Bernie has a regular slot in the
quarterly publication called "", which is published in Pittsburgh, USA. Here's the article in full.....|
The Resonator -
Volume XXXIV Number 2, June 2006
Hi, fellow banjophiles everywhere. I hope you all
enjoyed my first “Banjo Bits” in the last issue. Consequently, I hope you don’t
mind me continuing in ‘Beatle Banjo’ mode.
Christies! I expect most of you know the famous
London, West-end auction rooms? I believe there’s a branch in New York City,
too! Well, Christies where auctioning off some rock (music) memorabilia not too
long ago; included in the sale was dear old George Harrison’s banjolele. So
naturally, after losing out on Beatle Paul’s banjo, I thought aha, here’s a
chance to square things up a bit. Maybe I would be lucky at the sale. The asking
price didn’t seem too restrictive: £400 or so. Say, around $700.
I thought, if I raided my secret ‘stash’ in my
sweaty sock, under the bed (fifty bucks if I’m lucky) and maybe ‘gyp’ grandpaw
for a few ‘quid’ (again), I might have half a chance! Yes, I know this all
sounds pathetic to you ever so rich ‘Damn Yankees’ over but “times are getting
hard boys” (cue song). Well, you know what I mean.
So, I beatled off, so to speak, to dear old
Londinium. I went by the National Express bus company, and if you’re over here,
I can recommend it. It got me quick and cheap into Kensington, and you can
‘plunk yer banjo’ on the back seat. What a way to travel!
George’s little banjo looked great. It was in a
glass case in the corner of the sales-room. I thought nostalgically of George
picking out “Something” on it, for Mr Frank Sinatra to record so brilliant in
later, happier times.
I took my seat. The gravel slammed down. We were
off! First up was a small, original poster of “the boys” Fifteen, sixteen,
seventeen – whaaat? Seventeen thousand quid! Thirty thousand dollars? Are you
crazy? I can almost buy a house for that! The guy who bought it had a fixed grin
on his face; or was he having a heart attack?
An original “Woodstock” poster, with my old mate
Grahm Nash on it, went for three thousand quid! Jeez, I remember once being
swamped out in a small tent in wet and windy Wales, when neither of us could
afford to buy a pint of ale. (30 cents!) Ah, paradise!
Now my pockets didn’t seem so strong. Up came
George’s banjo. “Right” yelled the auctioneer. Four hundred, five, six, seven
etcetera, you’ve guessed it; almost nine thousand dollars exchanged hands, Ah
well, that’s “showbiz”!
I said a silent Buddhist prayer for George; well,
I hoped it was Buddhist. I know he’s kicking around somewhere in the great
cosmos, probably working out chords to a new banjo piece.
Just to finalise, I teach banjo to a mate of mine
in Wales. It’s twelve miles from Liverpool, and it’s the place where Paul Simon
wrote “Homeward Bound” all those years ago. My mate had George’s brother round
to paint a shed in the back garden for a few days. George, in his Rolls-Royce,
would bring his brother, plus paints, brushes and bits and pieces, over to the
house, no problem. He’s then sit on the fender of the ‘roly-poly’ smoking a
‘ciggie’, whilst waiting for his brother. A typical laid back banjoist!
When I sat with the ‘megabucks elite’, in that
ever so posh salesroom, when the clientele wouldn’t know a tonic chord from a
gin and tonic, I thought of George, the “quiet Beatle” in just that way;
sitting, in a garden, ruminating.
I did want to buy George’s banjolele. However, it
wasn’t to be. I didn’t want it as a trophy though. I just wanted to play
“something on it”! Somehow, I just know George would have been listening. Rock
Till next time folks; Ta ta for now!
“You’ve married a what?” fumed the retired
English gent to his wayward daughter.
“A bigamist daddy.” She said
The old gent mopped his brow. “Phew, for a minute,
I thought you said banjoist!”
Read issue 1