The first record I ever owned on vinyl was Roy Clark and Buck Trent’s Banjo Bandits. (Excellent record. Hokey, silly, bouncy, double banjo nirvana complete with bluegrass piano.) Roy Clark and Buck Trent eventually led me to Hee Haw, which gave me hours of entertainment and caused hundreds of that-joke-was-so-so-bad facepalms. The music, though, was first rate — and the ratio of banjos to literally everything else was exactly as high as it should be. Check out these amazing banjo-y Hee Haw moments. #YearoftheBanjo
Jimmy Henley and Roy Clark — “Orange Blossom Special”
Jimmy Henley was a world champion banjo player at just 10 years old. Sure, “Orange Blossom Special” is an over-played trick song, but dang, Jimmy could play fast and clean as a little kid.
Stringbean and Grandpa Jones — “Little Liza Jane”
Two of the classics of the Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw — and they were neighbors, too, living in the same holler north of Nashville. Look at Stringbean’s face when he forgets they’re repeating the chorus the first time through it. Let us know if you happen to know who the unidentified dancer is.
Roy Clark and Bobby Thompson — “Bury Me Beneath the Willow”
The world needs more double banjo. Full stop.
Cathy Barton — “Redwing”
Now here’s some clawhammer! “Redwing” is a simple tune, but it’s executed expertly and tastefully. Cathy Barton still plays and teaches today, and she tours with her husband Dave Para.
Stringbean, Grandpa Jones, Roy Clark, Bobby Thompson — “Old Joe Clark”
How many banjos is too many banjos? There’s no such thing. Line ‘em all up in front of a haystack, and you’ve got a party.
Stringbean, Grandpa Jones, Roni Stoneman, Roy Clark, Bobby Thompson — “Stop That Ticklin’ Me”
If any of you ever felt inclined to tickle any of these folks, they’ve got a song at the ready to thwart you. I guess. Roni Stoneman plays the vertical banjo. Yes, it’s a thing.
Roy Clark, Grandpa Jones, Stringbean, Bobby Thompson — “Pig in a Pen”
Hot banjo pickers should always keep a hat on hand – on head? – for overheated banjo emergencies.
Roy Clark — “I Saw the Light”
If you aren’t singing along with this one, why are you here in the first place?