A wonderful musician, one of my favorite people, and a great influence on my life is Sam Hinton. This underappreciated
American Treasure finally has a web site devoted to him. If you have never heard his music you have missed a great deal, and
the Real Deal. www.samhinton.org
The second of my father figures in traditional music was Stu Jamieson. He was never around as much as I could have wished
(though with a Navy Chaplain for my real father, that was not unexpected) but every minute with him was an inspiration. He
stimulated and guided my musical life more than he realizes and, though he is no longer with us, his music is always in my
ear and in my heart.
I've known Bob Webb for more than half my life (so far) and he has never let me down, as a musician or as a friend. He
now lives with his wife and daughter in Maine: that's about as far from San Diego as you can get in the lower 48 (I try not
to take it personally), but we are still close. I've made a couple of my banjers for him and he plays them as well as you
will ever hear. If you ever need a banjo, guitar, or concertina player, or someone to sing your chanty, he's your man. www.richmondwebb.com
GOURD BANJER MAKERS.
By far the most complete and interesting to me, so far, is the site of David G Hyatt. His obvious passion for the subject
is reflected in his simple yet elegant instruments. www.dhyatt.com
An object lesson to those considering building their first gourd banjer: Bob Thornburg is living proof that these things
can take over your life. www.gourdbanjo.com
A student of pioneer maker-researcher Scott Didlake, Pete Ross makes several early styles of gourd banjers in Baltimore.
Bob Flesher has a most entertaining site with fretlesses, including a gourd banjer. A journey worth taking. www.flesherbanjo.com
Curtis Harrell's eclectic site even has a step-by-step photo shoot of the making of a gourd banjer. www.clawhammerbanjo.com/index.html
Mike Gregory gets a mention just for calling one of his: Great Gourd A'mighty. http://littlebanjos.lunare.net/banjopics.html
And a tip of the old hat to Scott Linford for observing "it doesn't take a genius to turn a vegetable into an instrument."
(Or is it vice versa?) Amateur Cucurbitaceous Lutherie. www.geocities.com/gourd_banjo/
Jeff Menzies in Tronno (as my friends there call it) proves that gourds really can thrive in the frozen North, as long
as you take them indoors for the winter. www.jeffreymenzies.com
Moving north, Rob Hutten warms his fingers on the old gourd in Halifax. www.hutten.org/rob/gourdbanjo/
And the northerest, whether he's from Vermont or Quebec, John Stephen Foster gets points for his parents' forethought
in naming him (fated to play old-time music!). www.tomiphobia.com/just_folks/john_foster2.html
If you are looking for gourds to make your own banjer, try locally: contact a craft store for your local Gourd Patch.
If you have no luck and don't want to grow your own the best gourds around come from the Welburn Gourd Farm.
(I don't think it's rocket science/astronomy, but definitely agronomy.)
It's in northern San Diego county, luckily a leisurely hour's drive away from me.
FRETLESS (non-gourd) BANJO MAKERS.
There are many, but I especially like the attitude (inherited from his father) of John Peterson. http://rutlands.K12.vt.us/jpeterso/banjo/make1.html
George Wunderlich of Maryland makes beautiful, historically correct, banjers. www.wunderbanjo.com
Closer to my neck of the woods, Randy England makes a very nice, more generic banjer. www.minstrelboybanjo.com
I have mixed feelings about this site but Ralph Geiger definitely gets a standing ovation for originality. Every single
aspect of banjer making has been rethought and reinvented, even cases. You have to see it to appreciate it. http://geigerbanjo.com
There are also Groups out there. Yahoo has a couple you might be interested in.
For fretless banjo players in general: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/fretless
For those who build banjos in 18-19th century style: http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/banjomakers
Idiosyncrasy doesn't have to make excuses. I just found a beautiful site which shows the enthusiasm and joy I like to encourage
in instrument making. It has nothing to do with banjos, although the technique could be borrowed. Go to www.smokyguitars.com/index.html
for prize-winning examples of Cigar-Box Guitars! What an inspiration. People like this deserve our support.
|Fairbanks & Cole, #2854. Photo: Virginia Curtiss. Ca. 1978.