Note:  Bob Altschuler is a member of the HVBA and also the banjo player for our Member Band, Dyer Switch.  This article originally appeared on Banjo Dan's Blog and we thank Dan Campbell for giving us permission to reprint the interview here.

From the author:  Bob Altschuler recently responded to several questions that I emailed to him and his responses are below.  Bob’s articles in Banjo Sessions and Silver Strings have helped me to learn and improve as a banjo player so I hope this feature will help in some small way to promote his music – Banjoman Dan


Bob’s distinctive bluegrass banjo style merges traditional bluegrass with blues, swing, and newgrass. Bob has taught banjo for over 30 years and is head of the beginner track at Banjo Camp North in Massachusetts ( . Mel Bay’s “Banjo Sessions” online magazine at and “Silver Strings” at feature his many instructional articles, and his innovative picking has been heard on radio and television commercials. Bob has a workshop chapter in Gene Senyak’s 2008 book “Banjo Camp!” which also features Pete Seeger, Tony Trischka, Alan Munde, Bill Keith, Janet Davis and others. He performs and records with the Dyer Switch Band, and on Facebook.

NOTE: Be sure to also read the interviews with Leigh Gibson and Eric Gibson

Lynn Lipton recently asked me if I would be willing to interview Mike Barber.  I am not a journalist and I have never attempted something like this, however, as a bluegrass bass player I greatly admire Mike’s playing and I jumped at the opportunity.  Mike caught my attention when I first heard the Gibson Brothers’ album Bona Fide about seven years ago. He plays with tremendous drive and energy.  He is a master of what I refer to as the three T’s: Taste, Tone, and Timing.  Mike is a great bass player and I thoroughly enjoyed having this conversation with this extremely gracious musician.


RB:  I understand you have been with the Gibsons for almost 20 years.

Note: Read the interview with Eric Gibson and Mike Barber.

I notice your schedule is pretty broad. After Tennessee, there is Georgia, California then Germany before coming back to the HVBA concert on April 17th.

L:  We’ll be moving around quite a bit. Some years we might have a string of dates together in a region but in bluegrass you take the dates as they come.

D:  Guitar is your favorite instrument?

L:  Yeah. It’s the only one I play well (chuckle) so it would have to be my favorite!  I’ve been playing guitar since I was 11 or 12.  My dad and mom got me my first Martin guitar when I was 13 and that hooked me, an old D-28.

D:  Did you try to play other instruments?

L:  I played fiddle when I was 14 or 15 for a while. I can’t play the banjo at all. I play a little bit of bass.  A little tiny bit of mandolin but not enough to say I’m proficient at all.
Note: Read the interview with Leigh Gibson and Mike Barber.

The Gibson Brothers, Eric and Leigh, will be performing at the Poughkeepsie Day School on April 17th.  In advance of this event our News Editor, Doug Mathewson, spoke with Eric by telephone for this interview.  Enjoy!!!

D:  We are all excited about the upcoming Gibson Brothers concert on April 17th at the Poughkeepsie Day School.  We’d like to let more people know about the Gibson Brothers.

D:  Who were the musical influences for you and your brother Leigh?

  Well, Junior Barber was around when we were growing up. We’d see him at local festivals.  Junior, a dobro player, who later played with us for 7 years, he was our biggest musical influence. 

He taught us so much about making music, about playing our instruments to serve a song – not having the instruments compete with the vocal – but supporting the vocals. Probably the best musician I ever played with backing up the vocal.
“Woods Of Sipsey” words and music ©2009 Claire Lynch
An eerily foreboding melody flows through this story of a place called Sipsey, a place that exudes a warning to outsiders, but at the same time takes care of its own. Supported by Mark Schatz's bass bowing, Jason Thomas’ fiddle follows Claire’s vocals, building a melody that echoes the supernatural feeling of this “forsaken place” called Sipsey.


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