At a recent community art show, one of the BRC founder`s banjos was entered and placed in the exhibit under the category of `mixed media`.img_4580-version-4

Amidst a field of  200 abstract paintings, abstruse  sculptures,  and boldly textured works of fiber art, the homespun 5 string “Show-Me  SunFlower” was viewed with curious interest. The BRC founder wondered  how discerning  visitors and staff would receive this folk instrument.img_4577

Questions floated about: Is a banjo tinkerer a hobbyist, a craftsman, or an artist? What is art? Where do form and function overlap and diverge? Should an acoustic instrument be valued primarily for its visual presentation, playability, tone, or the music that it  projects; or some combination of all these features?

On the evening before the show opened, the staff held a wine and cheese fundraiser in the exhibit hall for potential buyers to inspect the wares. One seasoned guest puzzled over the SunFlower and remarked,  “Art is for art`s sake,” and moved on to examine the next work. img_4567-version-3


Before the end of the sneak preview gala, however, a staff member/artist reserved purchase of the “Show-Me Sunflower”  for pick-up at the end of the weekend exhibit.




Although the Sun Flower did not garner a ribbon in the art show competition, its unexpected and early sale has prompted the BRC founder to enter his “Swallow-Tailed Kite” banjo (named after the acrobatic bird of prey in the southeastern US) in another local art contest next month. More later.

In the meantime,  y`all keep on pickin`.

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Grandma and the banjo grandkids

How does a grandmother foster musicianship among her young grandchildren? Is having Grandpa Doc, the BRC founder, build them banjos enough to sustain interest in music during their formative years?img_0034








Sending serial emails to the youngsters of toy figurines investigating the features of a 5 stringer is proving to be curious avenue of instruction.









Time will tell if this clever stratagem will produce another generation of musicians, and maybe even a banjo picker somewhere among them. img_3108-version-2

Who knows? Thanks, Grandma, for cultivating the flowers in this precious garden.


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When Bluegrass reigns it pours

Despite 2.85 inches of steady rainfall during the daytime hours, intrepid pickers from the BRC founder`s band convened at dusk for an outdoor twilight gig at the annual Festival of Lights sidewalk community celebration in the nearby Missouri rivertown of Boonville.fullsizerender-version-2

The dauntless musicians were not reined-in by ominous clouds overhead which miraculously withheld their soggy payload during our benefit concert for the Children`s Hospital before a small but hearty crowd who donated generously into the Children`s Miracle Network tip jar. A camper from Germany, who was retracing the historic journey of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, thanked the band for singing “Oh Shenandoah” with its familiar refrain of   “.. across the wide Missouri.” The rainy weather front slowly lifted 48 hours later, but not without flash flood warnings. As the thunderous storms abated, hints of autumn filled the air.

Clogging is the reigning Dance Step

Only days before the rainstorms had arrived, our G&F Trio performed a song and dance fest on the in-patient ward of the Children`s Hospital. In her younger days, our clogger “Angie the Tapper”  (far right in photo) was a dancer at the Silver Dollar City theme park in the Ozarks.fullsizerender









Angie demonstrated basic clogging steps for the kids and their families in the pediatric playroom while a wheelchair patient gently shuffled her feet in time with the rhythmic footfalls. Our singer Lisa (center of photo) gave the children gifts of surgeon`s caps that our seamstress nurses had adorned with University of Missouri Tigers to herald the arrival of football season. Autumn had surely arrived.

P.S. The new owner of the open back `RamblinRose` 5 string BRC banjo sold on eBay this month reported, “Awesome banjo rehab! Stays in tune, lovely tone.”



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A gaggle of groupies…?

Although most Canada geese in Missouri migrate to cool northern climes in late springtime, a handful of these substantive birds linger in the Show-Me State for the summer months. During a recent performance by the BRC founder at a marina on the Missouri River, a pair of these honking waterfowl boldly waddled up to and onto the stage, much to the amusement of the audience.FullSizeRender

Undeterred by banjo music, the feathered interlopers were attracted to the red bandana wrapped around the tip jar and elected to investigate it. The inquisitive birds patiently lingered on stage to accommodate onlookers with video cameras. The honking flyers then contently ambled on their way and suddenly took to the sky on powerful wings as if on a wild goose chase.  Such is show biz in the outback, but where did this phrase `wild goose chase` originate?

Answer: ” Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done; for thou hast more of the wild goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five,” spake Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 4.IMG_4284


P.S. A uniquely featured open back “Dolphin” 5 string BRC banjo sold on eBay last month, and the new owner`s feedback opined, “Gorgeous tone and quality workmanship at an unbeatable price! A pleasure!”

Check-out the open back “RamblinRose” 5 string BRC banjo on eBay from Sept. 4- Sept. 11.


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End of Days…?

For Our Readership: Below is a curious letter received in the BRC mailbox recently. Check it out.  – Editor

Dear BRC: The 5 string picker and instrument have been the target of less than charitable banjo jokes for years. Websites catalogue the cavalcade of these mirthful question/answer quips and gags. Heard any humorous one-liners about the French horn or bassoon lately? Probably not. Jokesters do not realize the precious secret of the banjo: it is the only implement that will turn back the zombie apocalypse. When a ragged horde hollow-eyed lurching undead are exposed to banjo music, they are atomized into a feathery mist. When the zombie apocalypse comes, and let us hope never, there will be a run on local music shops by communities scrambling to procure home security with 4 or 5 stringers. Brass and woodwind instruments will be left behind on the shelves to collect dust. It will not be pretty, so be safe and take care of your neighbor….Name Withheld.

Editor`s Note: Well folks, there you have it. Anyway, here is our favorite banjo joke at the BRC workshop-

Question: How long does it take to tune a banjo?

Answer: No one knows….

P.S. Have restful end of summer days.

The Basis for Bases of Basses 

In a Bluegrass band, versatility is a valued commodity among musicians. Accustomed to the thin strings of a banjo, a 5 string picker will be challenged by the ropey cables on an acoustic bass – the heartbeat of the band. On display at the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City is a double bass banjo which is so rare that patrons can only admire it.IMG_0336




The Museum of Music Makers in Carlsbad, CA, features a hands-on exhibit which encourages musicians to cross over to the bass- the tonal metronome of the band.FullSizeRender

Although the bass establishes the time signature and tempo of the music, the bassist is usually relegated to the back row of the ensemble when on stage. Hence, Shakespeare intoned.

“I have sounded the very bass string of humility.”  Henry IV Part I: Act 2, Scene 4

Nonetheless, with the acoustic or electric bass, there are no chords or arpeggio rolls. You are only responsible for one note at a time. Try it sometime.

N.B. Check out the open back “Dolphin” 5 string BRC banjo on eBay August 7-14.


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