I am a banjo player, and I don't normally pay attention to the technical details of what I play too much, but Keenan Reimer-Watts has taken a keen interest in my music, and being so inclined he transcribed the tune…Read more
Arnie's all things Banjo
Playing with Uncle Henry's Favorites in the finals band contest in 2015
Clifftop WV 2017 Traditional Banjo competition
Somehow I got enough courage to enter the contest. This is my story: So here is what it's like entering the traditional banjo competition at Clifftop: sometime on Thursday morning I needed to make the decision- to put myself on the entry list or not. I am not a contest or competitive person. I am an introvert and things like this make me too nervous, but I decided to talk my friend Pete Vigour to go with me and we would both enter the contest. I pick a number - 51 and Pete picks 60. Now I figure I have some time to work on the tune I am going to play and I decide on Camp Chase. I worked it out on the banjo with Uncle Henry's Favorites a few years ago and we placed in The Stringband competition that year. Later in the afternoon I arrived and got my banjo out while my number finally arrived I went up and tried to relax and play. Somehow I got through it without a mistake- very rare for me, and walked off the stage. Pete played shortly after and ended the contest. We walked back to our campground satisfied we played a tune and that was that. I found out about an hour later from someone they were calling my name to get signed up for the finals- I was shocked that I made it. Now I had to decide on 2 more tunes that were good ones that I could play properly and impress the judges and the nighttime audience. I asked Bobby Taylor if I could play one of my own tunes, but he basically said that would pretty much do me in as far as the judges were concerned. It turned out that the fiddle contest lasted until about 10:00 p.m. and it wasn't until 10:30 that I got to go up there , the first out of 5 players and play again. I decided on Birdie- a c tune, fairly complex and then tune to g and play Billy In The Lowland which I know quite well. Up I went and started ( a bit nervous and when this happens my mind wanders somewhere different than my fingers ) and I played some phrases differently than I meant to- not as good as I could have. Next tune- same thing. The fingers went one way and my mind went another, but I did it. I figured I at least would get 5th place. Of course the other banjo players were stellar and I admired what they played. They gave me #3 in the overall contest and 2 in the senior. I am still shocked and honoured to be part of all of this. Afterwards I was quite happy to get back to what I really love - playing music with friends and good people.