Depending on the kindness of strangers
by Bill Boyer
If you read my earlier posts you will see that I took the long road to learning how to play, when traveling overland to India and Nepal I would often ask those who played music already if they would help me get in tune, during that year long trip I did not meet one other banjo players, but I got plenty advice from guitar players.
Once back in the states my first wife and I moved up to the Napa Valley in California, I had a rough and unusual style of playing and when I met other actual banjo players I think they didn’t know what to make of me and my playing. After my wife divorced me, in 1973, I went up to Weiser Idaho to the Old Time Fiddle Contest, and was blown away by all the music, suddenly becoming aware that there was a large following of traditional music that was alive and flourishing.
I tried to jam along with others but got some strange looks, but what did I know?? After Weiser I headed up to the Northern part of Montana I stopped at a rest stop and plunked away on the banjo, trying to make sense of what heard of other banjo players where doing at Weiser, when a couple of guys stopped at the rest stop as well, and asked me what style I was playing, I told them I was trying to do frailing or clawhammer, one of the guys took my banjo and commenced to show me how the right hand actually should be used. And because of him I was able to actually get the sounds and rhythms that I was hearing others do.