The 3rd Annual Colorado Banjola Fest
At Willow Farm 11898 N. 75th St.Longmont Colorado 80503
Sat. Aug. 20th from 5:00 pm-9:00pm
Food and drink available on-site!
Banjola and Festival information:
Banjos with wooden bodies and soundboards date back at least to the 19th century in the United Stated. In the 1890′s an instrument called a mandoline-banjo was sold by August Pollmann. Another name used to describe these unusual hybrid instruments was the “banjo-lute.” The banjo itself is derived from African prototypes. West African gourd-bodied lutes like the akonting and bunchundo, for example, are closely related to the banjo (in tuning, construction, and technique). The term banjola was created by Edward Victor Dick in 1996 to describe his own version of a banjo mandola hybrid. It differed from the earlier Pollmann instruments by having a larger body, a longer scale length, and employing a guitar style pin bridge. These innovations give his instruments greater volume and a more robust tone than the Pollmanns. In recent years he has continued experimenting with the instrument design, adding a 6th string, creating a nylon-string version, as well as larger and smaller types. In the 1890s the Pollmann company marketed their mandolin-banjo as “The New Society Instrument,” claiming there was “positively nothing like it.” Today (over 100 years later) the modern “perfected” banjola is a lot like it, and if the slogan featured on the banjola fest t-shirts is to be believed; “everything sounds better on banjola,” perhaps “the new society” of the 21st century will finally embrace this unique instrument. Indeed, a number of regional and international musicians have been taking up the banjola in recent years. Steve Mullins, the festival producer, who is known for his flamenco guitar and mandolin playing has published the first instruction book for banjola, and plays the first and only 9-string-nylon-string banjola. Jens Kruger (from the Kruger brothers) and Ron Block (the banjo player for Allison Krauss) play banjolas built by Edward Dick. Grammy award winning guitarist Al Petteway also performs and records on the banjola, and appeared in the 1st banjola festival in 2009.
One of the more recent converts to the instrument is Jayme Stone who will be headlining this event. Mr. Stone (along with Bela Fleck) has been at the forefront of the 21st century banjo revival, called “the Yo Yo Ma of the banjo,” he performs everything from Bach to bluegrass, jazz and African music, along with original compositions inspired by folk dances from around the world. Stone’s album, The Utmost, won the 2008 Juno Award for Instrumental Album of the Year. The most recent chapter in Stone’s musical travelogue takes place in Africa. He went in search of the banjos roots, curious about the music that may not have made it across the ocean on slave ships headed west from Senegal and Mali in the 1700-1800’s. An eight-week trip to Mali was supported by a prestigious Chalmers Arts Fellowship and found Stone sitting in with Toumani Diabate and the Symmetric Orchestra in downtown Bamako, lost in circles of Wassoulou polyrhythms and in a rural Dogon village with no electricity where he inadvertently discovered a banjo predecessor unheard of in the West. The resulting album, Africa to Appalachia, is a boundary-crossing musical collaboration with singer and kora maestro Mansa Sissoko. Produced by David Travers-Smith and featuring celebrated ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate, the recording won the 2009 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year.
Stone’s brand new album, Room of Wonders, includes music from Norway, Sweden, Brazil, Bulgaria, Italy and North America. His third solo recording, following the international breakout success of Africa to Appalachia, features fiddle pioneer Casey Driessen, gravity-defying guitarist Grant Gordy, former Punch Brother Greg Garrison and special guests Olov Johansson (nyckelharpa), Nick Fraser (drums), Kevin Turcotte (trumpet), William Carn (trombone) and more. Stone will be joined by his “Room of Wonders” ensemble in this festival performance.
For more information about the banjola visit www.banjolas.com