We recently had the chance to catch up with John D. Willis, a musician our ears are more familiar with than we realize! John is based in Nashville, TN and is not only an impressive guitarist in his own right, he has extensive experience in recording on the banjo, including 5 string banjo, long neck 5 string banjo, and 6 string banjo.
Danny Barker was a true original. His activities were vast: jazz banjoist, guitarist, singer, songwriter, ukulele player, actor, raconteur, griot, and a tireless torch bearer of New Orleans music. Danny Barker's long and enduring career spans most of the 20th-century and if one listens to him close enough they will hear the entire history of jazz from the 19th century brass bands and dance bands through Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, and Wynton Marsalis, with many, many side streets on the way. Danny Barker is jazz. Danny Barker should be taught in every public school and every college in America and abroad!
"Is the banjitar a real banjo?” has been a much loved subject of music forums and comment sections the world over. Did I say banjitar? I meant Guitjo. Excuse me...I obviously meant Ganjo... Clearly, even knowing what to call the instrument is a quandary for folks!
One question I hear a lot is "what is a banjitar?" While I have dedicated years pointing out that in fact it is called a 6 string banjo, many folks dismiss the 6-string as some kind of marketing gimmick, born out of a demand from lazy guitar players who want to get a banjo sound without bothering to learn “real” banjo (by which they always mean 5-string, never 4-string).
Here are ten 6 string banjo songs that showcase the history and versatilty of the instrument. The banjo in these songs is one of the primary instruments used (in some cases the only instrument used) and is not just a faint banjo sound buried in the background of the mix. You can see that these songs range from recordings from the 1920’s to today. They also range in styles from traditional jazz, blues, old time, country, and rock. There are no limits for the 6 string banjo. There are many other songs where the 6 string banjo is an essential part of the song. This list is just a snapshot of a few. Let us know of others in the comments section below!
The Banjo Is Rockin'...
...with Keith Urban! The country star and all round tone connoisseur, rocks a banjo in his new video for Wasted Time! And not just any banjo, but a Deering Boston 6 String Banjo. A model which has fast become the industry standard for 6 string banjo having appeared in the hands of Taylor Swift, Eric Church, Kasey Musgraves and Jason Mraz, to name a few.
Unlike a guitar, the 6 string banjo can have its voice dramatically altered by the player. Brighter, warmer, less sustain, more sustain, more mid-range emphasis, etc., by merely changing a couple of components and making adjustments. This “guitar players’ banjo” can meet any musician’s needs. Here’s how:
It is the night before the big day here at Deering! The early hours of Friday morning will see the arrival of not one, but three new machines that will help us take our production to new giddy heights and meet the ever growing demand for quality, American made banjos. This latest addition to the Deering facility in Spring Valley, CA only serves to highlight the fact that the humble banjo, more than ever is being accepted as a mainstream musical instrument.