Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Throw Down Your Heart - Bela Fleck

A banjo journey’s back to it’s roots.


Thanks Archie, I’ve seen that doc somewhere else . The reaction from the people is priceless. I love the different raw instruments and the local flavor and the sounds they have.:sunglasses:


OK, I guess I’m the sour grapes wet blanket at this party. Mind you, this is strictly one man’s personal opinion and carries no weight with People That Matter.

I think Bela Fleck is a very talented musician who plays the banjo with great virtuosity. And I find his music very boring.
I’ve seen this documentary before & it strikes me strange. It’s like the pilot of an SR-71 going to look at the Wright brothers airplane and be blown away at how cool it was to be able to actually fly off the ground. So here I go with Bela & Noam Pickelney.
Again, no question they are extremely talented musicians who sure know their way around a banjo. And they are really, really smart. I appreciate that.
But when I listen to their music, it sounds to me like they are playing with their brains and not their heart. And their virtuosity , to my ears, ends up sounding like it has no soul.
Am I totally crazy, nuts, insane and have no idea what I’m talking about? Perhaps.
But I rarely find myself smiling after listening to Bela play something wonderful.

I think that’s because my mother was scared by Don Reno when she was carrying me.


Hi Joseph,

I have to say that I am not a big fan of Bela or Noam 's music, but many folk are and as much as I like bluegrass it’s not the epicentre of western music. Sometimes you’ve got to take a peek outside the box to appreciate what’s inside.

All my life I have been a fan of documentary films, They educate and inform me about what’s outside my little box.

I think for Bela this was a perhaps a personal journey a spiritual retreat and I am sure he gained a lot from his experience.

It’s like saying a banjo is only a banjo when it has five strings and you have to play Bluegrass like Earl did.

Not so. Here is George Formby Britons equivalent to Earl Scruggs, He made millions playing his banjo ukulele

George Formby is considered to be a World War 2 hero. He kept our nations moral high through some difficult times. Entertained troops on the battle field and a firm favourite of the Royal Family. His legacy lives on through his fan base in 2020. Check out their video below


I understand totally what you are saying. I too enjoy documentaries & learning about the wonders of the world. But this one smacks of pretentious to me.
I do not know this, but I suspect Bela is a very serious student of music.
Mark Twain once wrote of a man who loved the Mississippi River so much he longed to be a riverboat pilot. He loved the beauty of a sunset over the Big Muddy, daybreak was always breathless and the river never ran the same course from one year to the next. So he studied hard and worked hard and after a few years he became a riverboat pilot. Now all he saw was the hydrodynamics of the river, it’s swirls, eddies, sandbars & snags.
He knew the river inside & out, up one side and down the next, for hundreds of miles. He could tell you all about the river. But he knew so much about it, he never again noticed how beautiful the sunset was.
Somehow I get the same impression about Bela. He’s a great riverboat pilot.


Hmm, your describing John Hartford. Joseph But I am pretty sure John noticed more than the sunset.

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I know it sounds a lot like Capt. John Hartford, but it predates him by about 100 years.
We met him on several occasions.

Ah, memories!


Hi Joseph I think you’ll find John was greatly influenced by Mark Twain’s writings. I seem to recall bits of a story where John’s school teacher and a houseboat featured prominently in the story he told. It was a long time ago and I can’t remember much of the detail.

It must have been a great experience meeting John and to have that token of remembrance is a bonus.

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It was a high point that lead to one of the worst moments of my life.
I found out at the last minute that John Hartford was appearing at a second-floor walk-up nightclub an hour’s drive from where we lived. Called my wife, got the babysitter and off we went!
As we walked up the first flight of stairs, a souvenir table was set up on the landing. I stopped to purchase another copy of “Steam Powered Aeroplane.” I pretty much wore out the grooves on my original copy. As I was making my purchase, John Hartford walked down the steps & stopped to chat.
I choked. I stammered. I probably said something foolish. That’s when he gave us his autograph. Then I said, "I’m trying to learn the banjo & I love “Steam Powered Aeroplane” but I’m having trouble with one part. He held up his arm and showed me the fingering on his forearm. I studied intently.
Then, during the performance, he turned to us in the small, intimate crowd and deliberately demonstrated how he played it. I was on Cloud 9. Then we drove home.

One hour later, I could not remember a thing. The music was still buzzing in my brain and I couldn’t even remember how to play a G chord! Aaargh!!!

But I have John Hartford’s autograph on a mint copy of “Steam Powered Aeroplane” original pressing on Warner Brothers records. While it won’t get me into heaven, it does take me to a happy place.


Treasured memories. good_post

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