My name is Janet Beth Burton and I'm a 69 year old retired first grade teacher, a wife, mother and grandmother. I'm secretary for the Smartsville Church Restoration Fund, Inc., a non-profit group. Also assistant treasurer for my church, Smartsville Community Church and financial secretary for Native Sons of the Golden West.
I've played banjo since 1974. My husband, Kit, and I performed as a duet called Plinky and Plunky. Since his stroke in 2022 we've stopped, but what a wonderful time we had at many venues and for various events, including my former elementary school on Read Across America Day, at the Smartsville Community Church on Christmas Eve, at the Yuba Feather Historical Museum and at the Marysville Cemetery. We sometimes played especially for children, providing rhythm instruments.
It seems wise and it's also enjoyable to archive and present some of my banjo work. Hope you enjoy it, too!
A SURPRISING ACCOMPLISHMENT
Using my interests in music and history, and through my involvement with the Smartsville Church Restoration group, I perform a historical impersonation of Lotta Crabtree.
The historic photo shows the American actress and comedienne who lived from 1847 - 1924 and performed at least once in my community. She's called the "Shirley Temple of the 1800's." Born on Broadway in New York, her family was drawn to the gold mines of California where she trained as a young "fairy star" to dance, sing, play banjo and act.
Lotta performed throughout Northern California and also Nevada before going back to New York and the East coast to literally strike it rich with her own acting company. She died a millionaire and left it all to charity. I have the honor of portraying Lotta once a year on Pioneer Day in Smartsville, California, as you see in the photo in the Timbuctoo Theatre. The California Stage Company is a song that humorously describes what Lotta experienced.
The Rough & Ready Fruit Jar Pickers
Playing every Sunday from 10:00 till noon at the Rough and Ready Opry Palace and at the Grange when we had to move, we entertained hundreds from around the world, always for free. In the afternoon we played at local homes for the elderly and convalescing. We played voluntarily at special events in the community and made three CDs.
Since 2001 until 2017 this small-town band of up to 25 players was a one-of-a-kind sing-along group led by veteran dobro player Everette Burkhard and fellow founding member Uhl "Red" Sagraves.
The following video highlights some of the memorable times with the FJPers. The tune is my original "Moving On." Below the video are a couple of songs a la the Rough and Ready Fruit Jar Pickers.
Saying Goodbye to the FJPers
An Interview of Me
A friend and musician from Banjo Hangout, Paul Roberts, has a fascinating website with Gold Tone instruments, original music, and interviews. He honored me with an on-line interview and laughed when he found out how easy it was to get me to answer his questions in a lengthy way. I surprised myself with how much more I'd write than speak.
It's amazing when you reflect on the many things in your life that have made a difference and mean a lot. I talk about music in my childhood and in my classroom. I reflect on my lessons I was taking at the time with Adam Hurt, the great clawhammerist. I project where I want my music to go and how it affects my life.
Hope you'll enjoy reading it!