What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
I needed a new “thing” in my life- something that would make me happy and provide a challenge… and hopefully something fulfilling. I picked the banjo- it was a happy instrument and no one else I knew played one… I had the field wide open to myself in my area! Funny thing… the moment I mentioned I wanted to play banjo, more people told me they either played or knew someone who played. I was surprised.
How long have you been playing and what's your motivation to play?
7 Years. It was a challenge from myself to myself to pick up an instrument that I have never played. The banjo - was that answer.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
All the lessons on Bens site are planned so well - slow speed, and faster, that it is hard to choose. But the lessons with Alan Munde were fun to listen and work through- but I like playing the Blackberry Blossom and his lesson was very good.
What’s your goal when playing?
To become proficient enough to play with other people - but primarily to be able to make music that I enjoyed and would like to perform. Also- I really needed to learn to take direction again.
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I particularly like playing the banjo - and some guitar- but Banjo Ben inspired me to pick up a mandolin too- Keeps me busy. I played music in college and I played a brass instrument… playing chords and learning chord progressions was a new frontier for me. A brass instrument plays a linear line of music. Banjo/guitar/ mandolin was a real challenge for me to learn.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
That’s easy- I would play banjo until my fingers fell off.
How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I think around 8 months.
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Scruggs style- melodic if I could play a bit better that would be my ultimate goal. Shaping melodies is my goal - but it takes a lot of work to take something I have heard and get it to my fingertips… I am getting better though.
What artist(s) most inspire you?
Jens Kruger/Kruger Brothers, Noam Pikelny, Bela Fleck, Alison Brown, Ryan Cavanaugh - Anyone with a more unusual approach to music that flavors it different from traditional. I like the progressive banjo music - in a nutshell.
What do you do for a living?
Retired now. Used to work for Travel Company on military bases.
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
I would love to travel to all 50 states via automobile/RV and then the Canadian Provinces - meet people and play at campsites, festivals, or whenever possible.
How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
After trying a number of other sites, I decided that Banjo Ben offered me the best learning environment. The multiple tracks - speeds… and music were perfect for my learning method.
Who are your favorite pickin’ heroes (bluegrass and country artists)?
Pretty much all of the above in Artists that inspire me…Jens Kruger, Bela Fleck inspired me most… but I would add Mike Mumford, and John Bullard (classical).
Anything else you’d like to add?
I have certainly enjoyed working through Ben’s music. I try to do a different lesson every week - and I often have to remind myself to do that. There is always something I learn - I love the fact that I can play the tracks over and over and no one gets impatient with me! Great job on the site.