Banjobio: The Red Lion Jazz Band

Playing a banjo with no resonator (or case) with my finger pads meant that I could pick it up any time and play.  The notable disadvantage was that I often irritated my wife so.  She was much more musical than me, and encouraged my strivings, but not while the family was bustling around getting ready for something.

For years I continued this relaxed singing and accompanying myself.

One day a young man came to the door and introduced himself as Tex Wyndham.  “I understand you play the banjo,” he said.  “Sort of,” I replied.  He was starting a jazz band, and wanted me to play the banjo.  So I did.  I practiced a lot, developed my right thumb muscles (lefty, remember), and learned to play any major, minor, or dominant 7th chord off Tex’s charts.

Tex called us the Red Lion Jazz Band.  We played Dixieland jazz in a bar, and even made a little money.  My pick contributed 4 chords to every measure, in a metronome beat.  Consequently I was an asset.  However, I was no good as a soloist, so Tex added another banjo player, who did solos on his plectrum banjo.  What a great time we had!

Once a patron looked at me playing lefthanded, and my partner playing righthanded. He declared, “One of you is playing the wrong way.”  Instantly each pointed to the other.  Irresistable.

If playing Dixieland is your thing, check Tex’s book out: The Definitive Dixieland Collection, 1993.

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