Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

EYBM #2: For our Mentor/Teacher

This is a fun one… I give @Mark_Rocka all the credit for the inspiration on this one…

I had recently called @BanjoBen the Bach of Bluegrass for how he takes a skill and makes a song around it - for enhanced practicing… as Bach did with the Well Tempered Clavier.

What other “Titles” would you bestow upon our inspirational Leader @BanjoBen?


LOL! The Bach of Bluegrass! I must have missed that comment. I love it!

Bach is my favorite, huge compliment. I learned most all his two-part inventions by the time I was 12.

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Wow… impressive!

Bach is MY favorite baroque composer. We studied his corales in my High School Music Theory class.

My compliments were genuine that teaching through drills is one way but crafting good songs that support a lick or riff or technique is sooo much more interesting to play and drive home the points!

You might recall… “Wax on, Wax off” from the Karate Kid movie. :+1:

By the way, this was the inspiration for my Redneck Moses comment. Go to 3:46

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Hi Ben,

When you wrote:

I presume you are talking Piano. Yes?

I want your take on this… presuming it may be true (you learning on Piano) and assuming that at age 12 you were not playing Banjo yet…

Do you think playing Piano as your first instrument has somehow shaped your Banjo playing?

I ask because on of my favorite Jazz trumpet players was Clifford Brown (played in the 1950s and died too young), I really gravitated to his style of improving on the trumpet.

I heard later that his first “axe” was Piano and that is subconscious approach to TRUMPET improv Piano-type ideas… which molded his (IMO) incredible ideas in his playing.

Was curious on your thoughts…

I started on piano at a young age, yes, and didn’t start other instruments until I was grown. The piano was very influential, and I do still think about music on the piano keyboard. I was classically trained, however, which was great for practice habits, discipline, etc., but not good for improvisational development. I knew all those Inventions, but couldn’t hardly tell you what key they were in. I surely couldn’t play chords behind them. I had to start working on that as an adult.

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I understand and think that Jazz Piano is much more accommodating to Jazz Trumpet.
In summary, I had read that it was Clifford’s mind THINKING of Piano Melodic lines as he played trumpet… that was the engine behind his uniqueness in trumpet playing.

True or not (to this Piano to Trumpet Theory), listening to Clifford’s solos with this in mind… it seems to be logical and possible. You can almost HEAR the Piano notes…

Sounds suitable for another one of my EYBM “Expand Your Banjo Mind” topics.

Nah… too complex to explain!

I like “The King of String”


How bout “The Mando Maestro”?


Maybe “The Axe Grinding Aggie”.


Bruthah-Pluckin’ Banjo Man !

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A young Ben Clark dreams of stardom and contemplates… :thinking:

“Clark’s Keys”… nah… that’s no good.

How ‘bout “Clark’s Chords”?.. hmmmm

Maybe… “Piano Ben”… nah… that doesn’t fit either. :roll_eyes:

Wait a minute… if I got that ole Banjer from my uncle’s closet and set out to learnin’ on it…

SOMEDAY… I’ll be known as…

… and the rest was history! :+1: