All posts tagged: banjo

Saturday Music: Otis Taylor

Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Otis Taylor is the next featured artist in our Black History Month tribute to musicians at the forefront of the work to reclaim the African American contributions to folk, old-time, country and roots music. I kicked off the series with my January tribute to Amythyst Kiah and then began it in earnest the last two weeks; first with a celebration of the music of Rhiannon Giddens, followed last week by Dom Flemons. Otis Taylor was born in Chicago but moved to Denver early in life with his family. Taylor’s parents were jazz music fans. “My dad worked for the railroad and knew a lot of jazz people,” notes Taylor, while his mother “had a penchant for Etta James and Pat Boone.” Their house in Colorado was near the Denver Folklore Center, where he bought his first instrument, a banjo. During a NPR Music Tiny Desk concert, Taylor tells how he broke a string on his mother’s ukulele and went to the Center to get it fixed. While there, he became entranced …

A Conversation with Fleck (not Flatt) and Scruggs

Thanks to the wonderful Bluegrass Blog for highlighting a recent online interview between banjo masters Earl Scruggs and Bela Fleck.  Scruggs (photo below) was the inventor of the three-fingered picking style that is integral to the bluegrass sound, and Fleck (photo top) is the banjo innovator who has won 11 Grammy awards and – with his 27 nominations – has the distinction of being nominated in more Grammy categories than any other musician. The interview took place on and covers – in just a few short questions – a variety of topics.  Here’s an exchange on their first meeting: BF: Do you remember when John Hartford introduced us by any chance? I’m not expecting you to, but you came over to his place, and he invited me over…I played rhythm guitar, and then at the very end of the session, John said, “Oh, Béla plays a little bit of banjo,” and you said, “Oh, well get it out,” and then I played something for you. I remember, because I thought it was so sweet of …

David Lindley Featured in new Fretboard Journal

Regular readers of More to Come… will know that one of my favorite magazines is The Fretboard Journal, which bills itself as “Not Just Another Guitar Magazine.”  The Fall 2008 issue showed up in the mailbox the other day, and it contains more great articles and photos of the world’s most beautiful acoustic guitars.  Multi-instrumentalist David Lindley is featured in an extensive interview with Ben Harper, while banjoist Tony Trischka talks about the banjo as the great antidepressant.  That article begins with a great quote from Pete Stampfel, banjoist in the Holy Modal Rounders, the anarchist folk group from the 1960s: “The real reason the Great Depression happened was that people quit playing the banjo.” An interesting thought for the day when the Stock Market dropped 777 points. More to come… DJB