My first exposure to old-time music was probably when Hobart Smith came to perform at my high school outside of Chicago. Within a few weeks, I had gone down to The Old Town folk school and bought $35 Kay banjo. One of my sisters had a copy of Pete Seeger’s instruction book and I quickly supplemented that with books by Peggy Seeger and others including the Langey-Fisher volume in “A” notation. I listened to Frank Proffit, New Dimensions in Bluegrass and followed the New Lost City Ramblers. My parents tried taking the banjo away for awhile so I would get my grades up.
We had a folk club at school in Glenview, and there I met Tom Lavin, who helped me learn chord sequences. We took music theory class together and went to the Chicago Folk Festival with Tyler Wilson. When I was 18 I hitch-hiked to Kentucky to visit Lewis Lamb, a fiddler. I drove with another friend to Galax, Virginia and stayed a few days with Wade Ward and wrote tabs for a couple of his tunes.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts I got to join in on the music parties at a house called Old Joe Clark where a good deal of old time music was played. I went off to college in Oregon and then San Francisco, dropped out and stayed around Berkeley where I ran into numerous musicians, many of whom I am still in touch with. I traveled around Europe for six months and returned to Berkeley. Mac Benford and his band left and headed east. Jim Bamford, guitar player with Dr. Humbead, died. I went to Colorado. I met Billy Mathews out near Steamboat before he came to Arkansas. Moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Moved back to Denver. Hung around the Denver scene while I attended the Rocky Mountain School of Art. Lived in Boston awhile and worked at Sandy’s Music in Cambridge. Went back to Arkansas where I studied music at the University of Arkansas. Hawk Hubbard, Billy Mathews and I joined together to form the band The Skirtlifters, which went through various personnel changes that included Jim Lansford, Curly Miller, Pete Howard, Carol Widder, John Behling, Kelly Mulhollan, Tom Verdot, Thom Howard, Kent Beyette, and others. It lasted about thirty years. I currently play with the Ozark Highballers and teach private music lessons. Come visit.