What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
For the mandolin, it was when I saw a video of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver performing “Julie Ann”, and his mandolin playing got me curious about learning to play the instrument. Bluegrass has always appealed to me, especially Earl Scruggs banjo playing, that initially got me hooked.
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
Mandolin, since May '20, I started playing guitar and banjo in my early teens, then after college they got put away for a long time! During the lockdown of 2020, had time to dig them out and in the process I got really curious about playing the mandolin. I had forgotten how much fun it was and I set myself the goal of getting back into making music.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
I’d have to say the theory lessons. Like the one I’m doing now on Pentatonic scales, and the ones on major scales. When I was younger, I would simply learn a song from my friends or learn from tab. To be able to understand the “why” and “how” songs are constructed (1,4,5; Nashville number system, A part/B part, etc.) has given me a whole new perspective and understanding of music as a whole. The TEF files and rhythm tracks have added a new dimension to my practice sessions, they are awesome!
What’s your goal when playing?
My goal is to be able to play rhythm, and lead breaks, after being give the song and the key we’re playing it in. I want to be able to join a jam session and play with confidence and contribute.
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
Guitar and banjo, I want to start getting back into playing them as well. Also, I’d really like to learn some Irish tunes for the mandolin!
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Not yet, right now I am trying to challenge myself to listen to different mandolin leads and pick them out by ear, like “Eight More Miles to Louisville” the Sam Bush version.
If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Allison Krauss and Union Station. Each member is a master in their own right, and to be able to play with that group of musicians would be brilliant! It would be awesome just to keep up! I actually saw them in concert in '91 at a small venue here in North Carolina, maybe 150 or so people were there and I actually got to speak to Allison and shake her hand when they were finished. When they came back a little over a year later, it was in a huge theater and a couple thousand in attendance, didn’t get to walk up to the stage after the show that night!
What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
I have gotten to like the Blue Chip picks, currently using the Chris Thile CT55 for my mandolin playing.
If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
Collings MF5-V, no pick guard
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Get an RV, load the family in for weekend trips to Bluegrass festivals!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Cabin Camps!!! I can’t wait to get back to another one. The experience is immeasurable. The music, the relaxed down-home feel, the food, the Saturday night concert, make it special. What makes it a blessing is the people. From Ben and his family, the instructors (shout out to you Penny!!) and the other campers, everyone is there to learn, to share, and to have a great time. The music is the wrapping, but there fellowship is the true gift.
Thanks for letting us feature you, @Jeff_Perryman!