Hooked on Bluegrass

Julio Boysenberry

When I was a first semester freshman at UCSB, my room-mate, Frank Ford, one evening, had just finished setting up an antenna so he could draw in radio stations from San Francisco and environs.

We happened across a live broadcast from a Santa Barbara nightclub called The RONDO; a performer called Tony Townsend was playing 6 and 12 guitar and 5-string banjo. I'd heard strummed banjos before and they left me cold, but this was new; notes seemingly were coming from everywhere and I was stunned at the beauty of the sound of three-finger banjo. On, perhaps, the third evening of listening to Tony, I turned to Frank and said, "I'm going to learn how to play like that."

In January, after the Winter break I returned to UCSB with a Kay banjo and a few 33 1/3 LP albums and Pete Seeger's pamphlet, "How to Play the Five String Banjo." (By the way, Frank, later took up the mandolin, on his way to becoming a world-class luthier). That was the start of a life-long love affair with the prince of instruments.

Here and there, along my musical journey, I was fortunate enough to get advice from Doug Dillard, Bill Keith and Mike Seeger, among others, for which I will forever be grateful.

(posted 9/23/2006)

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