Banjo legend Tony Trishka was my guest on the Town Crier. We talked about his musical path starting with his NYC days in the 1970’s. His band included an eclectic fusion of styles and players including Kenny Kosek and Andy Statman. His influences from classical to jazz to fusion are on full display in these early recordings. Tony discusses those early scene gigs as well as mentoring folks like Bela Fleck. Fleck and Trishka were fearless innovators on the instrument over their careers. Both have also embraced traditional bluegrass as well. The latest project from Tony is a note for note transcription of Earl Scruggs banjo parts obtained from a home recording tape with John Hartford! Tony will be bringing a talented group of young players with him at the Drake! Folks like Michael Daves (guitar) Jared Engel (bass) and Nate Lee (fiddle and mandolin). Other dates include Jacob Jolliff, Alex Hargreaves and Brittany Haas. If you’re in the Boston area the “Earl Jam” will be at City Winery at Noon on the same day 5/6.
Our conversation touches on lots of topics from the young talent in the roots music world to the learning the Scruggs catalog. We include a batch of tunes as well including Tony’s take on “Reuben” the first tune Earl mastered his three finger style as a young man; now referred to as “Scruggs style” playing. We hear from the trio of banjo players Bill Keith, Bela and Tony do “Black Mountain Rag”. The only recorded duet with Earl Scruggs and Trishka is documented on “Farewell Blues” from Tony’s Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular release. We end the segment with Earl’s take on his “Nashville Blues” from Will The Circle Be Unbroken collection with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Give the segment a listen or better yet go to thedrakeamherst.org and get a ticket for this Saturday’s show 5/6.