What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
Picked up my aunts nylon string guitar at 5 years of age… it was bigger than me! I never looked back. My first song was “Shoo Fly” switching from “C” to “G7” with one finger. Mandolin and later banjo came after years of hard rock and then finally getting to the love of bluegrass! Then the love of Mando shone through.
How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I’ve been playing guitar for 55 years, mandolin 20 years. I guess the release of dopamine ultimately happens in our brain when we do something that transcends the everyday physical realm! Playing music!
What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
Interestingly, even though I’m an advanced player, and have played professionally for decades, I still find going back over even the beginner lessons prove valuable. I try to get into Ben’s head when he’s teaching, and really understand what he’s thinking. At this point, I can get a great deal just watching him play, then having “aha” moments… “aha! That’s how he did that!”
What’s your goal when playing?
To be in the playing shape that allows me to express through playing, without ever thinking of my hands… they’re just moving by themselves! That takes good solid foundation and maintenance to be/stay in that state of “flow.”
Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
Many…besides bluegrass, I love playing folk, delta blues, Keltic, Rock, Metal. I also play Drums, trumpet, baritone horn, harmonica, bass guitar
How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
Many years. And even though sometimes I don’t sign in for a while, I always find joy and learning when I find my way back to Ben’s teaching… Thanks Ben!
Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Favorite at one time, takes a back seat to something at another time. But I love clawhammer, bottleneck slide, Slap bass,
If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
I’d love to play in the Punch Brothers. Spectacular musicianship, and would love to push my playing into that realm by playing with that level of players.
What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
I’ve gone through having a ton of equipment to being very stark and minimalistic. I’m torn as I love gear but ultimately try focus on the music, and not so much on equipment. At minimum the tools I feel comfortable having are my Martin Dread, Ellis F5 Mando, Collings OM, National Resophonic, Yamaha Recording King Kit. Just having these instruments set up correctly, being in playing shape, and just hoping for inspiration to come my way!
If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
A classic Lloyd Loar Mando from the golden age 1920’s of mando building… and 30’s Gibson Roy Smeck Guitar, a pre-war Martin herringbone dread or OM
If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Play Guitar or Mandolin or Anything
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks to Ben for the teachings and the inspiration to pick up any instrument at any time when I see him play!
Thanks for letting us feature you Mick!