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Fred the Banjo Cat

Everybody has pictures of the cat sleeping in the inside of the banjo case. I have the only cat that I know of who picks the banjo. Fred, who is now eleven years old, began picking the banjo when he was not much more than a kitten. He would come into the living room when I was practicing, and after listening patiently for a half hour or so, would jump up on my lap, push my right hand away with his nose, and try to pick. At first he tried to pick the strings with his paw, but he learned quickly that that he would get his claws entangled in the strings. After a few attempts, however, he figured out that he could get sounds by biting on the strings. He has been doing it about once a day, ever since. Some weeks, he practices more than I do!

If you look close at the picture above, you can see that he is pulling the first string with his teeth. He hasn't released it yet. Lately, he has been working on playing two strings at a time. Over the eight or nine years since he began picking, I have noticed a few things about Fred's style. First, he is picking bluegrass, not clawhammer, obviously. He definitely prefers archtop tone rings over flatheads, and light guage over medium guage strings. Traditional bluegrass over fusion, for sure.

Fred is not available for gigs.


Fred enjoying some banjo picking from his personal manservant.

(c) copyright 2007, 2010, by Donald J. Borchelt, all rights reserved.