7th Annual California Banjo Extravaganza starts this week

For the past six years, California banjoist Bill Evans has scheduled a series of concerts along the west coast, featuring himself and two other notable banjo pickers, and billed as the California Banjo Extravaganza. The idea is to give western audiences a chance to hear some of the players from back east who don’t often make it out to California.

Bill generally grabs players whose approaches to the five string demonstrate some stylistic variance, and puts it together each year late in the season when touring schedules are lighter. For 2018, the 7th annual Extravaganza will highlight the music of Ned Luberecki and Chris Coole, along with Evans, and a backing band consisting of top west coast bluegrass artists.

Ned has been a prominent banjo man for many years, culminating in being named Banjo Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association just a few weeks ago. He performs regularly with the Becky Buller Band, and has a number of solo recordings under his own name. SiriusXM listeners will know his rich radio voice from his weekly shows on Bluegrass Junction, More Banjo Sunday and Derailed. He is known for being both a skilled purveyor of traditional Scruggs-style banjo, and more contemporary and innovative forms as well.

Chris plays in the old time or clawhammer style, and is regarded as among the finest interpreters of southern fiddle music on the scene today. He plays currently with The Lonesome Ace Stringband, where he is noted as much for his songwriting as his banjo playing. A fishing enthusiast when he’s off the road, Coole’s most recent alum is titled, The Road To The River: A Collection of Tunes and Songs Inspired by the Fishing Passion.

Bill is likewise highlighted on this run of shows with Ned and Chris, showcasing his own unique original banjo compositions and some bluegrass standards. In addition to his three finger prowess, Evans is considered to be on of the finest banjo instructors in the country, and is in high demand for camps and workshops all over the world.

Extravaganza concerts start this Wednesday, November 7, and run through next Monday with a banjo camp on Saturday in Berkeley.

A full tour schedule follows:

  • November 7, Chico, CA – Trinity United Methodist Church
  • November 9, Winters (Sacramento area), CA – The Palms Playhouse
  • November 10, Berkeley, CA – Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse (workshop and concert)
  • November 11, Sebastopol, CA – Sebastopol Community Cultural Center
  • November 12, Los Gatos, CA – The Great Room

Full details with ticket information can be found online.

Accompaniment for the banjo boys at each stop will be provided by John Reischman on mandolin, Chad Manning on fiddle, Jim Nunally on guitar, and Sharon Gilchrist on bass.

Tickets are limited for several of these venues, so don’t delay if you would like to see this fine group of accomplished musicians together this week in California.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.