Dan Gellert (1)

by

from http://www.folkworks.org:

DB: How did you learn? Did live one-on-one interaction play a part in the learning process?

DG: There were a few banjo (and mandolin and guitar) players around that I got to watch and sometimes play with. On the fiddle I think it was just me and the old records for maybe the first couple of years.

DB: Which fiddle and banjo players have influenced you the most?

DG: I can say that Pete Seeger was a major influence because he’s the first banjo player I heard and also his GREAT banjo book which I still recommend to students. For most, “why” is just because I like to listen to them. A random selection of my early models, in no particular order: Uncle Bunt, Uncle Dave, Hobart Smith, Wade Ward, Doc Watson, Tom Ashley, Posey Rorer, Luther Strong, Fred, Kyle, & Tommy, Gid, Lowe, & Pappy, Sam & Kirk, Dock Boggs…

DB: How did you approach bowing when you started learning? Was there any sense of “bow patterns” for you? How do you think about “bowing?”

DG: I didn’t think of it that way when I was learning, but I managed to acquire a few good habits very early on (just plain luck as far as I can tell). I’d been fiddling for maybe 20 years by the time I was hanging around with Brad and heard him talk about “down bowing”. I remember asking him if I played that way, since I’d never paid any attention to which way the bow was going. He said yes. Since then I’ve gotten more and more into teaching, and so I’ve had to learn how to analyze and dissect the way I do things. It still isn’t real easy.

DB: What are the most eccentric tunes/recordings in your mind?

DG: Strange that I felt an instant negative reaction to this question, as I used to think I was real into eccentricity. My first thought was f*** eccentric, music has to be CENTERED. Everyone has their own idea of where the center is, though. Which doesn’t answer the question. I don’t know. Like, Willie Narmour can be crooked as hell, but he very much makes his own kind of sense. What about Edn Hammons, JW Day, (and lots of others, of course)– eccentric, or just real normal for the mid 19th century?

DB: Do you listen to any modern musicians?

DG: Not a lot. I do sometimes hear things I like, but I’m getting old enough that long-term memory carries a lot more weight with me than short-term..

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