What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
My family history starts with the coal mines in Southern Ohio. They all spent evenings porch pickin’ long before I was born. Dad played some “hillbilly guitar” and the mouth harp, but I never learned a note. After he passed, always having those roots inside, I needed to be part of that home music scene. So after retirement, at 60+ years old, I started taking lessons from a great fella in Oberlin, Ohio. We relocated out West and that’s when I was lucky enough to Find Banjo Ben’s Website.
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
It’s going on 8 or so years. My wife has played rhythm guitar forever, and her memory for lyrics is like a computer, she knows every word, to every song, and that includes jingles from TV commercials. She is unbelievable. So thanks to Ben’s website, and the way he teaches, Barb and I now play out at Community Centers, Nursing homes and even played at the Orange Blossom Opry.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Oh my, now that is just impossible to say. All his lessons are just outstanding. I spend more time on the banjo, but really like the challenges on the Mando and guitar. I would have to say my favorite Banjo lesson, is the last one he put on. I mean each week, the last one was the best. Truly his invited guests, Mr. Mundy, and the rest are really fun, but Tony Wray knocks me out. The interaction between Ben and Tony makes ya feel like ya know them both, like good friends. Some of Ben’s ending comments after a slow practice video cracks me up. What a great site y’all have there.
What’s your goal when playing?
If I get the look for a break I don’t mess it up!!!
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
My wife Barb, was always an 80’s rock player. So since the Banjo wasn’t in bands like the Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin I learned a style that fits in pretty good, and it adds to the mix pretty good. But we do play a lot of older Country and Western, Eagles, and Folk songs, great for sing-a-longs.
How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
It’s been at least 8 years maybe a little longer. I know I was with the old site for a few years and when y’all upgraded you kindly carried me forward. Great people!
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Single string has been really fun, Reno Style. But good old Scruggs is the best. I’d like to frail but no time left in the day
If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Union Station, since when I started music only knowing a chord was what ran my drill, and a scale was showing that I gained to much weight. I have gained such a respect for musicians, I just can’t tell ya. The skills they possess is mind boggling. And to watch Alyson, Jerry Douglas, Dan Taminski, Ron Block, could you just imagine playing with that group of pros Holy, Holy, Holy. And then there’s the sharing process like Ben does. PS. I said that to make Alyson feel good, Purples Hulls is the real group I want to jam with.
What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
All the ones ya sell in your store HeeeeYa ! Really I have the little 5 string capos, bought a few from y’all and they work great. Lakota leather straps.
If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
Pre-War Gibson style 6 Checkerboard.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Practice, practice, and practice.
How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
Lucky enough to find it searching teaching sites for banjo.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Ben’s web site should get an Oscar, or Pulitzer or one of them Nobel Prizes or at least a gift certificate somewhere. Really, just the best lessons out there, great format, casual style, right from the basics thru advanced.
Don’t ya just feel Blessed to be here, in the good old U S of A . Praising God and pickin banjo ? How lucky we are!