Here’s a cautionary tale for bluegrass musicians who also like to try their hand at risky extreme sports. It comes from Jens Koch, the superb young banjo player with Swedish bluegrass group, G2.
Three years ago – before G2 caught the ears of fans and critics alike at EBMA and IBMA – he broke his left wrist horribly in a snowboarding accident. Two bones snapped, and though the bones were set, they didn’t heal properly, requiring that they be re-broken and rebuilt.
“They transplanted some bone from my hip to my wrist so that the radius bone would be long enough, and have the right angle.
Then they used some metal screws and plates (pre-war, of course…I’ve been told it was titanium from Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory in the 30s) to fasten it all together.”
He was unable to play at all for six weeks after the accident, and tells us that after the hardware was installed, played in pain for the next two years.
“The tendons in my wrist and forearm had constantly been grinding on those screws and the plate, causing pain and inflammation. But finally, after a long wait, I got them taken out.
What a relief!! I felt a difference right away because my fingers run a little smoother.”
Though winter sports are a big thing in Sweden, Jens says that he now considers himself a former snowboarder, and agrees that bluegrass music and extreme sports aren’t a good mix.
“Maybe we should all stick to golf or…building snowmen.”
G2, along with the newly restored Koch wrist, will be an invited showcase act at the 2008 IBMA World Of Bluegrass convention in Nashville this fall. Audio samples from their debut release, Where The Tall Grass Grows, can be found on the band’s web site.