Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Roger Jernigan from Dana, North Carolina

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
I’ve always loved bluegrass and old time gospel music and admired anyone who could play a banjo. I had never played an instrument but after watching a Hee Haw rerun on RFD TV I decided you’re never too old to give it a try. ( I was 44 yrs old ) so I went to a local music store and purchased a Deering Good Time 2 banjo and signed up for lessons. I took lessons for about 6 months. I stopped taking lessons and tried to learn on my own for the next year. I got frustrated and put the banjo up for about a year. Then I bought a guitar and took lessons for about 3 months. A friend told me about Banjo Bens website and I checked it out. I thought what a deal. I can learn banjo, guitar and mandolin all for the same price. I think the lifetime membership at that time was 150.$$. I joined right away. His lessons gave me the motivation to buy a mandolin.

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I have been playing banjo since January 2010. Guitar since 2012, and mandolin since 2017.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
My favorite lessons have been St Anne’s Reel and Irish Washerwoman. I like all three instruments in same lesson.

What’s your goal when playing?
My goal when I started was to see if I could ever learn to play Foggy Mountain Breakdown. I can play it now but not at the speed or clarity needed to perform for an audience. I am definitely a closer picker, enjoy playing at home but get too nervous and lack the confidence to play with others. Also when I pick a song I want to learn I will learn most of it very quickly but get bored with practicing it over and over and jump to a new song that interest me.

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I play the banjo, guitar and mandolin

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
My extra time would be spent golfing, fishing, playing with grandkids.

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I’ve been a gold pick member so long I can’t remember when I joined. Around 2012 I think.

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
I don’t really have a favorite technique but I love instrumentals on banjo, guitar and mandolin. I love learning lead breaks and hate practicing backup or rhythm.

What do you do for a living?
I own an auto repair shop and have been a mechanic for 38 years.

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
Visiting England and Scotland and playing golf at St Andrews. Playing golf at Augusta would be great if anyone can get me in. I could be there in about 3 hours.


Congratulations on being GPotW! I’d say welcome to the site, but you’ve been here for longer than I’ve known what a banjo is :joy: My dad is also an auto mechanic, and has been for more than 40 years!

Good to meet you Roger. It is cool you are a multi-instrumentalist. If there were only two more of you, you would have a band.

In another life, I might have been a car mechanic. I got the bug back in 1973 when we owned an MG Midget with the two carburetors. It seemed like every weekend that I was fiddling around with them to get them balanced and tuned just right. Then there was the time I was replacing a rear leaf spring on it and the car fell off the jack and onto my chest… good times, good times.


Congrats Roger on being selected as the weeks Gold Pick Member. I worked as a heavy goods truck mechanic for a few years after leaving the army back in 1977 It’s a hard way to earn your keep especially in winter when diesel engines wont start, air breaks freeze and trucks slide off the road and need recovery. It’s good that you have your own shop. I left the auto industry and was on contract to IBM for 9 years working in retail before moving to Xerox as a Laser Printer Engineer.

Congrats Roger! Seems weird saying “welcome” to someone that’s been here 4 years longer than me. :slight_smile: So I’ll just say “See you around the board.”

Congrats in being selected as the GPotW! Thanks for sharing your story with us. It’s encouraging to hear how you’ve kept coming back to learning to play and grow.

Great to meet you Roger. It seems that a lot of us have put an instrument down in the past only to pick it back up again. Seems like most of us Gold Pick members are staying with it now. It’s amazing how a good teacher can keep us motivated.