The Austin Banjo Club
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Austin Banjo Club People


Our band is an ever-changing mix of amateur, semi-professional, and  professional musicians
.  We play for fun and when playing ceases to be fun, we will disband the club.  The members below are listed in the approximate order of their longevity with the club.

Only one member remains out of the small group that started the band over a quarter-century ago, Dr. John Huntsberger. He plays with the band only six months during the winter, spending the rest of the year in Bend, Oregon.

Dr. John Huntsberger, now a retired Professor at the University of Texas, lives in Oregon in the summer and Austin in the winter. John is our leader, both in terms of longevity with the band, and in musical skill. You will find John at the center of the front row playing one of his large assortment of banjos. John most frequently plays a Vega plectrum banjo.

Charlie and Bob Johnson are both deceased. Pete Parsons has moved to the Houston area. Dan McFarling also moved away. Fran and Warner Zacher now live in Arizona. They recently paid the band a visit and played with us over a weekend. John Gill now lives in New York City.

Huntsberger banjo
Dr. John Huntsberger, now a retired Professor at the University of Texas,  lives in Colorado in the summer and Austin in the winter.  John is  our leader, both in terms of longevity with the band, and in musical  skill.  You will find John at the center of the front row with one of  his large assortment of banjos.  John most frequently plays a Vega  plectrum banjo. Dr. John Huntsberger
Griffith banjo
Tom Griffith got started playing the banjo in the 60's, when he was playing piano at Shakey's Pizza Parlor and learned a few banjo chords from his banjo player/partner.  Over the years, he has played in various groups, including his own traditional Dixieland bands.  Tom plays a Gibson tenor banjo.
Tom Griffith
  Bob Alexius, a New Orleans native, has been playing music since 1951.  He has played in symphony orchestras and bands such as Stan Kenton, Buddy Morrow, and Les Elgart.  He played with Jerry Lee Lewis and one gig with Elvis Presley before earning a PhD and moving into education.  Bob retired in 1993 and played on the Delta Queen steamboat unil 1998.  Bob is our  principal tuba player and is widely sought at banjo festivals for  his ability to accompany solo players on either tuba or standup bass.
Bob Alexius
  Pete Parsons, a retired credit union administrator now living in  Houston, started with the band as a beginner.  Pete plays rhythm on  the plectrum banjo.  Pete joins us at banjo rallies and when he is in the Austin area. Pete designed the club logo and also built the first club music stands.
 
Stenis banjo Tom Stenis began taking violin lessons at the age of 9.  This began a lifetime of activities playing in quartets and symphony orchestras.   After 40 years as an Electrical Engineering college teacher, he retired in 1987 and moved to Austin.  He joined the Austin Banjo Club, and plays a mandolin banjo, which is tuned like a violin.  This activity brings much joy because of the fellowship among the players, and the fun they have playing for many groups.  Other current activities include wood-carving, gardening, teaching Sunday School, and sharing with his wife of 62 years the joy of grandchildren and great-grandchildren and playing in the church orchestra. (She is a cellist.)
Tom Stenis
Mowsesian banjo Dr. Richard (Dick) Mowsesian, a US Navy veteran of WW II and another retired University of Texas  Professor, is our de facto leader during the summer months and when John Huntsberger is not available.  Dick, converted from violin to banjo, plays melody lead on a custom, Texas-built, tenor banjo.
Dick Mowsesian
Hotz banjo Dr. Roy Hotz, a physician from Martindale, Texas joins us on special occasions.  Roy plays an ornate custom tenor banjo by Rene Karnes.
Dr. Roy Hotz
Irwin banjo John Irwin, a former Air Force F-86D fighter pilot instructor after the Korean war and later retired as a Senior Engineer after 35 years at IBM.  John plays melody on a restored  Bacon & Day "Montana" tenor banjo.  This banjo features unusual engraved and painted designs in the ivroid fretboard and was built in 1932, the year John was born.  John taught himself to play mandolin after his retirement in 1991 and began playing banjo after hearing the band play at Victorian Christmas. He was formerly the band webmaster.  John Irwin
Cheline banjo Bob Cheline is a native of Colorado and worked for the Dow Chemical Company in Colorado and was transferred to the Dow Texas Operations in Freeport, Texas in 1974.  He retired from Dow Chemical with 34 years of service and moved to Canyon Lake, Texas in 1995.  Just prior to his retirement he began learning to play a Plectrum Banjo and joined the Austin Banjo Club in 1995.  He has always loved banjo music and felt it would be a good way to spend some of his time during retirement.
Bob Cheline
McFarling banjo Dan McFarling, a retired teacher, started with the band as a  beginner.  Dan plays rhythm on a Richelieu plectrum banjo. Dan has moved out of our area. Dan McFarling
Buhlman's Banjo Bernie Buhlman, a Canadian national who spends considerable time with family in Austin and plays with us whenever he is in town.  Bernie plays an Ibanez tenor banjo.
Bernie Buhlman
Christian banjo Michael Christian, Mike is a professional drummer who has played with a number of local bands and artists,  Mike plays a Ludwig tenor banjo.
Michael Christian
Bolton's banjo. Dave Bolton started playing guitar in the early 1970's.   After attending the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in the mid-1990's, he "discovered" the 4-string Plectrum Banjo and immediately turned it in to a passion.   After moving to San Antonio in 1996, he heard about the Austin Banjo Band and was invited to come up to Austin to play anytime.   Dave attends as many gigs as he can, but working for AT&T in San Antonio full-time, it's impossible to make them all.  Dave Bolton
Gregg banjo Jesse Gregg was "recruited" by ABC member Bob Johnson while playing guitar for a contra dance in 2004.  He had just purchased a Gretsch Broadcaster Tenor Banjo a month before and was teaching himself some chords.  "Come on down to the Banjo Club meeting, and we'll show you how to play that thing," Bob said.  He did and they did.  Jesse now plays a Paramount William L. Lange Style B Tenor Banjo. Jesse Gregg
Straus banjo Tom Straus first started playing the tenor banjo while serving in the  U. S. Navy during the 1960's.  After mustering out, he didn't play again until he moved to Austin and joined the Austin Banjo Club.  He started with the band as a beginner, knowing only four chords.  Having  now learned almost a dozen chords, he plays rhythm on an Ome tenor  banjo. Tom Straus
  Dave Stoddard has been been playing jazz since 1970, when he organized and led a dixieland band at the University of North Carolina.  He switched from trumpet to tuba in 1973, and added valve trombone in 1980.  Dave has played with many jazz bands, mostly in the Middle Atlantic states.  Dave is a safety and environmental coordinator for a gas pump manufacturer in Round Rock, and has been in the Austin area since 2001.  Dave is a backup tuba.
Dave Stoddard
Zacher banjo
Frances Zacher travels from Schertz to participate with the ABC.  She and her husband Zack recently returned to Texas from the Seattle Area where she first took up the tenor banjo in 2001.  While there she performed with both the Tacoma and Kitsap Banjo Clubs.  An Alumni of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, Fran is a retired SSA official.  While with SSA she worked in Louisiana, Texas and Washington State. She plays rhythm on a 1920's Paramount Aristocrat Special tenor banjo.
Frances Zacher
Zacher banjo

Warner Zacher
is retired from the military and from a second career with the federal government.  He has a MEd from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls Texas and was a Human Relations specialist with the Air Force.  In the early years of his military service he often moonlighted as a guitar or mandolin player and took up the banjo in May 2000.  Before returning to Texas in 2005, Warner played with the Tacoma and Kitsap Banjo Clubs, and a ragtime/western group called the Guys and Gals - altogether about 150 performances a year.  Warner plays a B&D Silver Bell tenor banjo.
Warner Zacher
Gould banjo
Ryan Gould, a former US Marine, joined the Austin Banjo Club in 2001 as directed by Jon Baily. He plays a banjo-uke, smiles a lot and enjoys the time he gets to spend with the other Banjo Club members.
Ryan Gould
Mondello banjo
Vinnie Mondello is now living in east Texas, Vinnie still joins us on occasion on the tenor banjo.  A skilled artisan, he is the person to fix your banjo.
Vinny Mondello
  Mark Rubin was initially inspired to take up the banjo after seeing Marvin "Smoky" Montgomery play, and then discovering the records of Banjo Ikey Robinson and Harry Reser.  A former professional musician, Mark joins in on tuba or tenor banjo, which ever one isn't in hock (his words). Mark Rubin
  Dan Augustine is one of our backup tuba players.
Dan Augustine
Christy's banjo

Christy Palumbo-Foster is a familiar face around the Austin folk music scene. Christy plays both a banjo-uke or a banjo-guitar.

Dan Foster, Christy's other half.

Christy Palumbo-Foster
Gill banjo
Gill banjo
John Gill plays either an open-back guitar banjo or an open back plectrum banjo. John grew up in New York City and started playing the banjo after seeing Don Van Paulta (The Flying Dutchman) on the Mickie Finn television show.  He started working at Your Father's Mustache in New York and was a member of The Mustache Show Band that appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and also performed at The Red Garter, and The Red Onion.  Performed extensively with The Smith Street Society, a banjo oriented musical group, The Long Island Banjo Society, and Banjo Dan McCall's Banjokers.   John was the banjo player with The Turk Murphy Jazz Band, a traditional jazz group based in San Francisco, and singer Leon Redbone.
John Gill
     

In Memoriam

We remember with sadness the passing of many dedicated club members, including the following:

 

Jack McDaniel: A former member of the Austin Banjo Club, Jack McDaniel, died at his home in Midland. He was 91. A memorial service is planned for Nov 21 st at 2 pm, in Manor Park Chapel. More information can be had by going to npwelch.com, the website for Nalley-Pickle Funeral Home in Midland.

 
  Gene Wisdom: One of the founding members of the Austin Traditional Jazz Society and the Austin Banjo Club.  He could not see the fingerboard and sheet music on our stands at the same time due to the prescription in his glasses, so he asked his ophthalmologist to make him a set of 'banjo glasses' which worked perfectly.   He was a perfectionist which kept him from ever learning to tremolo well because he didn't like how he sounded when he practiced.   Gene became a playing member of the Alamo City Jazz Band in San Antonio; they played nationally with Chuck Reilly as their leader.
 
  Charlie Khederian, a retired IBM employee, lived in Virginia with his wife, Virginia.  He maintained a residence in Texas and played with us whenever he was here.  Even though Charlie did not read music, he had an awesome talent for playing harmony on either his Bacon & Day or Ludwig tenor banjo.   
  Bob Johnson, retired military, played the lone 5-string banjo in the band.   
  Tony Choban:  Tony was very nearly blind; however, he could play all of our songs without reference to printed music.   He often had his very own variation of the melody or the timing, though.  He always played his tenor banjo with an ear-to-ear smile and can be heard singing "Just A Girl That Men Forget" on our "Austin Banjo Club" CD.

Tony Choban
  Dorothy Prado:  Dorothy was not much bigger than her tenor banjo which she played in a guitar tuning,  She was our long-time booking agent and she always bought large cars and vans so that the banjo club could travel in style.  Dorothy always subtracted 10 to 15 years from her age, but she could never keep her stories quite straight.
Dorothy Prado
  Jim Bole:  A former member of the Bayou Banjo Club in Houston.  Jim was our strolling troubadour with a tenor banjo.  He would stroll among the ladies in the audience while playing "It Had To Be You" and his trademark glissandos can be heard in that song on our "Otra Vez" CD.  We remember Jim as always jovial; he enjoyed rather droll jokes and after the punch line, would look at the listeners with a wry smile on his face.  He was always fun to be around and had subtle remarks to make about everything we did.
Jim Bole
  Jon Baily: Jon joined the club soon after moving to Austin.  He played piano and several other instruments in addition to the plectrum banjo.  Jon would arrive early to every gig and we could always find where to park by looking for his old Dodge "hippie van".  He is missed for his Christmas letters, his plectrum solos, his generosity, and his musical leadership. Jon Baily
  Dr. Paul Barbuto:  Paul was a World War II B-17 navigator who lost an eye and spent time as a POW after being shot down over Germany. He played the string bass with the Austin Symphony and was known for his service to the community.  Along with several other instruments, Paul played the tenor banjo as long as he was able.   He took up the accordian in his 80s and played it every day.
 
 
Col. Harold Leo Maurer, United States Air Force, retired, 90, of Lexington died Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009.   Burial was at the Arlington National Cemetery on Sept. 9

Hal had a long military career, retiring in 1973.. He earned the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal, and numerous service and battle starred campaign medals.
 
 

Jim Glassman, Seattle native, Army Air Corps veteran of the occupation of Japan, semi-pro baseball player, and retired minister.  Jim plays a Vega plectrum banjo in Bluegrass tuning.  He moved to Scotland in 1955 and received his PhD in Church History there in 1958.  Jim joined our club after retiring and moving to Austin.

Jim Glassman
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