Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Leigh Rawson from Estero, Florida


What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
About ten years ago, I decided that 6 of us playing guitar in our church group was a little redundant. So, I went to a Halloween sale at a local music store and bought an Alvarez mandolin. I fell in love with the sound and taught myself to play our music, but pretty much play like a small guitar. I wanted to learn the proper method, read music notation, and my goal is to be able to improvise. So, I joined as a Gold Pick member about a month ago!

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I started banjo in 8th grade, only knowing bluegrass through the Beverly Hillbillies and Andy Griffith, but being in a suburb of Chicago I was unable to find an instructor that actually played banjo, so I stopped playing. Picked it up again about five years ago when I discovered clawhammer and found that much easier. We play at open mics and I like to take clawhammer to places like Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” We like to “plunkify” classic rock.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
My favorite lessons are the music theory vids.

What’s your goal when playing?
Eventually, I’d like to be a versatile player in multiple genres, but if I have to limit myself, then I’d love to play bluegrass.

What songs have you completely memorized?
I have memorized a lot of our church music but I don’t have too many bluegrass tunes yet. Swallowtail Jig, Remember When, Mr. Bojangles, Moondance, J.S. Bach – I’m all over the place.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
If I didn’t have to sleep, I would be a much better musician, but work and sleep are such a burden!

What do you do for a living?
I am a retired law enforcement officer from Illinois, now living in southwest Florida and working as an attorney for the courts.

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
As for adventure, maybe I’ve had plenty of that. I just focus on family and my favorite hobby.


Welcome, Leigh! Congratulations on being picked as GPOTW! I like that goal, and you’ve come to the right place to help you realize it. I hope you’ll also find this forum very helpful. I notice @BanjoBen has started coming up with more/more interesting questions :wink:

Welcome, Leigh. Nice to meet you. I like what you said about a banjo teacher. I grew up in So. Cal in the 70’s and couldn’t find a single banjo teacher. I think Mando will be my next instruments to learn.

Nice to meet you Leigh!

Congrates Leigh on being selected Goldpick Member of the Week. Nice to get to know you

Isn’t that how it feels sometimes? Everyone and his brother kinda-sorta plays guitar.:rofl:

Well, it does make it easy for guitarists to find loaner instruments when, for example, on vacation

Very true! For me, anyway, there’s always a guitar to play somewhere

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Very convenient, especially since guitars are large/not easily transportable and you can bring a different instrument instead

Unless, of course, you get something like this.

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I thought that’s what they made mandolins for :joy: :thinking:


Hi Leigh, nice to meet you. I’ve always loved the sound of claw hammer and it’s so pretty to watch; mesmerizing kind of. I had not played played banjo (Scruggs style) since I was young and only recently got a banjo with the intent of learning claw hammer. Within just a few days however, I reverted back to 3 finger and now I’ve taken off in that direction. I still want to try it though - some day. Very few players can do both I hear.


Nice to meet you Leigh. Congratulations!

Welcome, my Mando-Banjo Brother.

I like the thought of cross-genre, musical bending songs with acoustics.

Live near Detroit but I like and enjoy Chi-Town. Cubs or Sox? :thinking:

Stay safe down there in “Gator Country”.

Welcome to the Forum. You are among friends here. Congrats!

Go for it! Clawhammer is fun and relaxing, it’s actually how I put myself to sleep :joy: :sleeping:

This would put me among the few then. I suggest Barry hunn’s videos on the deering banjos YouTube channel I’ll give you a link to where you can find it just now

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Here it is,

Hi Leigh my thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and your community. That storm looks to be a nasty one.

Hey @Archie Archie,

Leigh, @lmrawson is in Estero, FL south of me and @Roger113 Daugherty is just east of me, both of us in the Tampa Bay area. We just caught the fringe edges of the storm as it headed north resulting in some winds and a little rain here. They really got clobbered northeast of us in the pan handle of Florida; worst storm they’ve ever had I think. Several towns on the coast are in complete ruins. Georgia and South and North Carolina got hit as well, as if they needed that after so much damage from Florence just last month.

Well wishes and prayers to all our friends located in those areas.


Aw, thanks, I’ll check it out. M

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Hi @Maggie glad to here you missed the worst of the storm my granddaughter is flying over to Florida in a couple of weeks, naturally I am a little concerned.

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