Steven Ware wins Deering banjo from IBMA Foundation

The IBMA Foundation has announced that Steven Ware from Waco, TX is the winner of their 2024 Strings for Dreams Bluegrass Raffle, which raised $20,890 to benefit the educational and philanthropic work of the Foundation, and their overall efforts to support the growth of bluegrass music.

Ware, who has been playing the banjo for more than 40 years, is a mathematics teacher at a technical school in Waco. He says that he never dreamed he would win when he bought a ticket.

“I just cannot overstate the joy and elation I feel upon having won this beautiful Deering banjo! I fit the stereotypical ‘never won anything before’ guy stereotype!” 

His prize is a 2011 Golden Era Deering Banjo valued at $4,000, donated to the Foundation for the raffle. This was the fourth year they have raffled an instrument in the Strings for Dreams program.

Steven says that, like an entire generation of banjo pickers, it was Earl Scruggs that brought him into the fold.

“Earl Scruggs’s Foggy Mountain Breakdown 45 record—not the 1949 version—but still my favorite version back then when I was a kid. I also heard Earl play on The Beverly Hillbillies television show. I began playing at age 15 with several lessons, and then just picked it up on my own after that. I’m about to turn 60, so that’s about 45 years of playing. I haven’t played professionally, but I have been on stage several times for local programs and nursing home visits.

Earl is my favorite banjo player of all time, and after that, Little Roy Lewis and Lewis Phillips, Alan Munde, Tom Adams, Richard Underwood, Sonny Osborne, Barry Crabtree,  and Mike Lilly—a few off the top of my head, in no particular order.”

Once the banjo arrived, Ware made this brief video which he shared with the IBMA Foundation.

Many congratulation Steven!

The IBMA Foundation hosts their Strings for Dreams Bluegrass Raffle each spring. If you have an instrument you might consider donating for the raffle, you can contact the Foundation online.

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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.