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Banjo Willie's
The Life and Times of Banjo Willie

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Hello, allow me to introduce myself. The name is Willie... Banjo Willie.

You may ask yourself, who is this guy?
You may ask yourself, how did he get here?
You may say to yourself, why is he talking like David Byrne?
Actually, I have no idea, but if you want to know about this person who for some strange reason calls himself Banjo Willie, you've come to the right place.

There's not a whole lot to tell, really. I was born in June of 1967 in central Illinos. I would say that I had a somewhat "normal" childhood (if there is such a thing); I spent my days like just about any other American kid -- hanging out with neighborhood friends, playing a little baseball, going to the movies, and playing "ghost in the graveyard" on warm summer nights.

Both my Mom and Dad being big music buffs (although neither played any musical instruments), I was exposed to music a lot during those early formative years. There always seemed to be music playing in that house. I guess I owe at least partial credit to them for sparking my interest in all things musical. When I was in the fifth grade, my parents enrolled me in the school band program. I decided that I wanted to be a drummer, and Mom and Dad forked over the dough to buy me a snare drum. Soon I was diligently learning all of the rudimentary techniques, and my interest in music was growing.

I kept practicing, and by the time I was in high school I had moved up to a whole drum kit and thought I was a fairly good drummer. I was a member of the drum line in the school marching band and had a lot of fun doing it, although a lot of people considered us geeks. Anyway, I found it to be a very good experience. There was just one problem; something else had crept into my interests and was competing with the drums for my attention.

Of course there were girls, but I'm talking about something else -- GUITARS! I really became interested in the playing of Gary Richrath of REO Speedwagon (YIKES! Did I really just say that?) and Angus Young of AC/DC, not to mention Eddie Van Halen. I knew that I couldn't do both drums and guitar and expect to get much better at either one, so I made a choice. I was in need of better equipment on both counts, and I knew that guitar equipment was a lot cheaper than a new set of drums -- and, frankly, guitar players were cooler than drummers (to me, anyway), so I picked the guitar.

Fast foward to 1989 and my first real live gigging band. We called ourselves "Fair Warning" after the Van Halen album of the same name and started playing covers for the next three or four years at all the local dives. This was sometimes a lot of fun, sometimes a lot of grief, but it sure was a great learning experience for me. It was also during this time that I met a woman, let's call her "Occula ," who over time became very special and dear to me. We've been sharing the same domain for the past six years now. To this day she has remained very loyal and supportive of me and has endured the crazy world of a musician. She's the greatest!

Since my first band, I've played in a few other bands: "Elephant's Gerald," "Music Box" (I wasn't too fond of the name), and one that didn't get far enough to get a name. Every band I've ever played with (excepting the one without a name) has been more ambitious in the music selection than the last and, as a result, more of a challenge for me, with "Music Box" being the most difficult (lots of Rush, Yes, and Kansas, among many others). These bands have definitely helped me to improve my playing. There's nothing quite like playing with great musicians in front of a real live audience to help you to improve.

Currently I am playing with Tina Thornhill & Rainmaker, and it's the best project I've been in yet. Finally, ORIGINAL MUSIC! I am enjoying myself immensely and am learning much about the songwriting process. We are currently working on getting a CD recorded. It sure has been interesting not only writing the guitar parts but also thinking in terms of the recording of them (i.e., what works best for the song, ideas for overdubs, harmony lines, etc.). Definitely a new experience for me! If you want to know more about this band/project, check out my band's web site.

Well, there's not much else to tell, really. Unfortunately, I have to work a day job, one of the necessary evils that comes with living in a society based on the almighty dollar. I am currently employed by Dental Arts Laboratories as a dental technician and have been since 1992. We manufacture crowns, bridges, and dentures. It's not very glamorous, but it's a living (sort of, anyway).

When I'm not working or playing music I like to watch television shows like Seinfeld (probably my favorite), The Simpsons, King of the Hill, South Park, and Star Trek (although I definitely would not consider myself a trekker or trekkie or whatever you call it), and of course I like to surf the net with my trusty WebTV. I also play the occasional video game with my Super Nintendo or my N64. My favorite movie just might be One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest, or maybe Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Then again, maybe it's the Star Wars Trilogy, I'm not sure. My favorite books are pretty much anything by Stephen King (especially the Dark Tower series), and my favorite bands would have to be Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pink Floyd, and Big Head Todd and the Monsters, to name a few. I'm partial to green, blue, and tobacco sunburst, and my girlfriend's spaghetti and meatballs. ˇMAGNIFICO!
And, do I really play the banjo?
Well, maybe ...

That just about does it, I think. If you have made it this far, well, I guess I owe you a big apology for rambling on for so long! If any big, new, exciting developments happen my way, I will be sure to keep you posted.

Thanks for listening,
~~Banjo Willie

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