Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Kent Hughes from Oak View, California

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
This goes all the way back to hearing John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. That lit a fire under me to play the banjo. I then moved onto guitar and, recently, the mandolin.

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I started while in high school, just prior to the great “Deliverance Banjo Scare”…

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
I’ve gained a lot from all I’ve tried, guitar, banjo, and mandolin. My favorite lately has been the “Mandolin Fretboard Geography” lesson. That really opened things up for me.

What’s your goal when playing?
My primary goal is to just show improvement every time I play. I’ve been fortunate to finally lose the competitiveness with other players and just enjoy the “journey” to better playing.
“Banjo Zen”!!

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I stepped away from playing music for about 20 years. When I started up again, I found that listening to all styles of music while away, had really broadened my approach to playing.

I started with an interest in bluegrass and, I’m now into swing, blues, and old-style country. I’m fortunate to play in a few groups and, your lessons have helped me greatly improve.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Obviously, practice more! I actually find myself going over music while I sleep anyway!

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I joined in September of 2018. It’s been worth every penny! I haven’t taken a lesson since I was young and love Ben’s approach.

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Right now, I spend most of my time flatpicking guitar. I’ve recently pulled my banjo out from under the bed and returned to playing it, too. I built an F5 mandolin last year so, the lessons complete the trifecta!

What artist(s) most inspire you?
Tony Rice, JD Crowe, Norman Blake, David Bromberg… where to stop? Of course, Ben has become a tremendous influence!

What do you do for a living?
I was a professional cinematographer before recently retiring. I’m presently a luthier, doing repairs and, specializing in rebuilding vintage guitars.

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
I’ve had a pretty adventurous life and, I’m actually very happy spending my time working with instruments and picking with friends. I live in some beautiful country and live just about the best life I can imagine.

What question would you ask your fellow Gold Pickers?
My question would be, “Do you really appreciate how fortunate you are to have the passion to play music?” It really is a gift.


Hi Kent, Congrats on being selected as this weeks Gold Pick member. Music has been a part of my life since childhood. I can’t say I was ever very good at it but I have always enjoyed making some kind of musical noise for my own amusement. Piano, Accordion, Organ, Mouth Organ, Bagpipes, Guitar , Penny Whistle I have tried them all. Latterly Ukulele & Banjo. For me it’s just a hobby something to occupy my retirement.

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Hey, thanks! What an honor this is!

Welcome and congratulations, Kent! This ie the best instructional site on the whole internet, but you probably already know that

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Congrats Ken! What does a cinematographer do? That’s quite fascinating.

Hey Ken! Love to hear/see more about your instrument builds when you have time.

Absolutely! For many years after learning to play music, I was afraid that God would take away my gift if I used it anywhere outside of church. I suppose that came from the strict Assemblies of God upbringing I had.

I’ll admit that I take the gift for granted way too often. All I know is that it always feels like I have music inside of me that needs to get out. That’s the best way I can explain it.

Congrats on being GPotW! Nice to meet you.

This is an understandable thing to think, with that kind of upbringing, but, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29) and, “…God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach…” (James 1:5b) no, I didn’t know those references from memory, but I did know what they said. Look at people like Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, Chris Thile, BB King, Chuck Berry, ACDC, the two cellos, the eagles, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, the rest of the British invasion, Johnny Cash, the list goes on. All amazing musicians who were not Christian, (I think), did not play mostly churches (if any), and definitely did not glorify God with their music, and they still made some of the best advancements in music and didn’t get their gifts revoked. That said, please use you gifts for kingdom benefit. And the reason there isn’t any bluegrass musicians on that list is cuz several of them are saved, and I don’t know which ones

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Man! That is not a happy story. It seems that so many people and churches will use God to control and cause fear rather than disciple and nurture a personal relationship with our mighty God. I hate it!

Wish I had something brilliant to say, or a really reassuring Bible verse, to share but at this moment, I got nothing. Maybe reading about King David, and the book of John. I did just pray for you though.

God Bless,


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Thanks, guys. Rest assured that I don’t think that way any more, and haven’t for at least 20 years. Sad to say, but my understanding of the Word grew much faster AFTER I left that denomination.

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If you need, Ben is good to talk to. He’s a pastor and truly has a pastors heart. He’s also well read on the really deep spiritual matters.


I always look forward to reading the stories of other Banjo enClark members. Loved your story as you are living the life I hope to when I retire. Thanks for sharing with us!

Kent, congrats on being the gold pick dude of the week! Fun to read your comments and make the world just a little bit smaller.

Great to meet you Kent! That’s a good looking guitar you have.

Sorry I’m late getting back here. A cinematographer is also known as a director of photography or cameraman. I was in charge of setting up the camera angles, exposures, etc. Thanks for your interest!

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Thanks! It’s a Mossman, built by Scott Baxendale, after he bought the company from Stu Mossman. I love it!


Cool! I used to play a friends’ Mossman (Stu era) I loved that guitar