Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Patrick "Mac" McIntyre from Seattle, Washington

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
Like countless scores of other young males of my era I readily observed that a large percentage of the females in my cohort were strongly attracted to Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson, both of whom sang and played guitar. Oh, and I also took an early liking to bluegrass, country and gospel music .

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I’ve been playing almost sixty years now and I would say my current major motivation is the sheer personal pleasure it brings to me. I’ve also found that as I grow older, it’s vitally important to have things I still long to master, even if I cannot realistically hope to do so. Among many other benefits, I’m convinced that regular playing preserves if it does not add to my muscle memory. And of course singing along keeps me from forgetting the hundreds of songs I’ve learned and love, and music still plays a big role in our gatherings of family and longtime friends.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
There’s too much to pick from (bad pun intended) to have a single favorite. I keep going back to the whole Intermediate Bag’o’Licks series and the Intermediate Intro to Crosspicking - You Are My Sunshine. I just keep picking up new little improvements that then pop up in my playing, both by myself for personal pleasure, and as a 30+ year member of Clallam County, a folk-bluegrass group that performs and records locally.

What’s your goal when playing?
It used to be simply to emulate the way I saw or heard others playing. Now it’s to come as close as I possibly can to what I feel and hear, musically, inside myself, and to better contribute to the overall product in jams and group performances.

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
We have a piano and I enjoy hacking around on some blues and boogie woogie stuff.

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
Going on 5 years.

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
I really haven’t got it down yet, but I like picking faster tunes up close to the saddle to get that tinny, honky-tonky kind of sound in country numbers.

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
John Prine - I love his songs; and it sounds like they have a great time making music.

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
D’addario coated phosphor medium acoustic strings; D’addario NS Pro capo & Kyser 6-string capo; Intellitouch PT10 tuner; Taylor picks

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
My only dream would be to get my skills to where they’re worthy of the Taylor guitars I already am blessed to have.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
It may sound hokey, but I like to think that I’d just do more of what I do now with about the same percentage division between my waking activities. (Except for eating, which I already do enough of!)

How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
To the best of my recollection I was surfing the internet for something that was related to my musical interests and simply came across it. Pure serendipity.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I just think that you all are running a great business and instructional service with high integrity and total customer concern.


Wow, congrats on being gpotw! It was both fun and inspiring to read the interview responses you offered up, so thanks for investing your time and sharing with us all. It’s very interesting to me to hear from someone who has been pickin’ as long as you have and are still willing to be teachable…that’s a personal goal for me too for as long as I’m able.

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Hey Mac, congrats on GPOTW. You’ve been playing 60 years? Jeepers, when did you start? How long have you been in Seattle? I lived there for 35+ years. All the best, hope to hear from you from time to time on the forum.

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What Mark said! Congrats on being GPOTW, I hope to see you around the forum!

Nice GPOTW Mac…

Congrats Mac!