Banjo’s and heart surgery

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My friend Jonathon Bluemel is a really fine banjo player. I’m always looking for excuses to play in a band with him because frankly, I just like the way he does what he does. Now I know all the banjo jokes and can recite them with great satisfaction, and I know all about the movie deliverance and the theme from the Beverly hillbillies, and being a guitar player, I’m sure glad the jokes are about them instead of about us, but…I gotta say, my observations concerning the practitioners of banjer playing are not matching up very well with the stereotypes that common lore have attached to them.

For instance there’s my friend Bill Schneiderman (whose name I inadvertently misspell). He’s a sharp cookie, appears to have all of his own teeth, plays Flamenco guitar like a Spanish gentleman, and was once the superintendent of a school district. And yet he plays the banjo…he don’t even dip snuff.

And last weekend up at the Rumiano’s, I jammed with Sid Lewis, who plays banjo like a slightly twisted Bela Fleck on steroids. A man who on sheer talent alone could, single handedly, replace the Boston pops orchestra in the hearts and minds of all right thinking music lovers. And he don’t drool or nothing”

I don’t know….Is it possible that there’s something cerebral about the act of banjo plucking? Is there a certain type of deep thinker that is drawn to this mutant, stringed snare drum? Is Steve Martin funny because he wears an arrow that appears to have been shot through his head, or is he funny because he’s smarter than the rest of us, and his accomplishments on the banjo are the self evident proof.

Well, I told you that to tell you this….

Three weeks ago I had a stent put in my heart. It was about three inches long and it went in the main artery that goes into my heart. You know, the one they call the widow maker. It appears to have changed my life dramatically. Many of you sent your prayers and your love to me at that time, and I’m convinced God guided the surgeon’s hands. I feel like a new man. Full of life and energy.

My friend Jonathon Bluemel is an engineer. He engineers things at a company that makes many wonderful things. Included in those wonderful things, are stents which are used to open blocked arteries in guitar players who have lived too hard and now suffer the effects of excess.

I thank God, the surgeon, and people like my friend Jonathon, who created this wonderful device that has made me feel so much better and perhaps has helped to extend my life.

A banjo player. Whew!! How about that.

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