What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
When I was 10 years old I was lucky enough to get 2 guitar lessons from a young college student in my hometown. He played a Martin guitar and I thought he was the coolest guy I ever met. He taught me a song out of Mel Bay’s guitar lesson book. I had to stop because my family couldn’t afford any more lessons. But it stuck in me.
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I have been playing seriously since 2010. My motivation to play simply put is GOD! There was a rough patch in my life and I prayed to find passion for something. God answered with a Martin guitar just like the one that cool college guy who gave me my first lesson all those years ago had! I haven’t stopped since.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Swing! I love playing swing music. I’m still working on it (as it comes hard for me.) I listened to Bob Wills as a kid and fell in love with that sound. I want to become completely proficient at it like Ben’s sister! I’m not there yet but it has loosened up my fingers to unusual positioning to which I was previously unaccustomed. The rhythm lessons.
strong textWhat’s your goal when playing?
I love to play a song without a mistake. Boy have I misfired at times! I like those listening to me to see and hear passion and display something real! I was able to play in the open mic session at the 36th annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko NV last this past Jan and I almost pulled off my 3 song set without a goof. But they treat you like a king. It was a rush.
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I love real western music like Dave Stamey, Wylie and the Wild West, Chris Ledoux, Red Steagall and many others in that genre because I grew up that way. Corb Lund calls our genre, “Agricultural Tragedy.” I also love Bluegrass! The Purple Hulls of course! But I love the Gibson Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs and Larry Sparks and again, tooo many to mention! I really, really, enjoy singing harmony. I consider the voice an instrument. The few times I have been able to assist in sweet harmony, (with someone I have a good vibe) I get lost in it! I would like to learn banjo.
How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I think around 2 years? Not sure. Time flies.
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Hard drivin’ boom chuck? Clarence White style. Cross picking.
If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Doyle Lawson due to the beautiful 2-3 part harmony he creates and the Bluegrass gospel he plays. I heard him say he’s schooled many a Bluegrass musician. But really any band that felt I could add a good quality to as long as we share the same world view. I think going on the road could be a real grind and I would want it to be with some real brothers and sisters.
What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
I have an HD 28 Martin which is my dream guitar. I use a Martin guitar strap that my brother modified with some cowboy style bling. It is wide and soft and comfortable. I use a Snark tuner and Clayton extra wide .80 mm picks (because I don’t usually drop them) but I have wanted to try some Blue Chips.
If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
An Earl Scruggs Gibson banjo would certainly be next on my bucket list! There is a You Tube video of Willie Watson singing, “Mexican Cowboy” that is awesome! The veins in his neck are poppin’ and he gets it done loud and proud! It is raw and real! Claw hammer stirs my soul and makes my heart glow. I laugh out of pure joy when it ends.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Play guitar and write my stories. Perform solo concerts and make some folks happy.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Music is partially responsible for saving my life. It took me from despair to a place of sustained joy. God, my wife Julie and family are ahead of music in that equation but it has been a healer for me. Banjo Ben gives you everything he can to give you success. I really can’t imagine anything else he could do to help.
What question would you want us to ask future Gold Pickers of the Week?
I would ask, Who has influenced you the most musically? Honestly for me it is Banjo Ben because I can practice and review at will. The printouts, the clear explanations and back tracks work for me. I am still a very long way from being where I’d like to be.