Reasonable Facsimile

This term is used by Buddy Wachter to describe someone who has mastered the music of another artist, but has failed to develop their own unique style. Some take offense to it, but I find it to be the kind of rare honesty I need; it is a pretty good description of myself. I have thought about this for many years now, and have come to the conclusion that I am happy to be a reasonable facsimile! If that skill is all I ever develop, then at least I have that! I can get on stage as a soloist and present something that should be interesting to historically-minded banjoists.

I wasn’t always historically-minded myself, but I have been fascinated with authenticity since I was a kid. My brother and I were really into model cars; he would always build the “race” version, and I would usually do “stock” and sometimes would get a little wild and go for “custom.” If I was a real car guy, I would be into 1960s cars, and would want them to be as original as possible; it’s just my personality, I guess.

The same is applied to music; if I was a classical violinist, I would want to play in a Classical-era, “period instrument” orchestra. I dream of playing my 1940s saxophone in an authentic recreation of the Glen Miller Orchestra. I love to play banjo or sax in 1920s dance orchestras. And I want my Trad Jazz to be as authentic as possible. Again, it’s just my personality.  

Developing my own unique and interesting style has long been a dream, but all I ever seemed to develop were my own bad habits (I am my own worst critic to be sure)! If I have my own style, I want it to be a really good one! I have found copying and mastering other styles to be a natural solution to this; I have had to put my own ego and habits aside, and concentrate on making the habits of my heroes (which I consider to be good habits, or they wouldn’t be as well regarded) part of my own skill set.

I believe this borrowed skill set will eventually add up to something easily identifiable as me! I may be getting older, but I am still on a steep improvement curve; I will get there! If nothing else, I should get to be a pretty good banjo player through the process. I would consider it to be high praise indeed if I was told I was a reasonable facsimile of Eddie, Harry, Perry, or Buddy! The banjo is a historic instrument, and I love history; what else can I say?

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