Bob in North Carolina writes:
I've been really frustrated lately. I've been playing banjo since 1965. I'm almost 60 and can hold my own on the 5-string. I also play rhythm guitar and pretty good fiddle, sing lead and baritone. I've been fronting my little band since 1978, but in the past few years, it's languished. I can't find any talented dedicated pickers to get the sound 100% tight and right. Various members of my little troupe have fallen by the wayside and are mostly too old or too limited to do any serious picking. We still jam once in a while, but nothing serious erupts. I do instrument repair and set-ups.
Many people have asked me why I never did anything with my music and why I "never made the big time." Frankly, I have spent my entire adult life scraping for a living, being a farmer and truck-driver, so I never had time to pursue my musical dreams. A friend who played in my band back in 1978-79 went on to be a professional musician, guitar for a long time with a famous country act. I often wish I had gone with him. I chose, however, to stay close to home.
So at this stage of my life, my dilemma is this: I want to play music professionally and see what I can accomplish. I have never felt like I was as good as some of well-known pickers, but lately I find myself challenging that notion.
Problem is that I would like to get a job with a really good band, but don't know how to go about it. I should be better-connected than I am, but I seem to be pretty much unknown and invisible. I am not one to kiss
any body's backside to garner favors, nor am I one to be a hanger-on or leech like I've seen so many pickers do.
I am pretty much retired and have some money put aside, so I really don't have to work a full-time regular anymore. My life's dream would be to appear on the stage of the Ryman at least one time.
So, I'm wondering what is a good approach to find out who might need a banjo picker and how to let anyone know I'm interested and available