John’s mother warned him it would be difficult. That was when, as a child, he said “I want to be a musician and play the banjo when I grow up Mum”. She replied “You can’t do both dear”.
John had to go to the doctor the other day. He was having some pains. Every time he touched his shoulder, it hurt. Every time he touched his head, it hurt. In fact everywhere he touched with his finger it hurt! So he went to the doctor and asked what might be the matter with him. The Doctor thought for a moment and said “It hurts wherever you touch?” “Yes that’s right” said John. “Are you a Banjo Player?” said the Doctor. “Yes” said John. “In that case,” said the Doctor, “you’ve got a broken finger”.
On the subject of Banjo players, the other day I was waiting at the bus stop and this banjo player I know walked past carrying a pig under his arm. I said to him; "What ever are you doing with that?" The pig replied, "I won him in a raffle!"
It is actually very sad to ridicule Banjo players and Banjos. Banjos actually make a very nice sound. The official technical description of the sound produced by a Banjo is “reminiscent of a live chicken caught in a vacuum cleaner”. Due to all these misconceptions about Banjo players they often find it difficult to get work. Which reminds me..
I had an odd job man round the other day to give me some quotes on decorating the house. We went into the lounge and he asked what colour I wanted it painting. I said Magnolia. He wrote it down, went to the window, opened it and shouted "GREEN SIDE UP", which I though was a bit odd. We then went into the bathroom and he asked what colour I wanted that. “White” I said. . He wrote that down, went to the window, opened it and yelled, "GREEN SIDE UP." I thought this was a bit strange but didn't say anything. We then went into the dining room and he asked what colour I wanted that. I said “Cream”. He wrote that down and went to the window and opened it, and yelled "GREEN SIDE UP." Finally I had to ask, "why do you keep yelling that out the window?" "I'm sorry," he replied, "but I’ve just taken on two out-of-work Banjo players and they’re laying turf for me across the other side of the street”.
All of us are on email, although it took John our Banjo player a while to catch up. He didn’t have a computer at home so he went into a shop to enquire whether the Internet was available in book form.
Actually John is very computer literate but you’ll understand that some people consider Banjo players to be one note short of a chord, so to speak. It’s not the case at all with John. He concentrates very hard on his playing, and whilst playing you’ll occasionally find him lost in thought, which is very unfamiliar territory for most banjo players.
Someone came up to him at our last gig and said to him. “Excuse me sir, how late are you playing this evening” He replied "Oh, about a half a beat behind the drummer."
For those of you who haven’t heard a banjo solo you need to understand that the banjo is the instrument of worship: for when we hear a banjo solo we sense the Majesty of God; when it ends we know the Grace of God.
Our Banjo player John has had a tough year. He had to go to court the other day for a speeding offence. "Haven't I seen your face before?" the judge demanded, looking down at him. "You have, your honour," John replied hopefully. "I gave your son banjo lessons last winter." "Ah, yes," recalled the judge. "Twenty years”
Last night John was playing at a gig and was particularly pleased with his own playing. He went up to a music critic in the audience and said “Did you hear my last Banjo solo?" The man replied "I hope so."
Actually a Banjo is a very versatile instrument with a good range,… probably about 20 yards if you’ve got a strong right arm! There’s one thing which you should never attempt with a Banjo though: hammering in a nail. It’s very easy to bend the nail.
From one band, an out of work banjo player, trumpet player and drummer all tried out for the same job as road stripers; painting the white stripes down the middle of the roads. The boss told them they would all work for three days and whoever painted the most would get the job. At the end of the first day, the drummer had painted three miles, the trumpet player had painted 2.5 miles, and the banjo player had painted 10 miles. The boss was so excited he told him to keep it up and the job was bound to be his. The next day, the drummer painted five miles; the trumpet player 5.5 miles and the banjo player four miles; the boss told the banjo player not to worry as he still had a good lead. So, on the third day the drummer painted six miles, the trumpet player five miles and the banjo player only one mile. The boss was so disappointed; he asked the banjo player, "What went wrong, you were doing so well?" The Banjo player said, "Well, that bucket of paint keeps getting further and further away."
80,000 banjo players recently met in Dublin for a "Banjo players are Not Stupid Convention." The compere said "We are all here today to prove to the world that banjo players are not stupid. Can I have a volunteer please?" One banjo player, John, steps up. The compere says to him "What is 15 plus 15?" After 15 or 20 seconds he says "Eighteen." Obviously everyone is a little disappointed. Then 80,000 banjo players start cheering "Give him another chance, give him another chance." The compere says "Well, since we've gone to the trouble of getting 80,000 of you here and the world wide press, I guess we can give him another chance." So he says "What is 5 plus 5?" After nearly 30 seconds he eventually says "Ninety?" The compere sighs - everyone is crestfallen and the banjo player starts crying and 80,000 banjo players start yelling "Give him another chance, give him another chance." The compere, unsure whether or not he is doing more harm than good, eventually says "Ok! One more chance. What is 2 plus 2?" The banjo player closes his eyes and after a whole minute eventually cries out "Four." Around the stadium 80,000 banjo players start yelling "Give him another chance, give him another chance."
So when we were talking about this evenings gig, John said he wanted to do a Banjo solo, which is something we don’t generally tend to encourage. He said, "I'd like to do “The World is waiting for the Sunrise” but can you think of a way to 'jazz' it up?" “Sure,” I said “we can do the first chorus in G minor, then modulate to G#minor for the second chorus in 5/4 time, then modulate to A minor in 3/4 time for the bridge, then cut off the last 3 bars!" He said, "Well, that might be too complicated to do without a rehearsal!" To which I answered, "Well, that's how you did it last night!"
Dennis, our trombonist has been under a lot of stress recently. He plays in three bands and was getting desperate for some time off, but was afraid to ask. He mentioned this to a friend who said “you’ve got to pretend you’re going crazy, then I’m sure they’ll send you home for a while.” So, at the next band rehearsal he arrived early, climbed up to the ceiling and hung upside down by his legs from a roof beam. The next one to arrive was the Banjo player. “What you doing up there Dennis?” he asked. “I’m a light bulb”! said Dennis. The Banjo player shrugged his shoulders and carried on tuning up (Improbable as that may sound”). The band leader was next to arrive who saw Dennis and said “Good gracious Dennis what are you doing up there?” to which he got the same reply – “I’m a light bulb!”. The band leader said, “Dennis, you’re obviously under a lot of stress, get yourself down and go and have a week off”. Which Dennis did. Shortly after this the Banjo player packs up and walks out. “Oy” shouted the band leader, “Where do you think you’re going?”; to which the Banjo player replied “Well, you don’t expect me to play in the dark do you?”
Earlier in the week, John, our banjo player, went on a camping trip with his 10 year old Grandson. After a good meal they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, his grandson awoke and said to John. "Granddad, look up at the sky and tell me what you see. John replied, "I see millions and millions of stars." "What does that tell you?" his Grandson asked. John pondered for a minute. "Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?" His Grandson was silent for a minute, then said. "It means someone’s stolen our tent."
For the regulars here, you are probably wondering why I haven’t insulted the banjo player yet. That’s because John our banjo player is a little delicate today. On Friday he walked from Bewdley to Malvern, a total of 35 miles and raised over £500 for St Richards Hospice, don’t you think that deserves some applause.! John should be flushed with success after such an achievement, but owing to some ill fitting walking boots, today he is suffering the agonies of defeat! Actually he played his banjo most of the way, the reason he walked so far is because he was trying to get away from the noise.
We’re playing at Upton Jazz Festival in two weeks time so hope to see some of you there. Which reminds me, after the festival last year four jazz musicians were captured by some extremists, The Upton on Severn separatists, and were each given one last request before they would be executed. In no hurry to be killed they all thought quickly. The first to be asked was the drummer who said, “I’d like a 30 minute drum roll, incorporating all the famous drum riffs of Gene Krupa”. “Ok” said the terrorist with a sigh, “we’ll see what we can do”. Next was the clarinettist who said “I’d like a medley of all Acker Bilks famous hits, lasting for 45 minutes, ending with Stranger on the shore”. “OK” said the terrorist with a bigger sigh, “We’ll see what we can do”. Next was the Banjo player who said “I’d like 45 verses of Duelling banjo’s played by a 40 piece banjo band please”; “OK” said the terrorist “We’ll see what we can do”. Finally it was the trumpet player who said “Just make sure you shoot me before the banjo’s start”.
We’re also glad to see John, our Banjo player with us tonight. He’s missed the last two gigs as he’s been sailing around the country. I promised not to tell any banjo jokes this evening but I did come across this one I wanted to share with you: “What do you call a beautiful woman on a banjo players arm? A tattoo.”
Talking about brain power, two men were stood in a bar and one said “Hey I had my IQ checked the other day and it was 175. The other responded “That’s a coincidence so is mine, what do you do for a living? “I’m a physicist”, was the reply. Again came “That’s a coincidence so am I”. This was overheard at a nearby table and another two compared IQ’s at 160 and were surprised to find that they were both brain surgeons. At another nearby table one man despondently said to the other “Did you hear that? I had my IQ checked and it was only 52”. The other said, rather enthusiastically “That’s a coincidence, so is mine. What kind of Banjo do you play?”
A trumpet player friend of mine went into a bar last week and said in a loud voice “Hey, I’ve got a great new banjo player joke”.The barman said “Stop right there son. You see that Karate Black belt hanging behind the bar; that’s mine and I play the banjo. See that mean looking bloke in the Harley Davidson T shirt. That’s my brother and he plays the banjo. And that big ugly old guy in the corner with the big knife scar across his face. That’s my father- and he plays the banjo. Now are you sure you want to tell that banjo joke in here? “Well no” says the trumpet player “Not if I’m going to have to explain it three times!
As I mentioned John our banjo player was away last week, sailing. He missed this gig last year whilst sailing also. I'd like to re-assure him that we didn't say anything mean about him behind his back. We've saved it all up for when he returned. You all realise that Banjo players are very popular people amongst real jazz musicians. There are an awful lot of one liner banjo jokes around, things like "what do say to a banjo player in a 3 piece suit… Will the defendant please rise". Or "how do you make a banjo sound beautiful…… Sell it and buy a trumpet". Actually they have to be one liners so that the drummer can understand them, but that's another issue.
These three chaps died and were standing outside the pearly gates.St Peter says "Excuse me chaps, this won't affect your admission but I just need some details for the record". The first chap steps up and St Peter says, "How much money did you make last year?" to which the chap replies "£80,000". St Peter says, "What did you do for a living?" The chap says "I was an estate agent" St Peter says "OK go right in". The second chap steps up and St Peter says, "How much money did you make last year?" to which the chap replies "£15,000". St Peter says, "What did you do for a living?" The chap says, "I was a farmer". St Peter says, "OK go right in".The third chap steps up and St Peter says, "How much money did you make last year?" to which the chap replies "£326". St Peter says "Oh really, which band did you play banjo with?"
It reminds me of the story of the cannibal who went shopping. He went into Tescos and said, "I'd like to buy some brains please". The assistant said "Certainly sir, what sort of brains would you like?" He said, "Well what have you got?" She replied "We have Doctors brains available at £250 an ounce". The cannibal replied "Well that seems reasonable, what else do you have". She said, "We also have lawyers brains available at £300 an ounce"."Anything else", the cannibal asked? "Well," she replied "we have a special offer on banjo players brains at £2000 an ounce"."£2000!" he said "Why are they so expensive?". "Well", she replied" "Do you know how many banjo players we have to kill to get an ounce of brains?"
Regular Fans of the band, that's the two ladies in the third row, will realise we don't have our usual banjo player with us this evening. He is off sailing on the west coast of Scotland, which means if his navigation skills are anything like his playing skills he'll be somewhere in the Bristol Channel now. His absence is both good and bad news for us. The good is that with a guest banjo player we have an excellent chance of hearing the right chords for a change. The bad news is I am somewhat limited in the jokes I can make about Banjo players.For example you will all have heard jokes about how intellectually challenged banjo players are, things like how do you put a sparkle in a Banjo players eye? Shine a torch in his ear.
I could say that the banjo is a beautiful sounding instrument demanding skill and musical talent to play it. But to tell such lies in church may invite a thunderbolt through your roof. So you’ll have to make up your own mind about that. In fact the Banjo is a very difficult instrument to play, John spends half of his time tuning it and the other half playing it out of tune. It’s a very powerful instrument, a bit like a V8 car engine. The only difference is you can tune a V8 car engine.
Last week we were playing and a row started in the back row, a terrible noise. We had to stop the number. I said to John on the Banjo, “Whatever are you shouting at?” “Well” he said “Colin the drummer leant across and loosened one of the strings on my banjo and now it’s all out of tune”. “Well sort it out then “ I said, “I can’t “ said John, “He won’t tell me which string it was!”
I think you’ve probably got the idea of how high a regard Banjo players are held in by real musicians. A bit like the Viola in a Symphony Orchestra, they have become the butt of everyone’s jokes. Things like “What’s the difference between an Onion and a Banjo”.. “People cry when you chop an onion to bits”. I think it’s quite unfair really.
A friend of mind, a jazz trumpet player, was down on his luck the other day and ended up having to pawn his trumpet. He took it into the pawnbrokers and was just on his way out and he saw this stuffed rat. For some inexplicable reason, he took a fancy to this stuffed rat and bought it, with his new-found wealth. He was walking home with it and he noticed there was a real live rat following him. He carried on and soon there was another and the another, until there were hundred of rats following him. He got a little panicky about this, started running and in desperation finally threw the rat into the river. One by one all the rats dived in after it and drowned! He stood there for a moment quite amazed and then had a sudden thought. He ran back to the pawnbrokers, tore through the door and said “You wouldn’t happen to have a stuffed banjo player would you?”
I wanted to treat Griff, our Banjo player, gently this evening. He is a little tired today.That’s because his neighbour started knocking and banging on his door at 2:30am this morning, can you believe that 2:30am?! Luckily though, Griff was still up, practising his Banjo.
Griff has had a tough time of things recently. He was playing in a restaurant last week, just in the middle of a Banjo solo when a bowl of prawn cocktail flew through the air and hit him on the back of the head. He turned round and this bloke shouted "that’s just for starters mate"
Mind you he was playing in a pub the other night and this bloke threw a lump of cheese at him, followed by two yoghurts, then tipped a pint of milk over him. All Griff could say was..."How Dare Ee”.
I do have to tread carefully because someone as we were coming in this evening Griff whispered in my ear. He said..What's black and blue and lies in a ditch? A trumpeter who's told too many banjo player jokes.
This bass player friend of mine. He went to the doctor to complain about a serious deterioration of his memory. He was having a hard time remembering the correct chords and was afraid of losing all his gigs. The doctor couldn’t find the cause, so he asked the Bass player to leave behind his brain for a week in his laboratory for more detailed examinations. After seven days the Bass player had failed to show up, and even after 2 more weeks there was no sign of him. Finally the doctor runs into him on the street, grabs him and asks: "Excuse me but your brain is still waiting for you to stop by and pick it up, so why don't you show up?"The bass player says, "Well, I think you can keep it; I’ve switched to the banjo..."
I shouldn’t be so cruel of course. There was actually quite a tragedy involving banjo players the other day.Four Banjo players drove a mini bus off of a cliff and they were all killed. I told Dennis this and he said “So why’s that a tragedy?” The answer is of course is that you can fit 12 banjo players in a minibus.
One day in heaven, God looked down and decided he would visit the earth and take a stroll. Walking down the road, he encountered a man who was crying. God asked the man, “Why are you crying, my son?” The man said that he was blind and had never seen a sunset. So God touched the man who could then see… and he was happy. So God walked further, he met another man crying and asked, “Why are you crying, my son?” The man was born disabled and was never able to walk. So God touched him and he could walk… and he was happy. Further down the road, then God met another man who was crying and asked, “Why are you crying, my son?” The man said, “Lord I’m a Banjo player in Sauce City Jazz Band.” … So God sat down and cried with him.