23 November 2012

First Lady of Banjo to visit Ireland, May/June 2013

The BIB is proud to report that early next summer Ireland can expect a friendly visit from Roni Stoneman, the 'First Lady of Banjo', and a daughter of legendary Country Music Hall Of Fame inductee Ernest V. 'Pop' Stoneman (1893-1968), whose 1925 recording of 'The Titanic' was a best-seller on the Okeh label. It was a pivotal feature in Rodney McElrea's McAuley lecture on Titanic songs at the 2012 Omagh bluegrass festival.

'Pop' Stoneman continued to perform, record, and entertain through music for decades, playing with friends and neighbours, and increasingly with members of his family. Veronica Loretta 'Roni' Stoneman grew up playing banjo with the Stoneman Family, later known as the 'Blue Grass Champs', and later still with her brothers and sisters in 'The Stonemans'. While still in her teens, she became the first recorded woman bluegrass banjo-player, on what is recognised as the first bluegrass LP: the Folkways album American banjo tunes and songs in Scruggs style. After the long-running 'Hee Haw' TV series began in 1969, Roni became a popular member of the cast. She was inducted into the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979.

Roni and her husband Tom live in Nashville, TN, and will be visiting the UK and Ireland in May/June 2013, arriving on 18 May and returning home a month later. Roni has never been to Ireland, is excited at the prospect, and will, as always, have a banjo with her. She would love nothing more than to meet, talk to, entertain, and pick with or for people who appreciate the music.This will be a unique opportunity for lovers of bluegrass music over here to hear, and meet, someone who is both a historic musician and entertainer in her own right, and has a family background that sets her only one generation away from the beginnings of recorded country music.

Roni's own story, Pressing on, published by the superb University of Illinois Press in 2007, is available from Amazon. She will also feature in Murphy Henry's Pretty good for a girl: Women in bluegrass, which the UIP will publish next year. Plenty of footage of her in performance is on YouTube; and as this video (shot in June this year) shows, she is a dynamic performer. Roni can be contacted through her website.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home