I was happily surprised to get a note this evening from Brian Carver. Some of you may remember I played one of Brian’s banjos in a workshop back in 2008.
It was great to hear from Brian, and it was really exciting to read about his new fretless banjo kit.
They are very simple in design, but still offer a few comforts, like the double ogee on the fingerboard that indicates the 5th, 7th and 12th fret positions. The kit includes everything needed to assemble a fully playable banjo. The only tool required is a hammer to tack on
the skin. The entire process takes about two hours. Made of hardwood birch plywood and still featuring the walnut handcarved pegs, nut and bridge, leather tailpiece and goat skin head like the “frame banjo” of old.
This sounds like a neat way to have a banjo that you put together with your own two hands.
You can learn more at http://carverbanjos.com/
The trailer for The Daniel Connection is out!
I have an interesting connection to this movie. One of the Patrick Playing His Dobro prints my brother Carlos made was used on one of the movie’s sets. You can read about it here: Patrick at the Movies!
By the way, there are still a couple of prints left. Call Dear Old Dad at (410)968-3873 to place an order. Don’t delay, because once these last few are gone that’s it.
I mentioned the other day that I found some cassette tapes (remember those?) with home recordings of my playing from the 1980’s.
I had the Dojo through most of my high school years. It was a weird and wonderful instrument. One of the few Dobro banjo designs that ever worked. Like an idiot I traded it for a fiddle, and the music store making the trade sold me a pig in a poke. The fiddle fell apart before I had the chance to learn a single tune and I lost my beloved Dojo. You live and you learn. Sigh.
On the bright side, I wound up giving the bits and pieces of that fiddle to Ken Lattimore of The Sons of the Pioneers (it’s a long story). Ken had it refurbished and used it to help kids get started on the violin in Marshall, Texas. Ken was so excited about the fiddle that he sent us a fancy iced tea serving set from some Texas art pottery. Trouble is, Ken didn’t think to put any kind of packing material in the shipping box. When the package arrived in Crisfield all we got was a heavy box of tiny pottery shards . . . Sigh.
Anyway, back to the recording – back in ’85 my mom asked me to record a few songs for her friend Linda, who was stuck in a hospital bed. I can remember sitting on my bed with this heavy monaural Radio Shack tape recorder banging away on my Dobro banjo making this recording. It was a good day. Good memories. it’s kind of cool to find this little snapshot of where I was as a musician in 1985.
Playlist For Episode Three:
- When The Snow Falls On My Foggy Mountain Home Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers
- Thunder Road Robert Mitchum
- Have You ever Loved A Woman Freddy King
- Here Pussy Pussy Pussy The Light Crust Doughboys
- Frankensteins Monster Talks Gabriel Dell
- As The Sparrow Goes Anita Carter
- Statue of A Fool Jack Greene
- Candy Man Mississippi John Hurt
- Streets of Bakersfield Buck Owens
- Bonnie Blue Flag Polk Miller and his Old South Quartet
- Marching Through Georgia Harlan and Stanley
- The Billboard Song Homer and Jethro
- Sunday Morning Coming Down Johnny Cash
- Thousands Are Sailing The Pouges
- Rosewood Casket Ola Belle Reed
- Deep River Blues Doc Watson
- Buddy Won’t You Roll Down The Line Uncle Dave Macon
- I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You Little Jimmy Dickens
Wow. A blast from our past!
Remember the introduction to The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo? “What have you got kid?”
That happened on our first visit to Old Fiddler’s Picnic at Hibernia Park in Chester County, Pennsylvania. When the cigar smoking old man (his name was Tiny, by the way – I dedicated the How & Tao to him) told me to, “Get lost, and don’t come back until you can do like I showed you.” I ran up the hill to find my father.
Hibernia Park is huge. Back when I was a kid Old Fiddler’s Picnic was a massive festival. Dad had to park his truck all the way up the hill, so far that the main stage was just a dot in the distance. The entire field was filled with musicians and folks listening to music.
So, I ran through the crowd clutching my banjo with my head spinning with excitement over what had just happened. I had just met my first cool old dude!
Well, I got up the hill and the first thing I see is Dear Old Dad playing Old Joe Clark with another banjo player. That banjo player was Tom. not my uncle Tom, who I have written about. This was Banjo Tom.
Banjo Tom wound up becoming part of our gang. We had a lot of laughs and made a lot of music together over the years. After we left Philadelphia we lost contact with Tom. It happens. People drift apart.
A few weeks ago I got a note from Tom. Here he is strumming a banjo uke telling the story of the Sunhearth Chicken Massacre.
We are not having a banjo retreat this year . . . Maybe a bunch of us could meet at Old Fiddler’s this year. The festival is held on the second Saturday of August. Dear Old Dad and I have been wanting to go back. That’s where we got started. If enough of you were willing to make the trip we could meet there. Jam, have an informal workshop in a quiet corner of the park and even play on the open stage together. Email us with your thoughts on this. Post in the comments. Give Dear Old Dad a call. It could be a lot of fun!