21 August 2020

Why is this man smiling?

Russell 'Russ' Carson from central Pennsylvania has been breathing in old-time and bluegrass music since birth, has learned from master musicians, and has played professional bluegrass banjo with Gold Heart, with Audie Blaylock & Redline, and subsequently to the present with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, one of the most high-profile banjo positions anyone can occupy.

His father Glenn plays old-time fiddle and banjo and builds very high-quality instruments (reviews of his work can be seen on Banjo Hangout), and Russ often plays duets with him on Russ's '81crowe' YouTube channel.

Russ has posted today a twenty-minute video, 'My father's story: a conversation with Glenn Carson', in which one of the first things we learn is that Glenn's father's parents were Irish - his grandmother from Co. Cavan, and his grandfather from Co. Antrim, 'just a few miles from the Giant's Causeway and the Bushmills factory' - while his mother's grandfather came from Scotland. Worth watching and listening to, up to the very last second. (Look out for the doughnut-shaped fiddle at 10:15.) A too-brief Vimeo on Glenn's luthiery, together with some of his own fine banjo-playing, is here.
Another luthier, Dan Drabek, has just contributed to Banjo Hangout a wealth of photos of his latest frailing banjo, 'The Buckdancer', a masterpiece of craftsmanship, artistic imagination, and humour - practically every detail in it is a visual pun in one way or another. Essential viewing for banjo nerds who need to lighten up, in two parts: 1 and 2.

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