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Your Stories: An up and coming banjo player

Lance Pratt, banjo player and singer, is shown with his friend and supporter Butch McClellan.
Lance Pratt, banjo player and singer, is shown with his friend and supporter Butch McClellan. - Contributed
TRURO, N.S. —

Lance Pratt is a young man who enjoys old-fashioned country music, dating back to the 1920s. He is also an exciting young local banjo player and singer. 
Introduced to Pratt by Butch McClellan, the well-known local guitar player and country western singer feels Pratt’s talent will take him far.
“Lance performed at the Hank Snow Tribute Aug. 17 in Liverpool,” said McClellan. “I was thrilled with his performance. I haven’t seen anything like it; for a 15-year-old Lance was remarkable. Not only did he perform well, he won the open mic contest. Another big thing is, he was invited to take part in the closing of the Hank Snow Tribute. That is something.”
Arriving at the Queens Place Fitness Centre in Liverpool, Pratt quickly entered the open mic contest.
“I registered and then I caught on as to what I had done,” the Manganese Mines resident said. “There were 14 contestants, in total; I was one of the last performers to get on.”
Although the youngest contestant, Pratt was named the winner. Receiving a long applause, this was followed by a standing ovation from the approximately 1,000 people in attendance. It was quite an experience for the youngster from Colchester County. 
“It was my biggest performance ever,” Pratt recalled. “I’d never played and sang before so many people before. When they announced I was the winner, I nearly had a heart attack. It was a very exciting moment.”
Pratt said the large number of people he met, was the highlight of it all.
“I met two Nova Scotia country music hall of famers, Chet Brown and Dale Verge. I thought that was pretty neat. They both reached out to me, they offered me encouragement.”
McClellan reflected back on the night of Jan. 16 at Truro Horsemen’s Club in Bible Hill.
“Lance got up and played the banjo and sang; he surprised everyone,” said McClellan. “He did an excellent, excellent job. Our people at the Wednesday night jam session, they gave him a standing ovation that night as well. Here’s a young guy just starting out and right away we had him up playing backup for us. What a guy, he’s so down to earth; this guy is going places.”
Pratt also remembers the night well.
“My father (Darrell) talked about this guy who loved music, but I didn’t know who Butch was. So there I was when we got to the Truro Horsemen’s Club, I see this Butch guy and I don’t know who he is. I thought ‘this has to be Ernest Tubb.’ After a while we were introduced; I got to meet Butch McClellan. I’m glad I did.”
Pratt sang Pick Me Up On Your Way Down by Charlie Walker and Act Naturally by Buck Owens.
“It was really the first time I played before an audience; it’s usually just my banjo teacher Greg Langille and me. It seemed to go pretty good, but I wasn’t sure. I know I was nervous but it was definitely a step in the right direction.”
Pratt appreciates the support he’s received from McClellan, Larry Webb, Billy Stewart and Marlin Spencer.
“These guys look out for me, they offer me lots of encouragement. Marlin couldn’t believe I liked talking about Lefty Frizzell and such old country western singers. Marlin said it’s only once in a blue moon you meet a 15-year-old kid who enjoys talking about such things.”
McClellan is pleased Pratt has become a Wednesday night regular at the jam sessions.
“Lance is a big draw, he’s the guy everyone is coming to see. Lance has a good head on his shoulders; we really enjoy having him with us. The crowd has been increasing at the horsemen’s club because of Lance. We start at 6.30 p.m and go for a couple of hours.”
A grade 10 Cobequid Educational Centre student, Pratt said his grandmother, Betty Pratt, got him interested in music when he was 13. His first musical instrument was an acoustic guitar. Later, his uncle, Derek Pratt loaned him a banjo.
“I began taking banjo lessons from Greg (Langille) and my interest really grew. I’ve learned a lot from Greg; I’m practising a lot, nearly every night.”
Also involved with quarter horses and draft horses, Lance works closely with his father, Darrell, and his grandfather, Jackie Pratt.

Lyle Carter’s column appears every second week in the Truro News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 902-673-2857. 

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