"The Tenor Man"


I found out today I had lost my good friend and Banjo Mentor, Mr. Burke Murdock.
Many people know my Dad was a Banjo player but the reality is I learned a few songs in Guitar tuning from my Dad
Burke taught me Tenor Banjo.
His passing has brought me great sadness, because now I can never again pick up the phone and talk banjo with him or go to his home in Palestine and sit on the porch and play banjo while my dogs sniff out squirrels in the yard..
When I met Burke in 2000, I was passing through Palestine Texas and stopped in at a local Antique store to see if they had banjos.
I had only been working for 1 year in this business and I was on "High Alert" for anything 4 string.
I piddled around in the store and the owner asked me if he could assist me and I said "Do you have, or do you know of anyone that would have banjos in Palestine?"
He looked at me sideways and said "You are standing next to the Banjo Man of Palestine!".
I looked over at the gentleman next to me, with his Wilford Brimley Mustache and he says "5 String banjos......right?"
I said "No Sir, Tenor Banjos"
He said to his wife who was next to him "GLORIA ANN, this fellow plays TENOR banjo!!!!
And that is what started us on a 14 year friendship that did not end today, nor will it ever.

Chunking Rhythm for Mr. Buddy Griffin

His newer Silver Bell, the first banjo that I got to restore, next to another BD
His is now owned by my good friend K. Collins, who will keep it safe.

Gloria playing my Stromberg and Burke playing his Bacon Blue Ribbon
She always took the time to make a cassette tape of all of our practice sessions as Burke was teaching me.
I still have them all, and now they mean even more to me.

Here is Burke on my old Mastervox, now owned by Barry Grant.
He was my "Banjo Tester" and I used to haul all my stuff to his home.

Back on his Bacon Blue Ribbon

Now my Stromberg

Gloria with her beloved Ome with the Black Chrome Hardware and the "Upright Texas"

We were always taking out Burke's Banjos and comparing tones and styles
This Ludwig was his first real banjo.

She always send me letters and neat things in the mail.
One of those kids is very familiar!

My Shop walls have many a Murdock Story.
They played all over Palestine Texas  and on the Historical Texas Railroad for years.

A lot of music was made on Neches St., That will always be a part of my memories.

And his pride and joy.
Late 50s Jaguar XK series, I believe
I will have my UK friend weigh in on this.
I saw it run a couple times, Burke used to go around the block gingerly, it was pretty sketchy on the brakes.
He loved to tinker with it.


Back when my Dad was still living their son Stephen brought them to see us, and we had a good visit in the shop and played some banjo on the front porch.
They always made sure to keep my parents in their prayers.

I had tuned up his OMe and he was checking my work.

The Murdocks in a stalemate over a song???
Burke is playing his Weymann here.
I restored it and it became his favorite banjo.


Another good shot of the Weymann.
You can always count on Gloria to have that Texas standing TALL!

And never a year went by without a Birthday or Christmas Card.

Or a gift that showed they cared

This is my last picture of them together from last year.
Life will not be the same without Mr. Murdock in it, but my life is so much richer from making his acquaintance and he will always be with me in my heart.
I can go back to this page and see him from time to time and will stay in touch with Mrs. Gloria.
My only regret is that I missed so many visits and so many opportunities to stop in and shoot the breeze, those were, and will always be some of the most special times in my life.
God Bless the Murdock's and Godspeed Burke, you will be missed by us all.


Love from the  Vinnie, and the Mondello Family