Sunday, November 25, 2007

Pictures with the Banjo

Most folks when they take off on the journey of learning to play the banjo they want a picture with it. I'm no different. There are probably hundreds of snapshots of me with various bands that have been taken by all sort of folks. Some of those good, some of those bad. None of them were "professional" enough to include with a resume though.

Over the years I've had a couple of opportunities to drag my banjo to the local photography studio and get some pictures made. Yeah, they're goofy, but hey, it's a good way to keep records of the banjos I've had, and how I used to look.

This first picture was done in oh... 1979 I think. I'm in my best late 70's attire with matching vest. Yes, I know, the strap is a a guitar strap, and yes, it's on backwards. I liked it that way, and frankly didn't know any better. The banjo is an Alvarez Silver Belle. I think it cost $425, and I got it from a local music shop (Bigham's Music in Dalton, Georgia). I installed the sliding 5th string buzzer, er, I mean capo, and I changed out the head to the frosted one in the picture (It came with a clear head originally). This Alvarez was a really good banjo - at least for me at the time. Come to think of it, it's probably still a good banjo - 3 ply rim, decent sound, and easy to play. It was a huge step up from the Kay that I started on.

This next picture is from 1984, not that you couldn't tell from the clothes. You'd probably not be surprised, but I do still have that coat. The pin on my lapel is the Banjo Man from Banjo Newsletter.

The banjo is a 1978 Stelling Gospel. It is one of three that Geoff built for Ralph Stanley. You can see Ralph holding it in the book Masters of the 5-String Banjo. I have more pictures of it here - Stelling Gospel. I got this banjo from Blaylock Music in Hixson, Tennessee.

I still have this banjo, and play it from time to time. It's a great sounding archtop, and although I don't play it very often it still feels like home.

So, I got to thinking, it's been since 1984 since I had a "nice" photograph taken with my banjo. I knew I needed to do it, and even made a couple of attempts on my own, but never really succeeded at capturing anything I liked. Then Steve Kaufman requested a photo for the Acoustic Kamp advertising information. That sealed it. I called Brenda's Photography and scheduled a sitting.

So without further ado here's the photos. I'm more casually dressed (obviously), and much older. It's amazing what 23 years will do!

The first one here is the picture I submitted for the Kamp. That's my Ramsey Woody. The next one is my Nechville Phantom.

I do have other banjos, but these are the ones I play most. If you have some time check out Ramsey Banjos and Nechville Banjos. No, I'm not a paid endorser, but I think they're great!

So, now that I have these really spiffy photos, I should put them to work (no not in the yard to scare birds... well yes, I agree that would probably work.)