Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Tom Bonnette from Ten Mile, TN


What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin or banjo?
A couple of my uncles played guitar and that’s what got me interested in guitar as a kid. I eventually moved to the banjo, because no one else I knew played the banjo and I wanted to be different.

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?
I first started playing banjo over 20 years ago, but I put it down for a long time and didn’t come back to you until about four years ago. I am traditionally an old-time, clawhammer/frailing player and I became interested in learning from Ben in order to improve my three-finger style-picking. I had started out playing Scruggs-style banjo and I wanted to go back to some of that to make me a more well-rounded musician.

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?
I have been enjoying the “G” to “C” transition licks. It’s something that I am trying to utilize in my frailing. I’m not quite there yet, but Ben is doing his best to help me out. He is always smiling and encouraging and, remarkably, doesn’t give me a hard time when I mess up.

What’s your goal when playing?
I often play at the Museum of the Appalachia in Norris, TN. If I can get folks to stop and listen for a while, clap their hands and dance, which happens from time-to-time, then I’ve accomplished my goal.

Are there any other instruments or genres of music that you enjoy playing?
I play a little guitar and blues harp…but neither very well.

Do you have a favorite technique? What is it?
I’m a sucker for a good second to fourth fret slide, so much so that I probably do it more than I should.

If you could play in anyone’s band, who would it be and why?
The Purple Hulls, of course…think Ben could pull a few strings for me?

What type of gear or accessories have you found that work best for you?
I use a sliding fifth string capo. I find the better to work with than railroad spikes and you don’t get in trouble with the police trying to pry them from train tracks.

If money was no object, what would be your dream instrument(s)?
I have a dear friend who plays a Deering Eagle II that I love. I have been waiting for him to give it to me, but he says I’m not really that dear a friend.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Fill out endless online questionnaires like this one, of course.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I just wanted to let potential banjo students know that there is no better website in the world for folks wanting to improve their playing (no matter what level they are at) than the one run by Banjo Ben Clark. It is easy to navigate, is filled with fun videos that are well produced and easy to follow, and Ben’s teaching style is easy-going and superb. And sharing is caring, so go for it.

How did you find out about Banjo Ben?
A friend told me about him. Banjo friends let banjo friends know about Banjo Ben. If you have a banjo friend who keeps Ben a secret…well, he was never much of a banjo friend, after all.


Tom, congrats on being selected as the GPOTW! Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions above, and for making it not only informative, but fun to read as well. I wish you great success with your musical adventures and agree with your take on Banjo Ben and his web site. :smiley:


Congrats, indeed! Your story of “putting it down for a long time then coming back” is so much like mine, and many others. And I certainly agree about Ben’s teaching style.

I have a brother who is retiring to Dandridge, TN, just a few miles down the road from you.
I f I can put up with my sister-in-law, I just might visit them and come clap my hands for you!


Truer words were never spoken. Great bio, Tom! Nice to meet you.


Congrats on being gold pick member of the week! Enjoyed reading your profile! :notes:


Good stuff! :cowboy_hat_face::banjo::musical_note:

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Welcome and Congrats Tom! I hope to see you around the forum!