04 April 2023

Banjo stuff (update)

In the IBMA Foundation's latest newsletter, Brian Murphy (right) from Greer, SC, is shown with the custom-made banjo he won in last month’s raffle run by the Pisgah Banjo Company. The raffle raised $29,590 for the Foundation’s Arnold Shultz Fund, which encourages participation by people of colour in bluegrass music. Of this sum, $10,000 will go to the Black Banjo Reclamation Project. More details are in the IBMA Foundation newsletter.
The Deering Banjo Company draws attentiom to its top-of-the-line Tenbrooks Legacy banjo ($8,999.00) and presents several videos of Ryan Cavanaugh playing his personal Tenbrooks, including this one of him improvising in jazz style.
A week ago Bluegrass Today featured a collaboration between Alison Brown and Steve Martin, resulting in their joint composition for up-picking and down-picking banjos, 'Foggy morning breaking'. Their duet on it can be seen on Bluegrass Today and YouTube. Also taking part are Chris Eldridge (guitar), Sierra Hull (mandolin), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), and Todd Phillips (bass).
The banjo receives a great deal of attention in a forthcoming publication from the University of Illinois Press, Taylor Hagood's Stringbean: the life and murder of a country music legend, scheduled to appear early next month. Richard Thompson previews the book on Bluegrass Today, with a substantial contribution from the author (professor of English at Atlantic University, Florida), whose research went to the length of building a banjo himself in order to understand the instrument as fully as possible.

A four-page feature on the book by Taylor Hagood appears in the current (April 2023) issue of Bluegrass Unlimited (BU) magazine, where it is also reviewed by BU editor Dan Miller.

Update 8 Apr.: BU's Newsletter no. 126 includes a link to the magazine archives for Genevieve Waddell's article 'Stringbean', published in 1974, two months after his death.

© Richard Hawkins

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