As a true self-respecting urban hipster, I recently purchased a Gold Tone CC class open back banjo and started taking lessons. Well, “recently” as in November 2011 and my interest in the banjo goes back to my early days of college when – for a time – I tried to learn bluegrass style on my friend’s brother’s borrowed five-string.
I was never much of a guitar player (too bulky) and my experiences with the voila during my orchestra days in middle school were a failure (too much finesse). For a moment, the mandolin seemed attractive but the lightweight design of the open-back banjo and its unmistakable twang struck a chord (har har) with me, so on the day before Thanksgiving I went to Earthshaking Music and bought one of my own.
For a few weeks, I struggled between going for clawhammer or bluegrass as my primary style of playing. Clawhammer seemed most like the guitar so I decided to try that first. I’ve been taking lessons (on and off) with Leanna Fugate and I’ve making slow but steady progress. So far, I know about four songs by heart but I mostly noodle around with technique and making sure my hammer ons, pull offs, drop thumb, etc. sound good. This video is from back in May – sad to admit that I put lessons on hiatus about then, so I haven’t made much progress over the last few months. But I’ve just started again so hopefully by my one-year anniversary of banjo ownership, I’ll be a little better.
Jeez, hopefully I’ll also look like I’m actually having fun. I’m not known for sticking with my musical endeavors so hopefully I’ll have something better to post in about two months. That’s a promise – I’ll update another video on September 30th. My neighbors and their friends play together on the back deck from time to time, and I hope to eventually play with a group.