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Mind you, I've always been musical... Mother used to sit me on her knee and I'd whisper, 'Mummy, Mummy, sing me a lullaby do,' and she'd say: 'Certainly my angel, my wee bundle of happiness, hold my beer while I fetch me banjo.'
I first thought maybe I'd do a banjo presentation record, where I'd play a couple of songs and get a bunch of other players to do the rest. Then I realized I had enough of my own songs to do an album of them.
I started with the guitar around 12 years old but didn't learn the banjo until I was about 18 or 19.
I had a ukulele when I was about seven. Then I started playing around with the mandolin and the banjo.
When I first started doing my comedy act, I just desperately needed material. So I took literally everything I knew how to do on stage with me, which was juggling, magic and banjo and my little comedy routines. I always felt the audience sorta tolerated the serious musical parts while I was doing my comedy.
When you hear a banjo through stutter edit, it's the coolest thing you ever heard.
The thing about the banjo is, when you first hear it, it strikes many people as 'What's that?' There's something very compelling about it to certain people; that's the way I was; that's the way a lot of banjo players and people who love the banjo are.
Like, What is the least often heard sentence in the English language? That would be: Say, isn't that the banjo player's Porsche parked outside?
I would get records by Earl Scruggs... I would tune my banjo down and I'd pick out the songs note by note. Learned how to play that way. I persevered. There was a book written by Pete Seeger, who showed you some basic strumming and some basic picking... And I kind of worked out my own style of playing.
The real beauty of it - key to my life was playing key chords on a banjo. For somebody else it may be a golf club that mom and dad put in their hands or a baseball or ballet lessons. Real gift to give to me and put it in writing.
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I just loved the guitar when it came along. I loved it. The banjo was something I really liked, but when the guitar came along, to me that was my first love in music.
I told my father I wanted to play the banjo, and so he saved the money and got ready to give me a banjo for my next birthday, and between that time and my birthday, I lost interest in the banjo and was playing guitar.
The banjo is truly an American instrument, and it captures something about our past.
In my banjo show with the Steep Canyon Rangers, I do do comedy during that show. It'd be absurd just to stand there mute and play 25 banjo songs.
Pete Seeger is a modest, unassuming, cheerful, and kind-natured man. He's a good folk singer, if you can stand folk singing. And he's such an excellent banjo player that you almost don't wish you had a pair of wire cutters.
P. J. O'Rourke
It's nice knowing we're putting the banjo, the fiddle, the steel, and the mandolin back out front.
I know about the sweet home. I went to school with 'em boys, what became Lynyrd Skynyrd; I knew Allen Collins, the skinny girl-beautiful guitarist. I put Allen Collins in every travel piece I do. Travel writing is harrowing, going to Bermuda with a banjo on my knee.
When I first started playing the banjo and miraculously fell into a record deal in Nashville, TN, there was a period when I didn't go to China. It hurt. Like a pain in my gut... that pain you feel when you know it's time to connect with your parents or your God or your child or your past or your future... and you don't do it.
The energy in the banjo, and the beef in the bass. They're good tools to express yourself.
John Fahey, thought during his lifetime to be possibly more than a little crazy, was the author of some thirty albums of gnomically introverted droning guitar instrumentals, which I listened to heavily in my teens and twenties; I even produced an hour or so of banjo music in an imitative John Fahey style.
Madison Smartt Bell
I didn't realize until I was older what a huge music fan my daddy really was, and actually that my grandma played banjo at one time, and I didn't even know that until a year or two ago.
English banjo players really were a law unto themselves - you don't find that kind of brisk banjo playing on the original Louis Armstrong or Bix Beiderbecke records.
We never could have foreseen the success of 'Babel.' It's not like banjo records were soaring up the charts, you know.
Without a drummer, you've got that sort of running, chicken-chasing, rhythmic thing happening with the banjo in the top end - it's what gives our music a lot of its momentum, a lot of its energy.
I'm into old-time music; I'm not very interested in modern, popular music at all. And if I'm really into some particular old-time musician, some fiddler or banjo player, I'm always dying of curiosity to see what they look like. So there's some connection between visual images and music.
My mom was sort of involved in amateur dramatics like Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, and played the violin. My dad played banjo and piano and sang as well, so there was all this music in my childhood.
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