Strumming Along on Gate 6 1/2

Carl’s still strumming along | clip from Helen Vandeman’s video | post by Larry Clinton

Filmmaker Helen Vandeman of Gate 6 ½ has posted a 32–minute video of her neighbor, legendary banjo virtuoso Carl Lunsford, reminiscing about this musical career and his move to the floating homes community in 1974.

Self–taught as a boy, Carl became a mainstay of many great traditional jazz bands, including the Red Onion, Red Garter and Turk Murphy outfits.

In the film he talks about his long career, and mentions important influences and musicians who became lifelong friends. He also recounts how he bought an anchor–out in 1974 and moved it aboard an empty dock that became Gate 6 ½. His initial rent was $30 a month!

The film ends with Carl playing a banjo solo. You can watch another YouTube video of Turk Murphy playing “Maple Leaf Rag” at Earthquake Magoon’s in San Francisco, with a brief close-up of Carl near the end.

Personally, my wife Jane and I have fond memories of Carl and his piano accompanist Pete Clute playing at our wedding 23 years ago. To enjoy some of Carl (and Pete’s) music yourself, check out the links in this post.