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Thread: what sparked your interest?

  1. #76
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    Quote Originally Posted by fredhicks View Post
    ... She won't let me play banjo or bagpipes ...
    She's a keeper!
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    And she is from N Yorkshire.....she thinks gin and tonic is what she is going to do in retirement.....hmmmm, nah....I prefer beer. Banjo I might get a knife in the back. Heading to Spokane for retirement this summer I hope. Golf, mando(electric at this time), gin/beer..... sounds good to me.

  3. #78

    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    After a decade or more of playing guitar, I wanted to add another texture to the sound of the contemporary Christian music band I was a part of. I already served as vocalist, songwriter, lead guitarist, and keyboardist - and I decided I would add a banjo to the mix. I went to the local music store to try out banjos and determined that the thumb/two finger roll might be more difficult to master than I initially thought. On the wall hung two, and only two, mandolins - an A-style for about $139 and a Washburn F-style for $675. I asked to handle them, and knowing how they were tuned, I figured out three or four chords that I could strum for the purpose of listening to the sound. I picked out some melodies and did some tremolo style single noting. In fairly short order, it dawned on me that I could probably take a mandolin home and start making musical sense out of it immediately. I did not have that same confidence with the banjo.

    I did not buy, but in the following weeks, I'd stop by the music store, pluck the banjos and pick the mandolins. The banjo interest faded and the mandolin interest grew - interesting because the mandolin had not even been on my radar when the search for a new sound began. I gave the store a low offer that they could refuse on the Washburn (the intricate abalone inlay was too delightful to resist) which they counteroffered at a level that I couldn't refuse. I bought it and played it that evening at a concert in the federal prison in a neighboring town. Although it was more money than I had ever paid for an instrument up to that point (risky for an instrument that I did not know how to play), I have never regretted that purchase. That was over 30 years ago, and I still have that mandolin.

    I did find fairly soon that, eventhough I considered myself a better guitarist than a mandolinist for the first several years, I was in more demand for the mandollin than for the guitar - due largely to the fact that in my circle of musicians (largely rock, pop, Israeli folk, and what is now labeled Americana), I was typically the only mandolinist. I spent a good amount of my time after concerts in those days answering the question from people in the audience, "What is that instrument?"

    Part of the spark lay in the intriguing sound of the instrument. Another part of the spark lay in the opportunity and challenge to place the instrument in an environment outside of its comfort zone (I was/am in central Kentucky where the genre of bluegrass reigns) and find a way to make it fit where few had gone at that time.
    Last edited by klaezimmer; Oct-26-2010 at 9:48pm. Reason: spelling...

  4. #79
    Registered User Toycona's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    I grew up in a non-musical family and was handed a right handed guitar in elementary grade school music class (I'm left handed). Frustrated, I promptly handed it off to my brother (a fair exchange for a basketball). He went on to become a session guitarist/gigging musician. Meanwhile, I became a fan/active listener of all things strings - mainly progressive rock and fusion (it was the 70s). Rush, Kiss, Genesis, King Crimson, John McLaughlin, Todd Rundgren, Neil young, I listened to it all. Eventually I got myself a guitar and took a bunch of lessons and could strum plenty of chords (think "Animal House"), but I never really felt like I was musical - not really comfortable or natural playing, until I shifted gears and picked up the mandolin a couple of years ago. In the mean time, I've discovered that traditional music, Bluegrass, and Americana suit my ear, vocal range, storytelling interests, and mood. I still listen to all of the other stuff, but when I'm playing the mando, I'm playing traditional music. Or maybe, everything that I play on the mando eventually comes out sounding traditional (not a bad thing).

  5. #80

    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    I started off with trumpet in fifth grade. I soon switched to percussion because I thought it was cooler. After years of playing drums, I picked up a ukulele and joined a club at my school. While looking for ukuleles online, I ran into a mandolin. I liked the sound of the instrument, so i decided to get one. I found a 80 dollar mandolin at a local shop and started playing. Been playing ever since.

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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    I'm a brand new user and I began playing guitar in the mid 80's thanks to my devotion to some acoustic guitarists such as James Taylor, Ian Anderson (j.tull), Paul Simon.
    My wife bought me a mandolin as birthday gift on 15 nov. because she always noticed my interest in a particular song which is 'Tall Thin Girl' by Jethro Tull. This song can be listened in youtube; the video is a bit crazy with Borat dancing and tall girls, but the music is just compelling. I cannot tell if mandolin here is easy or not, but definetely not for beginners.
    Let me have your say about it.

  7. #82
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    Loved folk music in the late '50's (Kingston Trio, Highwaymen etc.), bought a banjo freshman year at Harvard, went to coffeehouses and got interested in bluegrass (Charles River Valley Boys, Osborne Brothers, Keith & Rooney etc.), learned guitar and Autoharp in the army, came back to Rochester. Wanted to play bluegrass with my brother John (guitar) and my friend Bob Olyslager (banjo) -- guess which instrument was missing? Guess what I found in my grandfather's attic when we were clearing out his house? A 1917 Gibson A-1, and a B&J Victoria bowl-back, relics of Granddad's second wife, the music teacher. So I became the (very uncertain) mandolin player for the Flower City Ramblers in 1970. Still doing it, still uncertain...
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  8. #83

    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    Grew up playing guitar, so having strings, frets and flatpicks under my fingers was always the most natural feeling. For many guitarists, playing other stringed instruments seems natural--naturally, I acquired a mandolin at some point (but I also started playing fiddle at about the same time, which diminished my mando playing). Mandolin (and banjo) are a lot of fun to play--I like to play them as a respite from guitar, fiddle, contrabass. I play reeds (accordians and woodwinds) for a respite from strings. But drums are the most fun..

    Probably heard my first American-style mando playing while learning Scruggs-style banjo, but bluegrass didn't hold my attention for very long--I preferred rock and blues, so I absorbed acoustic folk instruments through Jimmy, JP Jones, Keith and Ry, Steve Stills, Al Perkins...until I heard DGQ. But at about the same time I heard DGQ, I also heard Shakti, Oregon, and jazz...my conception of acoustic music completely changed: I didn't listen to bluegrass and folk music (except for cajun, blues, and folk music of other cultures) until twenty years later when I became interested in Irish-style fiddle playing, which got me into a circle of musicians who also play BG and old-time. I play bluegrass with people mostly for the social interaction. I've been fortunate to play with others in many folk styles of music: scandinavian, salsa, reggae, native american, country, blues, cajun, ITM, OT, BG, flamenco, arabic...not bad for a kid growing up on Rush..
    Last edited by catmandu2; Dec-02-2010 at 12:45pm.

  9. #84
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    Ciao, giamo. Benvenuto a Mandolin Café!

    I was not aware of this song before; thank you for bringing it to my attention. I would say the mandolin as used here is not that difficult for an experienced player, but though it sounds pretty easy, it takes someone who is familiar with the instrument to make it sound that way. Actually, a lot of what he is doing falls right out of the chord fingering.

    Allen - nice to hear the Charles River Valley Boys mentioned. Though I was unaware of them while growing up in southern New England, I have gotten to meet a couple of them since, in person and online. One helped me out when I was brushing up the wikipedia articles on the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and related articles, as he had the best photos I could find of the band and its members, particularly Fritz Richmond. I'm sure everyone will recognize Joe Val, and possibly even the folk singer they are backing up.
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  10. #85
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    I started fooling around with mandolin 6 years ago, but finally became serious this year. Initially it was a product of having 3 guitarists in a bluegrass band ... then I realized that `self-taught on guitar' might seem like a badge of honor but was serving as an anchor.

    Last February I went to see Mike Marshall play a small gig here, and was blindsided by Caterina Lichtenberg who had an impromptu mini-set as part of the show. Both were mindblowing musicians, but hearing classical mandolin played at it's highest level changed my impression of the instrument and got me `over the hump'. I have no desire to play classical mandolin ... but hearing mandolin `tear up' another kind of music changed where I thought mandolin fit with music [it became far more utilitarian a tool than it's bluegrass-centric roots for me].

    While Dawg, Thile, and Sam Bush had expanded my horizons before, and Mike Marshall showed a proficiency which was a joy to watch ... hearing a classical piece I've heard before yet never associated with mandolin flipped a switch for me.

    After this summer's instrument upgrade and subsequent lessons - I'm a mandolinist, who fools around on guitar. Couldn't be happier about it, wonder why it took me decades to find the instrument I was looking for the whole time.

  11. #86
    Registered User DogHouseMando's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    The many Garcia/Grisman collaborations, particularly The Pizza Tapes with Tony Rice. That's was started the interest. Then my wife got me into Nickel Creek and I was blown away by their first album, only to find that Thile was only 15 or 16 at the time. I thought, "Dang I've been wasting my life not playing this instrument as much." I then started learning more traditional tunes, and I'm happy with my progress so far. Still aiming high.

  12. #87
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    First, I have not read any of this thread... YET... but did want to answer. I got started many years ago when we were looking to put a band together and we were all guitar players. We decided five guitars and no other instruments might get quite boring very fast. So, those of us who could began looking for alternatives. We wanted to stay an acoustic band but only played guitars (and electric bass). One of the guys obtained an upright bass and got pretty good pretty fast. One guy tried the banjo and could not get it so he stayed on guitar. One took the harmonica and tamborine. I was left as the odd man out.

    I walked into a music store and saw a little instrument on the wall. I had not idea what it was. It was an F model Alvarez mandolin (fairly nice one). I asked what it was, and the owner of the store said itw as a mandolin. I told him I would buy it if he could show me how to play three chords on it. He did... an open G, open C, and open D. I purchased it, fell in love within minutes of getting it home, and have been nuts over mandolins ever since. I played my first paying gig with it that night. I only played in the key of G and only 3 chord songs. It was not terribly long and I was able to play well enough to not be laughed off stage.

    As a side note, I also bought my first banjo within a couple weeks and a dobro (square neck), and played those three instruments in that band. We were together for several years and had a blast. I still play guitar, bass, mandolin, and banjo, and if forced to a little dobro. I hate to confess about the banjo and dobro . I prefer old time banjo on my Mike Ramsey Chantrelle Special (12" rim). Mandolin is probably my favorite instrument to play, though I do still enjoy the guitar a lot.

    From that modest introduction on the mandolin in a world where I knew nothing of its history or really anything about it other than it was different froml a guitar, it has become the way I make my living and have for many years. I love working on them and building them as much as playing them (the same for all the other stringed instruments). Two of my sons play mandolin. One just enough to hurt himself, and the other is quite a hot player. I am beginning to see an interest in my grandson's as well. Time will tell what will happen there. One of them plays banjo and piano and has just gotten interested in guitar. I would not be surprised if he took up the mandolin some day, but he is a bit demented. Banjo is his first love and has been since he was 3 .
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    I like what Mike E. said that he found he could get rich playing a mandolin....On all of my shows I tell the crowd that "We don`t have much fun but we make a lot of money"...Maybe thats why our bookings have fallen off here lately....

    All of you can feel free to use that if you like.....Willie

  14. #89
    Registered User Ivyguitar's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    The first time I saw Frank Wakefield. That was when I really started hating the mandolin.

    Thank me very much Frank.

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    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    I cut my musical teeth playing electric guitar in a gigging band all through junior high and high school back in Virginia during the '60s. (Great players in that band--all of whom are still working professionally.) Oddly enough, that little band often found itself sharing the stage at festivals and community events with the likes of the Country Gentlemen and other D.C. area bluegrass outfits. While we appreciated their musical abilities, we all thought the music itself and those funny instruments were just not cool enough to take seriously. (D'oh!)

    When I got to college I couldn't find the same quality of musical experience in the campus rock world and basically festered for a year until I heard some guys down the hall in the dorm flatpicking and fingerpicking tunes they'd learned from Doc Watson. I was intrigued and soon traded my ES-335 for a D-28 and started going to bluegrass and old-time festivals and seeking out fiddlers and such. At that point I was still mostly interested in the acoustic guitar, and I was inspired by Doc, Norman Blake, and Tony Rice (playing with J.D. Crowe at the time), among others.

    The mandolin bug didn't really hit me until I saw the Gypsy Gyppo String Band up in Seattle in '75 with Jerry Mitchell playing the heck out of an old F-2, and I loved the sound he made with that band. Then I heard Kenny Haul's unique old-time sound on the taterback and that got me more interested.

    In 1976 my girlfriend/fiddling companion and I set off to busk our way across the country in a 1952 Internation Harvester step van with a VW body welded to the top (for a skylight). We tossed in every instrument we had, including a $75 Harmony mandolin, and I started learning old-time fiddle tunes when I wasn't driving. When we got to Virginia and attended the National Folklife Festival, I got a chance to hear Dave Richardson playing with the Boys of the Lough, and that opened my mind to a whole bunch of other possibilities on the mandolin. I had to learn those tunes, too!

    I got myself a better mandolin, ordered some trad Irish records (all the way from Ireland in those days) and some old-time records from County Sales, and got obsessed. When I heard those first Grisman records I was blown away, and that took me full circle back to some of the bluegrass greats I'd been seeing--but not hearing--before.

    Over the years I've learned much more from listening to fiddlers than I have from listening to mandolinists, but it was definitely hearing the mandolin in the context of great old-time and Irish string bands that got me excited about the instrument in the first place.
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  17. #92

    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    Rosa, a band that plays punk using violin, banjo, washtub bass, acoustic guitar and mandolin. I heard them, loved the sound of the instrument and decided that I wanted to play it. I had already played guitar for half a year before this. Bought myself a cheap Stagg and started picking (the Stagg broke eventually, I dropped it, so it's replaced with a cheap Ibanez).

    Started out playing mostly folk punk songs, but then I moved on to folk music and started a folk band.

    Not even near professional level. I've played for 2 years, self-taught and probably should have practiced more. I practice around 20-60 minutes a day, most days at least.

  18. #93
    Uppity Hillbilly Popeye39's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    I've always loved acoustic music, though I'm open to all genre's. I, like many, enjoy the mandolin part in Rod Stewart's, Maggie Mae. My folks are from West Virginia and I was exposed to Country and Bluegrass music as a kid. Just as I was souring on Country music, turning modestly talented Supermodels into Superstars, I saw a video on CMT. It was Nickel Creek's, Lighthouse's Tale. The sound of that song was hypnotic to me. They were scheduled to play, at a small venue locally so I picked up some tickets and the wife and I went. A standing venue with great acoustics, I stood about fifteen feet from a 21 year old Chris Thile. I was convinced that he was actually Channeling music out of that instrument.
    I resisted for almost eight years that I could play that instrument with any proficiency. That brings me to today. I will be purchasing a mandolin after the holidays are over. I cannot resist any longer. I am so thankful for this forum, it pushed me over the edge. I'm 45, I can sing, and read music. Why I waited 8 years....? Dunno! Thanks to Mr. Thile, a mandolin will be my mid-life crisis purchase.

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    Registered User stevenmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    Just fell in love with the mandolin i love the sound i listened to the mandolin in the 60,s and 70 but did nothing when i saw a mandolin in a music shop in Studio City California and bought it i still have it though i don,t play it much now its a bowl back then i was in my early 20,s and my hands where a lot slimmer and they fit great but now well i leave it at that but i have an Eastman and that s the one that i use now and the bowl back well she is well taken care of .
    steven shelton

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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    Allen - nice to hear the Charles River Valley Boys mentioned. Though I was unaware of them while growing up in southern New England, I have gotten to meet a couple of them since, in person and online. One helped me out when I was brushing up the wikipedia articles on the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and related articles, as he had the best photos I could find of the band and its members, particularly Fritz Richmond. I'm sure everyone will recognize Joe Val, and possibly even the folk singer they are backing up.
    When I saw the CRVB at Club 47, Richmond wasn't playing with them that much; they usually had Everett Allen Lilly on bass. Jim Field, who replaced John Cooke as their guitarist, is in my Harvard '65 class and I've been trying to get him to come to reunions -- so far, no luck. I'm sort of the Harvard/Radcliffe '65 "house folkie" and have led a singing session at every reunion since our 25th in 1990. (Which, by the way, was the 50th for the Class of 1940, Pete Seeger's class; I saw him walking through the Yard with his banjo!) I have the CRVB's LP on Mt. Auburn Records, with Ethan Signer on mandolin and fiddle, before Val joined the band, but I never saw Signer perform with them. They've had some reunion gigs from time to time, though both Val and Richmond have died; maybe I'll catch one if I'm lucky...

    I believe that's Cooke in the first photo, but can it be Field in the second? Bob Siggins on banjo, of course.
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    I still remember walking into a friend's dorm room in '97 and seeing two Kentucky F-5's on a desk as both he and his roommate were taking mando lessons from the guitar instructor at our university. I had been playing guitar for a few years at that point and remember picking up the F-5 and thinking, "This thing sure is weird..." and giving it a strum or two...Finally got to see the instrument being pushed to certain limits at String Cheese and Leftover Salmon shows in CO. Not necessarily traditional mando by any means, but certainly got me interested. Then a buddy dropped me a copy of Grisman/Garcia's So What album. Hooked. I was taking guitar lessons from the university's guitar instructor by then, and he loaned me some cheap plywood A-model with no name. I still remember just strumming some open chords and being fascinated by the richness complexity of the sound. Around the same time, the university's education department hired a new dept. head who happened to be a fiddler/mado player, and he turned me on to all sorts of good stuff. I've been traveling down the bluegrass rabbit-hole ever since while trying to adapt the instrument to non-traditional roles whenever possible. Still fascinated by this instrument...

    Anthony

  22. #97
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    I believe that's Cooke in the first photo, but can it be Field in the second? Bob Siggins on banjo, of course.
    I couldn't say for sure. I met Joe Val, but decades later, early 80s, and John Cooke only online. Of course, it was Cooke who managed to capture a fair amount of the activity around Cambridge at the time on camera, at Club 47 and elsewhere, and even Newport. He is now way out west, Wyoming or some place, but was kind enough, (after I convinced him of my earnestness) to provide a few photos for the wiki and posterity. I was fortunate to have gotten to know Fritz Richmond and Geoff Muldaur, as the jug band I used to play in opened for their duo act several times. We also did a bunch of gigs with Eric von Schmidt, a true renaissance man, owner of the most amazing address book I ever saw. Knowing him made me two degrees of separation from an amazing group of musicians. I attended his ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Award presentation at Club Passim (the former 47) and ended up joining the finale, standing in between Maria Muldaur and Tom Rush. Wonderful memories. But a drop in the bucket compared to what those just a few years older than me experienced - the Great Folk Scare of the late 50s and early 60s.

    Check out Cooke's website - tons of photos of a who's who of folk and rock from the Golden Era. And in answer to your question, I think it's Everett Alan Lilly, at least in the first one.
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    Registered User Jim Ferguson's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    As a kid growing up in Nova Scotia in eastern Canada I can recall my mum having a mandolin. I picked it up when I was maybe 10 years old & enjoyed strumming basic chords.......then came the teen years & that coincided with Seals & Crofts rise to fame & I fell in love with their music. In 1974, I was in the front row in a small venue where Seals & Crofts played in Quebec City & I was mesmerized by Dash's virtuosity on the mandolin. I was not more than 20 feet from where Jimmy & Dash were seated on these high wooden stools playing their current hits........I was hooked. Didn't pick up another mandolin, however, until 28 years later when I was up in Nome Alaska & a bunch of my friends were heavy into bluegrass and old time music. They also put on a FolkFest every summer and so I bought an inexpensive mandolin off eBay & jumped right into the fray & had a blast learning along the way. I then graduated to my Gibson F-9 & play it pretty much on a daily basis. Although I play guitar and have even dabbled in banjo years ago.......the mandolin is THE instrument for me.
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  24. #99
    Registered User Jim Ferguson's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    Quote Originally Posted by Perry Babasin View Post
    I had seen Seales and Crofts and met a session mandolinist who recorded with them -- but really Fairport Convention (and Jethro Tull also Steeleye Span) in the early 70's (love-love-love-them). A friend knew I played guitar and gave me a no-name acoustic/electric A-style; Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks and David Grisman (what else can I say about Dawg!)... The seeds were planted -- BUT -- I didn't start playing until about 8 years ago...
    Heh Perry.......I too was BIG into Seals & Crofts & Steeleye Span........they were awesome & just recently found some of their live music on You Tube....especially enjoyed finding Tomas the Rhymer......great song.
    Peace,
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  25. #100
    Registered User 300win's Avatar
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    Default Re: what sparked your interest?

    My earliest memory is of my dad singing and playing his guitar doing the old Monroe brother's tunes. That was when I was 5, 50 years ago, and I knew then I wanted to be a musician, got started on guitar at age 10, then banjo the same year, then mandolin at age 11. I play Bluegrass for fun, but have made a few bucks doing it, played pro for 4 years. Also love to pick Scots/Irish tunes, old tyme fiddle tunes, and anything I can fit in with other acoustic instruments.

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