What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
Like a lot of kids raised in the South, piano lessons were a social requirement. But the songs I listened to were played on guitar. Then I saw a banjo when I was working in the oilfield. I’ve always thought – how can one play the banjo and not be cheerful? You never hear banjo tunes at funerals. My daughter gave me a mandolin she found at a pawn shop a few years ago. I realized how much I loved the melodic style of the mandolin and how it complemented other instruments.
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I’ve played guitar since I was 14 years old. I learned a few tunes on banjo when I was 24. And I began learning mandolin over three years ago at the age of 62. My motivation to play used to be personal enjoyment (alone in my man cave). Over three years ago I was asked to join our church praise team. Now my joy comes from playing each Sunday to contribute to the worship experience for those attending the service.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
I’m working hard right now on learning “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” on mandolin. It’s a challenge to play it fast, but my goal is to get it perfect so I can “shake a leg” after the Tony Rice style ending.
What’s your goal when playing?
I want to challenge myself to more advanced songs so I can improve, memorize each song and then play them clean with no mistakes.
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I play harmonica, as well. I enjoy contemporary Christian music and like to add licks to the end of the lines to spruce up the songs.
How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I think I have been a Gold Pick Member almost four years.
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
I don’t think I have a favorite technique as much as I attempt to use the whole fretboard to add versatility to whatever song I am playing. Ben’s lessons that teach us theory and how to “open up the fretboard” helps me do that.
If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. I’ll never play the fiddle, but I would just like to be on stage with my banjo or mandolin and stand next to Michael as he sets the place on fire!
What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
I use my fifth string capo a lot with my banjo. A lot of the traditional hymns we play in church are in Ab. I also like the tone guard on my mandolin.
If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
I’d have a Huber Lexington Truetone banjo! I’d have to stop admiring it long enough to actually pick it.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Constantly play banjo and mandolin and occasionally pick guitar. The wife would have to slide pizza under the door to my man cave just to keep me going.
How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
I was looking for a way to know more than three banjo tunes and learn the mandolin. The guy in the mullet hooked me.
Anything else you’d like to add? Can we share this or is this private feedback?
I’m grateful for Ben and the whole Banjo Ben team…the instructors, Jake and the store. They all invest in making learning and playing do-able and a fun experience! It’s like family.