Chuck owns Ome Banjos in Boulder. It all started when he was an engineering student at CU Boulder in the 1960s. He built a few banjos in the school’s workshop. He loved to play banjo, and liked to work with metal and wood. Many of his creations are ornate – featuring artwork trimmed with silver and gold. All of them sound wonderful, and many have been played by famous musicians all over the world.
These days Chuck works out of a small shop in east Boulder, surrounded by his daughter Tayna – who helps him run the company – and three instrument builders who have been there for years. He was celebrating his company’s anniversary this summer by introducing a new line of banjos, and several 50-year limited edition models.The banjos are for sale, but the celebration is kind of on hold while Chuck deals with one of life’s blows. His home of 25 years near Gold Hill burned down in the Fourmile Canyon fire. There is nothing left.Chuck, his wife, and his dogs barely got out. Chuck told us “the wind up there that day was very intense, and it was a very chaotic wind that was blowing all directions, and was blowing embers all over.”Many of the houses around his are still standing, but his is just a pile of wood, metal and concrete. His daughter told us that the worst part of losing the house is that Chuck also lost things in it that reminded him of past relationships and many of his accomplishments.
It’s those things he will miss most. Pictures, letters – a book featuring some of his most prized banjos over the years. Chuck plans to eventually rebuild the house – and for now he and his wife are living at their shop. He says sometimes he feels OK, and other times he feels terrible. It’s all part of coping with life’s suprises.
Chuck is sure he will get through all this just fine, and he plans to keep making banjos for as long as he can. And the celebration of his 50 years in business will go on – to mark life’s ups and downs, and especially its sounds.
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