Tony Trischka returned to the Red Man state this past weekend for a banjo workshop. A layover with an unnamed airline led to the demise of Tony’s shoes and change of clothes; however, things went as scheduled except for the quick pit stop at the local Target for him to purchase his new “custom-made” brown loafers. Tony had laughter pulsating in the room almost immediately as he spoke of how his Deering banjo didn’t get lost, but the bag containing his shoes, his merchandise, and his banjo socks didn’t make the trip all the way to Oklahoma.
Yep, you read that right… banjo socks. Trischka says that, “Everyone is streaming, and people aren’t buying CDs like they used to. With T-shirts, you have to carry different sizes… socks are one size fits all.” Tony shared that his plan was to have been wearing his OWN socks, but due to the airline’s mistake, he had to wear pizza socks.
He says he started selling the socks around the holidays, but they were popular all year at his shows. “This was right before Christmas, and I ordered a bunch of socks, and they sold like hotcakes. I figured it had to do with people wanting stocking stuffers, but I reordered and they are still selling.” While available in two styles: red, white and blue or blue and purple, to become an owner of your own pair of Trischka socks, you have to either catch Tony live, or contact the American Banjo Museum.
Tony Trischka never ceases to amaze in person. In 2019, after ten years in the making, the civil war musical he has written will be available. Titled This Favorite Land, and based on a mixture of historical and fictionalized events, the piece uses vocals, some instrumentals, and even an eight piece marching band.
In February, Trischka and his son, Sean, went back to where the roots of the banjo grew, when the two held a Banjo Photo Safari in Africa, and took 18 banjo enthusiasts/pickers along. An exclusive safari scene was the setting for the perfect music workshop environment. So perfect that Tony and Sean recorded a two sided EP with Maksan African musicians, Maqinga Radebe and David Jenkins. One side of that soon to be released EP is titled after another African resident, the Black Back Jackal. Tony tells us, “When the guide said, we might get to see a Black Back Jackal, I knew that sounded like a bluegrass song.” Actually recorded in Ladysmith, in Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa with a release date still to be determined, keep an eagle eye out in 2019 for this epic recording which will be available on Spotify and Apple iTunes.
Trischka did not disappoint his small in number, strong in talent banjo workshop attendees in Tulsa. Ron Bishline of Bishline Banjos, hosted the event. Handouts of tablature were distributed as Tony took his time to go page by page and explain the keys, the patterns, and the elements to proper playing. His scheduled 3 hour clinic turned into almost 5 hours of picking and jamming.
To hear one of the attendees, “What a wealth of knowledge crammed into such a short time. You need sideboards to gather it all in!” At the end of the clinic, Trischka took the time to visit, chat and play with the owner of Bishline Banjos. Picking up his signature Deering Silver Clipper, while Rob plucked on his own Bishline banjo, you could hear only beautiful music as the two jammed together for another 45 minutes in the otherwise silent room.
At the end of the day, as Trischka put his picks in his Deering “frog” bag, there was still that mesmerizing status that Tony exudes. One of confidence, one of knowledge, and one that shows the love and respect for his instrument, the five string banjo.