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Give Him the Banjo

Tony Trischka

Tony Trischka is coming to Eugene Nov. 18 hot off one of the most prestigious banjo events in the world: the New York Banjo Summit with fellow string masters Bela Fleck, Bill Keith, Noam Pikelny, Richie Stearns, Eric Weissberg and Pete Wernick. “Prestigious banjo” may seem like an oxymoron to some, but not if you have followed Trischka’s career, which has elevated the rang-a-dang-dang instrument to new heights. “We had a great time. We’re all old friends,” Trischka tells EW over the phone from New Jersey, where he had no power or heat due to Hurricane Sandy. 

Trischka, who has been playing and teaching banjo for close to four decades (Fleck was one of his past pupils), doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In the past five years, he has released two full-length albums, opened the Tony Trischka School of Banjo, produced Steve Martin’s Grammy-nominated album Rare Bird Alert  (collaborating with the “completely down-to-earth” Paul McCartney on “Best Love”) and acting as musical director for the PBS documentary Give Me the Banjo. Recently, Trischka has been busy rewriting Bach’s Sonata No. 3 for the banjo and getting ready to release a new album in 2013, which will feature a tribute to the hundredth anniversary of Woodie Guthrie’s birth. “I do keep feeling inspired and I’m not quite sure why. Part of what I do just comes out naturally,” says Trischka, who plans on playing music for another forty years.

The five-string king will be accompanied by his band Territory, plucking tunes from the 2009 award-winning album of the same name released by Smithsonian Folkways. Audiences can look forward to the rollicking “Fox Chase,” a blazing dance between banjo and fiddle that will have people high-stepping between Tsunami’s bookshelves in no time. Trischka will also be picking songs from Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, a review of bluegrass standards like “Escher’s Waltz” and “The Crow.” Get ready to kick up your heels for this rare, twangy treat.

Tony Trischka plays with Territory 8 pm Sunday, Nov. 18, at Tsunami Books; $24.50 adv.; $26 door.