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

Awesome story. Well done!

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

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.

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Great story Mike,

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Wow, congrats brother!

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

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