Six banjo masters and their five string band take on Jorgensen
Published: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 13, 2013 23:10
The sweet strumming strings of six talented banjo players and their talented band could be heard throughout the air this weekend.
The New York Banjo Summit Artists came to Storrs on Saturday night with their Five String Summit. The show featured seven banjo soloists, all of whom specialize in the five-string banjo, and a backup four-piece band comprised of a fiddle, guitar, bass and mandolin. The banjo players were Béla Fleck, Bill Keith, Eric Weissberg, Noam Pikelny, Richie Stearns, Tony Trischka and Abigail Washburn, Fleck’s wife and an extremely talented banjo player in her own right, as a special guest star. The band that played with them was composed of Casey Driessen on fiddle, Corey Dimario on bass, Jesse Cobb on mandolin and Russ Barenburn on guitar.
Over the course of the night, the banjo players treated the audience to a variety of melodious country-styled tunes. Some of the songs played throughout the night were of their own composition, while others were adaptations of songs by other famous artists, including The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Earl Scruggs, Beethoven and Mozart. On a special note, Weissberg preformed his rendition of ‘Dueling Banjos’ made famous in the 1972 thriller, “Deliverance.”
The players came together in numerous combinations. Sometimes just a single player would be on stage, while other times three or four of the banjoists would be jamming together. On one occasion, the banjo players took a rest altogether and the band took over the show for a little while.
Each of the banjo players worked inside their own little niche. While Keith tended to play classic square dance tunes, Fleck jazzed things up with a Beatles medley and a duet with his wife.
The audience went absolutely wild after every song.
“I loved it,” said Kathleen McWilliams, a fifth-semester English and journalism major and Daily Campus writer. “They all played together so perfectly.”
“It was so awesome!” said 14-year-old Darcy Rhodes. “I hope I can hear them again one day.”
All six of the banjo soloists are typically considered the top of their field in terms of innovation and playing ability and the audience was treated to a short bio of each player before they entered the stage. Almost all of them have contributed to the banjo-playing scene in some way and fundamentally changed the way that banjo music is played. Most of them have albums on the market, so if you’re interested in hearing some wonderful banjo music consider picking up one to listen to today.
Also making a guest appearance, although not actually participating in the music, was Fleck’s 4-month-old-son, Juno Fleck, who, when brought out with Béla to introduce the next player, seemed to almost melt the audience with his chubby cheeks and tiny toes.