Tell us about you and your family!
I am 68 years young and have been married to my husband, Roy for 44 years. We live in the
country and raised 3 children who are all now adults married with with kids of their own. (The best grandkids ever!! ) We are now retired and “our nest” now holds goats, calves, and one wild and fractious beagle pup, Lizzie.
What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
I guess it all first started with my being a bratty little sister who would sneak into my older
sister’s room when she was wasn’t there, to play on her guitar. She was a folk singer, and I wanted to do the same. When she went off to college, the guitar went with her, and I was given a baritone uke, to play. A couple of years later that same sister bought me my first guitar. That little 3/4 size Conrad folk guitar was probably one of the best gifts I ever received. I was pretty shy at that time, & it gave me the confidence to sing and play for and with others & also helped me find lifelong musical friends. Whenever I hear the John Denver song, “This Old Guitar” I think of that one. It hangs on my wall now, replaced by better sounding instruments over the years, but it will always be pretty special to me.
As far as the fiddle, banjo, and mandolin …I can only blame the desire to play them on attending my first bluegrass festival. It had quite an impact on me! I came home from that first festival and ordered a fiddle online and a instructional DVD to learn bluegrass tunes… I went to jam camps, and bluegrass camps, workshops, and the more I attended, the more I wanted to learn. Eventually got a mandolin and banjo.
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
Guitar - about 60 years
Fiddle about 14 years (+ 5 yrs classical violin in school as a kid)
Mandolin- 14 years
Banjo 10 years.
As far as motivation, I get a lot of enjoyment out of learning different tunes, playing at jams with friends, maybe on a back porch, or under some trees at a festival, or at a camp, or church, or Banjo Ben’s Cabin Camp! Bluegrass musicians are like family to me and it is like a big family reunion when we get together.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
I like the old gospel tunes lessons, but since I usually play by ear, I have a tendency to skip the instruction part of the lessons and just listen & copy what I hear. I have however started going back to the very beginning on lessons and trying harder to learn the songs correctly. Have gone back to the rhythm series on the mandolin and chops, and going back to the beginning on banjo rolls. Since I want to play several instruments I lack focus and have discovered that in order to progress I need to go back to the beginning and work on the basics. I also like that I can slow the videos down and build up speed gradually. Build a Break lessons are very helpful. I loved working on Hannah’s song just because I like the song so much. Shady Grove, and Liberty, were fun lessons as well.
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I like folk & Irish music. I play the Irish tenor banjo with that as well as fiddle and mandolin.
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
I like to learn a song very slowly at first and build up speed. Sometimes I think the slow
versions sound prettier and almost hate to speed them up!
If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Only if I was a thousand times better musician than I am now…Becky Buller Band… Because there is so much energy and fun in their performance and because Becky and her band members are such fine folks.
What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
I like those D’Addario micro-tuners that fit on the headstocks or the ones that fit on the body of the fiddle that don’t have to be removed when the instruments are put in cases. Also I like the Shubb capo for guitars and the little D’Addario capos for the banjo. mandolin and ukes. Most important are my banjo and my fiddle mutes! Marriage savers for sure!
If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
Collings Pete Huttlinger Signature OM1 guitar
When you’re not pickin’, what else do you spend your time doing?
Killing fire ants and attempting to have a vegetable garden. Sitting out on the back porch watching the baby goats play in the pens or pasture. Spending time with grandkids.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I was fortunate enough to travel from Texas to Tennessee with 2 of my best bluegrass friends and attend a Cabin Camp last summer. You all made us feel like family from the time we stepped out of the car. The whole atmosphere was very caring. The food amazing, and the instruction was great. Never thought I would ever play in a band, especially with Kyle Cantrell introducing us and Kenny and Amanda Smith and Jeff Hyde in the audience. It was fun!!! Surreal but fun! Excited to be coming to the TX camp in November!
How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
One of his videos popped up on YouTube and I noticed he was an Aggie and since we are an Aggie family checked out more of his videos.
Thanks so much for letting us feature you, Carol!