Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Turning the tables on Banjo Ben Clark

Banjo Ben Clark from Kilgore Texas aka @BanjoBen - Fill in the Blanks

What was it that first got you interested in playing the guitar, mandolin and banjo?

How long have you been playing and what’s your motivation to play?

Which character on do you resonate with most and why?

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site and how has it helped you improve?

What’s your goal when playing?

What’s your instrument of choice?

What was your inspiration to learn how to play the banjo?

Besides Alan Munde what other teachers have you had lessons from?

What’s your favorite place in the world that you’ve visited and why?

What’s your favorite hobby?

What do you do for a living?


First was guitar, hearing a recording of Black Mountain Rag by Doc! I worked it up to a fast tempo but slanted my pick so badly that I could only move down the strings with a downstroke. I remember my mom watching me play it and telling me it “couldn’t possibly be right.” Well, she was right…

I’ve been in music for over 30 years now, but playing guitar for about 20 years, banjo for 18, and mandolin for 16ish. My motivation to play is to get better and learn how to play stuff I want to teach.

It’d have to be Banjo Billy, I reckon. That is my true alter ego. I think the reason may be that Billy doesn’t care what others think about him, and deep down, I wish that were the case for me as well.

One of my favorites to go back and listen to is “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” I think I did some of my most tasty work there, by the grace of God.

My goal when playing is to see how far I’ve regressed that week. KIDDING! (kind of.) I really do just love to have fun playing. I don’t get that much anymore. I was out at @Jake’s this week and we had a chance to just simply pick and I had fun.

I go back and forth between guitar and banjo, but seem to get stuck on mandolin in a group setting.

There was an old man around my parts named Mitch Key, kind of the Clayton Delaney in the Tom T. song. He greatly inspired me and built my first real banjo, the Phantom. It was JD Crowe that I first saw, however, and he even taught me some basics:

TONS and TONS on YouTube, but in person, I’ve learned from about every picker I’ve jammed with. I usually learn something from everyone, regardless of their “skill” level.

This is perhaps the toughest question of the bunch, @Archie! More than places, I love people. I really do. But if I had to name a place, it would be the rainforests in South America. I had an opportunity to spend a couple weeks in the Suriname Amazon bush with a local tribe called the Aukan people. We spear fished for piranhas and paddled deep into the forests, shared a campfire under the incredible Amazon sky, and developed a deep connection. I can’t wait to go back, Lord willing!

Hands down, flying airplanes, and doing stuff like this with my little girls:

I also love bowhunting.

I teach people to play banjo, mandolin, and guitar here on the site! I would say that I sell instruments too, but I haven’t made a cent yet! Hahaha. Jake told me a good one this week: How do you make a million dollars in our business? Start out with TWO million!

Love all y’all!


Great post @BanjoBen I share your passion for the rainforest, I visited Australia back in 1994 and spent five days living in the rainforest north of the Daintree River. I don’t swim but I plucked up the courage to take an underwater supervised dive on the Great Barrier Reef off the Queensland coast near Cairns and was overwhelmed by the beauty I witnessed. With no real head for heights I took an early morning hot air balloon flight over the Atherton Tablelands. There I saw what the good Lord has created and it blew me away.

It troubles me to see the rainforest being wiped out by man, the great fires around the world this year has done enormous damage to the global tree population and our fragile eco system. I fear that if this is left unchecked there will be little left for our grandchildren and great grandchildren to explore

This year I planted twelve small trees in my garden and two in my daughters garden. This fall I plan to collect tree seeds from a local woodland and plant them on some waste land near my home. I pray that others around the world will follow my passion by helping mother nature heal her wounds.

Ben I wonder if perhaps next time you preach to a congregation you might consider including my message in your prayers so that others may consider planting a few trees in Gods garden and bring about change. If churches around the world followed suit and carried that same message maybe we could begin to turn the tables on deforestation.

PS It just occurred to me that you and your sisters are accomplished song writers. Perhaps with the help of the Purple Hulls you might set this message to music.


So great to learn more about you @BanjoBen and how you got started in music.
Pleasure to know you on this site, and i guess I speak for many when I say thank you for building us such a wonderful online community, and teaching us. I’m lovin’ this site.


I love Doc Watson as well, and hadn’t listened to any of his music until I became a member here. I hate I didn’t get turned on to him earlier in life.

1 Like

When I read “What’s your instrument of choice?” I was waiting to hear from Ben exactly which model in each category, LOL! D-18 vs D-28, etc.

1 Like

Love Love Love this video of Charlie!

My Brother Bill and I flying his new Piper (Charlie)

Fly into the new and expanded North Vernon, Indiana Airport someday. My parents managed this Airport for many years.Bill%20Plane

1 Like

It is a wise man that plants a tree whose shade he will never sit under. (Greek proverb.) Keep planting those trees Archie!

1 Like

I planted my first tree a Copper Beech in my garden 40 years ago, it was barely a whip now it’s taller than my house. I hope you plant a few this year @The_Mole California has lost millions of trees these past few years.

I just saw an article about that. Apparently some California elected officials are now realizing that they should have allowed some logging to continue rather than outlaw it so many years ago. They say thinning out the trees would have helped prevent such a quick spread of the fire.


“I was all geared up to go and dig some bugs out of folks that had had a bad day…and then I picked up the banjo.” - @BanjoBen



I am not in favour of logging in a natural forest, a natural forest tends to retain a lot more moisture in the soil and undergrowth because the canopy provides shade. If you strip out the undergrowth and fell trees you expose the ground to sunlight causing the moisture to evaporate. It’s my belief that many of the fires are started deliberately and once started the wind just takes over.

It’s so true, @Mark_Rocka. Forest fires went crazy in Montana last year (almost 1 million acres burned) and all but one of those fires were started naturally by lightning strikes. Many of us were forced inside because the smoke was thicker than fog. Kids weren’t even allowed outside during recess until the smoke was pushed out, which was well into September. The reason the fires burned so hot and fast is because they stopped logging many years ago and so the forests had an overabundance of downed trees that provided copious amounts of fuel for the fires.

Additionally, the logging keeps the forest floors clear so that healthy underbrush can grow…things like wild huckleberries (which are oh so delicious!) and other berries that are vital for bear, grouse, and other wildlife. Other shrubs and grasses are also able to grow which provide food for the elk, moose, deer, mountain goats, big horn sheep, etc.

Logging done right makes for much healthier forests and tamer fires.


I’m with Archie on this. Plant some trees.

1 Like

Sweet little girl!!! Little kids are so innocent. No wonder Jesus said the kingdom of God belongs to such as them. Reminds me of the time I had with my daughter (and son) in a model aircraft in Strong museum Rochester about 12 years ago if memory serves right. God bless little Charlie Belle!

1 Like

I agree with the tree planters, in that if there’s no trees there’s no guitars, banjos, fiddles, etc. But also, without logging also no wood instruments so do both :wink: :guitar:

Most logging companies do. I have friends who own thousands of acres in east Texas. They’ve dedicated parts of their land to growing trees specifically for being logged. Once that happens, they replant. They have a rotation so that loggers come in every few years.

The free market is more conservative than people give it credit for.


Well, I like logging because Chinese log money is building the first paved road into our village to extract lumber and it will help us as an added bonus