Bill Evans model Kel Kroydon banjo

Bill Evans with his signature model Kel Kroydon banjoBill Evans is the latest professional banjo player to be recognized with a signature model Kel Kroydon banjo, made by the American Made Banjo Company.

Bill’s banjo has a maple neck and resonator, with a Hearts and Flowers inlay in the fingerboard. A Dannick flat head tone ring is installed, manufactured by American Made Banjo, and is plated with an antique gold. When the banjo is offered for sale in the near future, it will be available as shown in the accompanying photo, or with a custom engraving pattern which Bill is designing himself.

Tom Mirisola, president of American Made Banjo, is delighted to have Bill on board. He also shared news about their having recently acquired their own machine shop to manufacture to Dannick tone rings and the other metal parts used in assembling the Kel Kroydon banjos.

Evans has been using the banjo of late for his many banjo workshops, and his shows with Megan Lynch in support of their new CD, Let’s Do Something, and is pleased with his signature model Kel Kroydon.

“I’m excited to be associated with Tom, American Made Banjo Company and the Kel Kroyden nameplate. I take an association of this kind very seriously and I wanted to be sure that we had come up with an instrument that equaled and maybe surpassed any other professional grade instrument available in terms of tone, workmanship and playability. The Bill Evans KK is the result of a collaboration between Tom, Robin Smith, Charlie Cushman and myself with the goal being to create an instrument that sounded as close as possible to the prewar instruments that I’ve been associated with over my career.

The classic sound and tone of players like Earl Scruggs and Sonny Osborne rings in my head every time I pick up the banjo – that combination of maple and gold for me can’t be beat. I also need an instrument that’s at home with styles other than bluegrass. The KK is the only new banjo that I’ve played that works for me in all settings. The tone, response and feel of this banjo is right for both traditional bluegrass and more adventurous playing. And it’s got a big sound! When I’m on stage with Megan Lynch, it’s often the only instrument you hear as I support Megan’s singing. This banjo is allowing me to work at an entirely new level of dynamics and power and I can get a pretty amazing array of sounds from it.

Bill Evans and Richie Dotson at a joint banjo workshop on the Outer Banks of North CarolinaI’m out there teaching at a lot of music camps and I’m doing more touring than ever these days. It’s not a day that goes by that I don’t get an inquiry from someone wanting help selecting a banjo. I’m also good friends with most all of the banjo builders and manufacturers out there internationally and I’ve owned and played quite a few instruments built by these various companies and individuals. I value each and every person that’s out there building banjos! For these reasons, I wanted to be associated with a company and with an instrument that I could sincerely feel was the very best for me and what I try to achieve with my music, my teaching and my career. I think the American Made Banjo team has achieved this with the Bill Evans KK.”

You can catch Bill and his Kel Kroyden signature banjo at one of these events this coming spring and summer:

  • April 4: San Diego, CA, Old Time Music
  • April 5: Granada Hills, CA, Blue Ridge Pickin’ Parlor
  • April 16: Las Cruces, NM, Rio Grande Theater with Steve Smith
  • April 17: Albuquerque, NM: Outpost Performance Space with Steve Smith
  • April 18-19: Durango, CO: Durango Bluegrass Meltdown
  • April 23: Evanston, IL: Bill’s Blues
  • April 24: Glendale, WI: Milwaukee Area BG Assoc Concert
  • April 25: Madison, WI: Southern Wisconsin BG Assoc Workshops and Concert
  • April 26: Chicago, IL: Old Town School of Folk Music workshop
  • May 2: Palo Alto, CA: Gryphon Stringed Instruments workshop
  • May 13: San Francisco, CA: Climate Theater
  • June 5-7: Midwest Banjo Camp, Olivet, MI
  • June 14-17: CBA Music Camp, Grass Valley, CA
  • June 20: Boise, ID: Workshops and concert
  • June 21-26: Steve Kaufmans Acoustic Kamp, Maryville, TN
  • June 27: ROMP, Owensboro, KY
  • July 10-12: Big Horn Mt. Fest, Buffalo, WY
  • July 19-24: Camp Bluegrass, Levelland, TZ
  • August 23-29: BC BG Workshop, Sorrento, BC, Canada
  • October 16-18: NashCamp Banjo Retreat, Fairview, TN

Bill’s updated schedule will can always be viewed on his web site.

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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.