Some photos from early in Donald ZEPP's musical "development," such as it was...
This was my first guitar. I received it as a Christmas gift in 1958--I have no idea when the photo was taken, but I'm guessing 1959, which is when my parents moved out of the house shown (in Wheaton, Illinois). The guitar was a cheap Silvertone, an instrument equivalent to the Stellas of the time, both lines being made in Chicago by Harmony (along with their eponymous line), but Silvertone was the brand sold directly through Sears, Roebuck & Co, which had purchased Harmony in 1916.

Christmas, 1961 meant another State (New Jersey this time) and another instrument. This one was the top-of-the-line Harmony banjo of the era, a Roy Smeck model with chrome-plated brackets on its Bakelite rim. As you can tell by my right hand, I had absolutely no idea how to play the thing. In fact, this was the first banjo I had ever touched. Didn't stop me from being the pained folk singer though, singing my tale of suburban, white, middle class woe...

Here I am in 1962, playing my Silvertone and singing with some high school friends. Let's see, that was Juliette Seebe, Carolyn Dollar, Bill Betsch, and Pam Johnson (thanks to Jim Wright for remembering some names!). I played this guitar for a while longer, buying a Kay dreadnought (shown below somewhere), which in turn was replaced by a 1947 Martin 00-18 in 1964.

1962. I'd figured out how to play a banjo, and was playing in a Kingston Trio-imitating band in high school. Note that I'd become folky enough to have painted over the "Roy Smeck" on my banjo, and had painted a white diamond on the headstock. Clearly in these shots, I was getting ready for my first album cover. The guitar was a Kay dreadnought; the mandolin was a cheap (virtually unplayable) Stella.

Here I am at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 1962. I got to drive my father's 1959 VW, the car in which I learned to drive. Sitting in the car was my best friend in high school, John Babington. The photo was taken by Bob Brown, who played the washtub bass shown in the photo. It says "Oat" on the tub, because the bass player for the Kingston Trio was named David "Buck" Wheat, so we called Bob "Oatmeal."

Sometime (I think the summer of 1962) I went off with my parents to spend a week in a cabin in a West Virginia State Forest, and took my banjo. They took their dog. sigh

1963. Gone full-folk. Note the banjo is now long neck (I traded the Harmony banjo for a Gretsch, then mail-ordered a neck for it from an ad I'd seen in Sing Out magazine. I'd also obtained a Stella 12-string guitar somewhere along the line

And finally, here's a shot I've had for a while. This was probably the fall of 1964, and I had the Ode I had bought new that summer--which banjo I still have and love. The mandolinist is the aforementioned Bob "Oatmeal" Brown; the guitarist is the late Svante Mossberg. The band was the Swannanoa Grovemont Roadrunners.