I realized recently (2017), with actually somewhat of a shock, that I have been playing banjo for almost 60 years! Really, however, this should not be that shocking to me. Looking back, I do not clearly remember a time when I didn’t play banjo. During all this intervening time I have been very fortunate to have received great pleasure from performing for lots of appreciative audiences. Hopefully I have been able to give them, at the very least, equal pleasure in return.
During the 1970s and early 1980s most of my performing was as a soloist or in a duo or trio. Since then the bulk of my playing has been in Traditional Jazz bands, first with my own Golden Gate Rhythm Machine and then primarily with the Bob Schulz Frisco Jazz Band. Playing in these bands with great musicians (like Bob Schulz, Doug Finke, Ray Skjelbred, the late Jim Rothermel, Jim Maihack, and many, many others) frequently becomes an almost spiritual experience, when the total reaches far beyond the sum of the parts. These times—when the music takes on a life of its own, the “team” is in perfect sync—have been the greatest pleasures of all.
I started this “blog” partially in response to a very enthusiastic fan from Brazil who watched and listened to some videos on Facebook of the “Hot Cookies” (aka “Finke’s Hot Cookies”) recorded by Susie Miyata (credit also to Bill Schneider for alternates on YouTube) at the 2016 Fresno Mardi Gras. This fan asked me to give him some long-distance banjo lessons that I hope will start as soon as I can get some instruction materials put together. I am quite flattered that there is a person, perhaps more than one, who would like to have me share some insights into how I play the banjo. I know that I learned almost entirely by listening to (and wearing out!) LPs of my favorite players and now with video and the internet, viewing as well as listening is very easy.
This promises to be fun! I hope you enjoy it.