Dueling Banjos: An Adirondack Reflection

Sometimes the universe rhymes. Have you ever noticed that? As if there’s a poetry underneath our everyday lives, and sometimes — when we’re lucky — the poetry floats up to the surface.

“Dueling Banjos” à la Adirondacks

This morning I was lucky. My thanks go out to friend and North Country enthusiast Steve Malone who shared Mark Kroos‘s “Dueling Banjos” video on Facebook.

Dueling Banjos: An Adirondack Reflection
Inspired by Mark Kroos

I’ve loved ”Dueling Banjos” since I was a boy, but there’s another less obvious reason that this song, synonymous for many people with John Boorman’s Deliverance, strikes a chord. (Forgive the pun!)

I was reared in the rural Adirondacks, and as an adult I returned to the Adirondacks with my bride. And while many express envy for our nature-centric, outdoorsy lifestyle, I’ve become accustomed to Deliverance jokes when people wonder aloud what it must be like to actually live and work “in the sticks“. Geographic disparity aside, whistling or humming a few bars of “Dueling Banjos” has become a sort of universal reference to back-country social backwardness.

I suspect that this may have bothered me when I was younger, away at summer camp or boarding school, but specific memories of feeling slighted haven’t stuck with me. I do recall feeling excited to come home to the Adirondacks, and I do remember how much visitors enjoyed playing in the Adirondack Mountains and Lake Champlain and the Boquet River. For me “Dueling Banjos” became a sort of insiders’ anthem to all that was good about rural living.

“Dueling Banjos” à la Mark Kroos

That belly-button gazing aside, the merits of Mark Kroos‘s solo rendition of “Dueling Banjos” need no propping up from me. This guy’s a genius! I headed off to his website to learn a little more.

Mark Kroos
Mark Kroos plays
“Dueling Banjos” by himself!

Mark Kroos plays 2 guitar necks at the same time… His primarily instrumental style is characterized by open harmonies, polyphonic textures, incredible tapping technique, and is as entertaining to watch as it is to listen to…

In May of 2010, Mark embarked a sparsely-booked road trip, giving up his apartment in Williamsburg to play coffee shops and bars, relying on donations, human kindness and the grace of God. This road trip blossomed into a year-long concert tour filled with performances, clinics, and a multitude of new friends. (Mark Kroos)

If his gifted plucking, strumming and finger tapping weren’t already enough to earn him place of honor in my personal pantheon, his quixotic adventure turned success story confirmed my admiration for Mark Kroos.

Follow your dream, even when it means turning your back on the safe and familiar, and plunging into risk and uncertainty. Create beauty and share it with those who appreciate beauty. A great start to this early spring week! Thanks, Mark Kroos. Thanks, Steve Malone.

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3 Responses to Dueling Banjos: An Adirondack Reflection

  1. Pingback: Dueling Banjos: An Adirondack Reflection | Essex on Lake Champlain

  2. Josh Clement says:

    Absolutely brilliant! And a message I can certainly get behind! Thanks for sharing!

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