A three-day celebration of the banjo known as BANJO FEST will again take place in Oklahoma City during the weekend of September 5-7, 2019. With concerts, informal performances, parties, jams, and the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame Gala – all open to the public - BANJO FEST delights locals while focusing the attention of the banjo world on Oklahoma City.
The BANJO FEST weekend begins with a reception Thursday evening, September 5th at the American Banjo Museum. The evening will feature the grand opening of a new exhibit, Reflections Of Our Past – The Jim Bollman Collection. With live music provided by the Hall of Fame banjoists, Debbie Schreyer and Lee Floyd joined by four-time national five-string banjo champion, Gary “Biscuit” Davis, the evening’s festivities will also include the presentation of the prestigious American Banjo Museum Awards of Excellence.
On Friday afternoon two very special programs will take place at the American Banjo Museum. Banjoist Bob Carlin will present an intimate memoir of renaissance musician, John Hartford, based on his nearly 20-year association with the iconic new Hall of Fame member. Following Carlin’s presentation, an in-depth look at the exhibit bearing his name will take place when world-renown banjo collector Jim Bollman visits with museum guests and does Q&A about his amazing collection.
The main event takes place on Friday evening, September 6th as the 2019 inductees to the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame are honored at VAST located in the Devon Tower in downtown OKC. This year’s Hall of Fame honorees have each displayed lifelong commitments to the banjo and changed the way the world sees and hears America’s instrument. This formal event is open to the public and will include a reception, dinner and ceremonies honoring the 2019 inductees Alison Brown, Jimmy Mazzy, John Hartford, Bob Snow & Rosie O’Grady’s, Janet Davis and Johnny Baier.
ALISON BROWN - Five-String Performance - Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Brown began playing banjo at the age of ten. After winning the Canadian National Banjo Championship and appearing at the Grand Ole Opry, she attended Harvard University and, in 1987, was asked to join Union Station. Brown spent three years with Union Station and was named the International Bluegrass Music Association “Banjo Player of the Year” in 1991. The 1990 album I've Got That Old Feeling, which Brown played banjo on, won a Grammy and saw her gravitating toward a blend of bluegrass with jazz and folk idioms in a manner similar to those of Béla Fleck and David Grisman. In addition to performing, Brown is a co-founder of Compass records and has cultivated an impressive repertoire as a record producer.
JIMMY MAZZY – Four-String Performance - Mazzy is one of America’s best known traditional jazz banjoists and vocalists and has been a popular attraction in the traditional jazz circuit since the 1970s. Mazzy has performed extensively in the United States and worldwide, regularly appearing at jazz festivals including the Sacramento, San Diego, Essex, and several Connecticut festivals. Mazzy is a member of The Paramount Jazz Band as well as the Wolverine Jazz band and also freelances with other groups including the Yankee Rhythm Kings, the Magnolia Jazz Five, and the Back Bay Ramblers.
JOHN HARTFORD - Historical - An internationally known multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and entertainer, John Hartford became the face of the banjo to a new generation during the 1960s. After penning the megahit Gentle On My Mind, Hartford was a regular guest on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour as well as the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, all of which gave him the financial independence to pursue his passions of music and river boating. Always musically adventurous, Hartford was a co-founder of the Newgrass movement in the late 1960s while remaining passionate and faithful to his roots in traditional music. With many songs left unsung, Hartford passed away in 2001 at the age of 63.
BOB SNOW/ROSIE O’GRADY’S - Promotion - In 1972 a former Navy pilot and Dixieland jazz trumpet player named Bob Snow opened a jazz club called Rosie O’Grady’s in a derelict area of downtown Pensacola, Florida and established a prototype for urban entertainment complexes around the country. Snow’s own version of the concept known as Church Street Station in Orlando, Florida opened in 1974 with Rosie O’Grady’s Goodtime Jazz Band setting the tempo for years to come. With the banjo being prominently featured in tens of thousands of shows at Rosie O’Grady’s as well as in the company’s advertising, promotion and imagery, literally millions of people enjoyed the music and good-time entertainment associated with the banjo because of Bob Snow’s visionary efforts.
JANET DAVIS - Instruction & Education - Although most associated with the retail music business which bore her name, it is in her role as a musical educator which Janet Davis has made her most lasting contributions to the banjo world. As part of the tiny music instrument and accessory business which she began with her husband, Jim, in 1978, Davis began selling self-produced instructional publications as well. Since then, after establishing herself as a respected clinician and author, appearing at hundreds of musical events around the country as well as regularly contributing to the Banjo Newsletter, Davis has evolved into one of the world’s most prolific authors of banjo instructional publications, with over 100 titles published by Mel Bay Publication alone.
JOHNNY BAIER – Four-String Performance – Well known in recent years as the Executive Director of the American Banjo Museum, Baier continues an impressive performance career that began in 1971, leading the sing-alongs at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Through passion, study, practice and performance, the intervening years have seen Baier develop a unique solo tenor banjo style which is equally engaging to banjo players as well as the general public. Nowhere was this more apparent than during the 15 years spent in Orlando, Florida performing countless shows for the tourists at Church Street Station as well as the Walt Disney World Resort. While his professional performance career is now overshadowed by his administrative role with the museum, Baier continues a lifelong quest for excellence in performance and the elevation of the perception and musicality of the banjo.
Following an evening of jams and socializing activity begins anew on Saturday, September 7th at the American Banjo Museum. Beginning at noon, informal performances will take listeners through a virtual tour of the banjo’s long and colorful evolution. From Dixieland jazz styles of Hall of Fame member, Lee Floyd to one-of-a-kind renditions from IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, Ned Luberecki to the unique classic banjo style of Ron Hinkle to the bluegrass and beyond five-string banjo fireworks of four-time national banjo champion, “Gary Biscuit” Davis, listeners will experience the banjo’s story presented by a veritable “who's who” of performing artists.
The performance crown jewel of the weekend takes place on Saturday evening, September 7th when the fourth annual BANJO FEST concert takes the stage at the Performing Arts Theater at the Oklahoma City Community College. Starring Grammy award winning banjo virtuoso, Alison Brown and her Quintet; Grand Ole Opry stars, The Grascals (featuring 2018 Steve Martin Prize winner, Kristin Scott Benson), and jazz banjo virtuoso Buddy Wachter & Johnny Baier – Side By Side, BANJO FEST promises an unforgettable night of music and entertainment from legendary members of the banjo world. Following the concert, the BANJO FEST weekend is capped off with a post-concert afterglow party at the American Banjo Museum beginning at 10 PM.
In addition to the Welcome Reception, Hall of Fame Gala, performances at the Museum, BANJO FEST Concert, and Afterglow Party, attendees will enjoy other informal performances and jamming sessions. Open to the public, BANJO FEST tickets can be purchased by calling the American Banjo Museum at 405-604-2793 or online at www.banjofest2019.com. Tickets for the concert only are available at OCCC box office 405-682-7579.
The Holiday Inn Express Bricktown at 101 E Main Street, Oklahoma City, is the host hotel for BANJO FEST with a discounted room rate of $129 when using group code BFM. Reservations can be made by calling 405-778-8101 or 800-315-2621.