What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
I was first interested in playing bluegrass music after a preacher named Travis Alltop, who is a superb flatpicker, came to our church and played. I started the guitar, and after about a year of hearing bluegrass music, I really wanted to play the banjo. Shortly after starting banjo I joined Ben’s site, and after about a year of being a Gold Pick member I figured it would only make sense to take up the mandolin!
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I’ve been playing the guitar for a little over two years, banjo a little over one, and mandolin about a month and a half. My main motivation to play is that I just really enjoy the sound of the instruments, learning new tricks to incorporate into my playing, and the simple fun of playing. Oh yeah, and also I get really, really bored if I don’t.
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
My favorite lesson is probably Banjo Utility Rolls, as it has totally improved my backup for bluesy songs. I also really enjoy I Have Decided to Follow Jesus for banjo, even though I still can’t play it without messing up at least once! Oh, and “How to Change Your Strings” has always been a helpful one.
What’s your goal when playing?
My primary goal is to be able to bring honor to the Lord Jesus Christ through my playing. My secondary goal is to sound good and not mess up
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I don’t play any instruments other than Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar, but I do enjoy congregational singing and piano music. Maybe someday I’ll take up the dobro or fiddle.
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
I’d probably practice more, and also get to things that I have to do but that I never end up doing.
How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
Just over a year; I joined in March 2018.
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
My favorite technique is playing backup, especially on the banjo. I try to be subtle enough with backup so that it’s not overpowering the solo or singing, but I also really enjoy using fancy-but-still-tasteful licks in my backup.
What artist(s) most inspire you?
Earl Scruggs, Banjo Ben and The Purple Hulls inspire a lot of my playing. Most of my licks come from Scruggs, Ben, or Ben’s sisters.
What do you do for a living?
Well, I’m still in Eighth Grade so I don’t have a job yet, but I do go to school so I can eventually make a living.
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
I’m not really an adventurous person, but I really enjoyed Banjo Ben’s Cabin Camp and I hope I can make it to another one someday!
How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
I found out about Ben whilst searching for Bleugrass Guitar instructional videos. He was one of the first to come up. I was actually trying to figure out how to play a guitar G Lick… so within the first few seconds of Ben’s video I was interested!
Who are your favorite pickin’ heroes (bluegrass and country artists)?
Earl Scruggs, Andy Leftwich, Russ Carson, Travis Alltop, Jim Britton, Banjo Ben, Penny Lea Clark, and Katy Lou Clark, to name a few.
What question would you want us to ask future Gold Pickers of the Week?
If you could take up another instrument, what would it be? For me, it would probably be the dobro, as I really like the sound.
Anything else you’d like to add?
As far as I can tell, the secret to playing well is to keep practicing, to absorb as much teaching as you can, and to listen to Blugrass music often so that you can hear what you have learned being used in action! God bless!