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Banjo Maestro Tony Trischka

Tony Trischka, the man who made the banjo bigger, jazzier and more worldly brings his banjo to our studio.

Bela Fleck, left, and Tony Trischka perform at a benefit concert celebrating Pete Seeger's 90th birthday at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, May 3, 2009 in New York.  (AP)

Bela Fleck, left, and Tony Trischka perform at a benefit concert celebrating Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, May 3, 2009 in New York. (AP)

Some musical recordings – just a few in the flood – open up whole new realms.  Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew.  Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde.  The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper.  In the world of banjo, says writer-composer Bill Evans, the music that marked the change came from Tony Trischka.  Up out of bluegrass and country and then all over.  To roots in Africa.  To heights of jazz.  Banjo, unbound.  Tony Trischka set it free.  With Bela Fleck.  With Jerry Garcia.  With the world.  This hour On Point:  the great banjo liberationist, Tony Trischka.

 – Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Tony Trischka, banjo master and innovator. His new album is “Great Big World.” (@tonytrischka)

From Tom’s Reading List

Syracuse Post-Standard: Tony Trischka reflects on his friend Pete Seeger: ‘He lived what he spoke’ — “It was Trischka’s first interaction with the legendary folk player, whose influence would help shape his long and prosperous music career. A singer/songwriter who defined a generation of activist musicians. A man who, despite his humility, was arguably the best. Trischka, a Syracuse native, would evolve into one of the nation’s premier banjo players himself, and he and Seeger would become colleagues, collaborators and close friends.”

Country Standard Time: Tony Trischka Great Big World Rounder Records — “There is no shortage of fresh and original music on ‘Great Big World’ much of it straight-ahead bluegrass…depending on your definition of ‘straight-ahead bluegrass.’ Trischka loves to change things up regularly, adjusting tempos and moods at will- and sometimes repeatedly within individual songs.”

New York Times: Five-String Sensation — “Legendary musicians are supposed to make their pyrotechnics look easy: deftness and effortlessness, or at least the appearance of it, go hand in hand. But the banjo virtuoso Tony Trischka, who has lived on an unassuming street here since 1989, has a way of making his humble instrument seem a little too easy.”

Playlist

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  • Scott B

    When asked “Why did you go into comedy?”, Steve Martin replied, “Because no one has ever said, ‘Bring the banjo player his Porsche’.”

  • amazonjn

    I truly enjoy banjo music but must admit the jokes are great also:
    What do you call a banjo player wearing a suit? The defendant.
    How does a banjo and chain saw differ? The latter has greater dynamic range.

  • http://martycutler.net Marty Cutler

    Tony made it safe for progressive-minded banjoists to come out of hiding, and he’s influenced a ton of modern players.

    There are many modern banjoists out there these days, but I can pick Tony’s banjo playing out of a building-full of pickers; there is no one else who sounds like Tony.

  • Jonathan Sachs

    Many years ago my brother took me to meet some guys in Syracuse who played Bluegrass. They welcomed us and we all picked up instruments to play together. I grabbed the standup bass, which I had play about 4 times. After one song together it was obvious that we had walked into something entirely other, where we had no business sitting in. We set our instruments aside, and Tony and his guitar buddy proceeded to play an hour of the most incredible music I have ever heard – to this day.

    But I will also add this: after that embarrassing first song, Tony went out of his way to compliment my hopeless bass playing. He said I had a really nice rhythm. So wonderfully kind of him to say that.

  • jefe68

    I really wish On Point would use some other audio platform. Spotify is not working. Not the first time this has happened.

  • andrewgarrett

    Although it’s changing a bit, a lot of both black and white people view the banjo as somehow a “white” instrument. A while back I bought an interesting album “Black Banjo Songsters” that had 1990s recordings by the last black banjo players, last meaning last as part of a direct tradition. They’re all dead now.

    Blue grass is about the same age as rock and roll, which is fine, but it irks me a bit when people consider it traditional music.

    Good show, and it inspired me to get back into playing the banjo.

  • skyebluepink

    Linda Zercoe, author of A Kick-Ass Fairy: A Memoir would love to be a guest on the “On Point” to provide fresh insights about a serious topic. She can share the wisdom she has gained from battling five different types of cancer for two decades.
    Please check your email box for more info! Thanks.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    I missed this live (working!) and I was hoping they would talk about Pete Seeger – and they certainly did!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw-XxbLKaH0&feature=kp

    Good stuff, all of it. I came across Tony Trischka around the time of World Turning.

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