To infinity and beyond… on the banjo!

I caught up recently with Jayme Stone, Canadian-based but world-inspired banjo player, and learned that he continues in his quest to place the ol’ five in new and unexpected settings. He has notably recorded and performed with prominent west African folk musicians, and has a summer planned which will include collaborations with Asians musicians from a number of different nations.

Jayme was fresh off a performance in Colorado when we chatted, where he took on a part written for tenor banjo, and played it 3-finger style on a five string.

“I’m playing the banjo part for Shostakovich’s Suite No. 1 for Jazz Orchestra at the Aspen Music Festival. The suite is scored for 3 saxophones, 2 trumpets, trombone, wood block, snare drum, cymbals, glockenspiel, xylophone, banjo, hawaiian guitar, piano, violin and double bass. It premiered on March 24, 1934.

Since my 1935 Gibson TB-1 was originally a tenor banjo, I figure I’m in good standing to play the part.

It was great to experience the culture of classical music… reading music notation, following a conductor, going onstage to warm up before the concert, wearing a white tuxedo.”

But Stone doesn’t just embrace 20th century classical music. He also performs with The Thyme Quintet, who embrace period instruments for Baroque music.

“My musical life is getting more diverse every day. I’m on tour steadily across the continent, highlights include the Ottawa Folk Festival, Seattle’s legendary Bumbershoot Festival and a residency at the San Francisco World Music Festival where I’ll be collaborating with musicians from Kyrgyzstan, Tibet, India and Iran.

In November, my Room of Wonders project tours NM and AZ, followed by a series of CO dates with a brand new chamber ensemble that plays Bach and Debussy, featuring Ann Marie Morgan (viola de gamba), Sandra Wong (nyckelharpa), Mintze Wu (violin) and Grant Gordy (guitar).

Here’s a video of us playing Bach’s Contrapunctus IX from The Art of the Fugue:”

You can follow Jayme’s many banjo adventures at

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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.