From Scotland The first time I became aware of the sound of a jazz banjo was when as a schoolboy. I heard Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five and discovered the player was Johnny St. Cyr. I remember thinking "I'd like to do something like that!" When I started collecting records some of the first ones were Bob Scobey with Clancey Hayes on banjo & vocals. I loved the songs and learned most of them by heart. Lonnie Donegan entered my musical life as a teenager. A 'seminal moment', I think! So, it had to be a guitar for me then. Eventually I joined The Black Diamond Skiffle Group and did quite a few broadcasts for BBC including “Saturday night skiffle club” etc. and even sang Clancey Hayes’ version of 'Blues my naughty sweetie gives to me' on one of them! A few years later I was lucky enough to have a BBC TV contract to sing Scottish Songs with my group “The Joe Gordon Folk Four”. I had a wonderful guitar player called George Hill who was also a superb tenor banjo player. When he knew my liking for jazz, he told me "Stick to top four guitar tuning, it's better for what you want." Another earlier 'seminal moment' I remember was hearing The Dutch Swing College Band in Glasgow, and listening to Arie Van Lichthart! His solo, of course, was “Take your pick” and that's what I was inspired to do! Fast forward a good few years… By this time I had met the lovely girl who is now my wife, Sally Logon. She had starred in West End shows etc, and our double act became quite successful with hundreds of TV shows, Royal performances and world tours with the late Andy Stewart to our credit. On one of the USA tours I even had the honour of playing banjo in New York's famous Carnegie Hall!......OK, it was only 64 bars as part of a medley, but it was still a wonderful moment for me! Fast forward another few years and our son Scott Gordon (now also a professional musician) became “All Scotland Junior Accordian Champion” aged 14. In order to keep up with him (and drive him to gigs!) I had to practise lots of Scottish jigs & reels etc. It was round about that time I heard a classical musician talking about his practise sessions. He said he would often spend two hours of his 8 HOUR session, on an 8 BAR PHRASE! This made an enormous impression on me and I realised that I did not practise nearly enough. Since then I've tried to do at least an hour every day and much more when I'm preparing for a jazz festival or recording. My first CD was made in 2002, “Joe Gordon’s Ragtime Banjos” and I was lucky that it was well received with good critics and invitations to jazz festivals. I've played the Edinburgh International Jazz Festival for the last three years and my new CD "More Ragtime Banjos!" is getting a lot of plays on the internet jazz banjo radio stations. I'm so lucky to be playing ragtime & jazz banjo as it's something I enjoy immensely! To keep the 'wolf from the door' my wife Sally and I still do lots of theatre shows and concerts and I always manage to include at least one banjo feature. Kindest regards to banjoists everywhere, keep plucking! All the Best! Joe Gordon joeandsally@lineone.net