I first saw banjoist Ned Luberecki on stage at an IBMA showcase back in the ‘90s. He made a joke that about ten people in the room got and I immediately bonded with him.
It took several more decades for us to meet, though. We ran into each other in the year 2253 at a time-traveller’s Star Trek convention where he was dressed as a banjo-playing Bajoran (only about ten of us got that, too).
When he’s not in training for the London Olympics in bluegrass band bobsledding (traditional category), Ned is a world-class banjo player and teacher. He tours with Chris Jones and the Night Drivers and with Stephen Mougin as Nedski & Mojo.
Nedski gives free banjo lessons every Sunday at 3:00 p.m. eastern on Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s Bluegrass Junction, where he is also a DJ.
This is the second in a series of offbeat interviews with bluegrass artists. Tim Stafford was the first one with Blue Yodel #16.
1: If you were a pizza, what kind of pizza would you be?
Pepperoni and mushroom on hand-tossed, NYC-style crust. I am a traditionalist at heart.
2: What’s your favorite 5-letter word that includes a “j”?
ijPad (I think that’s the Dutch spelling)
3: What’s your favorite hair gel?
L’Oreal Studio Mineral FX. I have only been able to find it in Canada and the Netherlands. Even though it’s made in the USA.
4: Who would play you in the movie Nedski III: Revenge of the Fifth String?
Jr. Williams of New Town. Or that guy from Rascal Flatts.
5: Have you ever had your banjo case searched by TSA, and what did they find?
Yes. As I was carrying the banjo through security, they found the head adjustment wrench (the little “T” shaped one) and said I couldn’t have it in my carry on, but that I could take it back and put it in my checked bag. Since my bag had already gone through the system, the ticket agent found a little cardboard box, put the wrench in it, sealed it up with tape and put a luggage tag on it. He then handed it to the TSA screener to go with the checked bags. When it arrived, the tape had been cut and re-sealed and there was a TSA inspection card in the box.
6: Did you cash your $.01 check from the Harry Fox Agency?
Not yet, but they sent me another one (also for $.01). They spent $1.10 on postage each time. I thought only the government could be that inefficient.
7: Have you ever autographed a CD with someone else’s name?
I tried signing Jon Weisberger’s name on a CD once, but he’s left handed and I can’t write with my left hand. It looked terrible. Didn’t fool anyone.
8: What is your favorite doughnut shop?
Dunkin’ Donuts has the best coffee, but there’s nothing better than a hot, fresh Krispy Kreme. Nothing.
9: What’s the most obscure place you’ve ever recorded your SiriusXM show?
Chris Jones and I did an entire day’s broadcast from my car while driving back from Winfield, KS. I did a show from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam once. I don’t know if that’s obscure, but I finished that show from the plane.
10: Who does most of the night driving in the Night Drivers?
We’ve all done plenty of it. I think everyone likes when I do it though. I like to drive with the radio off so it’s quiet and everyone else is asleep.
11: Nedski & Mojo: which one is Batman and which one Robin?
I’m Batman. Mojo may try to disagree, but he knows it’s true. Batman doesn’t have any super powers, just cool gadgets. I got all the cool gadgets. Mojo’s really going to hate it when I start calling him “Boy Wonder.”
12: Why are you known as the Carl Sagan of the Banjo?
I like to read books about cosmology, astrophysics and string theory. Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Brian Greene are my current favorites. I find it comforting to think about the vastness of the cosmos. I don’t even pretend to understand the math involved, but I’m fascinated by all of it.
13: If you could have any voice on a GPS, whose would it be?
14: Do you know any good hair gel stories?
Only that every time I go to Canada or the Netherlands I come home with a bag full of L’Oreal Mineral FX. Seriously, it’s made in the USA but you can’t buy it here!
15: Is it true Jon Weisberger’s middle name is “Happy”?
His middle name is Jon. His first name is Lonesome. “Lonesome Jon” Weisberger. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
16: Have you ever used your Sirius DJ voice in a public place?
That’s the only one I use. My natural voice sounds like Darth Vader.
17: What was your favorite 70s sitcom?
18: Who was your favorite character on that show?
19: If you could time-travel, what year would you go to?
Stardate 41263.1 which would be around 2363. June, I think. Transporters will revolutionize the Bluegrass industry. But we’ll have to change the name of the band. [note to Chris Jones: “Chris Jones & the Transporters”?]
20: Peanut butter – creamy or chunky?
Chunky. Natural style. I am a traditionalist at heart.