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I have to admit, I have become enamored with banjos. There is such a variety of expression that includes the instrument, and such a varied approach to playing them that each time I find a new group, I hear something different and amazing.

They are as at home with guitars as they are with cellos, and their multiple voicings means that they can blend in, or stand out, depending on the situation. In this week’s playlist you will find a trio of brothers who are taking the traditional bluegrass/roots music into the 21sts century with all of the influences that a group of teenagers naturally bring to the music. There is a setting of “I’ll Fly Away” featuring the legends Earl Scruggs and Charlie Daniels. Bela Fleck is again in the list, in a duet with Chick Corea, the genius jazz pianist. The Rascal Flatts bring their song “Banjo” to the list.

From Bluegrass to Jazz, Old-Time Country to Steve Martin (a very accomplished banjo player!), and contemporary roots to the banjo-pickin’ girls, we are definitely off the beaten path.

But the versatility of the banjo is part of what makes it unique. It fits in, yet it can take the solo line, too. It keeps the energy flowing, even when it’s not in the spotlight. It makes friends with many different genre groups, yet always adds its own distinct voice. Rarely mainstream, the banjo takes us into new and unknown territory; drawing on its long history, but in the hands of its masters, continually moving the music forward.

Be like the banjo…off the beaten path.


The videos this week seem to all include a Super Bowl advertisement…my apologies in advance!

ST#97 – Off the Beaten Path (2)