Several months ago I purchased from Gryphon Strings in CA a 2008 maple 5-string made in 2008 by Charlie Russell. I am looking to learn more about Charlie Russell, and his banjos, but have not had much luck searching the web for info. Gryphon said they had this banjo in their shop for years, and it was relatively un-played, but they had no more specific info on it or on Charlie Russell. Years ago I recall seeing a post in the Hangout about Charlie, likely about the time he passed. I have come across a Hangout post by Tom Nechville in 2012, who obtained 3 of Charlie's banjos when he passed. That post from Tom lists the 2008 matte-gold plated banjo that I likely have now, but in contacting Tom, he had no more info than what was in that 2012 post. I was simply looking for any more info someone might have on Charlie Russell, as a luthier, his banjo, his life, where he lived, anything. Just would like to know more about the man who made this wonderful banjo. Here's the link to the 2012 Hangout post by Tom Nechville:
Thanks for any help or links anyone can provide.
Charlie Russell was an older man living in the Minneapolis area when he began building banjos as a hobby back in those years. As I understood it at the time (probably 15 years ago), I believe Mr. Russell had been a banjo student who turned to tweaking and building banjos as a hobby. He was trying to sell a couple that he made through a gentleman who is a professional musician and who taught banjo back then at the Homestead Pickin’ Parlor in Richfield, MN , a suburb of Minneapolis. The Russell banjo I saw there back then was extremely ornate, with a tree of life inlay pattern on the fret board, if memory serves. This would have been before Tom Nechville was trying to sell Mr. Russell’s banjos. I briefly met Mr. Russell one day at the Homestead as he was showing that newly made banjo to this banjo instructor-musician friend. That man was eventually going to try to sell Mr. Russell's banjo(s).
I believe Mr. Russell passed away before he could make more than a very few of his banjos. It's possible that further info about him might be gotten from contacting the Homestead. It's a small shop who employed the above-mentioned musician/instructor back then and whose owners probably knew Mr. Russell.
I hope that my recollection of that brief meeting and Mr. Russell’s banjos is accurate. I did not know him, but I recall that he seemed like a nice older gentleman.
Edited by - DH#52 on 01/15/2022 03:30:43
Thank you so much for your insight and the information. This is more than I could find out from internet searches. I will try contacting Homestead and see if I can get any more info.
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