So sorry that your questions have gone unanswered. The fact of the matter is, being a slow and methodical writer, I simply have not had a good block of time to provide written responses (I'm backlogged on e-mail and Facebook replies as well). I would prefer to turn off the "fan questions" feature for the time being, but FanBridge provides me with no way to do so. For this reason (and others), I will be moving my e-mail list away from FanBridge, and over to my own server, later this month. In the meantime, I'm setting up an account with VYou.com, where you will soon be able to ask questions, and I will be able to respond more quickly by recording video responses on my laptop's webcam. Thanks for your patience. :)
Well, yes and no. I'm very much like both of my parents, in various respects, although neither of them actively play musical instruments, nor do they write computer software, or dress anachronistically.
I also have a younger brother who is very artistically gifted, but he generally prefers to stay at home and keep to his private daily routines as much as possible. He seems to possess an enviable ability to enforce the "order" he desires on the universe around him. ;)
To answer your question in another way: "Not exactly."
I might add, however, that in the grand scheme of things I'm really not all that unusual. I am, essentially, a fairly typical computer geek who has been fortunate enough to have his social sphere expanded to an unusual scale by active involvement with musical performance. :)
This is probably a broader question than you realize. There are different types of banjos, but I will limit the scope of my answer to 5-string banjos, since they are the variety with which I am most familiar.
You can pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a decent "starter" banjo, to tens of thousands of dollars for a coveted vintage instrument. The main concern when starting out should be that the instrument is set up to play comfortably, and sound decent. If the instrument is set up badly, no amount of practice will make it sound "right" to you, and you may even learn bad habits as you try to compensate for the instrument.
As to the question of difficulty, I can only say: If you want to play banjo, you certainly can. Different techniques work better for different people. If you have trouble, try a different style, a different teacher, a different instructional DVD, or even a different hand position.
It takes time, but it doesn't have to be "hard". :)
If I'm doing the math correctly, I've been playing banjo for roughly 18 years.
If I'm doing the math incorrectly, I may have been playing the banjo for some other length of time.
I've not, as yet, written tablature for any of my tunes or arrangements. When I do, of course, my e-mail list will be the first to know about it. :)
I don't see any Texas dates on the schedule right now, but you can always check the page at:
You can even type in a zip code, and get a mileage estimate to each of the shows.
The ukulele I use is tuned the same as a mandolin or violin/fiddle: GDAE. I'm afraid I haven't time to work out chords for the original tunes, but I can tell you that the "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" arrangement is in the key of G, and that the "Angels We have Heard on High" arrangement starts in D and then modulates to G. Hope that's helpful. :)
Glad you're enjoying the music! I originally became interested in the banjo when I was about 9, after hearing a very gifted entertainer named Jack Pearson, who makes his living as a children's musician. Jack plays banjo, guitar, fiddle, and amplified toybox lid (among other things). My interest was further fueled by an Alan Munde tape called "In the Tradition", and an old record called "The Banjo King Plays Ragtime".
At that time, I'd been a self-taught keyboardist for a year or two, and stringed instruments were new and as-yet unexplored territory.
I tinkered with a tenor banjo that my grandpa had (he'd never played it - just acquired it with some furniture many years before), but never really did anything with it.
Susan Khuary, a dear friend of my family, gave me my first guitar and 5-string banjo for Christmas when I was 10. She also showed me my first guitar chords, and funded my early banjo lessons.
That, in a proverbial nutshell, is what brought me to the banjo.