I was born and raised in the foot hills of North Carolina, in Alexander County. I now live in the eastern flat lands on North Carolina. I miss the hills! If I live long enough, I'll be back!!! I miss that western N.C. bar-b-que and those fried livermush sandwiches!
When I was in my mid twenties, I started taking banjo lessons from Brenda Daniels Harrington at Galaxie III studios in Taylorsville. My first banjo was one of those aluminum pot, Japaneese made, beginner banjos. After a while, I got hold of a Stewart MacDonald catalog and decided that I could build my own. I told Brenda that I was going to do that, and she said "That's nice!"
After I finished it, I carried my mahogany flat top, with custom inlayed neck, StewMac engraved parts, and custom floral inlayed resonator, in for a lesson. Brenda's mouth fell open and she said, "WOW... I have had students say that they were going to build a banjo, and a few did... but none of them looked like this!" That was in 1978. In 1993, that banjo was stolen in a house robbery.
Since 1978, I have built 15 banjos, both full size and 1/2 scale "mini" size banjos. I now build the necks and resonators from scratch. Most of the banjos have been built for myself, just to "do and learn". A few years ago, at the Kinston Winter Bluegrass Festival, Little Roy Lewis saw my mini banjo that I had built about 20 years earlier. He fell in love with it! He said "I have seen a lot of little banjers, but this one is the best!" I sorta laughed a little bit, and he looked at me and said "I'm serious!!" He wanted to buy it, but I told him it was not for sale. Six months later, I had another one built and sent it to him as a gift. He called me up and thanked me for it, and thereafter played it on stage as part of his "act"!
I saw Little Roy six months later at The Grand Ol' Gospel in Chocowinity, NC and he said Ricky Skaggs had seen his mini and "had a fit over it". Over the next seven months, I built another mini and sent it to Ricky. He called me up and told me how much he appreciated it, and how beautiful it was.
Since then, I have built other mini banjos for Levi Austin, Al Batten, Chris Hill, and one for myself which is pictured above. I also built my "HollyWood" full size banjo that I play. Little Roy saw it right after I finished it and gave it that name because of the holly wood that I used to inlay the petals of the dogwood flower in the back of the resonator. I have built one special 3/4 size for David Bryant from Oklahoma. I am presently building a mini for Gerald Slaughter from Indiana.
"THE VINE" Mini Banjo- Left Click on Picture to Enlarge, Then Right Click for Zoom In