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Feb 24, 2024 - 7:33:56 PM
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3330 posts since 5/2/2012

Here is some inspiration

Feb 25, 2024 - 3:42:35 AM
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262 posts since 12/7/2007

Thank you for posting this!

Sylvia O’Brien, featured in the clip, is indeed an inspiration! She won the Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folklife honor, at that Gathering, in 1989. According to the write-up attached to her recognition, she was “a respected banjo player …equally revered for her knowledge of traditional mountain ways, and her unassuming …personality.” Her brother, Jenes Cottrell, was also a highly regarded West Virginia folklife figure, and a noted banjo builder. (Both are remembered in The West Virginia Encyclopedia.)

Edited by - srrobertsiii on 02/25/2024 03:55:11

Feb 25, 2024 - 5:44:29 AM
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29 posts since 3/19/2015

She is one of those people that would have been great to just spend a day with. Just a good country lady enjoying life.

Feb 25, 2024 - 8:24:26 AM

760 posts since 11/9/2021

I started playing at 68. Played a lot of instruments before, always wanted to add banjo to my repertoire and band, but never found anyone willing to put up with us, so 2 yrs ago I said, Screw it, I am going to learn. So yeah, its do-able.

The Barnacle

 


 

Feb 25, 2024 - 1:19:05 PM

3330 posts since 5/2/2012

wrench13 Well done! Thanks for sharing.

Feb 25, 2024 - 2:36:20 PM

206 posts since 2/16/2015

quote:
Originally posted by wrench13

I started playing at 68. Played a lot of instruments before, always wanted to add banjo to my repertoire and band, but never found anyone willing to put up with us, so 2 yrs ago I said, Screw it, I am going to learn. So yeah, its do-able.

The Barnacle

 


 


Me too at 68. But I never played anything before. I'm now 74. 

Feb 26, 2024 - 3:35:39 AM
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478 posts since 9/9/2006

quote:
Originally posted by 1sImpleman

She is one of those people that would have been great to just spend a day with. Just a good country lady enjoying life.


Sylvia was indeed great to spend time with! I visited her and her brother Jenes for a couple of days in the summer of 1979 in their beautiful hand-built house on Deadfall Run near Ivydale, WV, and she welcomed us with warmth and generosity. She took us around to the nearby town of Clay, to a place where a lunch was provided for some of the older people of the area; there she introduced us to the legendary fiddler and all-around character Ira Mullins. We then had a chance to head off to a little empty storefront in town and have some tunes with Ira and Clarence Stover, a local guitar player. Sylvia also took us to see another local banjo player, Ruthie Lyons. We then headed back to her and Jenes's home, where she fed us well and bade us stay the night, which we did. Sylvia was very kind and sweet to us, young total strangers who just called out of the blue and asked if we might visit them. I feel very fortunate to have met them and spent a little time with them. But I regret that I never had the opportunity to visit her again (her brother Jenes was quite ill, and died not long after our visit). Sylvia was a gem!

Edited by - BrendanD on 02/26/2024 03:40:35

Feb 26, 2024 - 10:17:14 AM
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44 posts since 10/30/2023

BrendanD , those are the memories that make life beautiful.

Feb 29, 2024 - 9:30:36 PM
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4157 posts since 5/12/2010

Ralph Roberts (well known WV fiddler) decided he wanted to learn Clawhammer banjo when he was around 85.

Me, Dwight Diller, and Matt Evans used to go visit Ralph and Charlie two or three times a year, and first time I was there I noticed that Ralph was playing a pretty junky banjo.

Charlie whispered to Dwight that she wished she could get Ralph a good banjo like Dwight and I played but they couldn't afford one. The banjo I had at the time was a Cloverlick (When Kramer still made them), a very , very nice banjo, but Dwight was playing one I made for him. Dwight handed that banjo to Ralph and told him he could borrow it so he would have something good to learn on.

On the drive back to Dwight's house we decided to get Ralph a good banjo, and about a month later me and Dwight went over and handed Ralph another banjo I had made. He played that banjo a while, then the other one, and Dwight told him to pick one, and he did. Then I told him it was his, and I will always remember the smile that brought to his eyes.

 


 


 

Mar 2, 2024 - 2:39:16 PM
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6298 posts since 3/11/2006

Great story, Pappy.

I remember back in Missouri whenever you'd ask an old-timer to get his/her banjo, they'd without fail pull a resonator Kay or Sears Silverbelle out of the closet.  That was back in the '60's and '70's, and among a certain set, up even into the early 2000's.  I wonder how much those cheap banjoes influenced  what some of us think of as the "old-time" sound.

Now in the days of quality designer banjoes, things have changed.  I mean my two main players are a gut-head, gut-strung, low-tuned fretless, and a 12" Dobson tone-ring, A-Scale... a far cry from the resonated Harmony bakelite pot banjo I played for a half dozen years to start in 1969, then a modified RB-250 until My Ramsey in 1996.

Mar 2, 2024 - 8:08:44 PM

4157 posts since 5/12/2010

Yeah, I get a chuckle out of people looking for an old Harmony thinking that will make them sound like Lee Hammons.

Fact is most of those old folks just ordered the best they could afford out of the Sears and Robucks or Montgomery Ward catalogs, and most of them would have been glad to have had a better banjo but just played what they had.

I started a little late in life, and have often wished I had started younger. Once I finally got good rhythm where I could play half way decent, arthritis started taking it away from me.

BTW - I enjoyed your playing on that fretless in the John Bowling video. 

Edited by - OldPappy on 03/02/2024 20:10:43

Mar 3, 2024 - 12:47:01 AM

6298 posts since 3/11/2006

Thanks for the good word, Pappy.  Sorry to hear about your arthritis.  I know you are one of Dwight's most dedicated musical/cultural *heirs*,  and so your difficulty costs all of us.

Dwight's music was a gift and I got a lot of satisfaction and edification from hearing him, though I had/have my own set of old-folks to follow on.

Speaking of old Harmony banjos, here's one for you if you've yet to see it:

Dusty Miller - Fretless Banjo - Clawhammer (youtube.com)

Mar 3, 2024 - 8:34:03 AM

4157 posts since 5/12/2010

In the right hands those old banjos can sound really good. I would say that one is in the right hands.

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