I would have been more convinced if the printers had not chosen a mandolin banjo as the logo!

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I don't know if you can zoom in on this image or not. However, if you can, look straight up from the "S" in "State Park", past Clarke Beuhling to the back row. Fat, bald guy with a mandolin-banjo clutched to his chest. I must be intelligent!

I had a great time...you may see this guy buried in the picture. He wowed the crowd...and hooked me solidly into Classic Banjo.

This is an amazing photo, Marc. A veritable who’s who... it must have been a great time.  Sad to see all those who are no longer with us, but good to see all those who are still playing and teaching...  How did Pete Seeger and Bela Fleck end up on both sides of the photo?  I know Fleck is fast, but...

The camera that took this photo was made in 1910. It has a clockwork mechanism that rotates the camera to 'scan' the subject, producing a panorama. We gathered in a half-circle (there are 350+ banjo players in that picture). Because it took some time for the camera to 'scan', the photographer told Pete and Bela when to run around behind the camera and get in position #2 before that end was scanned. It was scanned from left to right.

LOL, I had my copy framed and it cost as much to frame it as it did to attend! IIRC, it is 45" long.

There was a video produced of the Friday evening "Banjo Meltdown", the Chris Sands video is edited from it. I have the video buried somewhere in a box. If I ever find it, I'm going to have it digitized.

Eli Kaufman was there...but I don't think he showed up for the picture. I brought 15 banjos and wanted to be holding something unique for the photo-op. There were two MBs there, me with my Gibson and Terry Zwigoff with another one.

I was at the 1990 Tennessee Banjo Institute. In my photo Grandpa Jones is on both sides.  There was a good classic banjo presence there including an ABF "orchestra".  That's where I first met Eli Kaufman. He was so friendly and open and ready to tell me anything I wanted to know about Classic Banjo.  It was an admirable approach. Don't get on a bullhorn and yell about it, but if anyone asks, load em up with as much as they can take in.

The  Institute itself was fantastic. There were a number of Major Stars in attendance and they without exception were on their best behavior.  There were two guys from different parts of Africa who played skin covered string instruments using  two different techniques, one very much like Stroke or clawhammer, the other picked upwards using fingerpicks made of bone that were affixed to the fingertips with "laces" of leather that passed through holes drilled in the bone. The 1990 Banjo Meltdown, on the other hand,  was a bit of a fiasco. The sound tech people were university students with no clue at all about ...about anything.  The few instruments with DI wires were mixed to be considerably louder than anything else. So you had deafening rhythm guitar, which was supposed to be in an accompaniment role,  and inaudible banjo. And the sound people had no idea that there was a problem and they would not allow anyone to tell them.   The Meltdown was also the scene of one of my most embarrassing moments on stage.  I did not have a meltdown but I did inwardly cringe. The band I was in was allotted 5 minutes. We played for 4 and we had 1 minute left, too short for another tune,  so I thought I would tell a banjo joke. I began "In California we tell banjo jokes".  That was my first mistake because although I had heard the joke in California it was told to me by a guy from Michigan and the joke's locale is New York City.  Before I could say another word someone in the audience yelled back " In Tennessee we tell California jokes"!!    Ooh.  Well done.   But I lost my composure and was unable to tell the joke well. I didn't get a laugh. Not even a groan. Talk about a downhill trajectory,  because they loved the music we had played. 

Trapdoor2 said:

The camera that took this photo was made in 1910. It has a clockwork mechanism that rotates the camera to 'scan' the subject, producing a panorama. We gathered in a half-circle (there are 350+ banjo players in that picture). Because it took some time for the camera to 'scan', the photographer told Pete and Bela when to run around behind the camera and get in position #2 before that end was scanned. It was scanned from left to right.

LOL, I had my copy framed and it cost as much to frame it as it did to attend! IIRC, it is 45" long.

There was a video produced of the Friday evening "Banjo Meltdown", the Chris Sands video is edited from it. I have the video buried somewhere in a box. If I ever find it, I'm going to have it digitized.

Eli Kaufman was there...but I don't think he showed up for the picture. I brought 15 banjos and wanted to be holding something unique for the photo-op. There were two MBs there, me with my Gibson and Terry Zwigoff with another one.

I wanted desperately to go in '88 but we were in the midst of selling our house. In 1990, I couldn't go because I was in Titusville, FL on a biztrip. In 1992 it all came together. I only live 2hrs from the venue (Cedars of Lebanon St. Park).

I was overwhelmed with all the banjo activities. I took master classes from anyone who was holding one...and it was a blur (and still is). Clarke Buehling, Bill Morris and Eli had the "Classic Banjo" session. I hadn't slept well in the bunkhouse and hadn't brushed my teeth in three days...Eli couldn't stand not to give me dental advice (for my bad breath), Clarke was standoffish but Bill was eager to answer all my questions.

I went to the lodge early one morning and ended up getting a personal concert (no one else showed) from Classical Banjo master, John Bullard. IIRC, Geoff Freed and Anne Frenkle (Black Tie Banjo) played a set after John...with me still the only audience. Magical!

I sat within a foot or two of Mike Seeger while he played as many different banjo styles as he could stuff into 45min. Then Mike got up and Tenor wiz Buddy Wachter pinned my ears back with his tenor technique. It was an amazing week.

Yeah, that was all similar to my experience.  There were so many banjo musics I had never heard about before. Lots of southern stuff that was in the cracks between old time and bluegrass music.  The players themselves mostly didn't care what you called it.  There was one guy, from Kentucky, by the name of Lee Sexton also known as Lee-Boy.   His right hand was frozen in place, the result of an accident in a coal mine when a cave wall or "sixteen tons of number nine coal" fell on his hand, permanently paralyzing it.  So when he played it "looked" like clawhammer but he was thinking like a bluegrass picker. You could tell by his left hand fingering. He was managing to get bluegrass rolls with a hand whose fingers could not move. Talk about "mind blowing".  It was fantastic. 

In one case I was the giver of a workshop to which only one person came but that one person was Stu Jameson. For those who don't know about Stu, either his father or grandfather (I can't recall at the moment) was a five-string banjo playing Christian missionary in Tibet (good luck with *that*!!) and China. Stu was born in China I think.  Really interesting guy.  And real "interested" as well.  You mentioned Mike Seeger. Mike was another wide open friendly guy, ready to share as much as you could possibly take in.  Mark Schatz took Mike, me, and my wife Kate to a nearby Cracker Barrel where we all ate whole potatoes cooked in tree resin!  Remember those, Marc?

Trapdoor2 said:

I wanted desperately to go in '88 but we were in the midst of selling our house. In 1990, I couldn't go because I was in Titusville, FL on a biztrip. In 1992 it all came together. I only live 2hrs from the venue (Cedars of Lebanon St. Park).

I was overwhelmed with all the banjo activities. I took master classes from anyone who was holding one...and it was a blur (and still is). Clarke Buehling, Bill Morris and Eli had the "Classic Banjo" session. I hadn't slept well in the bunkhouse and hadn't brushed my teeth in three days...Eli couldn't stand not to give me dental advice (for my bad breath), Clarke was standoffish but Bill was eager to answer all my questions.

I went to the lodge early one morning and ended up getting a personal concert (no one else showed) from Classical Banjo master, John Bullard. IIRC, Geoff Freed and Anne Frenkle (Black Tie Banjo) played a set after John...with me still the only audience. Magical!

I sat within a foot or two of Mike Seeger while he played as many different banjo styles as he could stuff into 45min. Then Mike got up and Tenor wiz Buddy Wachter pinned my ears back with his tenor technique. It was an amazing week.

LOL. I'd forgotten about the rosin-baked potatoes. Cracker-barrel featured them for about 10 yrs. You can buy a kit on Amazon to do this yourself.

Thank you for posting this video Marc, it's lovely.  I am excited to be studying with Chris this coming weekend at the BMG Summer Music School.  Taking tuition from Chris is always a great pleasure and a rewarding challenge.

Trapdoor2 said:


I don't know if you can zoom in on this image or not. However, if you can, look straight up from the "S" in "State Park", past Clarke Beuhling to the back row. Fat, bald guy with a mandolin-banjo clutched to his chest. I must be intelligent!

I had a great time...you may see this guy buried in the picture. He wowed the crowd...and hooked me solidly into Classic Banjo.

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