I quite often ponder why I wanted to play banjo. I wasn’t a bluegrass fan so I can’t blame Scruggs. Was it Mumford and Sons? Avett Brothers? Steve Martin? Kermit the Frog? Or was it just that the banjo is the happiest instrument ever?
After seven months of lessons with Ken Brooks from Strumhollow in Spring Hill, I think I’m making progress and definitely having fun. Ken is great on all acoustic instruments and likes to make light of banjos. I’ve heard a few jokes about the intelligence of banjo players and when I had a houseful of guests at Christmas but still came to my lesson, Ken suggested I play the banjo for them and they would leave. (It didn’t work, they stayed) Ken is constantly pushing me to learn more, most recently saying I should play by listening rather than by using sheet music. My piano teacher from way back in the 60s would turn over in her grave!
I know I need to play in jams to get better. But where to find a local group that would allow me to join up with them? Jim Davis writes a column in the Citrus Chronicle about the local music scene and had a brief mention of an acoustic “meetup” at the Coastal Library in Crystal River. I emailed Jim to find out what a “meetup” was and his response was that it was “a digital age equivalent of a jam”. My interest was piqued.
So I went to their very first meetup with my camera but left the banjo at home. There were four guitarist and one fiddler. Paula Bateman recently moved to the area and had put the meetup together after failing to find a group already created. Although I didn’t understand a lot of the lingo, they were very welcoming and I got the feeling that they might have the patience to let me play while I learn.
So, I just want to say, sorry friends, family, and especially my neighbors. I’m going to keep playing the banjo. It’s not a phase that I’m going to get over. More banjo picking is in our future.
Anyone else out there that plays an acoustic instrument, the next two meetups are on March 24 and April 7 from 2 to 4:30 pm at the Coastal Library in Crystal River. If you have any questions, give Paula a call at 260-316-4099. Come and join the fun!