For nearly four decades banjoist Bill Evans has been offering a presentation called The Banjo in America, which condenses the 250 year history of our beloved banjo into a concert-length event. During these shows, which are part performance, part demonstration, and part history lesson, Bill plays a wide variety of musical styles on either historic/vintage or period correct instruments.
Given the difficulty of traveling with a dozen or more banjos, Evans has only been able to offer The Banjo in America on special occasions, or fairly near his home base, but he has recently announced that a combo CD/DVD package of this presentation will be available next month.
Produced in cooperation with David Bragger and Tiki Parlour Recordings in Los Angeles, the DVD is a 65 minute video of Bill’s lecture/performance, paired with an audio CD with full length recordings of the various pieces he plays, 19 in all.
Anyone with an interest in the history and evolution of the banjo, from its ancestral roots in the cultural memories of enslaved Africans, to its current iteration as a professional musical instrument used around the world should find this fascinating. Bill traces the history in both the design and playing styles of historic banjos, along with the music of the various periods that would have been performed on them.
Here is a brief teaser to offer a flavor of the DVD.
It isn’t difficult to imagine this video/audio set having a prominent place in the music libraries of colleges all over the world, or in any place where the cultural exchange that brought today’s banjo to its role of prominence might be explored. Likewise, it deserves a place in the personal collections of anyone who plays or has an interest in the banjo, regardless of style.
Pre-orders are available now for delivery on July 4.