Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Kaleb Dion from Spokane Valley, Washington

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
My parents said I had to take a year of piano lessons. After that year I was allowed to pick whatever instrument I wanted to learn to play. My dad and I spend a lot of time on YouTube watching random videos and we came across the Sleepy Man Banjo boys. I thought “That’s COOL!” The banjo is such a happy instrument and I really like to play fast music. They really inspired me!

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I have been playing 2 1/2 years and I just really love doing it.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Cherokee Shuffle is my favorite song that I have learned from Ben. I love that Ben has the tef view available that I can play along with at the speed I need. I also love listening to previews so that I know what the song is supposed to sound like when I am done with it.

What’s your goal when playing?
I know that there is no limit to what I can do and endless possibilities. I play because it makes me happy and brings a smile to those around me.

What songs have you completely memorized?
Any song I have learned is memorized. The list is too long for here because there are 80+ but a few of my favorites are, Earl’s Breakdown, Foggy Mountain Special, The Crow, Elite Syncopations, Whisky Before Breakfast, Blackberry Blossom, Swallowtail Jig, and a couple of my own I have written, Bitterroot Creek, Irish Banjo and Slightly Irregular.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Well Duh, Play my BANJO!

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I have been a Gold Pick member just over 2 years

What do you do for a living?
I’m a sophomore in HS but I have made money mowing lawns, odd jobs for the neighbors and of course 10s of dollars playing bluegrass!

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
I’m not really an adventuresome person. I really love to travel around and play my banjo in all sorts of places.

When I took up the banjo, my brother started flat picking the guitar and we talked my dad into learning stand up bass. We started our own family band called Dead Pan Dan and the Expressionless Pickers. When we started we had NO expression because we were concentrating so hard on what we were playing that it was hard to do anything else. We have been invited to play so many places. I would encourage newer pickers to get into jam circles, find open mics and don’t be afraid to get out and share what you are learning with others. People are so much nicer than you think they will be, I have learned so much from from other pickers!


Welcome, Kaleb, @banjoboyk! (Even though you’ve been a member more than twice as long as me) how old is sophomore in high school? (I’m homeschooling and we don’t learn those types of thing) that is exactly what I would do if I didn’t have to sleep. I did a gig (sort of) last thanksgiving and we (my bro and I) were also expressionless. Anyway, congratulations on being gpotw, it’s nice to (virtually) meet you


Congrats, Kaleb! Very cool to read some back story behind the picker. I’m a little jealous that you have family to pick with. That would be awesome!

I love watching your videos. I’d say it’s a well deserved Picker of the Week selection.


Hi Kaleb, Congrats on being selected GPMOTW. You have a great future ahead of you and it’s a real bonus for us, @BanjoBen 's Gold Pick Members, to have you share your story and your talent here. I do so enjoy watching your videos, you have come a long way in 2 1/2 years. I just wish I had taken up the banjo at your age.

I echo @Mark_Rocka 's comment “a well deserved Picker of the Week selection.”


Congratulation Kaleb. It’s so good to see young people passionate about playing. It’s something you’ll have the rest of your life. Nice to meet you.


Sophomore is 10th grade so 15-16. I’m 15. Technically I’m homeschooled but am a part time student (Math, English, Chemistry) at the local high school. I do music, PE and world history at home. :grinning:

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Hey, when can we see some videos of your own tunes ?
I’m an old geezer, and a little jealous that you can up with your own tunes !!!
By all means, keep carry on !

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Hey @Erwin1 This is my bitterroot creek song that I was privileged to play with Alan Munde at banjo camp last May. I loved the way he played my song. I learned some cool licks! I guess I need to get recordings of the other two! :grin:


That’s a great tune ! And I’m happy to notice that you play it almost all non melodically ! (that means, I can learn it too !)
It must have been a blast playing with Alan Munde !

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Congrats Kaleb & nice pickin’ on the video!

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That video was really cool! It’s amazing that you can play so well after 2.5 yrs.

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That song had a great hook! Definitely should be recorded in a studio.

Love the way Alan played along. What he was doing reminded me of his fretboard geography lesson.

I look forward to following your career over the years. Stay with us at Banjo Ben, so we know what’s going on.


Thanks! I would love to record it in a studio but finding one around here that doesn’t charge and arm and a leg is a challenge. Thanks for your encouragement! I plan on being here for a long time. I have a lifetime membership!:grin:


I’ll give you my secret… Practice several hours a day. Push through cracked fingers and completely immerse yourself in bluegrass music. I watch a lot of youtube and I have my own bluegrass station on Pandora that I listen to all day long. Eat, sleep, breathe banjo! :joy:

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It was the highlight of my year! I can’t wait to go back to camp next year so I can learn more from him!

Have you considered asking @BanjoBen to help you find a contact in your area? Ben has been in the business a while and he’ll know all pitfalls.

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That is a big deal Kaleb, what a treat. Great job.

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