Playing the new banjo (CC-OT) and a snow day!

If you would like to learn to play clawhammer banjo visit – Banjo Lemonade lessons

I am also a Gold Tone banjo dealer and can get you their full line of products.

May God Bless you and give you abundant happiness this year.




No More Rosewood, oh my…

In case you didn’t know, 300 types of rosewood (and some other wood) has recently become very regulated.  If you would like to read more 2017 Regulations

What does this mean Mandy?  This means that any new instrument you purchase will not be made of rosewood (or these other woods).  Does it mean that my rosewood instrument that I already have is illegal, oh no??  No it does not.  It just means that you cannot take that instrument out of your country.

Why are you telling me this Mandy? Well, I’m telling you because any new instrument you purchase through me (as a dealer for Gold Tone and it’s partners) will not have a rosewood fretboard.

-Would you like to learn banjo?  Check out my eBook or video lessons pack HERE

This leads me to happily say I’m getting a NEW BANJO!!!  YIPPIE, that’s always a good thing am I right?  Do the happy dance –


I’m getting a new banjo so that I can show you the new wood used in Gold Tone fretboards and review it for you, wink wink!

The new wood used will be Australian or New Zealand Blackwood.  Here are some interesting facts about this Australian Blackwood

Gold Tone will be getting the banjo I’m purchasing back in stock in early January.  I’ll have a full review once I get it and I’ll be playing it a LOT (reasons why will be in another post).

I feel weird not putting a photo into my blog post so here is a random photo for your viewing pleasure.  This is a coat rack my husband made for us out of CEDAR.  I am talking about wood so yeah.  We got the board from a man who sells them at the flea market, and some nice cast iron hooks from another vendor there.  Hubby sanded the board and installed the hooks and there we go.




The Rules Of Jamming, yes there really are some!

One of my goals when I started playing banjo was to play with others.  I think I can fairly say that most people would enjoy it and also have a similar goal.

This brings us to Jamming.  Yes I’ve talked about some of this before but it is worth delving into even more.  There are RULES to jamming.  Most are common sense and normally go unspoken, but being the loudmouth I am I’m going to discuss them. Why not go in a bit prepared and with some tools that will help you?  Mostly though don’t be afraid of jamming, it’s a wonderful way to learn.

    1. Unless this is your own jam, you must follow the flow of the jam you are attending.  – I don’t care how good of a musician you are (or think you are) if you are at someone else’s jam, then you better go with the flow.  I can’t understand how people have a problem with this one, but some actually come and try and take over a jam or tell folks how they need to do things.  This is a big fat NO NO folks and it should be obvious.  Not cool to act a fool.
    2. “Your first time at Fight Club you must fight”, LOL sorry.  What I meant to say was – Your first time at a jam you should be a listener and learner for the most part and less of a doer.  You are listening to how the flow of this jam session works.  You are learning the if, when, how to of the way it goes down.  Is it a bluegrass jam?  Lot’s of jams claim to be one thing but really end up being something else.  The name does not matter at all really.  Do they go around and let everyone pick a tune?  Do they take instrumental breaks during the tunes?  Are most chucking out chords while some, a few, or one person plays the lead?  Just listen and learn.  Take mental notes of how everything is done.  If this is a jam where they let you pick a tune then feel free to take the lead and play a tune, or if you are uncomfortable with that just say – skip me for now please or something to that affect. If people there SUCK and are snobs to you or are mean in any way, then this is not the jam for you.
    3. Quietly – and I stress QUIETLY use the clawhammer stroke to play chords along with what is being played.  Banjos are loud and really LOUD, so remember that others can hear what you are doing.  Take a look over at the guitar player for your chord queues.  It’s sometimes difficult to look at other banjo players for chord queues because they may not be playing chords, or they may only be playing partial chords.   It’s not that hard to recognize guitar chords though and unless they are barring stuff all over the neck you should be able to pick up on it.  If you are unable to do this, then I suggest you jot down the names of the songs being played and if capo’s are being used or if they call out a different key.  There is nothing wrong with being at a jam session and only joining in on some songs (the ones you already know).
    4. If you think you know a song but realize you don’t after the song starts, just quietly sit there and try and figure out what the chords being played are.  Again, there is nothing wrong with sitting there and watching and listening.  Trust me people at jams are used to this and as long as you aren’t playing the wrong thing loudly you will be fine.
    5. When it comes around to you (if you are at that sort of jam) don’t be afraid to take your turn and lead a simple version of Cripple Creek or whatever song you feel comfortable playing at home.  Then just take the song at your speed you normally play and they will all follow for a few rounds.  If you’ve been watching the other songs you would have seen that they usually have some sort of queue to let people know when the song will end.  Usually either raising a leg, or verbally saying something like “last time” is used.  As someone new to a jam if they ask you if you would like to lead a tune they know you will probably be slow and it will be OK I promise because they understand that everyone starts somewhere and all of them are there just to play with others also.  Again if you are not comfortable leading yet, just bow out politely.  Folks just want to feel you out and see that you are not going to be one of those “newbies” who comes in there banging loudly on their banjo drowning everyone out or worse, playing out of time, or playing the wrong chords.  Because if you are one of those – you will not be asked to come back or will be formally dis-invited to that jam.
    6. All jams are different – can’t stress this enough!  If one SUCKS because people are rude or you just don’t like it for some reason this doesn’t mean all jams are like this, it doesn’t mean that people always act like this to newbies at every jam, and it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you either!  Again, unless you are that person who I described above that nobody wants to play with because you are LOUD, out of time, or playing the wrong thing you will be fine.  You can find a jam that fits what your interests and goals are.  If you are unable to find one that you like follow #7.
    7. I’ve done this multiple times before for various reasons.  Start Your Own Jam.  As an example, I have a young daughter so my husband and I don’t like to stay out late especially on weeknights.  I also have other commitments etc, so obviously like a lot of folks my schedule does not allow me to go to some of the jams.  Put an ad in craigslist saying you would like to start a beginner jam session.  Pick a public place to meet and set the date.  Tell people what you are wanting to do.  For instance you could say – Beginner bluegrass old-time folk jam session at Smith Park – then say you play banjo and are interested in getting a few folks to meet you at the Park on Friday evenings at 6pm by the tennis courts (or wherever).  Tell them to bring some songs that they are wanting to play from any genre (or a specified genre if you want that).  You should have people respond to that and just go from there.  You could also make up a little flyer to leave in your local public library, coffee shop, music shop, etc.  I’ve started my own twice before because I couldn’t get to the regular OT or bluegrass jams in my area.  The first one I did had great results and we ended up with a core group and we did some gigs and turned into a little band for awhile. Then folks got busy and we actually moved back up here to NC.  But that one lasted a year and a half.  Now here I’ve done it again and have a jam every month or so with those folks, and I play with our little church group weekly.  There are a bunch of jams in my area now but I just can’t seem to make them fit my schedule.
    8. Find jams –  call music shops, visit coffee shops, libraries, and public places and scour their bulletin boards.  Also a great jam resource is any music festival or local event.  Last Oct. at the pumpkin chunking fest here they had live music, but I also spied a few folks playing off to the side on their own.  That’s how jams happen.  Just throw your banjo in your truck (around here we all drive trucks, no joke really) and wherever you go be ready to pull it out.  Oh yeah produce and farmer’s markets are also a great place to jam.  Just be ready!!  If there’s a tree stump or park bench somewhere in public and you start playing – they will come.  I was at a fest in Georgia (a small one) and I didn’t like the vibe of the one jam session there – there were some people who didn’t like my tattoo’s nor my husband’s and they were rude to me.  My husband was taking my daughter around to some of the booths and I noticed how some reacted to my wonderful husband and beautiful little girl.  I sat there and listened to a few snide remarks and then packed up and found a shady spot away from those people.  Next thing I know here comes a guitar and we started jamming out.  Within about 20 mins we had a fiddle and another guitar join in.  We had a crowd of people listening to us too (not that any of that matters) but my point is none of us liked the way that other jam was going down so we made our own.  That first jam had absolutely zero to do with the music and more to do with attitudes.  You will find that everywhere and in everything you do, just don’t let it get to you.  I had a bunch of fun that day playing with those folks.

With these basic rules in mind, you should be well equipped to go to any jam session now.  Granted, I left out a number for don’t attend a jam that says ADVANCED or stuff like that.  That should be obvious to you.  Also I’ve found jams where there will be a phone number or email for a contact person.  Use this to your advantage.  Call them up or email them and tell them you are a beginner and would like to join in.  They should give you a rundown of what to expect at the jam.  Don’t let fear get to you.  I promise you CAN do this.  You SHOULD do this, and you may find that it is a great deal of fun.  Me personally, I like folk jams the best.  They seem to have the least amount of rules as far as what tunes should be played.  I like mixing it up and doing one song differently than another, so that sort of jam fits for me.  For you it will be different, and that’s a great thing.

Get out there and jam people, get some adventure in your banjo journey going.  This will also give you a huge boost and desire to learn more.  Heck of a lot of fun too!


Instead of a verse this time I leave you with this.

“I will know my savior when I come to Him, by the mark where the nails have been” – Gillian Welch

Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice and love of us all.  I celebrate the joy I have found through you and hope to live a more purposeful life in your arms.


The elusive clawhammer stroke and how to find it!

Here is a vid I did on this.

I’ve heard a lot of people have trouble with this and give up even before fully getting it. It’s not that hard if you just give it a chance. Yes, everything about it feels weird. All of it is downstrokes with the fingernail of your index or middle.

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Don’t let this funky stage win. If you just practice it and plow through it you will get it. Then over time it will feel more natural and you will find it’s 2nd nature to do.

There’s a bunch of vids on this out there and I welcome you to try all of them. I’m partial to mine of course, but it really doesn’t matter where you get it from as long as you get it.

This is the basis of everything and from here you can go far.

Taking your time with this is important. The 3 steps I describe need to be distinct. Do it over and over until it seeps in.

The fun is only just beginning!

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

**I am an Amazon Affiliate. This means that my links take you to the Amazon website. If you purchase anything there Amazon will give me a small percentage of their profits off the item. You do not pay anymore than if you went straight to Amazon. But it’s a way to help support what I do at Banjo Lemonade. Thanks in advance.