Jack Sanbower passes

Jack SanbowerJack Sanbower passed away on Tuesday (7/30) at 12:30pm. He had cancer of the esophagus and had been ill for a long time.

Born September 14, 1960, and raised in the shadow of South Mountain, right in the heart of the Appalachian range, he led his own group, The No Leeway Band, one of the tightest and freshest sounding bands in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area, for 15 years. The band produced several albums for the Buck Hollow label.

The latest was the compilation CD entitled Echoes Of A Legacy. The album features 13 original songs penned by Jack Sanbower for the banjo and one classic number, Lady of Spain, made famous by Don Reno and Allen Shelton.

The compilation was recorded at several studios in Maryland over the past 15 years. Over this period, The No Leeway Band released seven projects that included banjo instrumentals written by Jack Sanbower. Buck Hollow Records has taken this previously released material, re-mastered, and added two new tracks with the current No Leeway Band to highlight Sanbower’s banjo abilities.

Sanbower joined Rattlesnake Hill in March of 2006 and continued to dazzle audiences with his lightning fast and tasteful 5-string playing.

Here’s what some essayists had to say ‚Ķ‚Ķ

“Jack Sanbower, is a real master of the five-string banjo. Sanbower’s personalized banjo style stands out as daring and clever, yet sturdy and sound. He’s a picker as good as they make ’em.”
— Joe Ross, Bluegrass Now

“Of the younger generation of bluegrass entertainers… Jack Sanbower is one of the great ones of this generation. Definitely an under-rated banjo player, look for great things from this gentleman.”
— Lee Michael Demsey, WAMU

[an] “imaginative banjo player, and his picking is bold and adventurous and often exciting” and called his picking “Stellar Renoesque.”
— Bluegrass Unlimited

His visitation will be this Thursday, July 31, at Davis Funeral Home, in Smithsburg, MD, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The burial will be on Friday, August 1, at 1:00pm in nearby Ringgold, MD.

Cards and donations can be sent to:

Johnny Sanbower
23468 Whitetail Road
Smithsburg, MD 21783

Here’s a YouTube clip of Jack performing a version of Don Reno’s classic banjo tune, Dixie Breakdown.

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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.