Deering 40th Celebration Full of Surprises

by Carolina Bridges

Held on board the Star of India in San Diego’s beautiful downtown harbor, the Deering 40th Anniversary Benefit Concert was a magical evening for all who attended. Surprises included performances by Steve Martin, George Grove of Kingston Trio fame, and Johnny Baier, executive director of the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City. Guests were treated to hearing Martin and Grove each perform a number with the world renowned headliners, Kruger Brothers Band.

While the daytime weather was filled with torrential rains, the evening forecast brought clear skies and sultry winds to carry the beautiful banjo music that was played on all three decks of this historical clipper ship in San Diego Bay. Local artists including Josh Damigo, Brian Holwerda, and Gail Skidmore filled the decks with jolly banjo tunes while the attendees enjoyed a bit of social time with one another before the evening’s concert.

The Silent Auction offerings were very well received and the San Diego Music Foundation garnered over $15,000 from the donated items while the evenings Master of Ceremonies, Brad Perry, was able to get two donated Deering banjos purchased by generous guests. These funds will help support musical programs in the San Diego school districts.

Greg, Janet, and Jamie Deering warmly greeted the attendees and thanked all who supported the event. Johnny Baier, executive director of the American Banjo Museum, gave a rousing performance on tenor banjo and explained the history of this fine banjo to the folks who enjoyed clapping and stomping their feet to his lively playing. Johnny brought with him the leaders of the Fretted Instrument Guild of America who presented Steve Martin with an induction into their Hall of Fame for his strong support of banjo throughout his career. Known for his humility as a banjo player, Mr. Martin playfully reminded the 350 strong audience that he was “just another banjo player being inducted into the Banjo Hall of Fame!”

The opening of the concert started with the performance of “Salt Creek” by Greg Deering on a Vega Long Neck banjo made by the Deering Banjo Company and Barry Hunn, Deering’s Worldwide Sales Manager, on bass.

This led into a stellar performance by the Kruger Brothers Band. Jens Kruger, playing his signature Deering Jens Kruger banjo, took time to tell folks about his history with Deering banjos. Accompanied by his brothers Uwe Kruger and Joel Landsberg, they treated the audience to a magical performance on the water’s edge on a moonlit night that made the celebration of Deering’s 40th anniversary a very special event.


Kristin Scott Benson chooses the Deering Golden Series banjos
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