The Steve Martin Banjo Prize for 2022 has been awarded to two stellar players: Bill Evans of Alto, New Mexico, and Enda Scahill of Galway, Ireland.
This prize, currently administered by The FreshGrass Foundation, was initiated in 2010 by comedian and celebrity banjoist Steve Martin, and funded from his own resources. A single player of note was selected each year by Martin and his board of advisors consisting of top banjo artists, and awarded an unrestricted grant of $50,000.
Martin said at the time that he chose such a generous amount as he knew it would attract the attention of media and music lovers alike, as the point of the prize, known then as The Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music, was specifically to turn the attention of the wider public towards these outstanding musicians.
Speaking of today’s honorees, Martin simply says, “We are proud to honor all of the multitudes of banjo styles. So many great artists, so little time.”
To increase the number of worthy artists receiving this recognition, the Martin Prize is now given to two or more players annually, who each are awarded a $25,000 grant.
Evans, a Norfolk, VA native, now resides in New Mexico, but the greatest part of his contribution to the banjo world was while living in California’s Bay Area. In addition to his performing and recording career, including time with Dry Branch Fire Squad and California Bluegrass Reunion, he is an internationally renowned banjo instructor, offering clinics and workshops all over the world, as well as private lessons. Bill is the author of Banjo for Dummies, and has produced DVD instructional programs for AcuTab Publications, Homespun Tapes, and the Murphy Method. Also a recognized expert in banjo styles from the 18th and 19th centuries, he has written and performs a very informative live program called The Banjo in America, which features Bill demonstrating and performing music of those eras on either historical or period correct instruments. The Banjo in America is also available on DVD/CD.
Enda Scahill is an Irish tenor banjoist who performs currently with the group he founded, We Banjo 3. His technically demanding style has won him four national banjo championships in Ireland, and like Evans, is deeply involved in sharing his knowledge and expertise with others. Scahill is host of the popular podcast, Inside the Banjoverse, and has authored The Irish Banjo Tutor Vol I and II, which endure as the best selling manuals for tenor banjo available today. He came to wide attention as a member of The Brock McGuire Band and has recorded and toured with top artists like The Chieftains, Ricky Skaggs, Frankie Gavin, and Stockton’s Wing.
Later today at 6:00 p.m. eastern, both Evans and Scahill will be featured on the weekly Deering Live vidcast, where the 2022 honorees will perform and be interviewed.
Congratulations and well done, Bill and Enda!