Banjo enthusiasts gather to hear one, maybe two of their favorite players strumming, the sounds instruments dueling. Triple the number of players and you have the power behind the New York Banjo Summit, currently on tour and headed to Birchmere Music Hall.
"This [tour] is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see these particular players all in one place," said Peter Lesser, the tour coordinator. "It'll likely never happen again."
Many of the world's premier bluegrass players have prepared a concert that highlights the versatility of the banjo, played in both conventional modes (country music) and in novel, unexpected ways, such as the banjo's appearance in jazz, rock and classical genres.
|Tuesday's 10/30 Banjo Summit shows have been postponed. The Birchmere is looking to reschedule both shows. They ask customers to hold on to their tickets for a few days while everything is worked out. Visit birchmere.com for updated information.|
Bela Fleck leads the pack of his contemporaries that include Tony Trischka, Bill Keith, Noam Pikelny, Richie Stearns, Eric Weissberg and Pete Wernick. There is also a back-up band that consists of a guitar, fiddle, mandolin and bass.
"There will be banjo solos, trios, various groupings and everyone on stage at the same time," Lesser continued. "There's even one song without and the banjos. We want to keep people guessing."
There is no guessing, however, about the talent behind the strings. Fleck is widely considered to be the most accomplished master of the banjo. He has won 15 Grammy awards to date with 30 nominations. Fleck's six other colleagues are notorious for achievements that include everything from mastering the old-time clawhammer banjo style, to bringing the bluegrass banjo sound to mainstream America with "Dueling Banjos" in the film "Deliverance."
Lesser says that audiences can expect to hear the iconic masterpiece performed along with some classical music, original songs and jam-band music highlighting a reggae twist.
With so much happening simultaneously, including the fact that it will be a very conversational concert, a person could wonder if there is any rivalry among the artists. Peter Lesser puts that idea to rest.
"The [players] are having a great time," he said. "They're a mutual admiration society."