No one who has attended one of Bill Evans’ banjo workshops, or studied using one of his popular AcuTab banjo DVDs, would ever accuse him of being a dummy. In addition to his prominent work in music as a teacher, performer, composer, producer and booking agent, Bill holds a Master’s Degree in Music from UC Berkeley, and has taught courses in ethnomusicology at San Francisco State University, The University of Virginia and Duke University.
Now add “author” to the list of credentials for this erudite California banjo player. Bill is spending this winter writing Banjo for Dummies for Wiley Publishing, the ubiquitous yellow and black book publishers with sales in excess of 46 million worldwide.
“The first reaction I get from banjo players or bluegrass fans is that it’s a natural! We’re used to being perceived as being real dummies by the outside world, so why not a Dummies book?”
Banjo for Dummies is Wiley Publishing’s first venture into bluegrass and acoustic music and, like most of their titles, will be available at virtually every bookstore in the country following its publication in summer of 2007. The banjo book will follow the typical Dummies format, providing a whimsical and informal introduction to the world of the banjo in 380 pages while also imparting a lot of useful information and musical instruction.
“There will not only be beginners’ sections on clawhammer and bluegrass styles, but Wiley has also asked me to present short instructional sections on minstrel banjo, classic banjo and progressive bluegrass styles. This will hopefully make the book of interest to all players, not just newcomers. It should be a very inclusive introduction to the world of the banjo.”
Bill says that Banjo for Dummies will also include a buyer’s guide, a guide to accessories, an introduction to bluegrass festivals and the famous Dummies’ “List of Tens,” which in this case will include ten important, trend setting players and ten valuable resources to become a better player. A CD will accompany the book with a separate DVD in the works.
This is just the first book that Bill will be writing for Wiley. He’ll follow up Banjo for Dummies with Bluegrass for Dummies, a stylistic study, with more bluegrass banjo books to follow.
“I’m making a long term commitment to Wiley and I’m looking forward to helping them to get into the bluegrass market. It feels great to be using some of the skills I used years ago as an academic but employing a writing style that’s designed for a general audience. This is much more fun than writing an academic paper and it’s more meaningful for me at this point in my life to be reaching out to everyone who might be interested in the banjo.
There is some misunderstanding out there about what Wiley is all about. They never view their audience as lacking intelligence and their books never talk down to anyone. They are fulfilling a real need today in providing a quick way to learn essentials from square one so that the reader can easily develop greater enthusiasm for the topic at hand.”
Bill is a popular instructor at many banjo workshops across the country, and currently performs with Rustler’s Moon with Kathy Kallick and Bill Evans, The Secret Life of Banjos with Bill Evans and Jody Stecher, and the Bill Evans String Summit.
His AcuTab instructional DVDs, Up The Neck Backup for Bluegrass Banjo and Playing Backup In A Bluegrass Band are among the company’s best selling titles, and a third AcuTab banjo DVD (Bluegrass Banjo Master Class) is being edited now for a 2007 release.
Bill is also a busy family man. His wife Kathy is a public school teacher in Albany, CA and his fourteen year old daughter Corey is a budding musician specializing in jazz and rock drumming. Bill is pictured here with his eighteen year old son Jesse, at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor, held recently in Berkeley.