What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
When I was about 9 or 10 years old, my older cousin took me to see Lester Flat and the Nashville Grass. Earl was not with Lester anymore, but there was this guy playing the banjo that was bigger than life. His name was Kenny Ingram. He was so big and played so fast that I wanted to be just like him. That night, Kenny Ingram on banjo and Marty Stewart on mandolin made me fall in love with bluegrass music.
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
Well, it was about 5 years down the road in 1974 that my mom bought me an old banjo from a garage sale. I would like to say it was one of those rare finds, but it wasn’t. Just an old cheap banjo, but I loved it just the same. I didn’t know anybody that played so I would listen to the radio on Sunday nights and try to imitate what I heard. A year or so later I met a guy named Sid Little that took an interest in me and started teaching me to play. After about 3 years of playing, school, girls and work( not necessarily in that order) took over my playing. The occasional playing at church or parties kept me playing thru the years, but never learning anything new. Same 3 chords, same 3 songs. Now later in life, about 8 years ago, A missionary at my church wanted to put together a bluegrass band to go to Greece to help churches to do outreach in their communities. As we put this band together, I realized quickly that I needed to get better and to learn more songs. That’s when I started searching the internet for lessons and came across Ben Clark. Seemed like the perfect fit. A teacher that has a heart for God and people and a student that wants to do evangelism.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
The lesson on John Henry was a great lesson for me, but then when Ben added the Melodic Segway lesson using John Henry, It took my playing to a whole new level. I use those licks all the time now. Bag O’ Licks- Up the Neck is the lesson that really got me playin up the neck. I use those licks all the time now too. Wow, so many great lessons. Some of the really good stuff on there has been the banjo setup instructional videos. When I got my banjo setup right, I either played better or it sounded better. Either way was good.
What’s your goal when playing?
My goal when I play is to enjoy what I play and to have other people enjoy what I play. I guess my goal is to make people smile.
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I also play the Piano, Guitar and Drums. In my teens, I played drums in a classic rock band. Of course back then it wasn’t classic yet. I’m very involved in playing all these instruments in the worship band at my church.
How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
Don’t know how long I’ve been a Gold Pick member, but it hasn’t been long enough. Wish I had this 30 years ago… I would have to guess about 5 years.
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Learning to relax when I play is a technique that I’m really working on. When I remember to do that, my playing gets so much better.
If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
I would play in the Ricky Scaggs band because I hear that he is a good man to work for. Also that means I would be as good as Russ Carson.
What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
A bluechip thumb pick and the Sammy Shelor finger picks make a great combination. Good picks make a big difference. Also I have my instruments on wall hangers. Makes if easier to practice when I don’t have to get it out of the case.
If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
My dream instrument is the one I have now. 1932 Prewar Gibson.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I’d do more fishin. Sometimes that’s just as good as sleepin.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It makes all the difference to have a godly man as the one that is teaching and leading me, because I know that he has integrity and can be trusted to be fair, honest, caring, a heart for people and makes decisions based on the Word of God.
How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
I was searching for some lessons on the internet and Banjo Ben popped up. something told me to take a chance on this guy and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I have never regretted spending the money to become a Gold Pick member. I actually feel guilty getting all these lessons and never having to pay again.
Thanks for letting us feature you Greg!