I come from a musical family. My father, the late Dr. Willard A. Palmer, was a renowned musical scholar, instrumentalist and teacher. He was the author of 790 musical items that were published by Alfred Publications, among them Alfred's Basic Piano Library, The Palmer-Hughes Accordion Method, and much of Alfred's Masterwork Series.
He inspired me to excel in as many things as I possibly could.
For many years, I played banjo, mandolin, guitar, electric bass, accordion and other keyboards in nightclubs, pizza parlors, and other venues, mainly in the Houston area.
My main interests were bluegrass music, blues and jazz, although I have an affinity for many other idioms, also. For personal reasons, partially because of artistic burnout--partially because of the challenge, I decided in 1974 to become a full time magician.
However, recent events have caused me to rekindle my interest in music.
I have written several books for piano, which are published by Alfred Publishing Co. I also wrote a book of sacred songs for electronic keyboard, called The Easiest Way to Play Your Favorite Sacred Songs.
During my previous career as a musician, I taught banjo and guitar for Charlie Cash Studios of H & H Music Co. and Westview Music Studios. While working for them, I wrote How to Play Folk and Bluegrass Banjo.This book was published by Alfred Publishing Company, but was discontinued before the recent bluegrass boom. I now have the rights to it, and should be issuing a revised version of it, concentrating on bluegrass music, in the near future. If you have any interest in this at all, please drop me an e-mail and let me know.
For more information concerning my sordid past and bluegrass adventures, click here.
For a detailed discussion of the basic myths of copyright, click here.
If you are a bluegrass music fan, you should visit the following sites:
The king daddy of all the bluegrass music sites in the world is without a doubt, Blue Grass Roots. This site is in Estonia. You probably never thought of Estonia as the hotbed or Bluegrass activity that it actually is, but I can tell you that almost every site worth knowing about is located on their links list--including mine!
One excellent source of banjo parts and information is First Quality Musical Supplies. Bill Sullivan is a real expert, and has given me lots of help. I had the pleasure of visiting his shop recently. Incredible! His new facility has much more space than his old shop, and he has a full time staff of experts to keep parts, supplies and instruments going out to all of us who build, repair and play the banjo and other bluegrass instruments. He has a full staff of luthiers who can make just about anything you need for the banjo, including finished necks and resonators. During my most recent trip to SPBGMA, I went up to Louisville to pick up a Granada DeLuxe that he converted to a 5-string banjo for me. To view it, click here.
Mugwumps. Michael Holmes has put his incredible publication on the internet. Here you will find a remarkable collection of banjo information, including dates of issue of Vega banjos by serial number, pictures of esoteric banjo tailpieces, old banjo advertising and much, much more. There is also a wealth of information about other instruments, especially vintage items. It's a nice place to visit.
Vincent Mondello's 4 string banjo web pages are a tribute to those beautiful old banjos of days gone by, especially the Stromberg Marimbaphone instruments. His father and grandfather worked for Stromberg. Click here to visit this interesting web site.
Paul Hawthorne's Web Site is a great place to visit to learn about the banjo. Paul has his own theories about how banjo should be learned, which are based on much experience. He has written a book called "Gestalt Banjo Volume 1," which has been well received. Visit his pages. You will learn many things. I did.
Banjo-L. This is a comprehensive site with much good general information on the banjo. There is a listing of banjo players and teachers all over the country, plus many good files on tuning, etc. This is also the home of the Banjo-L listserver.
Janet Davis Music Company. Janet is well known for her contributions to bluegrass music as a teacher, a writer and a columnist for Banjo Newsletter. She is also a highly reputable dealer in instruments and accessories.
Jack Hatfield is another well known teacher, writer and Banjo Newsletter columnist. He is also a highy reputable dealer in instruments and accessories. In addition to this, he conducts the banjo seminars at SPBGMA annually.
Banjer® Productions is the home page of a fellow Houstonian who has dedicated his life to teaching and playing the 5-string banjo--Anton Ullrich. Drop by his web site and learn about his alternative system of banjo, or should I say, banjer, notation.
The Banjo Loft is the source of those fantastic Vega reproduction necks and conversion necks made by Wyatt Fawley. I have two banjos with Fawley necks on them. One is an RB-5 repro that I have put on a 1925 ball bearing Mastertone rim with a First Quality conversion tone ring in it. The other is a Style M Vega conversion instrument. The work on both banjo necks is immaculate. The engraving on the Vega neck is particularly impressive. I recommend his work and expertise without reservation. He has given me many good tips on banjo setup. If Wyatt has a fault of any kind, it is that it has taken him too long to figure out how much his work is worth.
Gary Price, Ph.D. is the manufacturer of the best banjo tailpieces I know of. He also makes excellent banjos, mandolins and mandolin tailpieces. He plays well, too. Give him a visit!
Nechville Musical Products is the home page of the famous Nechville Heli-mount™ Banjo, which Tom Nechville invented several years ago. These are very unusual banjos. They are well made and they sound good. Some rather well known players such as Alison Brown use them. Every one of them I have ever heard has had a strong, clear tone.
Here's an interesting site -- Johnny Adams is a member of Moonlite Express, a Bluegrass band from Central Florida. His web site, called Bluegrass Music Club is located at Houston Bluegrass Gazette What's going on in bluegrass in Houston.
Houston Bluegrass has current information on what is happening in Houston. This includes listings of clubs, venues, organizations, vendors and service personnel. There are also several national links on their pages.
If you like the banjo and are also interested in lots of other things that make you think, click here.
Once in a while a really worthwhile site for the confirmed 5-string banjo addict appears on the internet. This is not Banjos Anonymous--in fact, it isn't even a 12-step program. This is a site by an experienced banjo builder, Richie Dotson, who is sharing his knowledge with the rest of us. Richie has been a regular contributor to Banjo-L and AcuTab for a long time. He even shows you how to do inlay work and how to build banjo bridges. This will make you appreciate what you have, by virtue of the amount of work that actually goes into building a banjo--or even a bridge! Click here for this interesting and informative web site.
House of Musical Traditions Lots of good information on accordions, banjos and unusual instruments--also books, etc. Great emphasis on clawhammer banjo.
For information on an unusual method of setting up a 5-string banjo, and several ways of improving the volume and tone, click here.