

Oct 10, 2021 - 9:02:33 AM
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1092 posts since 5/22/2021

Pete Seeger and his banjo talents!

Oct 10, 2021 - 9:11:34 AM
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11407 posts since 6/5/2011
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.... I was a failure on the strum stick [misleadingly advertised as "no wrong notes"], so I figured BG banjo would be a good alternative way to expand (?) my horizons.

Oct 10, 2021 - 10:26:12 AM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)


26185 posts since 6/25/2005
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Pete Seeger’s 10” Folkways lp, “Frontier Ballads—The Settlers,” which I still have—Joe Clark and Arkansas Traveller in particular.

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Oct 11, 2021 - 10:41:54 AM
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4216 posts since 11/29/2005

My brother's album ('Deadheads and Suckers" w/The Round Town Boys) and his banjo. That was pretty much my induction into the miasma of Old Time music after the "folk scare" of the sixties got me into folk guitar.

Oct 11, 2021 - 6:27:43 PM
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2907 posts since 4/5/2006

Smother Brother's Summer Show, when John Hartford stood up from his seat in the audience & kicked off Gentle On My Mind.

Edited by - monstertone on 10/11/2021 18:31:00

Oct 12, 2021 - 8:34:57 AM
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4392 posts since 6/15/2005

This is what made me want a banjo:

This is what got me interested in old-time music:

And this is what got me interested in bluegrass:

Edited by - arnie fleischer on 10/12/2021 08:41:32

Oct 13, 2021 - 5:52:07 AM
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3967 posts since 7/8/2010

The moment for me was in the mid sixties at a little coffee house called Under the Ice House in Glendale, Ca, my home town.
A group of guys called The Dillards was playing along with a comedian named Pat Paulson.
I had played my Sears Silvertone guitar for about three years and enjoyed PP and M, Dylan and Donovan.
Let me tell you folks, when the Dillards stepped up to the Mic and said, You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles, I completely fell in love with bluegrass music.

Oct 13, 2021 - 9:01:31 AM
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327 posts since 10/26/2018

Without knowing what it was, I heard bluegrass throughout my childhood as my dad played many Bill Monroe songs on the guitar (slower that grass speed). I learned guitar because everyone in my dad's family played. Fast forward to my 30s and my wife got a fiddle and started taking OT lessons. I was fascinated by the little wooden box that made so much sound and initially thought about learning to build them. Soon realized that playing it was more realistic. I met Emmett, he was in his late 50s, who played a handful of tunes on the banjo (he learned from the great Bob Black who I eventually met and got to share a stage with on several occasions. He's a good man who taught another of my banjo playing friends and filled in for him many times). I learned all of Emmett's tunes on the fiddle (seems backwards for the fiddler to learn the banjo's tunes, eh) and he showed me how to play some melodic banjo using the tune "Over the Waterfall." Then I started going to bluegrass festivals and realized I already knew so many of the songs because of my dad, it felt like home to be jamming BG. I never did really learn the banjo but know many banjo players who I now hold as dear friends and play with them (OT and BG) as often as I can.

Oct 13, 2021 - 6:47:30 PM
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314 posts since 10/12/2011

I was blessed to have grown up with this music in my family. Both granddads played clawhammer style. Uncles and cousins played some sort of acoustic instrument.

Bluegrass and older (pre 1960s) country music played on the record player at home all the time. My favs as a child were F and S, Stanley’s, Jim and Jesse.

I was taken to see Flatt and Scruggs as a 6 year old and got to meet the band. Loved the whole ensemble sound, but the dobro and especially the banjo caught my young ears.

Oct 15, 2021 - 6:24:37 AM
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76446 posts since 5/9/2007

Mine was after hearing my Mom play Grandfather's Clock on her Story and Clark.
She played that song while I chorded it,looking over her shoulder at her sheetmusic.Not because I was reading the notation...I was reading the chord diagrams hovering over the staffs (staves?).

Mom must have played GC for me at least 200 times.I was 9 years old.

Oct 15, 2021 - 6:33:36 AM
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59247 posts since 12/14/2005

Oct 18, 2021 - 5:36:44 AM



2351 posts since 11/3/2016

When a young teen , I found one of my aunts had several Weaver albums & she let me borrow them for many hours of listening , which eventually led me to resurecting an old open back 5 I found & then purchased Pete's red book .
Took the book to work one day & someone swiped it ! One tune I seem to remember from the records was "Old Rattler " (here Rattler here) " . Then I saw Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper performing on the roof top of a local drive in theater & that did it , I became a self taught banjo player & BG fan !

Oct 18, 2021 - 9:19:51 AM



239 posts since 7/14/2010

As a kid, hearing Steve Martin's Drop Thumb Medley from my big brother's album collection made me want a banjo. I never lost that yen and finally bought one in my thirties. Now it's twenty years later and I'm still working on that song!

Oct 19, 2021 - 3:11:37 AM
Players Union Member



15741 posts since 8/30/2006

It'll sound like too little information.

In '62, we The Minutemen were the first to do this in Kansas City, Missouri, We were un prepared.
No Tom Dooley, We chose the B-side Frankie and Johnnie from the Kingston Trio. My own father may have played this song as a pro piano player at the Muhlebach Hotel Ballroom high above the Missouri River.

The song can be found here at the hangout maybe titled "Going Away" or something like that from copyright laws then , but it's the best ever version of the names have been changed to protect the innocent folk singers.
Our peers in a simple high school assembly went F************ing Berserk, there was a tremor that day of a new kind of world that's worth fighting for.  We got an encore,  let's say the faculty at the time was a little bit afraid. Hell, we only knew one song, that's my boys. We went out there and fought for it, those kids were all wealthy, we, were not. Built our own longneck from a 2 x 4!

1. B-Side Frankie and Johnnie , Kingston Trio . When the winter winds begin to blow, the ground is covered up.

2. I got to see Steve Gillette in New York at Gerde's Folk City in January '67 He's one of the best Hybrid or Nashville pickers, half flat picker and half finger picking to get great speed.  There are two:   THE Darcy Farrow and 2:10 train.  I still play all three of these on stage.

3. Then in 2004 I got knee surgery, woodshedding, I fell over the Bluegrass fence and couldn't get back in the dang cocoon.  Crap.

We did 5 sold out Woody Guthrie Benefit concerts for Fisher House (Veteran's Housing for wounded people and stole bluegrass away to play Woody?  What the hell, We were the New Phoenix Strugglers, there ain't no old ones, it's a folk jolk.  Mobile Strugglers and New Mobile Strugglers are also known here on this hangout.

But to do that I had to really learn "Cole Younger", a strong traditional with the "right" spoken language of the time. 

By Peter McLaughlin, one pro National Double Flat Picking Champion, and HIS father played the tune. I play it on banjo. 

I know, only one, please and no wagering. I've been playing longneck banjo the whole time,  I have a Longneck flathead by Gold Tone 2005.

I now make my own again.  Strange thang.

If I may to stimulate the hedgehogs., just kidding, the groundhogs, just kidding.  No sound takes, you know the sound of folk bluegrass, it's a new hybrid, just kidding. been around since before longneck banjos, and before that, too.

Young people, you'll be needing a little more struggle strength, core strength, because, well, you are too young yet, Keep going and don't look down, that's the spirit.  The child in the photo is not me, but he is no longer with us. He built this guitar from scrap falling off of trains going by his home farm.  The guitar is in a museum up in North Dakota.  Look for the kids like this. We need their strength.


It's a full moon, ask me again in a few weeks.  

Edited by - Helix on 10/19/2021 03:30:37

Oct 19, 2021 - 4:26:17 AM



71 posts since 11/7/2020

I never grew up in a musical family, but all of my children took to musical instruments, clarinet, flute, piano, and classical guitar. So for years, there was always some music rattling about our house... And it was great to see the children doing so well.
The sound of the banjo started with the Beverly Hill Billies for me back in the day, then Deliverance, pubs and clubs and others... and that sound had stuck in my head for too many years.
So at the ripe old age of 70, it was now my time to produce the sound I loved. I'm never going to be able to compete with you guys, but I plod on and thoroughly enjoy it.
When them strings "twang" as I'm picking them, I disappear into my own little world... Loving it.

Oct 23, 2021 - 11:39:34 AM

313 posts since 8/25/2009

I was going to a summer camp in the Berkshires and Mr. Emmons (the director of the camp) played his banjo while leading us in sing-a-longs at campfires, etc., One evening the camp had a talent show and he came out on stage and demonstrated a new technique he had learned from a book by Pete Seeger, by playing "Hard Ain't It Hard" Scruggs style. I was hooked.

Fifteen years later, as I was walking across Boston Common an older gentleman hailed me (by name) and reminded me he was Dick Emmons -I remembered him as Mr. Emmons, the banjo playing camp director. I was able to inform him that I had started playing the banjo and he invited me to come to the Huntington Avenue YMCA, where he gave evening classes on playing banjo. Unfortunately, I received a job offer that took me away from Massachusetts for thirty years, so I could never take him up on his offer.

Oct 24, 2021 - 12:35:21 PM
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964 posts since 3/23/2006

I was already playing some banjo learned from my red Peter Seeger book during the folk scare in the 1960s, but the first recording of the Camp Creek Boys on County in 1967 hooked me on old time clawhammer banjo. Still hooked.

Oct 24, 2021 - 1:21:03 PM

656 posts since 5/20/2008

Age 15, in 1970. Purchased NGDB’s “Uncle Charlie and his Dog Teddy”. Listened to John McEuen tear up both 3-finger and clawhammer. I was instantly transfixed. Two weeks later, took a bus an hour to downtown Cincy, traded my electric bass and bought my first 5-string. What followed was years of immersion into SW Ohio Industrial Strength Bluegrass. I lived the scene in the early 70s. Bobby, Sonny, Ralph. WYSO. Aunt Maudie’s and beyond.

Nov 1, 2021 - 12:32:47 PM

8004 posts since 9/5/2006

the first chord of hard days night,,and for banjo,,,beverly hillbillies

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