Wednesday, November 11, 2015


As it turns out, I have four banjos on my workbench now, two of which were built by Bates Littlehales in the late 1990s.

Bates is the guy who taught me clawhammer, and then taught me banjo building and banjo repair.

It made sense to me that these are the last two banjos on which Little Bear Banjo Hospital will work. 

Apart from helping people with basic setup, installing skin heads, and doing other minor work (such as installing spikes), LBBH is calling it a day. 

I’m finding that I need to carve out time for the editing, index writing and photograph work that the publisher of the book I have written is requiring.  The working title of this project: “Dwight Diller and the Old Time Music of Eastern Central West Virginia – The Rhythm of Yew Pine Mountain.”  I believe it will be out in late 2016.

There are also some spin offs from the book on which I’m working, including what Carl Fleischhauer and I hope will be an Old Time Herald article on Dwight’s field recording work, and a potential year-long series of monthly articles that I’m calling “Dillerology.”  I’m negotiating that arrangement now. 

Three other old time musicians approached me during the course of this book project, and inquired about having me work with them on getting their memories into book form.  I’m considering those possibilities.  I also have three musician “profiles” I’m working on for various publications, a clawhammer tutorial I have written – now being edited – and a eBook piece on my brief and undistinguished flirtation with collecting vintage banjos – both of those will come out as eBooks at some point in the new year. 

So, I’ve backed myself into a corner with projects, not necessarily a bad thing, but something has to give.  I’m thinking, as these eyes age and reflexes alter, I’d rather put aside the razor sharp pointy objects, the hand tools and heavy machinery that have been my equipment for the last 25 years or so, before I start letting blood flood.

I just wanted to say I’m pleased I was able to work on two of Bates’ instruments.  He was a delightful banjo teacher, and a careful, constructive helper, teacher, when it came to banjo repair and building methods. 

I’m going to keep posting to the Little Bear Banjo Blog – as the Little Bear Banjo Hospital website has been re-christened.  The web address is still “Little Bear Banjo Hospital.”  But the platform has been repurposed:

I will also post to my blog on the Banjo Hangout:

So, thanks for coming along for the ride so far.  Please stick with Little Bear.  Where not going entirely into hibernation.

Play hard,


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