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It was great traveling with Jane; graciously she didn’t complain about driving while I did banjo set up and sales work in the car. We arrived Wednesday night and checked into Mountain Lodge at the top of the gondola ride. We set up our booth space and had a bit more room this year as there were fewer sponsors and I had room for 11 banjos and accessories. It was busy all day Thursday and Friday. We sold a meteor and a used Helimount and Sunday sold another meteor to a Denver artist and a Phantom to a player from Toronto. My banjo was played in a video shot on board the gondola,we got pretty good exposure and collected e mail addresses.
I hoped to reach out to more popular players, like Winston from Mumford and Sons. I Hung out with Winston last year. He is a rock star, but I treated him like an apprentice, not really aware of his high profile popularity. When we met he was interested in picking up more playing techniques and I was happy showing him my way of playing. I thought we had developed a good friendship very quickly, and I expected that my instruments and banjo knowledge had sufficiently impressed him so that he would followup and request a banjo or at least open that conversation.
Somewhere along the way I must have said something that he took as an insult, although, I never held a negative thought about him and don’t know exactly what I may have said that turned him away, but a year went by and I saw him again over the Telluride 2011 weekend. I told him I had been hoping to show him my instruments and give him more info about what we do. He said he’d come by my booth on Sunday. So he did, he brought a whole entourage accompanied by Dobro God Jerry Douglas.
Winston grabbed a banjo and began thrashing it like I have never heard. The volume was deafening but having grabbed a Heli-Mount that was set up well, the tone held up nicely to his boisterous style. I chalked that up to his Rock and roll persona and was slightly amused, not realizing that I was being ambushed. I offered banjo after banjo for Winston and his buddies to shred.
The climax of their little jam had Winston on electric 6 string with the bottom strings having been dislodged by enthusiastic strumming so that they clacked together with a weird distorted buzz, but he seemed to like it. Before I could say a word they had left as suddenly as they arrived, except for Jerry.
As I was assessing the damage, Jerry said, “Tom Nechville!”. Surprised by Jerry’s friendly salutation, I turned to him and got scolded for dis- respecting Mr. Country Winston. Jerry said that Winston said that I had twice indicated to Winston that he was not a very good banjo player. I thanked Jerry profusely for his kindness in making me aware of my faux pas. Now that we have properly disrespected each other, all is right in the world again, except for the finishes on my banjos.
But I can make more, and It was worth it, being able to entertain the banjo player who is likely seen by more people than anybody on the planet. I am glad for the opportunity to prove that Nechville banjos can take a slamming and keep on Jamming.