What better time to annoy people with amateur banjo playing than while on vacation at a mountain resort with a bunch of in-laws? In today's posting of no consequence, I embrace my hick roots by sitting around in an adirondack chair all morning perfecting my repertoire of Twinkle Twinkle, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and You Are My Sunshine, and a couple of other things that don't have names.
Bluegrass banjo playing has the virtue of having just a few basic maneuvers. The hammer-on. The pull-off. The slide. And the pinch. You put those together with a good rolling picking style, and yer off to the dog races. Yee haw!
Good bluegrass banjo players are basically these tremendous nerds who know how to put together clever variations on picking patterns, play fast and clean, and work the thing up and down the neck with key changes and everything, making this the perfect past-time for the quick-witted but unambitious. To outsiders, all banjo playing sounds more or less the same. To the initiate, it's layer upon layer of subtlety with lots of inside jokes.
The all time masters were Flatt & Scruggs. The video below is one of their appearances on the Beverly Hillbillies.