Hey banjo enthusiast friends! I apologize for not spending much time on this blog. I have been really busy with stuff. My heart's desire is still excited about making a bunch of Dave Hum backing tracks, so please keep visiting my blog. I had originally ordered a Deering Sierra mahogany neck banjo on May 2nd, 2022. I didn't get it until the end of September. I think it was the 22nd of September. I didn't like the Sierra, so I called Barry Waldrep at Banjo.com and told him the the neck feels cheap, like it was made in Mexico. He understood. I like their return policy at banjo.com, which is that if you are not satisfied with your banjo, they will take it take for up to 30 days, no questions asked. That's peace of mind to someone buying a banjo.
It's not Barry's fault that Deering is backordered for 6 months. Anyway, I ordered a Deering Golden Era banjo instead, and paid the difference. Unfortunately, I probably won't receive my new banjo until spring 2023. Deering has a national waiting list for banjos. So if you do decide to order a new banjo, you might need to wait up to a year to get it!
Just 6 weeks ago my landlord told me that I could rent from him as long as I want. He's been charging me a low amount of rent, since the place I am renting is all dilapidated. I live in Pensacola. The house I have been living in for the past year was a fish cleaning house down at Pensacola Bay from the 19th century. The fishing industry was a major source of income centuries ago for seaside towns like Pensacola. This house was relocated from the bay to a residential area. My bathroom is no bigger than a closet. But to me it is a 5-star Hilton hotel, since my rent is cheaper.
Sadly, we lost our home after my beloved wife divorced me in 2006. We had been married for over 18 years, since 1987. There is nothing in this world as inexplicably painful as going through a divorce, especially if you are not the one who wanted it. Due to the unwanted divorce, I had to sell our home to pay the outrageous ungodly attorney fees. But God is always good. My wife leaving cost me $64,000. That's a lot of high end banjos!!! I am sure I'm not the only one who thinks of wealth in terms of banjos...lol. Banjo players think of value in terms of how many banjos could I have bought. I really detest and loathe lawyers, who take advantage of people in the darkest hours of their life. I wouldn't want to prey upon hurting people for a living. It's an ugly business! It doesn't help that our nation has literally millions of rules, codes and laws on the books. We are becoming a police state in America, just wait and see.
Our population in Pensacola in 2022 is about 54,000 people. I have lived here now for a little over a year, since 2021. I had lived on the tiny island of Guam, out by the Philippine islands, for 17 years. Guam is an okay place, but it's hard to get into banjo playing on a tropical island...lol. Playing my lap steel guitar was surreal and awesome on an island. I still love to play Hawaiian steel guitar (mostly C6th tuning, and some B11th) on my aluminum 8-string Jerry Byrd, short-scale, frypan guitar. It was made in Japan. It cost me about $1,700 with the case, fifteen years ago. Anyway, Florida is a much better place to get into playing the banjo, since this is the deep south. But there's not much banjo venues here. An elderly man in our Baptist church plays acoustic guitar in their local Bluegrass band. They are really good. I went down to Pensacola Beach in September to watch them perform a concert, which was great. I love the banjo so much! I thank God for such a beautiful musical instrument.
Since my landlord has told me to vacate the residence by March, I racked my brain out for weeks trying to figure out my best next move. Should I keep renting? Should I purchase a home in Pensacola? Should I move to another city? I seriously considered moving up north to Chattanooga, Tennessee. I've always liked the state of Tennessee. I also considered moving to Knoxville. I miss and love the fall season. I have an old neck injury for which I receive disability. So for a guy like me who suffers in constant pain, burning nerves and fatigue, Pensacola is a good place to live. It rarely ever snows here. The record annual snowfall for Pensacola was 2.5" in 1977. The streets rarely ice up. So life in general is easier in Florida. So I think I will stay here and purchase a home, God willing, for the foreseeable future.
The crime rate in Chattanooga is 3.5 times higher than the national average. In contrast, Pensacola has a low crime rate. I feel safe living here, and I'm in what's considered the rougher west side of Pensacola (along Mobile highway). I also looked at Aberdeen, South Dakota. I like tax-free states. There is no state tax on Guam. I considered moving to somewhere in Texas. But property taxes are about double in Texas compared to Florida. There is no state tax in Florida, nor estate or inheritance taxes. So far, I love governor Ron DeSantis. I think he is doing a great job. His campaign slogan is: “Keep Florida Free!” I like that.
Anyway, I am busy right now with my website ministry. Here is one of my websites. God willing, when things settle down I plan to continue working on making some quality backing tracks. I have stenosis and radiculitis damage in my spinal cord, which makes doing anything more difficult. Fortunately the weight of my banjo doesn't aggravate my neck, as long as I don't push it by playing for hours at a time. Sometimes I need to put the banjo down. I usually switch to my mandolin, which is featherlight. I really like the MD-315 Eastman mandolin. From all that I have read, the matte finish doesn't suppress the sound as other gloss finished model of mandolins do.
I tried to play along with some of the Dave Hum style backing tracks that I made, but realized that they are too fast. So I will be adding some slower backing tracks when I get time. At least that is my plan. Right now I need to get my housing situation settled, once and for all, so no one can throw me out like this. Besides, I'm tired of paying rent. One of the reasons why I moved to Pensacola is because there are always a couple dozen homes priced at $100,000 or under (even though the median house price in Pensacola is $319,000 in 2022).
I've been working lately on learning Dave Hum's arrangement of Tobin's Jig on Double C. Once you learn the basic melody, Dave repeats it dozens of times in the song (meaning that the song is fairly easy to learn). Dave is truly amazing on his banjo! ...
Tobin's Jig (by Dave Hum on 'Double C' tuning)
I was thinking this past week about his daughter River, who turned 16 years old this year. Dave died in 2012 of cancer, when their daughter River was just 6 years old. Life is not fair. It truly isn't. I keep Dave's family in my prayers. They have a beautiful musical legacy that Dave Hum left to them all.
I will let you all know when the Golden Era banjo arrives, and if I remember, to take some photos of it. I want to make some banjo recordings sooner than later, with the backing tracks I am making. I know that I am not Dave Hum and never will be, but my goal is to learn things from him and then be myself. That is what Dave does, he plays by ear. He just follows the melody and sticks to the chord patterns.
I have humbly noticed that some of the banjo pickers who limit themselves, to say for example the Earl Scruggs's style of playing, quit the banjo after several years because they lose interest. Dave Hum is very creative, thinking outside the box. I think it is a mistake to limit one's self to a certain style of playing. Variety is what makes any musical instrument interesting and fun to play. One of my favorite songs by Dave Hum is Devil's Dream...
Dave Hum - Devils Dream / Blackberry Blossom (2)
One of the things that brings Dave Hum's music to life is his driving backing tracks, which have energy to them. He uses a tambourine in many songs, which drives the song. I asked Dave's family if they still had his backing tracks, but I guess all of Dave's computer stuff was disposed of. That is sad and tragic. I think the biggest encouragement to any banjo player is having quality backing tracks, which are hard to find. Most backing tracks have too much clutter which competes with the banjo. But if you listen to Dave Hum's backing tracks, he generally only uses a bass and some percussion (with some exceptions, depending on the particular song).
Thank you for visiting my Banjo Heaven blog. One day at a time.