As you know, I took up the BANJO a few months ago. The idea was that I would give my brain a new challenge at the age of 40, fulfill my dream of strumming along with a Dixieland band, and just be stupid with my BANJO.
When I went in to buy a 4-string, tenor banjo, I thought the nice kid at the best music store in the area sold me one, but when I got home I counted five strings, not four. I figured this must be some esoteric BANJO thing I didn't understand, but as it turns out, I can count to five just fine. He had sold me a regular bluegrass five-string.
The owner of the store, one of the sweetest and coolest guys around (he goes to my church sometimes, and he plays with Jimmy Buffet, so he's 11 on the 1-10 coolness scale), explained to me that tenor banjos are really rare and he hadn't seen one for at least a decade. He was sorry for the misunderstanding.
I was a little crushed but figured hey, my cute instructor can make my new five-string sound like a Dixieland banjo by teaching me to play it in plectrum tuning (a little BANJO LINGO for you musicians out there).
A few weeks after I started my lessons, the store owner greeted me with a special smile when I came in one afternoon. "Wait 'til I show you this." As it turns out, a man from a neighboring town had just that week brought in a beautiful honey of an antique tenor banjo that had been in his family for probably about 80 years. It needed some restoration, but as soon as I held it in my tiny hands I knew it was MY honey for all time. I love music people: as I held my little BANJO, all the guys who work at the store stood around and grinned like fools. We all grinned like fools.
So today I got to play my restored antique Orpheum BANJO for the first time. It sounds just right: all twangy and Dixieland and it feels just right on my lap. There she is. Isn't she beautiful? Did you see the mother-of-pearl inlays?
You can say "mazel tov" if you want.