There are a million banjo jokes out there but the first time I heard this one, told to me by the excellent guitarist Craig McGreggor, it really cracked me up. I've heard it since then told with different variations but I will retell the version I first heard as close as I can:
It is almost New Years Eve and Lextar Tech, a company dealing in the development and sale of electrical fan motors, is all set to put on another legendary bash. Lexar has developed a reputation for it's phenomenal New Years Parties, in fact these parties are the only reason some people work there. Everyone has been buzzing about the band they are bringing in; a supergroup featuring the singing of Don Henley, Stevie Wonder on keys, Eddie Van Halen on guitar, Phil Collins on drums and Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on bass. It is set to go down as the most outrageous New Years party in the history of outrageous New Years parties.
The trouble arises the morning of. Kendall Bullworth, who is organizing the event and feeling pretty darn good about things, recieves a call from Don Henley himself.
"Kenny!", he says in a raspy, strained whimper, "Bad news; had a rehearsal with the band last night. Little Stevie Wonder and that nut Van Halen got in a fight. Flea jumped in and then Phil Collins...it was terrible. Phil ended up leaving in an ambulance, Eddie lost part of a finger, Flea decided he doesn't want to play music anymore and Stevie claims the whole thing killed his karma and he can't perform again for another 8 years!"
At this point organizer Kendall is sweating profusely; "Are...Are you telling me the band can't play tonight?!"
"Play tonight?", croaked Collins, "We'll be lucky to play again PERIOD!"
"Well, how about you Phil? Why don't you do it on your own?"
"No can do. I went out to drown my sorrows at the local Go Go bar after the brough haha and ended up contracting mono from one of the dancers. Doc says I won't be singing for a month!"
Organizer Kendall doesn't know what to do. He tells his wife of his troubles and she has a suggestion. She says that a month ago at her friends housewarming party they had a local band that blew everyone away. The band did not have a name but was made up of a very odd combination of instruments: banjo, accorion and bagpipes.
"Banjo, accordion and bagpipes?!" Kendall groans.
"I swear they were AMAZING" she assures him.
Kendall tries every other group in his Rolodex but noone is free. He has no choice but to call these oddballs his wife has recommended. They are available.
Kendall is sweating bullets as the party begins and eager guests buzz about the supergroup they believe is about to perform.
Kendall takes the stage; "Greetings and Happy New Year everyone. I know alot of you are excited to see Don Henley and Stevie Wonder and Eddie Van Halen and Phil Collins and Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers..." (The audience roars with applause) "Unfortunately...um...they couldn't make it" (silence) "So...errrr...here is the band we got..."
Kendall beats a hasty retreat and the banjo, accordion, bagpipe trio take the stage.
People are livid at first but midway through the opening number they are captivated. By the third song the audience is in the palm of their hand. When they finally exit the stage after 5 hours of playing a 7 encores everyone in the building is convinced this is the best Lextar New Years party in the history of Lextar New Years parties.
Backstage Kendall approaches the band. "That was PHENOMENAL!!", he shouts, "Words fail me. I...I know this is kind of rediculous to be asking already but...could I book you guys right now for next years New Years party?"
The band are ecstatic. "Absolutely", they chime in unison, "Should we leave our gear?"