Tonight was another magical evening with two of my musician friends Tom Druckenmiller and Michael Beaky, both wonderful banjo players.
I am blessed to be surrounded with talented friends who can express themselves musically and personally, and tonight was such an example.
I’ve known Tom from the 70’s LV folk scene and is a fellow Folk DJ, historian and live music supporter. Pretty deep connections. He, along with Betty and Nathan stepped up to play, and Tom brought out a banjo from the 1800’s. Highlights for me: Learning from masters, playing for dances, actual family music. Yes, actual Family music. He can pick out tunes from out of the ether.
Michael is a my brother from Pavlov’s Dawgs who has gone on to other wonderful explorations. He talked about taking the tradition into the future, grabbing people’s ears, French bluegrass, Earl Scruggs on the radio, and how all his friends are musicians. Community, again. ..and his ear is true and creative.
I started out with my ‘Birth of the Universe’ story. In the beginning, God invented the mandolin (I played Sally Goodin alone). Then He invented moonshine and the claw hammer banjo soon followed (Tom comes in), and then He invented coffee and bluegrass banjo was born (Mike comes in). It was a fun way to start out and introduce the boys to the audience.
We proceeded to chat, play, improvise, talk about the history of the banjo and its various styles, its pioneers (old and new), why we play, and took questions from the audience. There isn’t anything like this around here, and I am repeatedly amazed by the quality of performance and entertainment value of this format. And the musicians sense this, too. And that’s why I really like what I’m doing. It’s real, it’s intelligent, it’s informative and it’s a whole lot of fun.
There is an edge to it, with musical improvisation and personal exposition that makes it, dare I say, performance art on all of our parts. Thanks to Michael and Tom for stepping up.