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 this month, and the new owner`s feedback opined, “Gorgeous tone and quality workmanship at an unbeatable price! A pleasure!”

 

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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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Across the Wide Missouri

Big Muddy is a swift river as it rounds Pilot`s Bend near Cooper`s Landing between Boonville and Jefferson City, and this was the site of a recent canoe race. Fans, families, and photographers watched from the shoreline as the racers navigated through the unpredictable eddies and fast moving Missouri River waters. Entertainment for the spectators was provided by the BRC founder and fellow musician Pippa. They have been performing together for almost 25 years and were cooled by a brisk river breeze which tamed the 90 degree temperatures.IMG_0512 - Version 3

 

Pippa is a multi-instrumentalist and is seen in the below photo (second from the right) playing mandolin back in 1995 at a `Gainor & Friends` benefit for the Children`s Hospital at the inaugural Pumpkin Festival in nearby Hartsburg.  Harmony singer Tara (front row second from the left) has also performed with the BRC founder for almost 25 years. Both ladies are in the BRC Hall of Fame for their much appreciated music and fellowship.IMG_2715

 

 

In June, Bluegrass pioneer and legend Ralph Stanley passed away at age 89. He was a beloved ambassador of  mountain music and an American treasure. The BRC founder saw Dr. Ralph perform in a star-studded Bluegrass festival in Florida in 1975 and retained the playbill as a cherished keepsake. Godspeed, Ralph, to the Angel Band awaiting you.FullSizeRender - Version 2

P.S. Check-out the open back “SunFlower” 5 string BRC banjo on eBay July 17-24 (sold). The new owner`s feedback, “Love my new “SunFlower” open back. I have a “Freedom Eagle” also, both are great.”

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Summer Fun

For the last decade or so, singers from the BRC founder`s band ‘Gainor & Friends’ have convened quarterly to perform a songfest on the in-patient ward of the local Children`s Hospital. These gigs usually coincide with holidays like the 4th of July, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick`s Day. To enhance the festivities, a  couple of nurses with seamstress skills generously sew surgeon`s caps as gifts for the kids and siblings. Depending on the calendar holiday, these caps are made from fabric adorned with flags & fireworks, goblins & pumpkins,  Xmas elves & reindeer, hearts & flowers, or shamrocks. The cheery shamrock-covered caps are the perennial favorites among the young patients, and sometimes the hospital staff even ask for a luck-of-the-Irish cap to wear.FullSizeRender

 

The songfests are held in the children`s ward playroom where parents bring the kids in wheelchairs. Some youngsters have IV bags and poles that follow them everywhere. When a child has an immune deficiency disorder and is isolation, the G&F Singers don caps, gowns, and gloves in order to sing at the bedside of the quarantined patient. Try playing your stringed instrument sometime wearing rubber gloves…..FullSizeRender

 

Next week, the G&F Quartet will prepare for our annual Fourth of July sing-along gig on the pediatric ward.

 

In the recent photo below, a future banjo picker watches his granddad play the “Peace Dove”  5-stringer at the BRC founder`s retirement party attended by the “Gainor & Friends” throng.20160407_134821 - Version 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

To All from the BRC- have a great summer and check-out the below link for further fun reading.

http://www.jhandsurg.org/article/S0363-5023(13)01452-4/fulltext

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A `Bright Star` shines on Broadway

In NYC, the hit musical `Bright Star` with words and music by banjoist/comedian Steve Martin and songstress Edie Brickell has garnered 5 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. The plot, based on a true story, unfolds in Act I with song, dance, and drama. An unwanted newborn is thrown from a train in a suitcase which is discovered by a farm family who raise the foundling child to manhood. Then, Intermission allows the audience to catch its collective breath.FullSizeRender

When the house lights dimmed announcing Act II, the string band orchestra greeted the audience with the Overture while gleefully beaming.  Suddenly, author/composer Steve Martin stepped into the footlights with his Granada banjo joining his fellow musicians in rendering the score.  When the Overture finished with a flourish, the electrified audience roared its approval of the surprise cameo appearance by the author. In the below photo, staff banjoist Bennett Sullivan is stage-left with his long neck 5 stringer while Martin congratulates him from the stage-center spotlight. The author/composer waved hello to all, saluted the orchestra, and vanished off stage.  It was a magical moment of theater at its best.

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For resolution of the plot, you will need to go to NYC for Act II (sorry, no spoiler). Or, let`s hope that `Bright Star`  wins enough well deserved Tony Awards to result in a national tour or movie that will shed its sunshine on your home town.FullSizeRender

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Check out the “Open back ‘Freedom Eagle’ 5 string BRC banjo” on eBay June 19-26 (sold).

Feedback from the buyer: Awesome Freedom Eagle Banjo, great deal for the price, sounds and plays great!!!

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