Monday, March 17, 2014

Will the Real Glenn Carson, Please Stand Up

I have a friend in the music business. He is not a singer, by his own admission.  He is not a producer, nor a side man in Nashville. He is a good fiddler and banjoist. His talents are more specialized. Glenn is an instrument builder, restorer and engraver of the metal pieces and the inlay that beautify instrument.

I met Glenn at Clifftop, the Appalachian String Band Festival, through mutual friends. I camped near him and noticed there was a constant constant stream of instruments and knowledgeable, talented  people coming to him for advice on there projects, engraving and inlay work.

Glenn will always pull a show stopper banjo or engraving from under a car seat or back of the van, usually to gasps of admiration. I admired the sound, as well  the intricate pearl work and engraving on his banjos. To me, the best part was the hard driving intricate claw hammer style of Glenn's playing. The authority with which the banjo speaks when Glenn is driving it is distinctive.

Glenn and I have had a great time getting to know one another. I was surprised to find out we had a common ancestor to the old time madness we both share...the legendary Reed Martin. I should have known. That's where some of the influence in Glenn's playing comes from, Reed Martin. Reed and I were housemates in a huge house across from NIH on Connecticut Ave. in D.C. I was teaching school in Weaton, and I'm not sure what  Reed was doing. To be sure, he was collecting something. Reed got me hooked on Old Time and Bluegrass, and introduced me to most every musician in town, and all the good repairmen.

Reed is still know far and wide for finding old instruments in trash cans, alley ways and attics. Some of his finds, which numbered in the hundreds, have ended up in high end collections and museums. It's natural they should know each other, as Glenn is known far and wide for his ability to restore these old gems, and sniff out those that Reed doesn't find.

Glenn's other passion is Fishing with a capital F. It's not just fishing, but the science of fish and fishing. This included tackle, fly tying, entomology, water quality, fish habitat, and all the other magic stuff. I am not a fisherman. I do not attempt to understand that passion. Glenn has a job that requires travel, usually to the same place every week. In the spring, he retires from the motel circuit to a cabin he rents at a fish camp. After work he hits the river and fishes, everyday until it gets too dark to fish. He builds  "fish camp" banjos when the fish go to bed.

He and his wife, Patty, stopped by here on the way from Florida" a respite from the Snows of Pennsylvania, 2014. Glenn and Patty's  daughter had given birth to their forth granddaughter, and they were on the way to see her.  It was good to have them for just an evening. We played a few tunes, had a great Janice Faye supper, and admired his newest work for Froggy Bottom guitars. You can see Glenn's head stock inlays and fretboards at Froggy Bottom

Can't wait for Clifftop, for a variety of reasons, mostly to see music buddies like Glenn, and all the other Pennsylvania Regulars  swattin' out tunes, all day and all night. Always fun to see what Glenn's working on.

The video below says it all...Good on you, Glenn

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