I’m delighted that my old friend Tony Trischka went three-for-three at IBMA 2007. His latest Rounder CD Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular may be his greatest album ever, and this is an artist whose recordings are consistently superb. Double Banjo‘s double win of Best Instrumental Album and Recorded Event of the Year is especially noteworthy given this year’s strong competition in those categories. Ditto Tony being honored as Banjo Player of the Year.
Tony is a genuinely modest fellow, not giving to tooting his own horn (er, twisting his own D-tuners?). This may obscure the fact that he’s one of the truly pivotal banjo pickers of our time, both in terms of his accomplishments and his wide-ranging influence on new generations of 5-string players.
Trischka burst onto the bluegrass scene as a new-grassy innovator (some said, a musical rebel) building on the melodic legacy of the great Bill Keith. And I don’t think he’ll ever stop ingeniously pushing the creative envelope. But he’s also arrived as the ultimate traditionalist, an artist who can thrive in the mainstream Scruggs mode and who has lovingly studied and absorbed the banjo’s lifelines all the way back to its West African roots.