I heard a 5-string banjo for the first time when I was about 14-15 years old. It was on the radio, they played a couple of songs from The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. After a few seconds I knew I had to learn how to play that instrument and that music. That sound totally grabbed my soul. Those tunes changed my life forever.
My father played guitar around the house and I knew a couple of chords on the guitar but that was about it. I saved up some money and bought a banjo. Now all I had to do was figure out how to play the damn thing. I wasn’t doing all that great so my mother put in an add in the local paper, looking for a banjo teacher. “Dallas” answered and he taught me the basics. I am forever grateful.
I then took it from there. The first bands that really caught my attention were Country Gazette and New Grass Revival. I did spend a lot of time slowing down LP’s trying to figure out how they played.
That’s how you learn – you copy others! I soon discovered that I didn’t sound like the people I was trying to copy so I decided to develop my own way of playing. Today I think I sound a lot like me! I try to blend traditional ”Scruggs” style with melodic, single string styles and whatever comes to mind. I also try to play a lot of different styles of music.
Although my heart will always belong to bluegrass, it is fun and a challenge to play other styles as well.
I sometimes have the opportunity to do some studio work- I just love that!.
To me the banjo is an instrument capable of playing anything -it’s not just a ”sound”.
There’s more to it than Duelin’ Banjos…
– Still there’s nothing like rolling your way through a fast hardcore bluegrass song!