American Banjo Museum announces 2017 HOF inductees

The American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City has announced the 2017 inductees for their ABM Hall of Fame.

The Museum and the Hall was initially created to highlight the history of the tenor banjo in American music, but has since been expanded to include the five string and all imaginable styles of banjo playing. The Hall of Fame recognizes notable banjo players and figures for lifetime contributions to the music, building, and promotion of the instrument.

The 2017 class includes:

  • John McEuen – five string performance
  • Paul Erickson – four string performance
  • Roy Clark – promotion
  • Tony Trischka – instruction and education
  • Joel Walker Sweeney – historic

McEuen and Erickson are highly-regarded current performers, John for the past 50 years with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Paul as a jazz and Dixieland stylist. Clark is likewise a well-known player of the five string, responsible for making the banjo a central part of the Hee-Haw television program in the 1970s.

Sweeney was widely credited as the innovator who added a short, higher-pitched string to the neck, creating the first five string banjo, though that distinction is now expressed with some doubt by many folklorists and Appalachian historians. Despite that uncertainty, there is no doubt that he was an important performer in the 19th century who took the banjo around the world as a touring artist.

Trischka is known both as a virtuosic performer on the five string, and as an educator of note. Even before his role as an important player was cemented, Tony was prominent writing books and making videos, and was the first banjoist to offer an online school for the instrument, the Tony Trischka School of Banjo.

The 2017 class will be officially inducted during a ceremony at Oklahoma City’s Devon Tower on Friday, September 8. A concert featuring the living members will be hosted the following day.

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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.