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Apr 18, 2024 - 5:23:22 PM
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Kevin B

USA

3247 posts since 1/24/2005

Ben has been my favorite banjo player since someone brought the Seldom Scene to my attention around 1976. The exuded skill and humility, two things that too often do not go hand in hand. God bless you Ben. Prayers for your family and friends.

Apr 18, 2024 - 5:50:40 PM

15310 posts since 6/2/2008
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quote:
Originally posted by DP in Canada

Forty odd years ago, I was fresh out of University of Toronto and had only been with my employer for three months, when they sent me on my first business trip, to a conference in Arlington. . . .stumbled upon the Birchmere.


If this was the 1980s, then you're describing either the first or second Birchmere location. First was in a shopping center, second was on a main drag through a small town business district. The current location (since 1996, in a former bowling alley, down the street from the second location) is a 500-seat venue with excellent sight lines and sound. But there was a great informal neighborhood quality to the first two places.

You truly were lucky to have that within walking distance of where you ended up staying on that trip.

Apr 18, 2024 - 6:06:33 PM
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DP in Canada

Canada

7 posts since 11/21/2003

Old Hickory … the Birchmere I was fortunate to have found was definitely NOT in a shopping centre, and was indeed a stand-alone structure on a street. Not a particularly picturesque location, as I remember it! But the venue itself, and the show that evening, were both terrific.

Apr 18, 2024 - 6:23:30 PM

65 posts since 3/10/2006

I met Ben about 6 times, he was a wonderful guy and my all-time favorite banjo picker. Last time I saw him was about 4-5 years ago in Bellevue Washington at a bluegrass festival and my son got to see him picking with the seldom scene, was a wonderful memory. I love his picking backup skills on songs like wait a minute, small exception of me and last train from poor valley, sooo much. I will miss him and hope your up in Heaven picking with Duffy and the rest..

Apr 18, 2024 - 6:37:33 PM

15310 posts since 6/2/2008
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quote:
Originally posted by DP in Canada

Old Hickory … the Birchmere I was fortunate to have found was definitely NOT in a shopping centre, and was indeed a stand-alone structure on a street. Not a particularly picturesque location, as I remember it! But the venue itself, and the show that evening, were both terrific.


That would be location #2, seeing as they didn't move to their current home until 1996.

Apr 19, 2024 - 4:39:56 AM

11 posts since 10/30/2007

Saw Ben Eldridge with the Seldom Scene at his Alma Mater in N.C. - probably in 1987? Not heard him play before but he (and the rest of the band were terrific!). A very talented Banjo picker. RIP Ben.

Apr 19, 2024 - 6:00:10 AM

Quigg

USA

22 posts since 7/29/2013

Ben Eldridge was special. Not only was he a brilliant banjo picker, he was a kind man. Humble. He played with my dad in a bluegrass band at UVa. Even though I am a below-average picker, he was always encouraging and made time to talk the few times I called him. Ben thanks for the 10,000 hours of listening pleasure.

Apr 19, 2024 - 6:10:24 AM

482 posts since 3/11/2004

I met Ben at Berryville in the late 1960s (in a tent along with Bill Emerson who was playing there - not in the tent - I think with Cliff Waldron and the New Shades of Grass). Ben was a very nice guy, and it was always nice to "run into him" now and then in subsequent years. It is sad to hear of his passing. I didn't know that he was in failing health, but I guess it happens more and more as we all get older. Of course Ben was a fine banjo player (as well as being a nice guy). He did "produce" an excellent guitar player (son Chris) who is also seems to be a nice guy.

Edited by - schwimbo on 04/19/2024 06:11:30

Apr 19, 2024 - 7:06:35 AM

lazyarcher

Canada

7383 posts since 4/19/2004

I was also fortunate to meet Ben a couple of times. Once many years ago, I was playing a festival the SS was at. We talked banjos and I showed him my lime green RB 800 (Argentine Grey). He was very kind, picked it a bit and it sounded just like him!! When I played it later, it sounded like me...disappointing... RIP Ben.

Apr 19, 2024 - 7:22:50 AM

23097 posts since 1/20/2005

I remember dragging my parents to a Seldom Scene concert and telling them that Ben Eldridge was an amazing banjo player. After my dad said, "After your comment, I was expecting him to be flashy or pushing himself forward. But he wasn't at all. But I could see why you liked him." I said it was because he wasn't flashy that made him great. He was solid and focused on making the SS sound what it was. But when he did his solos he would blow you away even without any flash.

And of course I will never be able to listen to Lay Down Sally without picturing him doing his little dance.

Apr 19, 2024 - 8:14:35 AM
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11 posts since 10/24/2006

I'm saddened to learn of Ben's passing. He was a champion of the 5-string banjo and a very nice guy. Me and a good friend of mind, back in the '80s, would take off after work on many Thursday evenings and travel from Richmond, VA to Arlington, VA to the Birchmere for an evening of music, courtesy of the Seldom Scene. I never got to meet Ben until about 10 years ago at a small venue in Ashland, VA. Ben wasn't playing that night; he was in the audience listening to a local band. During one of the band's breaks, I went over to his table, introduced myself, and chatted with him. It was then I learned that Ben, like me, had attended The University of Virginia and were still great fans of the football and basketball teams. He was so easy to talk with, and I will never forget his kindness to a total stranger. The nation has lost a wonderful human being as well as a very talented "picker."

Apr 20, 2024 - 9:59:46 AM
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8584 posts since 9/5/2006

bens passing hit me kinda hard. he was one of the good ones for sure, brilliant mind and understanding of the banjo. i guess his mathematics training helped too. i got to meet him several times. always very nice to me. we even had lunch together a couple of times while we were playing the same festival. and once i got him to show me how he played last train from poor valley,, i will never for get that. a gentleman in every sense,,, a dry sense of humor but could be a cut up in a heart beat.
he changed the way i played banjo ,, and i told him so. he just laughed and said "you are ruined for life now". i haven't been in touch with him in quite a while since i quit playing ,,, but it still hurts. RIP buddy,, you will be missed by so many.

Apr 28, 2024 - 3:35:47 PM
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1600 posts since 7/12/2004

The Seldom Scene was one of my favorite bands to see live when I got involved in bluegrass in the mid-70s. Later on, I'd approach (some would say "accost") Ben at festivals to ask banjo questions. If he had 45 minutes between sets, he'd gladly spend 30 of them talking to random banjo players. A very generous and kind soul, and one of the greats. He will be missed.

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