Postcard #23 “I Heart the Banjo”

Posted on July 24, 2011. Filed under: music, Postcards | Tags: , , , , , |

 It all started here.

Did you hear about the guy who left his unlocked car in a rough neighborhood with his banjo in the backseat? When he came back he found three more banjos in the car. What about this one: What’s the difference between an anchor and a banjo? You tie a rope to the anchor before you throw it overboard. I could go on for days with the banjo jokes, but why bother when others will do it for me? Sure, I laugh right along with them not because I think the jokes are funny (though some are) but becasue I know what they’re missing out on.   

I am a beginning beginner banjo player (sort of like a kindergartner) and yes I have all my teeth, my house doesn’t have wheels, and I have graduated from the 6th grade. I like playing the banjo and I feel sorry for others who don’t play; so I guess I’m feeling sorry for a lot of people in the world.

 Someone asked me why I chose the banjo when I could have just as easily picked up the ukulele or a piano and I told them that I blame the Grateful Dead. Sure you start off with a bootleg tape from the December 1972 Winterland show in San Francisco and before you know it you’re sitting in a field in northern California watching Ralph Stanley and thinking: hey, the banjo is for me!  Before you know it you’re back home driving around sounding like you have Roy Clark and the entire cast of Heehaw  shoved in the back of your car, what with all the banjo music blaring out the windows.

 So let people laugh at me, I don’t care because I know that if I keep practicing, tomorrow’s playing won’t sound as bad as today’s and that’s okay by me.

Parts of a Banjo

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Postcard #6- I Love Tim O’Brien

Posted on March 4, 2011. Filed under: music, Postcards | Tags: , , , , , |

Getting my banjo fix anyway I can!

I didn’t want anything to do with him or his twangy bluegrass music. I wasn’t going to give him a chance and that was that. But eventually the idea of him snuck into my head and lodged itself into the part of my brain that loves banjos, mandolins, and yodeling (I like to call it the Temporal Deliverance Lobe or TDL). Now I’m hooked. I am not ashamed to say that I love Tim O’Brien.

For several summers he played at Strawberry Music Festival and even though I was there, I never bothered to take the short walk to the music meadow or go to the Sunday Morning Revival by Birch Lake to watch him play. Nancy, my first friend from Strawberry, has always loved and appreciated Tim O’Brien (I suspect it has been going on for quite awhile). Taking out the schedule for the weekend, she would announce when he was playing but I never paid attention. I was happy to stay back at the tent, drink gin and tonics and miss out.

Then something changed, I think it was the TDL kicking in or maybe it was the bluegrass-heavy Pandora internet radio station I was listening to at the time. I liked what I heard and I wanted to hear more. In the process I discovered that I really liked him.  Then the scale really tipped in his favor (and definitely mine) when Strawberry sent out their flyer and I saw that he was on the lineup. I sat in the mud last spring and watched Lyle Lovett and I decided that very second that I was going to do the same for Tim O’Brien. His music makes me happy and I just can’t get enough.

 My tickets are stashed in my sock drawer and I’m already making a pile of camping stuff to take with me; all I have to do is count down the days until I leave.

Think of me this Memorial Day because I’ll be drinking gin and tonics in either the mud or in the dust (depending on the weather), checking out the weekend’s lineup with Nancy and of course, cheering for Tim O’Brien.

Want to learn more? Check out these websites:

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