The first most common question I get asked when people learn of my chosen instrument is 'why the banjo?' This is a question I have answered many times but perhaps more interesting is the third most common question I get asked (it comes right after the one about tenor or five string) – do you play clawhammer or bluegrass?
It's usually worded that way and it's the use of the word bluegrass that interests me. The overwhelming assumption, not unreasonable I might add but interesting, is that I must play old time clawhammer or three-finger style bluegrass. This is not in any way a claim that no banjo players go against that of course, far from it. The likes of Bela Fleck, Ken Perlman or Michael J Miles (and many others) have all experimented greatly with the banjo but perhaps most strikingly all three of those players had to make quite a conscious decision to deviate from the 'usual' path of their respective playing styles having very much begun within them.