50 years ago on Christmas Eve 1968 I received my first banjo. It was a Framus ‘Texan’ 5-string banjo. My parents had asked me what I wanted for Christmas, so I showed them the banjo on the Flatt & Scruggs record that I had bought by mistake (I actually wanted to buy ‘Little Jimmy Dickens – May A Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose’) and they had managed to find one in a large music store in Bielefeld, Germany. I had no idea what the tuning was so I tuned it like a mandolin and broke a string right away to the dismay of my parents. Still today I’m collecting Framus banjos for sentimental reasons. Nobody could learn me how to play the banjo, so I wrote to an address that was mentioned in the liner notes of the ‘Original Sound’ record. It said: Earl Scruggs, Grand Ole Opry, Nashville TN and they must have forwarded it to Earl. I received a letter from him saying that he had just published an instruction book with an accompanying instruction record. With Earl’s learning material and listening to records and slowing them down to 16 rpm I learned how to play the banjo. Later on I listened to Arthur Smith and the Boston Pops and found out that Bobby Thompson played the banjo on their ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ recording. Foggy Mountain Breakdown was the first song I learned to play on the banjo. Earl taught me how to play the banjo and Bobby taught me how to play music. Now this Christmas after 50 years I’m sitting here playing Bobby’s Baldwin banjo along with Beate who plays Bobby’s Martin guitar. It all came full circle. Merry Christmas to Y’all!