Our Eagle Music Deering Banjos Journey so far, told in words and pictures.
Eagle Music are celebrating being the Deering Banjos number one world dealership for the past six consecutive years 2007 -2012.
I say to our customers at Eagle Music Shop “Playing banjo is good for the soul.
What other instrument could be so cheerful, and give you so much joy when you pluck the strings ”… Steve Noon, Eagle Music, January 21st 2013
And what could be more cheerful than this beautiful little banjo which I shall tell you all about later on in our Deering story.
If you haven’t already, why not come and visit us and walk into the Eagle Music Shop, “the kettle’s always on”, and with a fresh brewed cup of tea or coffee and a wonderful room full of banjos and a specialist friendly sales team, how can you not make a visit to the “Banjo Paradise” located in this 19th century woollen mill beside the tree lined River Holme in Armitage Bridge, a charming village in Yorkshire, England.
I am often asked “How did you become the worlds biggest banjo retailer?” This question has prompted me to write down the story of Eagle Music’s amazing Deering Banjos Journey. When I stop to think that recently in November 2012 Eagle Music celebrated Worldwide sales of over two thousand Deering Banjos, and that we have been the number one world dealership for the USA Deering Banjo company for the past six consecutive years, selling more banjos than any other dealer in the entire world, and when I look at the other major banjo retailers in America and the rest of the world, I am humbled at the thought. I must firstly say that this is a reflection on our passion for quality and customer understanding and the dedicated work of my family and the excellent staff at Eagle Music Shop, but secondly it is a fact, that we couldn’t have achieved this goal without such a world class product on our listings as the American made “Deering Banjo”
In my opinion, Deering Banjos are the very best American built banjos and also an excellent investment. Quality engineering and fine woodcraft are the key features. Deering’s use of state-of-the-art manufacturing which gives precise, constant profiles, Deering banjo parts fit together precisely!
When we say we stock a “variety” of banjos we are talking about Deering, Tenbrooks, Vega, Goodtime and Goodtime Leader banjos as well as all the other World Class name brands so customers can compare models and make a choice on quality and price. “It’s easy for anybody to set up a business and ‘sell’ instruments to customers… at Eagle Music Shop we don’t just ‘sell’ things, we look after our customers, all of them. We have built up our business on customer care and after sales support. Customer referrals are also a big part of our business; we have thousands of returning customers to prove this fact, and our sales figures substantiate this well!
My Deering Banjo journey started over two decades ago when I was working in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire with my close musician friend Dave Mallinson, an excellent musician and melodeon player. In those early days the Deering Banjo Company was relatively new in comparison to the other long standing American banjo makers like Gibson, Stelling and OME. However, I had picked up on the grapevine that many top players were saying great things about Deering Banjos. So, I set out on a mission to travel to California USA, to check out the Deering Banjo range of instruments for myself.
It is true that I am a businessman, but firstly I am a musician and a banjo player, I also have qualifications in precision engineering and have spent a number of years in engineering management. I have owned an antiques sales and restoration business and have a passion for fine woodcraft. Banjos are a blend of fine engineering and woodcraft, so I knew that I had all the necessary qualifications to check out what makes a fine banjo!
I had an appointment to meet Greg and Janet Deering at a trade show in Los Angeles, at their Deering Banjos trade stand. From that first meeting, it was crystal clear to me that Greg Deering is a genius craftsman and Janet is a modern business guru, they were both brimming with pride and enthusiasm for their excellent product. “What a great combination for a successful company I thought”. And when I checked out the Deering Banjos, I wasn’t disappointed, the banjos played brilliantly, they all had excellent design qualities, they were great sounding and were oozing with fine precision engineered components, fine wood craftsmanship with breathtaking artistic presentation. I was so excited and impressed that I bought three banjos! I took them back to my hotel room and removed the banjo necks from the pots so that I could fit them in and bring them home in my suitcase!
Working with my partners in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, along with my daughter Rachel we imported Deering Banjo to the UK throughout the 1990’s and built up a great deal of product knowledge, customer loyalty and trust.
My vision was always to have a compact, high quality, efficient banjo business, and never lose sight of the fact that our customers make us what we are…without them we are nothing. A natural progression was that with the backing of my wife Joan, my daughter Rachel and my son James, I left my former business partners in Cleckheaton in late 2003 and founded Eagle Music Shop in early 2004.
From the outset of Eagle Music Shop, we decided that Deering Banjos would be the jewel in our crown. My close friend Phil Winfield, of Maverick Music, North Carolina helped me along with some of the building blocks for Eagle Music in the many miles that we drove around the American states in those early days. On one such memorable trip we drove all the way from New York to New Orleans and then on to Key West in Florida, stopping off at most of the music stores on the way!
We set up a dealership for selling Deering Goodtime Banjos in mid 2004, and soon to follow was our Deering Banjos Master Dealership. Our proud aim from the start was to be the most multi-faceted dealer in the United Kingdom if not the world and with a Deering Master Dealership we are able to stock well over the 30 various Deering and Vega banjos and all the various Goodtime banjo models needed for a master dealer status.
Backed up by Eagle Music’s high quality standards, our unmatchable stocks of banjos, our attention to detail and customer care, our skilled staff and along with our renown on-sight banjo workshop our banjo sales of Deering, Tenbrooks, Vega and Goodtime banjos started to grow, and to quote what the Deering Banjo Company said about Eagle Music Shop back in 2005 “All of these excellent inventory and staffing qualities combined help us see why Eagle Music Shop has literally soared to the top of the Deering Banjo Company dealers”. The Deering sales team started referring to Steve as “The Man” in the UK and European banjo market.
In mid 2006 I received a telephone call from Carol Miller, the international sales manager for the Deering Banjo Company, Carol informed me that Greg and Janet Deering had made a request to come over to the UK and meet Steve and the Eagle Music banjo team, I was delighted to be told that at that point our world sales of Deering Banjos had put us into a place listing as the second largest world dealer for the company! I was very proud to accept the offer of the visit and we started to make arrangements the first “Deering Banjos Celebration Weekend at Eagle Music”.
The visit of Greg and Janet Deering and “Deering Banjos Celebration Weekend” was organised by the Eagle team and it and took place on Saturday March 24th and Sunday March 25th 2007
We hired a concert room at The North Light Gallery which is situated just behind Eagle Music Shop and as a thank you to all our treasured Deering Banjo customers, we wrote to each one of them personally and invited them to come and “Meet the Makers” Greg and Janet Deering, and and come to the event to be entertained for the weekend, free of charge by some of the UK’s greatest banjo players, The on-stage performances included Howard Shepherd of “Sheps Banjo Boys” playing the Deering Sierra plectrum banjo,
Paul Bienek playing frailing and clawhammer banjo on the Deering Vega Little Wonder,
Tom Napper playing Irish tenor banjo on the Deering Boston 19 fret banjo.
Another highlight of the day was that one of Ireland’s all time great Irish tenor banjo players Kieran Hanrahan, renown for his years playing with “Stocktons Wing” and producing Céilí House on RTE radio, flew in from Ireland to pick up and buy his Deering Calico 19 fret tenor banjo that we had set-up ready for him when he got here.
Kieran treated us to a brilliant on stage solo performance of Irish traditional music .
A fantastic day of banjo music was enjoyed by all, we even had one of the Eagle Music crew playing his Deering Golden Era banjo on stage.
During the afternoon of the day, Greg and Janet Deering presented an on-stage seminar “How to Set up The Best Sounding Banjo” where Greg completely dismantled a Deering Deluxe model banjo and re-built it on stage whilst answering questions from the audience.
The on-stage workshop was filmed for the archives and the 111 minute DVD “How to Set up The Best Sounding Banjo” is available from Eagle Music Shop.
The purpose of Greg and Janets visit was to present Steve and Eagle Music with the framed certificate congratulating Eagle Music on becoming their number two Deering banjos World dealer for their year ending 2005 / 2006.
Janet presented the 1st prize of the raffle …Of course, it was a Deering Goodtime banjo!
Two days after the event, with the sweet sound of Deering Banjos still ringing in our heads, my son James and I travelled on to Frankfurt, Germany where we met up again with Greg and Janet Deering at their trade stand at the Musikmesse. We also met up there with the fabulous “Kruger Brothers” who were performing on the Deering trade stand, everyone was knocked out by their music!
We built up a friendly relationship over the next few days and the bond was cemented …We would be bringing “The Kruger Brothers” to the UK to perform for our customers next year in 2008!
Deering Banjos are a great company to work with; they are always at the end of the phone giving technical support if needed, information on available stock, up-to-the minute information and progress on scheduled and special custom shop orders, all from a team of dedicated banjo experts.
This is a rare commodity these days in a world where some guys just want to sell it quick and make a fast buck! We found that Deering could react to our sales requests, deliver us the ever increasing stocks that we needed, build us a custom order banjo as needed, and as a result our banjo sales continued to soar throughout 2007.
We were awestruck and brimming with pride to be told that during the year 2006 / 2007 our World sales of Deering Banjo sales had put us into the position of Number One World Dealership for the Deering Banjo Company! and also that Greg and Janet would be coming over to the UK to make a presentation to Eagle Music in March 2008.
In January 2008 my wife Joan and I met up with Greg and Janet and the Deering festival crew at the NAMM show in Anaheim, Los Angeles where the latest models and developments of Deering Banjos were on display for the world to see and buy.
Following the NAMM show we met up with the rest of the wonderful Deering team back at the Deering Banjos factory in San Diego, they are an amazing team and nothing is too much to ask of them. The World management team which includes Barry Hunn, Carolina Bridges, Carol Miller and all the rest of the team for that matter, were so proud to show us around the Deering banjo works.
With my engineering and woodcraft background, I was amazed when Greg showed me his ingenious jigs, fixtures and state-of-the-art tooling, much of which he had designed and built. This crystalised my mind on how Deering can make such wonderful high quality instruments, in such quantities, and offer them for sale at such fair prices. Without question you get more Banjo for your money when you buy a Deering Banjo than any other world banjo product on the market! Greg Deering is a brilliant precision engineer, wood craftsman and banjo genius …he is a legend in his own lifetime.
Joan and I spent some quality time with Greg and Janet during our 2008 visit. One evening back at their home, I mentioned that we were flying on to Las Vegas for a short holiday before flying back home to the UK, Greg replied “We’ll come with you and I’ll drive us there” The memorable Vegas trip followed with Greg driving us through the Nevada desert, showing us and explaining about all the interesting sights on the way.
Greg and Janet stayed over with us for a couple of nights in Las Vegas. One evening we all went out to dinner with George Grove of “The Kingston Trio” where later back at George’s house I had the unique experience of playing the Deering Banjosaurus Long neck banjo that Greg had built for George.
We went out for dinner with George, and during the evening , Greg and George finalised the drawings and plans to build the “Tom Dooley Long Neck Deering Banjo” that George is now playing with “The Kingston Trio”.
(George Grove is currently the longest running member of the Kingston trio, longer than anyone except founding member Bob Shane).
On our return to the UK we started to make arrangements for the what would become an annual banjo event in the UK. Following the great success of the 2007 “Deering Banjos Celebration Weekend” we anticipated that there would be an even bigger audience as in 2008 the fabulous Kruger Brothers would be coming over with the Deerings to celebrate our #1 World banjo dealer status. We hired the main venue at The “North Light Gallery” and arranged for the event to take place on Saturday March 8th 2008
The 2008 “Deering Banjos Celebration Weekend” with The Deerings and the Kruger Brothers was a huge success. Throughout the day we had banjo workshops for banjo, mandolin and guitar.
We had jam sessions and the splendid return of Howard ‘Shep’ Shepherd on plectrum banjo.
Tom Napper playing Irish tenor banjo
and Paul Bienek playing frailing and clawhammer banjo.
We also had an Eagle bluegrass banjo workshop,
Two of the UK’s greatest luthiers, Patrick James Eggle and Steve Agnew were also here to display and answer questions about the world class instruments that they build, their instruments are available from Eagle Music Shop.
Greg and Janet Deering presented an afternoon on stage seminar “The Banjo Story” telling all the crowd how they started making banjos and their own Deering banjo journey so far.
In the evening prior to the fantastic Kruger Brothers in Concert, Greg and Janet presented Steve Noon and Eagle Music with a framed certificate in recognition of Eagle Music reaching the status of number one World dealership for the Deering Banjo company.
it was the first time that “The Kruger Brothers” had played a concert in the UK, In the evening concert they promoted and played tracks from one of my favourite albums of all time, their wonderful CD “The Suite” They just knocked out everyone sideways with their stage presence, amazing musical ability and genuine humility, what a great bunch of guys.
Over the weekend while Greg and Janet and The Kruger Brothers were in the UK, they were staying over at my home, and as always we have a great time and play even more music when the work is done!
I get involved in the many discussions on banjos and am privy to many of the new developments at the Deering banjo factory, Greg, Janet and Jens are always enthusing and coming up with ingenious ideas and designs for banjos. On this occasion in March 2008 greg brought with him a prototype “Eagle” banjo fitted with a brand new tone ring designed by himself and Jens Kruger. This great banjo has since become The Eagle II banjo fitted with the “20/10” bell brass tone ring. Greg left the prototype banjo with me.
Also the superb three ply violin maple rim that is now fitted on all Deering banjos, was discussed and how it came to fruition.
Along with our business and musical interests I have become close friends with Greg and Janet Deering and also with The Kruger Brothers. I have been fortunate enough to travel the World and also meet up at trade shows around the World on many occasions.
I can say that “their humility as people is as great as their genius at their craft and musical ability”. My wife Joan and I have sailed with Greg and Janet in their yacht around San Diego harbour, on one occasion Greg told us that he had swapped the old Yacht in exchange for building a friend a custom shop banjo! Greg then went on to tell us that he had stripped down and completely re-built the engines cooling system after becoming the owner of the yacht!
Janet in the rigging!
On another trip to the Deering Banjo factory, I told Greg “I fancied buying a pair of tooled leather cowboy boots”, without further adom, Greg had arranged to take a day out with Janet, Joan and I, he then drove us over the border to Mexico where we visited some fine leather makers and my new boots were subsequently purchased! The Stetson hat in the picture belongs to the guy on the left that sold me the boots!.
As well as my love for American bluegrass music, I have for many years played Irish traditional music on tenor banjo, and as such, it was a natural progression for me to order for my personal use, a custom shop Deering GDL “Greg Deering Limited Edition” 19 fret walnut tenor banjo fitted with an arched-top tone ring.
And you could have guessed it, there was a secret telephone call to my wife Joan informing her that Greg had asked “Do you think Steve would like me to carve the heal” ? Joan confirmed with a big ‘Yes please’ without me knowing anything about it, you can imagine how I was overwhelmed when the beautiful walnut GDL banjo arrived with Greg’s hand carving work on the heal.
In January 2009 I was invited by Barry Hunn, the Deering banjo company’s world marketing and sales manager, to attend and speak at the Deering “Banjos Summit Meeting” in San Diego and talk about Eagle Music’s sales strategy and convey our Deering Banjo journey to other World dealers, this was a great experience and opportunity for me to pass on some of my knowledge and at which time get the chance to speak to other banjo dealers that were situated about the world and exchange thoughts and ideas relating to the promotion of banjos on the world market.
My wife Joan and I also spent some quality time with Greg and Janet at the NAMM show in Anaheim, Los Angeles. Greg introduced me to his lifelong friend Bob Taylor, the founder of Taylor Guitars, El Cajon, USA. He told us some great stories of how they were at college together “In the evenings Bob and I would be taking over the workshops making dulcimers and guitars, whilst most of the other guys were smoking joints and dropping out”! he told us how further down the line, he and Bob set up a business together which they named “The American Dream” they were making dulcimers, guitars and banjos …This was the stepping stone for both these American iconic instrument brands.
After the show we all set off on a most enjoyable and enlightening trip “South of the Border down Mexico Way” …We talked a lot about banjos on the way!
2009 also was the ‘birth year’ for Eagle Music’s Deering Goodtime “Leader” range of banjos. When Greg and Janet confirmed to me they could build a range of Goodtime Banjos with our “Leader” name on the headstock, I gracefully took them up on their offer with passionate enthusiasm! The “Leader” range are built exclusively for Eagle Music Shop by the Deering Banjo Company, they are built by the same craftsmen that build in the same factory in San Diego California as the professional range of Deering Banjos. “Leader Goodtime Banjos” are built to a higher specification than the standard range of Goodtime models and all have upgraded features including planetary geared tuners and side neck dot position markers. The Carolina King, Southern Queen and some of the other models are fitted with the 20/10 patent pending new Deering tone ring. The stunning range of Leader models includes the “Maple Prince” open back banjo, the “Maple Queen” old time, the “Picking Earl” bluegrass banjo, the “Carolina King” bluegrass banjo, The “Southern Queen” clawhammer and frailing banjo, the “Drive Duke Electro”, etc. and the range of “Dixie Jazz” and “Chieftain” Irish tenor banjos.
Eagle Music retained its status as the number one world dealership for the Deering Banjo Company in 2008 / 2009 and on March 28th 2009 Eagle organised and hosted the third UK “Deering Showcase Event” with Greg and Janet Deering and The Kruger Brothers.
In the afternoon Greg and Janet presented an on-stage workshop and conveyed to everyone all the new Deering developments at the Deering Banjo Company and explained the refinements of all the new models for 2008 /2009
The happy Goodtime banjo family, were all on display with new models sporting fiddle shaped Peg-heads.
The fabulous Kruger Brothers presented an on stage “Workshop Showcase” which was filmed for the archives, the DVD is available from Eagle Music Shop.
Howard ‘Shep’ Shepherd, gave a plectrum banjo workshop,
Paul Bienek gave us an excellent on-stage bluegrass and frailing banjo performance,
and Tom Napper presented his “Absolute beginners” Irish tenor banjo workshop.
We were also treated to an on stage ukulele and ukulele banjo performance by Francesca ‘George Formby Girl’ Davies.
The Kruger Brothers stunned us all with an amazing evening concert and launched their latest CD “Between the Notes”.
Prior to the concert Greg and Janet Deering presented Steve, Rachel and all the Eagle Music team the 2008 /2009 award as the World Number One Dealership for the Deering Banjo Company.
When one considers the skilled luthier workshop that we have at Eagle Music Shop, the stocks of vintage banjos, mandolins, books, DVD’s and accessories, a customer would be hard pressed to find one better! Our strong focus on customer after sales care is most graphically illustrated in our luthier workshop where instrument setups, repairs, spike fitting, capo installation, etc., are done by four skilled banjo playing technicians Alan Hardwick, Matt Chafer, Graham Holt and Gary Collins. The entire staff at Eagle Music are musicians, a rare and much prized skill in the world of music stores. This all adds up in the equation of why we are the biggest, most respected and successful banjo shop in Europe and the Worlds leading retailer for America’s greatest banjo company, Deering Banjos.
In January 2010 I was contacted by the Deering sales team and informed that Eagle Music had completed yet another year of amazing sales for the Deering Banjo company, in checking my spreadsheets and sales figures for Eagle Music, I was stunned to see how many Deering Banjos we had actually sold! The preparations were immediately put in motion for the fourth banjo showcase event here at Eagle Music and for the year 2010 it would be called “Banjo 1000” We called it this because at this point we had sold over one thousand Deering Banjos worldwide! The event was arranged to take place on Saturday March 20th 2010.
2010 was a very special year for Eagle Music celebrating sales of over 1000 Deering Banjos, but it was an even more special year year for The Deering Banjos Company as it was their 35th anniversary year 1975 – 2010. When Greg and Janet arrived at my home on the Friday evening they gave us special gifts as always …we were delighted to see that Greg had made carved maple name badges for all the Eagle Music staff! the badges are carved from solid maple and even have The “Eagle” banjo wing inlay design on the corners.
Greg then handed to me a small hammer, and as he put it “its a fine worshop hammer for driving home banjo railroad capo spikes” The shaft of the hammer is engraved with the “Banjo 1000” logo and on the back of the shaft its signed by Greg and Janet Deering. Greg told nonchalantly “My old hammer was getting tired and I needed a new one, I decided to make one, I made some extra ones for you and your workshop staff”, Greg then gave me another three “Banjo 1000 spike fitting hammers”! it’s amazing how Greg finds the time to make all these special gifts, as I say often Greg Deering is an amazing craftsman of sincere humility.
Hundreds of banjo enthusiasts attended the Eagle Music Shop Deering “Banjo 1000” Event 2010, banjo players arrived from as far away as Sweden and bought banjos! In the afternoon Greg and Janet presented their excellent workshop “How we Build World Class Banjos” Jens Kruger accompanied Greg and Janet on stage, Jens discussed and played the Deering Banjos throughout the presentation, the showcase was filmed for the archive and a DVD is now available from Eagle Music Shop.
Also during the afternoon the Carolina King himself “Jens Kruger” presented “The Jens Kruger Banjo Masterclass” Accompanied by his Brother Uwe on guitar and the Kruger Brothers bassist Joel Landsberg. Jens shared his vast musical knowledge and masterful banjo techniques to the attending banjo students. The masterclass was filmed for the archives and is available from Eagle Music Shop.
The Kruger Brothers performed a brilliant on-stage “Performance Workshop” which turned out to be just a small taster before their forthcoming evening concert! Their on stage magical musical ability dazzled everyone as always!
The Grand Finale to the afternoon entertainment was an on-stage group performance of “Duelling Banjos” All the banjo players in the audience were asked to come forward and accompany The Kruger Brothers on stage playing “Duelling Banjos”. We announced at the time that the footage would be uploaded to YouTube soon after the event.
The “Banjo 1000” evening concert with Greg and Janet Deering and the Kruger brothers was an amazing and memorable special occasion for all who attended. We had the finest plectrum banjo player in the Europe, the leader of “Shep’s Banjo Boys” Howard ‘Shep’ Shepherd and guitarist Mike Dexter supporting the Kruger Brothers. “Shep” stunned us all again with his masterful playing of his Vega Vegavox plectrum banjo.
Greg and Janet took to the stage and congratulated Eagle Music Shop on yet another incredible year as their number one World banjo dealership, We were all stunned when they produced from the side of the stage a beautiful carved and scripted maple plaque that Greg had personally made, and was humbled as they read out the script. I received the plaque on behalf of all the loyal and dedicated staff at Eagle Music …
But that wasn’t all, as Greg said to me “don’t go away” I was overwhelmed and literally brought to tears when Janet uncovered and presented me with a very special engraved and gold plated serial number 0001 Eagle II banjo!
Greg told everyone how very special this Eagle banjo was, in the history of Deering Banjos, this was the first serial number one banjo of any model, that they had not retained.
I was totally awestruck, I blended into the rest of that wonderful evening, listening to one of my all time favourite bands “The Kruger Brothers”, They played some great Kruger Brothers favourites and sang songs from their fabulous CD “Forever and a Day” ..what a stunning concert and the end of one of the wonderful days in my life.
My daughter Rachel “right hand (wo)man” …left on the picture! And beautiful wife on the right, has been with me since the outset of Eagle Music, Rachel has always been at my side throughout our Deering Banjos Journey, supporting me as needed and at the forefront of many projects …I also add that Rachel is a 5-string Goodtime banjo player herself! Then amongst some of our wonderful staff we have Jules, Emma, and Ilona, all of whom are loyal and dedicated to the Eagle business, they are always there to help our customers with a big smile.
Other banjo playing staff we have are Alan Hardwick, Graham Holt, Matt Chafer and Gary Collins, all excellent musicians and instrumentalists who can deal cheerfully with customers for both sales and repairs.
We encourage our customers to visit our store; we don’t want to disappoint them when they get here so we carry a healthy stock of Deering Banjos. we say “The more banjos you have in stock, the more your customer has to choose from, not all customers choose the same banjo. So, the more variety that you have the better chance you have of satisfying your customer…”
2011 … “Banjo 5”
It all happened again in 2011!! … Eagle Music continued to be the number one world dealership for the Deering Banjo Company USA! and I asked myself, “What would we call the event this year”? “Banjo 5” …Yes! because Eagle Music would be celebrating its fifth consecutive year as the number one World dealership, and we would be hosting five of the greatest icons in the banjo world for the event …Greg Deering, Janet Deering, Jens Kruger, Uwe Kruger and Joel Landsberg! The 2011 “Banjo 5” event was arranged and took place on Saturday 28th May 2011
Greg and Janet arrived at my home early on Friday evening and brought with them a work of art! The most beautiful banjo I have ever seen, The Deering 35th Anniversary model with beautiful figured maple, spur engraving and gold plating on all the hardware and intricately inlaid with marquetry and rhinestones on the resonator.
This special anniversary banjo is stamped on the back of the headstock Serial No. 0001
As the owner of this beautiful unique banjo, I shall treasure it for life. The banjo represents 35 years of excellence and banjo making for the Deering Banjo Company throughout the years 1975 – 2010
The Kruger Brothers arrived later in the evening and within minutes they were playing wonderful music in preparation for the “Banjo 5” event the following day. “Forever and a day” will be joyfully be forever on my mind!
The calm before the storm!…The day started early, everyone was welcomed with complimentary tea and coffee just to get the day going.
Two of the icons of the day …Greg and Janet Deering presented their workshop from the stage during the early afternoon and explained all the latest developments at Deering Banjos USA.
The Kruger Brothers afternoon workshop was yet another blazing display of sheer on stage mastery of the banjo, guitar and bass in how they all fit together in the Kruger Brothers musical arrangements!
There were some great picking sessions in the afternoon with banjo teaching Eagle man Graham Holt, along with Paul Theato, Joe Mac and the Old Grey Dogs keeping the picking sessions driving along all afternoon
Yorkshire’s own, John Strong was the support artist for the Kruger Brothers. A well seasoned brilliant professional guitarist, and singer songwriter. John got the audience warmed up in his inimitable way for the start of the evening.
When the raffle draw was completed, Greg and Janet Deering took to the stage to introduce the Kruger Brothers, they then made an announcement to the audience to say that there was something very special to happen before the show…They told the audience that the purpose of their visit was to congratulate Eagle Music on their fifth amazing year as the Number one World dealership for the Deering banjo Company. Eagle Music were presented with a beautiful maple plaque carved and inscripted with the five year achievement.
The Kruger Brothers followed with yet another year of world class stage craft, incredible musicianship and mind blowing music. Playing brilliant old favourites and live tracks from their new released CD “Appalachian Concerto”.
I travel to many of the country’s festivals with a team from Eagle Music where customers who do not have the opportunity to visit us, can have the pleasure of playing…and buying…Deering Banjos. My 25 years of retail experience including working for a well known traditional music publisher and running more than one traditional music store in the UK, has given me the insight and focus on customer care and satisfaction that are the hallmark qualities of Eagle Music Shop. As with many good companies, word of mouth plays a big part in Eagle Music’s success for sales.
In September 2011 Eagle Music represented the Deering Banjo company at the 10th anniversary of the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Longford, Ireland.
My wife Joan and I met up with Greg and Janet Deering at the five day festival and set up a huge Deering Banjos trade stand to showcase the excellence of Deering Banjos to players from all over the world.
Greg and Janet were guests of honour at the festival. During the festival Greg and Janet presented a “Banjo Set-up Showcase Workshop”. Many of the great players at the festival were playing Deering Banjos, and all of the top professional players at the festival were friends of Greg and Janet! We were fortunate to spend some quality time with the likes of the Saratoga Star himself Tony Trischka!
and three of the worlds greatest Irish tenor banjo players Gerry O’Connor,
and the late great Barney Mckenna.
We treasure the evening that we spent with Barney playing banjo and telling us stories and tales of long ago, we hold Barney close to our hearts and dear in our thoughts. To see footage of the grand finale of the 2011 Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival click on this link to view the footage on YouTube …You will see Greg and Steve up on the stage playing Deering Banjos …but see if you can spot Janet and Joan playing tambourines!
In September 2012, we once again represented The Deering Banjo Company in Ireland and took a large trade stand of banjos to the 11th Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Tullamore, Co Offaly. Matt Chafer accompanied me from Eagle Music team of banjo specialists. We had a great festival together and mingled work with the pleasure of brilliant music and cold Guinness! Matt plays a Deering Sierra 5-string.
We were in Ireland for a week and met some amazing banjo players from all corners of the world.
It was wonderful to make contact again with Chris Keenan and Kathy Casey and all the rest of the wonderful team of organisers, what a fantastic job they do for the banjo world!
Another delight for me was to meet up again with Enda Scahill and the Howley brothers Martin and David, They are all now playing together in the band “The We Banjo 3” I have known them since they were youngsters competing in the All Ireland fleadh Cheols. All three are amazingly talented Irish tenor banjo players.
More super highlights of of the week were meeting Michael J Miles a brilliant and most inventive clawhammer banjo player from the USA to quote Pete Seeger “One of the most beautiful I’ve heard…This is enough to make me want to learn the banjo all over again.”
Other highlights were Blue Highway from the USA,
The Barcelona Bluegrass Boys,
George Harper and of course to be in the presence of, and watch a breathtaking performance from one of the greatest and most incredible master of the Irish tenor banjo “Gerry O’Connor”.
If all that wasn’t enough, I got to meet and watch a world class performance from one of the greatest musicians in the world, and one of my all time hero’s Paul Brady.
The Deering banjo sales went quite well too at the festival!
This was the big one folks! Eagle Music Shop celebrating sales of over Two Thousand Deering Banjos! and retaining our number one world dealership status for the sixth consecutive year running! When you consider that Deering have over 350 Deering Banjo Dealerships throughout America and the rest of the World, it puts it into perspective what our UK company has achieved in the World of banjos! Due to the commitments of Greg and Janet and the Kruger brothers the event had to be arranged for later in the year and took place on Saturday November 3rd 2012
This was to be a special year in another way in that it would be the first time for Jamie Deering to visit the Uk and attend the “Banjo 2012” event with her parents Greg and Janet Deering. Jamie is the world artist and coordination manager for the Deering banjo company. Greg, Janet and Jamie arrived on the Friday evening and as always they had a special gift for us. We guessed it was a banjo by the shape of the box? …but what a banjo! we couldn’t believe our eyes when we unboxed the banjo! They had built us a Deering Goodtime ‘Yuletide’ banjo that was all inlaid with beautiful colourful Christmas themes.
It was Jamie’s first time in Yorkshire, so we surprised her and presented her with a custom shop “Pink ukulele” which Papa quickly grabbed and rattled a sweet tune out of!
Greg, Janet and Jamie also brought with them a set of wonderful shirts for all the Eagle staff to wear at the event signifying our six year anniversary as the number one world dealership status 2007 – 2012
The Kruger Brothers arrived later on in the evening and Jens brought a box of assorted sweets for the children and a jar of “Midnight Moonshine” lovingly distilled in North Carolina!!!!
We had arranged and booked a fantastic line up for what was going to be our most special banjo day which included in the afternoon a presentation by Greg Janet and Jamie Deering “The Deering Banjo in Modern Times”.
a “Chris Cooper” Bluegrass banjo workshop hosted by Chris Cooper of the “Down County Boys”
Uwe Kruger hosted a very special “Guitar” workshop in the mid afternoon. This special workshop was arranged at Uwe’s request as he wanted to meet some of the guitarists that have attended the Eagle-Deering-Kruger events over the years. It took place in a separate room to the main venue. Uwe was joined later by Jens on banjo and Joel on bass, to putting the icing on the cake so to speak!
A stunning on stage performance workshop from “ The Kruger Brothers”
A big fun part of the afternoon was the group rendition of “Cripple Creek” We all got on and around the stage with the Kruger Brothers and blazed through the tune a couple of dozen times, or more!!! The footage can be watched on YouTube.
The UK’s own The “Kentucky Cow Tippers” featuring Sam Wear on Deering Golden era banjo, Rupert Hughes on guitar, Evan Davies on mandolin and Ted Harbot on upright bass rounded off the afternoon with a cracking bluegrass set.
“Joe Mac and The Old Grey Dogs” drove along the picking sessions brilliantly throughout the day, and carried on through the interval! What a great afternoon was had by all.
The support band for the evening concert was the oldest running UK bluegrass band “The Down County Boys” featuring Peter Parker on fiddle, Mick cooper on upright bass, Dan Norton on mandolin, Chris Elson on guitar and Chris Cooper on banjo. They gave a brilliant performance that got us all in the mood for the grand finale to the day.
We had our ‘A’ team of helpers in operation all day!
Prior to the grand final, Erin and Annabelle drew the raffle prizes.
Greg and janet then made a heartfelt speech to the audience about the achievements of Eagle Music Shop in the banjo world, and thanked us for our amazing sales of over two thousand assorted Deering banjos in such a short period of time. They complimented all the staff at Eagle Music for our unwavering customer care and dedication number one world master dealership.
As always the Kruger Brothers concert was amazing! they played with such passion and sheer musicianship and left the audience breathless. We were treated to lots of the old favourite songs from Uwe and also wonderful music as they played live tracks from their newest CD “The Best of The Kruger Brothers” …Two standing ovations were the order of the day!
As in previous years, many of our much happy and knocked out friends shook hands with all of at the door as they were leaving and asked “How you gonna’ beat that Steve”? …You will be happy to hear that “we have plans”!!!
Farewell to the Kruger Brothers until we meet again.
Safe journey’s to the Deerings.
2013 and Onwards
My life time love of music started for me with the Ukulele at an age when my wee fingers could barely get around the small neck. I played piano, classical guitar as a youngster and moved on to mandolin and banjo which are among the instruments that I am proficient in playing. Given that I played as a professional on guitar, mandolin and banjo, customers can expect a level of expertise second to none!
So what about the future? There will never be a need to worry about “after sales service” from Eagle Music Shop, Joan and I are blessed to have two wonderful children Rachel and James that are partners of the Eagle Music Business.
Both are very well educated and have excellent business heads on them, both are musicians in their own right right, and I can say happily that they have both got their hands very much on the “strings of the business”.
Rachel a banjo player herself, manages the business on a day to day basis along with the excellent Eagle Team of banjo specialists.
Having the expertise of my son James who is a modern business guru, an eCommerce platform developer, intenet marketeer and also the owner of his own company Chameleon Digital Media, to both design and develop the Eagle Music Shop website has made world-wide sales a reality in this modern world. Advertising in the print media is also a major tool in bringing Eagle Music Shop to people’s attention.
Rachel has further blessed us with two beautiful grandchildren Erin and Toby, both budding musicians and already playing piano and banjo.
Toby at the age of six years old had his first lesson from Jens Kruger and also played a banjo and piano duet with Jens the evening before the at the Banjo 2012 event!
Santa brought Toby a new Deering banjo for Christmas 2012 His very own Goodtime Leader model 19 fret Parlour “Black Knight ”.
Having just read about and learned of the treasures you will find when you walk into the doors of Eagle Music Shop, it is clear that every visitor to our gem here in the British Isles will be treated to a most wonderfully soul satisfying banjo experience!
Well, that’s all just for now folks… I must rush because James, Emily, Joan and I are just flying off on another USA banjo trip to meet up with Greg and Janet Deering and the Kruger Brothers to go on the Sixthman “Mountain Song at Sea” Banjo Cruise from Miami to the Bahamas!!! We’ll leave the business in the capable hands of Rachel and the brilliant Eagle Music Banjo Team.
January 21st 2013
Visit the Eagle Music Shop web site at www.eaglemusicshop.com and for more information on Deering Banjos you can call and speak to a banjo specialist at Eagle Music Shop on 44 1484 661460 or log on to the Deering Banjos website, www.deeringbanjos.com