What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
As a kid, I watched the Beverly Hillbillies and always wanted to learn to play the banjo. Later around 1976, a friend of mine that played the guitar, had an old silver tone banjo he sold me for 35 dollars. I didn’t know anything about playing one, but it did come with a one page tab of cripple creek. I swore those strings were one inch off the neck. I would try to push them down but they were so high they would move more side to side than down. The neighboring town had a t.v.and music store, which I bought a better banjo and took a couple lessons from the store owner. People would bring their instruments to the store on Wednesday nights and jam. This is where I met a couple more people to practice with. We practiced 3 nights a week for the next three years. We went to all the bluegrass festivals we could during this time. We never took our instruments because we were afraid to play in front of people. This time span was around 1977 - 1980. Then we started playing festivals late 1981 and 1982. By this time we were well rehearsed…There is a lot of banjo players I like, but my favorite banjo player and idol , and still is today is Robby Boone. I first saw him in 1978, he was around 14 years old. He could play fast and had good timing with his right hand and had his driving sound well started. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the good timing yet, but spent more time on the speed. I wasn’t very good but I could play fast. By 1981 and 1982 we got brave enough to play festivals. The high lite of our band career was that we got to open for Bill Monroe at the Mo. state fair. Shortly after that we broke up and I never played again until now. I always wanted to start playing again and to buy a new banjo. I heard of a banjo coming out that Ben, Jake, and Robby had a lot to do with the designing of, which is the gold tone twanger. So I ordered one. A little over a month later it was ready to be shipped to my house which was good, but the bad thing was, I got bucked off a horse three days earlier and had broken 11 ribs, which was not all bad, I still had one rib left. So I just got to look at the banjo for a week before I could play it. Sure is a beautiful banjo sounds great. They did a really good job in setting it up. I have the spark to play again, probably as much or more as when I started.
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I played for about 5 years, 1977 - 1982, then I didn’t play again until about a month ago. I love playing now, if not more than I did when I started. I think it is because how I want to play now. There are other banjo players I like, but Ben and Robby probably motivate me the most.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
I will end up going through all the lessons, but the ones I’m sticking to for now will be the basic ones. Trying to catch up on the things I missed when I started early on.
What’s your goal when playing?
To be a good solid player. By following Bens program, this will easily be possible.
How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
Not sure but I think I joined 8 to 9 years ago.
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
I guess this would be Scruggs style. More towards Bens and Robbys sound. I have really been working on having my spaces between my notes the same and the strings picked with the same quality. Trying to make sure each note is sounded. I have been working on having the hammer ons, pull offs, and slides. Making them distinct. Making sure every note counts. It has been more fun playing than ever.
If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
This is a hard question. I wouldn’t want to play in their bands because I wouldn’t want to mess up the good sound they already have, but I like Lonesome Road, Route 3, and Rhonda Vincent.
What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
I have purchased a Gold Tone banjo for my picks.
If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
I always wanted a stelling golden cross, but at this point I’m real happy with my Gold Tone Twanger.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I definantly would use this time to play.
Anything else you’d like to add? Can we share this or is this private feedback?
I would like to thank Banjo Ben for all he has done, to make his Knowledge available. He sure is a master, being able to play all the instruments in all the lessons he teaches. He has taken a lot of time to come up with how to play all these songs at all three levels with all the instruments. With having progression in mind. I like having access to the store. This way you don’t have to search around to find things, it is all right here. And there is good knowledgable help at the store. Thanks to the 3 masters for coming up with and setting up the Gold Tone Twanger. Ben, Jake, and Robby.