California Banjo Extravaganza goes virtual for 2020

Normally at this time of year, west coast banjo player, educator, and promoter, Bill Evans, is finishing preparations for his annual California Banjo Extravaganza. This would involve a series of live shows in the Golden State, featuring a number of top banjo pickers with a crack band, and a workshop featuring all and sundry at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.

Evans, a native Virginian, had long recognized that there was a wealth of banjo talent back east that rarely has the chance to perform along the Pacific coast. So he organized these yearly pilgrimages, both to give audiences out west a chance to hear some stellar artists, and to give the players exposure in a different market.

But this year, with COVID-19 restrictions still in effect, the 9th annual California Banjo Extravaganza will go online for an all-virtual presentation. A terrific lineup is in the offing, featuring the remarkable BB Bowness, banjo player with Mile Twelve, classical banjoist John Bullard, old time banjo stylist Allison de Groot, and Evans himself.

The four banjo artists have each prepared a pre-recorded concert, and all will be streamed online on Saturday, November 14, at 5:00 p.m. (PST). Admission is set up as a “pay-what-you-wish” basis, with a recommended donation of $20. Those in the position to offer greater support are welcome to do so, and those with limited means can offer what they can.

Tickets are available in advance through the Freight & Salvage online, where the concert will be streamed.

Just ahead of the show, there will be a banjo mini camp from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. (PST), offered via Zoom. Registered attendees can not only participate in the workshop live, they will also have access to the camp videos after they are completed. A fee of $25 gets you access to all three sessions, one each with Bill, BB, and Allison.

Registration for the mini camp can also be obtained at the Freight & Salvage web site.

Bill put together this explainer video with snippets from each of the four performances as a sample of what will be in store on Saturday night.

Full details about these events on November 14 can be found online.

This is a rare opportunity for banjo lovers worldwide to witness an event generally only available to live audiences in California. It will be a good’n.

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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.