At Yum Yum’s on the Second Saturday of the month:

Drumming with amplified banjo and violin

And belly dancers too. The Middle East meets CSU campus with weird fiddle and banjo dancing with Santori Dance group. Time to get your shimmy on!

Comments Off

Five (5)

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Courtesy of the Colorado Coalition of Artists

Comments Off

Knoxville to Oskaloosa

Lots a banjar picking this day:

At the Smoky Row Coffeehouse in Oskaloosa

It was a fun place and I had just meet some guys who were following the route to help set up the musical acts when some people with still and video cameras circled around and asked questions but never identified themselves. We all kinda got weirded out and left.

And at the Musco Technology Center

Another C.U.B.S. banquet! I had just rode in on the path to William Penn University in Oskaloosa when I bumped into the club president. What luck! And then there was a nice evening by the campfire with our overnight hosts.

Comments Off

Perry to Des Moines

Old farm building along the way…

But somehow missed the midget wrestling in Dallas Center on the way to Des Moines.

Iowa State Historical Museum

This is an old stunt plane used in Iowa during the early days of flight. Another item recorded in the museum is #2013.023 Hand Made Banjo.  Somewhere in Des Moines I met up with Tom Herrington of the Roadside Boys and we were interviewed by the Register. There may still be a video HERE. So far that’s 3 for 3 !

Comments Off

Banjo 2013 Ragbrai limited edition

There is a “limited edition” of the Ragbrai banjo:

For display purposes only

This is yet another home-made banjo fabricated with recycled furniture and  cooking pot technology. The old Remo head was initiated on the 2005 Ragbrai and used until the end of the 2009 ride.

Here Leo is taking care of the historical artifact and getting it ready for all to see.

Now on display at the Iowa State Historical Society!

Note: The banjo on display is just ONE of the  official Ragbrai banjos. The parts of this particular banjo have been on the ride at least one time, but not all in one piece as shown here. For instance, the banjo head and tail piece survived the ride across Iowa five (5) times. The pot from an aluminum pressure cooker had been on the ride twice and the neck only once. The brackets and tuning pegs have been on the ride four times and have been on various banjos for as long as I can remember.  The pegs came from an old right-handed instrument that was over 100 years old.

Comments Off

Red Rocks

Visiting Red Rocks:

As you can’t see, I’m playing a banjo on stage to an adoring crowd of maybe 10 or 12 people.

Oh, and here’s a panorama of the place.

Comments Off

OPAA! Time Again at the Taverna

It could be spelled Oooopa! or Opaa!, or just plain Opa! Wiki Answers says it means to party, or get down and dance. It’s an expression of joy that we scream out when the waiter ignites a pan of Saganaki in front of us, or in front of other people– whatever. It is a tradition that dates back to, what, maybe 1968 at the Parthenon restaurant in Chicago. Not the same as this Parthenon: they didn’t have flaming cheese there. Lucky for us we have a little place in Fort Collins that follows that same tradition and it’s close enough that we can bike there and back.

Conga drums and banjo on the cart with the Black Sheep

We had an invite for drummers and dancers at the Taverna so I thought it might be possible to attach a set of conga drums to the cart and just for fun I added the “Bouzouki Banjo” on the back of the cart.  The pair of conga drums were a bit top-heavy for the modified dog cart and they shifted a bit while in transit but they made the trip unharmed. I was glad I brought the bouzouki banjo; it added to the evening’s music.

Black Sheep parked at the Taverna

The Taverna Greek Grill opened less than a year ago on College Avenue near the Target store. We liked it immediately because the owners like to serve flaming cheese (Parthenon style) and they especially like to break dinner plates (on purpose). On the first month of opening the Taverna, the owners also performed a number of fire breathing tricks inside the restaurant. They no longer do this and I would assume that its because  the fire marshal put a stop to it. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

Satori Dancers

I’m not sure how this was supposed to work. Were we a private party or something the restaurant owners were using to attract more business? I’ll say private party for now because it looked like the restaurant was full. They (somebody) wants to do it again next month.

Bohemian Caravan

The Caravan has been around since 2006. They call themselves a “motley crew” of dancers who like to improvise their dance routines at the spur of the moment anytime, anywhere. And any drum beat.

Comments Off

Crank ‘N’ Jam

At CrankNStein’s Bar and Bike Shop:

The was Beer here

And Bikes here

The Black Sheep came for the evening

Here you could park your bike INSIDE the bar next to your table and not have to worry about having your custom made bicycle ripped-off.

And a Banjo or two

Apparently just having a bar isn’t enough in this town. They combine a bike shop and a bar/coffee house and then have an open bluegrass jam on Tuesday nights. The last straw was to invite square dancers. (It was too hard to move bikes in and out while people were dancing so they don’t do it anymore)

Comments Off

Iowa Blackie Found Dead at 62 !

Another crazy friend takes his last train ride…

Mr. Rick Gage

This is a picture of the hobo “Iowa Blackie” that I found on the internet (Google Image ‘Iowa Blackie’) . I think at the time he was on his way to the hobo convention in Britt, Iowa. His banjo case has been Photoshopped with the label “2003 IOWA Blackie” . Having his name in big letters just wasn’t his style.

Here I am with Iowa Blackie in Le Claire, Iowa during RAGBRAI

Here’s the Register’s comment on his death. I would always seem to catch him someplace on the Ragbrai ride. If I didn’t see him first, he would see me and then there would be an exchange of banjo jokes like you wouldn’t believe.  He was a “hobo” of sorts and was voted ‘King of the Hoboes’ at one time.  But how many hoboes have their own website? Check the site out before it’s gone: He’s got a refrigerator magnet on sale for $2!

The dude was a poet, too! Here’s a sample of his work “The Diarrhea Poem”

You ever had a day like that

When nothing seemed to come out right

Except when on the potty sat

So comfy with relief in sight

This time however you must run

For there is such an urgency

Of nature merely having fun

Disrupting your complacency

You make it in the nick of time

So thankful you were able to

And with a feeling most sublime

You let go with a mighty poo

Here’s to you, Mr. Gage. You will be missed.

Comments Off

beach banjo

Jan at the beach:

Playing banjo at Storm Lake, Iowa

Comments Off