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I grew up in Cairns, Nth Qld and started playing guitar at around 12 (1974).
My dad bought a 5 string banjo at Montgomery’s Music City shop around 1980. It was a $150 Recital banjo with guitar tuners. He also picked up the Earl Scruggs Instruction Book. I found out later that there was an LP that went with the book, but we weren’t able to get a copy.
Not sure where I first heard Duelling Banjos, but it was the song that got me hooked. There were also a few movies that had banjos in the soundtrack. Smokie and the Bandit had some great picking in the background.
I attempted to learn from the Earl Scruggs book. There were no teachers in Cairns. It was a struggle, as the only song I had heard before was Ballad of Jed Clampett! I didn’t even know how Cripple Creek was supposed to sound.
I would scour the local Chandlers record shop for any albums that may contain banjo music. The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band from NZ was one of the first bluegrass bands I came across with the great Paul Trenwith on banjo.
Eventually I found a banjo player in Cairns who was able to give me a few lessons and point me in the right direction. I would practise till late in the night and recall my parents calling out for me to stop. Their bedroom was next to mine. Stuffing a towel in the resonator helped a little but it was a nuisance having to remove the resonator. A wooden peg clipped to the bridge also helped.
More of the story to come soon......