Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Good Banjo Karma

Just over a year ago I was contacted by a friend who asked me to play the banjo at a memorial service in a nearby town. I did not know the deceased but by all accounts he was a fine man as well as a banjo player and collector. I was nervous for the solo performance but managed to get through it. I played a verse each of Power in the Blood, Amazing Grace and I’ll Fly Away. Then I went “full Earl” on Fireball Mail. After the service was over I packed up my banjo and went home. I heard later from the daughter who organized the service. She was very complementary and said that the performance had really turned the somber occasion into a celebration. She also mentioned that we never talked about payment. I told her the honor was mine, no payment necessary, one banjo man to another. I did not expect to hear from her again but I got a call from my friend who told me that the daughter wanted to give me one of her father’s banjos! My friend is not a banjo player but he is a musician. She told him to pick out a good one. He recognized the Gibson name so he picked that one. Well, had it been a pre-war flathead Mastertone then I would have had to give it back! It was, however, something I have always wanted and that is a 60’s TB-250 Mastertone “bowtie” with 20-hole flathead tone ring. I am going to get Richie Dotson up in Chesterfield, VA to convert it to 5-string. He has converted a couple similar banjos in the recent past and he does an excellent job. Can’t wait to get to play it in a couple months!!


That’s awesome! Congrats on the new banjo, hope to hear you play it

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Awesome story. Well done!

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You made a great memory for everyone attending. And to share the experience will inspire all.

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What a great story! Bluegrass folks are some of the finest folks on the planet. I’m sure he would have wanted you to have that banjo.


Great story Mike,

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Wow, congrats brother!


Wow, that’s pretty neat. Yeah, them’s good people.



This is a beautiful story Mike. Simply for sharing it, the story rightly stands on its’ own in the message.

Still, I cannot help myself…

Whatever happened? Is there an update to share? If not (yet), can you make a mental note to share any update later?

In honor to the banjo man (may he rest in peace), it would probably please him greatly to have us all oogle over photos of the instrument… as admirers of all things Banjo!

I’m just sayin’ :wink: