Béla Fleck – a native of Manhattan - began making waves with a series of progressive banjo-centric recordings in the 1970s and as a member of the Newgrass Revival in the 1980s. As leader of the genre-busting Béla Fleck and the Flecktones since 1989, he has used the banjo to define the band’s one of a kind fusion of jazz, rock, bluegrass and world music. His collaborations with a wide diversity of artists such as jazz piano icon Chick Corea, Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain, classical bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer, and African artists Toumani Diabate and Oumou Sangare, have brought the banjo even further into unchartered territories. Béla Fleck has been nominated for Grammy awards in more categories than any artist in history, and has won 15 to date, with 30 nominations
Bill Keith, from Woodstock, is widely considered a trail blazer of the melodic style of banjo picking he brought forward as a member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. He went on to join the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and then helped pioneer the early newgrass movement with his work in bands with artists such as David Grisman, Peter Rowan and Richard Greene. He invented the “Keith tuners” that are used by banjo players around the world and which he distributes through his business Beacon Banjos located in upstate New York.
Eric Weissberg – born and raised in NYC and now a Woodstock resident - helped to bring the sound of the bluegrass banjo to mainstream America with his performance of “Dueling Banjos” on the soundtrack of the major motion picture “Deliverance”. This signature tune has gone on to become the world’s most familiar bluegrass instrumental. Eric was one of the very first "yankees" to learn how to play bluegrass banjo and has enjoyed a long career as a versatile studio musician.
Mac Benford of Ithaca spearheaded the old-time music revival through his work with the Highwoods and Backwoods String Bands in the 1970s – he currently fronts Mac Benford’s Woodshed All Stars. Mac will perform as a special guest at The Smith Opera House in Geneva, NY on October 4.
Noam Pikelny, currently residing in Brooklyn, played in Leftover Salmon and the John Cowan Band before joining the Punch Brothers in 2006. The recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010, he has also recorded two albums as leader of the Noam Pikelny Band.
Pete Wernick – AKA “Dr. Banjo” – originally from New York City - is renowned as a hot-picking force in several trend-setting bands including Hot Rize and Country Cooking. A respected author and teacher of the instrument, Pete is a long-term President of the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Richie Stearns of Ithaca, brought the old-time clawhammer banjo style to a whole new audience with the jam bands Donna The Buffalo and The Horseflies, and has accompanied artists such as Natalie Merchant, Jim Lauderdale and Vassar Clements.
Tony Trischka - originally from Syracuse - took the bluegrass banjo to a whole new level in the 1970s with a series of recordings that explored rock and avant-garde jazz. He served as young Béla Fleck’s banjo teacher, and continues to explore the traditions and possibilities of the banjo through his “World Turning” concerts, his band Territory and as a record producer for artists such as Steve Martin.
Abigail Washburn is a clawhammer banjo player and vocalist who is every bit as interested in the present and the future as she is in the past, and every bit as attuned to the global as she is to the local. She pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, and the results feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody's ever heard before. NY Banjo welcomes Abby as a special guest on the October 2013 tour.
THE NY BANJO BAND
Alex is a member of world-renowned mandolinist Mike Marshall’s Big Trio,and performs and tours with singer/multi-instrumentalist, Sarah Jarosz, appearing on hercritically acclaimed albums, and is featured on her Grammy-nominated instrumental, “Mansinneedof.”
Fiddler Casey Driessen has built a following as both solo artist and collaborator, touring the world with artists such as Béla Fleck (& the Flecktones), Steve Earle, Darrell Scott , Tim O'Brien, Jerry Douglas and The Sparrow Quartet. Casey's solo show - "Singularity" - features his signature percussive fiddle style with digital loops and effects, building each show layer by layer in real time in front of the audience.
Double-bassist Corey DiMario is one of the most sought after accompanists in the acoustic music scene. He has performed at major festivals and concert venues across North America, Europe and Australia. A founding member of the string band sensation Crooked Still, Corey has also performed extensively with New England fiddler and singer Lissa Schneckenburger and the Brittany Haas/Dan Trueman Band. Corey received his undergraduate degree in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory in 2001 and previously studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
Jesse Cobb has been playing the mandolin since around age 12 and was a founding member of The Infamous Stringdusters. He has shared the stage with mandolin heroes like Sam Bush, David Grisman, Mike Marshall, Ronnie McCoury, Chris Thile and many others. With The Dusters, Jesse received a Grammy nomination in 2010 for his song Magic #9. He has also recorded on a Grammy winning project with Jim Lauderdale in 2008.
Acoustic guitarist Russ Barenberg is known as one of the most melodic instrumentalists in contemporary acoustic music, and his compositions are among the finest the genre has to offer. He got his start in 1970 with the groundbreaking bluegrass band Country Cooking and since then has been a member of a variety of highly influential groups, most notably his collaboration from 1989 to 2001 in a trio with dobro master Jerry Douglas and bassist Edgar Meyer.