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This Ain’t Your Grandpa’s Banjo

Mar 12, 2011 10:35PM ● By Anonymous

The twang and the values bring me back to simpler times and cause me to reflect on the little things in life.  With the release of Dierks Bentley’s new album Up on the Ridge and the rising popularity of Mumford & Sons, I became intrigued by the bluegrass/folk influence.  Bluegrass and folk music are most famous for the combination of acoustic stringed instruments including mandolin, guitar, banjo, fiddle, and upright bass.  The banjo is one of the oldest instruments in the book, but musicians are starting to teach this old dog new tricks.

My fiancé and I have similar taste in music and we have become hooked on Mumford & Sons.  Mumford & Sons is an English folk rock band that formed in late 2007.  They have an energy about them that is intoxicating and at the same time, they have a grounded natural sound that makes you think they are playing right in your backyard.  The members of this band are all talented multi-instrumentalists, but the instrument that stands out the most in their music is the banjo.  With our adoration for their music has come an adoration of the banjo.

The banjo has influenced a genre of music, but it has also influenced my gift giving.  My fiancé is a self-taught guitarist and could spend hours picking around on a guitar, so what better gift to get him than a banjo?  In search of the perfect beginner banjo I learned a lot on the way.  The banjo is similar to a guitar, but the body is circular.  Banjos come with either four strings or five and different styles of music require different number of strings.  5 string banjos are used for bluegrass music and 4 string banjos are used for jazz.  I purchased a 5 string beginner banjo through bluegrass superstore,

With all this bluegrass talk, I wanted to find a great local concert featuring a band with a bluegrass feel.  Naturally my first stop for local concerts was Rams Head.  The band that caught my eye was Mountain Heart playing at Rams Head On Stage!  Mountain Heart is an American bluegrass band that was formed in 1998.  Their musicianship and ability to connect with the audience has won them several awards multiple years in a row.  From “Entertainer of the Year” to “Instrumental Group of the Year,” this group has not only proved superior, but individual band members have also been nominated for and won various awards.

The concert did not disappoint!  And the banjo gift was a success.  Bluegrass is simple and complex at the same time.  It could be categorized as easy listening for the fine tuned ear.  With its rising popularity, it wouldn’t hurt to turn off the radio, buy a bluegrass cd and enjoy the twang.