David G. Hyatt
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About this site

The gourd banjo is not only a significant instrument of our past, it is also a vibrant and living instrument of today. Our mission is to ensure its longevity by researching its rich history and how it continues to live through modern makers and players. The beautiful sound of the gourd banjo should not be lost to antiquity.

Contact us at info@dhyatt.com or 479.575.9099 for your thoughts, opinions and suggestions.

I grew up on a farm in rural southwest Virginia in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My exposure to music as a child was limited to singing "Froggie Went a Courtin'" with my brother and father in the front yard on summer nights, and listening to the "Blue Danube" and beautiful waltzes that my Mother would play on our old phonograph. I learned some guitar as I grew older, and eventually played rhythm in a bluegrass band with the McCabe brothers of Forrest, Virginia in 1974-5. We were heavily influenced by bands such as the Seldom Scene and The County Gentlemen, as well as players such as John Hartford and the "Old and in the Way" band. I moved to Arkansas shortly thereafter and have not played professionally since, although I have played on a few front porches and kitchens, and learned a little mandolin along the way. A good friend in the music business (Roscoe's Music in Eureka Springs) gave me a Ramsey student banjo in the mid nineties, and I began learning "clawhammer" style of playing. Later I met Clarke Buehling, who lives in my hometown, and soon began taking lessons from him (and do still). I learned a lot from Clarke (stroke and 3-finger styles) and soon became interested in his gourd banjos. He eventually sold me a rough prototype that he made and I soon became obsessed with them. I developed a plan to put a booklet together featuring Clarke showing how to build a gourd banjo, and then decided to build one myself so that I would know what questions to ask during the interview. This banjo I gave to my son John-Paul. Soon I built another that I still have, and another that I sold to a fine gent in Iowa, and another for Cliff Drane, and now I'm ready to get back to my original plan! I did think that a website is in order to promote these banjos and the fine work being done today.

I have a wonderful family here in the Ozarks, and a very rewarding job in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the U of A. I am fortunate to be able to put this site together. I am forever indebted to Cliff Drane for his imagination and creativity in making this site work.

First, David owes me nothing, since he gave me one of his exquisite banjos. I am honored to own it, and I feel lucky that I was able to jump on David's bandwagon and convince him to let me design and build this site!

So, about me: I'm a Creative Director for a major internet consulting firm, and a banjo freak. I live in Katy, Texas (suburb of Houston) with my wonderful wife and 8 year old daughter. I grew up in a little town called Brenham which is known for being the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream. I fell in love with the blues as a teenager, devoted myself to playing blues guitar (electric and slide), and gradually found myself delving more and more into roots music. In late 2000, I discovered the banjo (which I had always kind of ignored as an instrument) and frailing/clawhammer. It was love at first listen. I have since all but given up the guitar and spent an inordinant amount of time thinking about, listening to, playing and just plain worshiping the banjo.

It is a testament to the infectious nature of the banjo that David and I, who have never met in person, are willing to collaborate across a vast geographical distance on this site. I hope you banjar lovers out there enjoy the site. Drop me a note at thraktor@yahoo.com with your thoughts.