Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Sandy Landahl from Battle Ground, Washington

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
My father taught guitar, so playing an instrument in our household was strongly encouraged. And I wanted to be daddy’s favorite.

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I played guitar, touched on banjo and mandolin in my teen years. Took a break as I raised my family. I’ve been honing my skills as I’ve been playing in bluegrass jams for about ten years. A friend asked if I might be interested in playing rhythm guitar for the band she was in. I told her I just didn’t have the time. A few months later, I got a phone call from that same band, asking if I might add some banjo fills to the CD they were making. Well gues what…I’m now the banjo and mandolin player for “Gerle Haggard”, an all female Merle Haggard tribute band. I’m known as “Banji”. I’ve really had to quick hone my skills…This is where Banjo Ben Clark is saving me.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I really enjoyed the waypoint lessons. I’m always searching for licks and ideas to incorporate into songs I’m working on. I love the fact that I can go back to some beginner lessons (which I do all the time), to help strengthen my basic skills. I find that having to learn an instrument at steroid speed has it’s limitations…Taking the time to get those basic rolls and licks down right is a major payoff.

What’s your goal when playing?
To play clean and solid. And to be a good addition to whom ever I’m playing with. I’m not concerned about being the best of the best, but making my instrument sound like it should is a real good day.

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
The beauty of playing in a band with such amazing musicians, is that it’s exposing me to some other styles such as blues and jazz which I never thought I could make my banjo participate in.

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
2 1/2 Years

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
Any new technique I learn is my favorite. If I can remember it, I’m especially stoked. I’m starting to incorporate a bit more melodic style in my playing.

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
Wish I could go back and play with John Denver and the Muppets.

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
Love my new Nechville banjo. And my blue chip thumb pick.

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
I kind of think it might be fun to have an electric banjo… along with a Lloyd Loar original Mando of course.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Well I’d definitely pick a whole lot more!!

How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
I was desperately looking for online lessons since I work full time and live out in the boonies. Saw some BBC lessons on U-Tube…signed up within 15 minutes.

Anything else you’d like to add? Can we share this or is this private feedback?
I am really thankful for Banjo Ben. I’ts fun to see what new lesson he’s come up with for the week. I really like that he brings guest players to share their ideas as well.


Congrats on being selected as this weeks Gold Pick member ‘Banji’ Sandy

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What Archie said! Playing with a band is probably the best/fastest way to improve as a musician

Congrats Banji!

Liked your comments!

As I read the story of how you came to join the group… I was stricken with the thought of now it is funny… how timing is everything.

I just came off a lengthy unemployment period with so many interviews and application submissions… with nothing working.

Then, I was placed into a position in my profession (IT Management) at the Archdiocese of Detroit.

It struck me how we are called to a place and time as it is “right”.

Congrats again and hope to see you on the forum.

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Sandy, congrats on being the gpotw! It was fun reading your story and learning a little about what you’re up to. My wife and I spent some time in your neck of the woods a few years ago when her brother used to live in Gresham, OR…that’s beautiful country around there. LOVE the tribute band name.

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Hey Sandy, congrats on GPOTW. Hope to hear more from you in the forum.

Is the weather there spectacular right now? I sure miss Spring and Summer in the PNW.

Hey, just curious, which Nechville model to you have? How heavy is it? When standing longer than a few minutes, my banjo gets awful heavy and my shoulder and back get awful sore.

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Banji, that’s great. Love Merle Haggard too. Fun!


Thanks Archie…Just saw this tonight…what a sweet honor.

I know…I didn’t know he had so many songs out there. I fall in love with a new one all the time.

Hi Miss Maggie…I’ve got the Photon…and with a sweet pickup for stage. My back was killing me as well. Even though we girls don’t want to admit it. The Nechville is much lighter in comparison…I don’t even think about the weight anymore. It has a such a beautiful tone …pretty when it needs to be and yet it has the punch when I need it. You should check them out. You won’t be sorry. :slight_smile:

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