Bill Evans talks California Banjo Extravaganza

California Banjo Extravaganza 2013Banjo fans on the west coast will have another real treat with the assembly of three stellar banjo players Tony Trischka, Sammy Shelor and Bill Evans for four concerts in northern California from November 14th to 17th.

This year’s California Banjo Extravaganza, the second, will also feature in support John Reischman, Chad Manning, Jim Nunally and Sharon Gilchrist.

In addition to the concerts there will be a Banjo Mini-Camp on Saturday, November 16th at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley from 12:00 noon to 4:30pm.

I spoke to Bill Evans …. what’s so special about this particular extravaganza?

“It gives West Coast audiences a chance to hear banjo players that they don’t get to hear all that often, playing material of their choice backed by an incredible assemblage of West Coast All Stars: John Reischman on mandolin, Jim Nunally on guitar, Sharon Gilchrist on bass and mandolin and Chad Manning on fiddle. These are folks who usually front their own bands or play with such folks as David Grisman, Darol Anger and Laurie Lewis. Tony will be previewing some tunes from his upcoming CD – so these will be close to being world premieres – and I think it’s going to be really great to hear Sammy playing his favorites with such a great backup band. And since I usually tour as a solo performer these days, this tour gives me a chance to play some of the things on my CDs that require a full band. I’ll be playing a lot of things from my 2012 In Good Company CD while also heading back in time to play a few pieces from my 1995 Rounder CD Native and Fine.”

Have you been working up some numbers that you will be playing together?

“We try to begin and end each show with a triple banjo meltdown. You can count on a driving Angeline The Baker for this tour but I’m not sure what else we’ll cook up.”

Evans added …..

“It’s not just about banjo playing! We’ll do a great deal of singing and each musician will be featured. Last year, two of the three shows were sell outs and we’re hoping to have full houses in our four concerts booked for this year. Also, on Saturday at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley, Tony, Sammy and I will give a four and a half hour banjo mini-camp for all levels of players, presenting six different topics.

I’m hoping to keep this event growing from year to year, turning it into a world class banjo experience!”

Sammy Shelor is a five-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s award for Banjo Performer of the Year, as well as the winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. He leads the Lonesome River Band, which celebrated their 30th anniversary recently.

Tony Trischka just might be the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. Ever since he heard the Kingston Trio play Charlie and the MTA in 1963, he’s been serving up banjo magic. Visit Tony Trischka’s website

Bill Evans is also an author – his Banjo for Dummies is the best-selling banjo instructional book in the world – and, like Shelor and Trischka, he is a banjo life force. His latest album, In Good Company, topped international folk and bluegrass charts and made numerous ‘Best of 2012 lists’. Visit Bill Evan’s website

The schedule of events is as follows ……..

  • Thursday, November 14: Grass Valley, CA: Grass Valley Center for the Arts, 314 West Main Street, Grass Valley. 7:30pm show. More information is available from the Center for the Arts website.
  • Friday, November 15: Winters, CA (Sacramento area): The Palms Playhouse, 13 Main Street, Winters. 8:00pm show. Visit the Palms Playhouse website for more details.
  • Saturday, November 16: Berkeley, CA: Banjo Mini-Camp from noon to 4:30 p.m. with Tony Trischka, Sammy Shelor and Bill Evans. Open to all students, recommended to those with six months or more of playing experience. Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. Additional information, including cost and full itinerary, can be found at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse website.
  • Saturday, November 16: Berkeley, CA, Banjo Extravaganza Concert, Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. 8:00pm. More information is available at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse website. This show can also be viewed online at Concert Window.
  • Sunday, November 17: Felton, CA (Santa Cruz Mountains area), Don Quixote’s International Music Hall, Felton. 2:00pm concert. Details can be found at the website for the Don Quixote’s International Music Hall.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.