Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Pickin' and a Salin'

Many Summer holidays of my youth were spent at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.  If you're not familiar, this theme park is located in the Ozarks mountains of southern Missouri.  The park is themed in 1880's rural with a touch of hillbilly (okay, a heavy dose).  Bluegrass music plays throughout the park and bands perform it at various stages within the park.  For me, this music became associated with happy times, but I never listened to it outside of our trips there.  Years later, I developed a love of bluegrass and it's performers, from the classic Flat & Scruggs of the Foggy Mountain Boys to Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.  Yes, that Steve Martin.  Who, I might mention if you're a fan, has another bluegrass album coming out next week.  If you're unfamiliar and so inclined, you can download a free song from the new album at his website.  I also highly recommend his 2009 album, The Crow.  KDHX, 88.1 here in St. Louis plays the Bluegrass Breakdown show every Sunday at noon.

What does all of this have to do with garage sales?  Well, earlier this week I received my weekly email of upcoming estate sales from  This picture caught my eye:
The sale began this morning at 8:00, and having set out at 9:30, I wasn't optimistic, figuring I might have missed it, but I was nonetheless determined to not come home banjo-less.  I was not disappointed:

It's a Harmony, so it's by no means an expensive banjo, but it appears playable with no major defects, other than the fact that it needs new strings and a bridge.  I paid $25 for it.  It's a 4-string Tenor Banjo and from what I've read, this model was made from the 1940's to about 1970.  I thought the soundboard was plastic, but reading online has lead me to believe might be bakelite, although I'm not sure how late bakelite was used.  I'll have to test it the next time we have some 409 in the house (rubbing a q-tip sprayed with 409 will turn yellow on bakelite).

I spent the better part of the day digging around on the internet learning about the different types of banjos, different ways of tuning them, and different ways of playing them.  I even learned the official name for a pick -- a plectrum.  I learned more in that afternoon than I could have in a class.  While I realize the internet is ceratinly not the place to believe everything you read, I read enough from multiple websites to get the common concensus whereas in a class, you're limited to just one person's teachings. 

I played guitar in my younger days, so hopefully I can pick up the banjo with a little practice. Something about picking a banjo while I sit on my porch on a summer day appeals to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...