The American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City is pleased to announce the 2017 inductees into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame.
The National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame was established in 1998 to honor jazz age four-string banjo pioneers as well as the contemporary artists, educators, manufacturers and promoters who carried on the traditions of their predecessors. The American Banjo Museum was, in its infancy, an extension of that Hall of Fame.
In the years preceding 2014, the Hall of Fame honored 71 individuals and entities in the four-string banjo world whose career accomplishments might have otherwise gone unrecognized.
As the museum grew and evolved to embrace all types of banjos and playing styles, it became clear that the Hall of Fame should evolve as well.
As such, in 2013, the ABM Board of Directors voted to establish an annual performance category to honor all styles of five-string banjo playing as well as opening the other previously four-string banjo exclusive non-performance categories to all types of banjos. With this move the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame was established. Suggestions for nomination in the categories of Four-String Performance, Five-String Performance, Historical, Education & Instruction, Design & Manufacture and Promotion may be made by any member of the ABM association. Based on these suggestions, nominations are made by the Board of Directors and are then forwarded to the voting body - which consists of the museum board, living members of the Hall of Fame and lifetime members of the ABM association.
Like past recipients, Hall of Fame honorees for 2017 have each displayed a lifelong commitment to the banjo in one of five categories. The American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame inductees for 2017 are:
JOHN McEUEN - Five-String Performance - A founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, McEuen is a pioneering five-string banjo stylist as well as multi-instrumentalist and vocalist with over 40 albums to his credit. From his role in the iconic Will The Circle Be Unbroken LP to countless award winning recordings, concerts and radio and television appearances (including his own SirusXM radio show, Acoustic Traveler), McEuen has likely shared his unique and musical banjo voice with a larger audience than any other contemporary banjo figure.
PAUL ERICKSON - Four-String Performance - Not too long ago thought of as one of the younger generation of four-string artists carrying the torch of the jazz age pioneers, Erickson has matured into a unique and highly respected tenor banjo stylist.
Built upon an exceedingly light touch, fluid motion and a distinctively jazz flavored approach, Erickson’s style is equally at ease with showy banjo standards as it is with tender ballads. As a soloist or part of a swinging Dixieland style ensemble, Paul Erickson reflects the highest standard in musicianship, personal style and banjo traditions.
JOEL WALKER SWEENEY (1819 - 1860) - Historical - Although not the “inventor of the banjo” as he often claimed, Joel Walker Sweeney played a pivotal role in introducing and popularizing the banjo in American culture in the mid-1800s. After learning to play banjo from slaves on his father’s plantation, Sweeney toured as a solo entertainer both in the United States and England prior to becoming the most popular banjoist of the Minstrel Era.
Sweeney is undoubtedly the most significant individual in early banjo history.
ROY CLARK - Promotion - Unquestionably one of the most important figures in the popularization of American country music, Roy Clark’s sixty year career has positively exposed the banjo to literally hundreds of millions of people.
Best known as the comic host of the Hee Haw television program, Clark’s banjo skills have influenced several generations of Bluegrass and country musicians. But more than this, his non-stop concerts (including historic diplomatic tours to the Soviet Union), television appearances and recordings display an unabashed joy in playing the banjo and entertaining which has resulted in countless new banjo fans around the world.
TONY TRISCHKA - Instruction & Education - Tricshka is considered to be the consummate banjo artist and perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world.
In addition to his work and reputation as a performer, composer, arranger and producer, Tricshka is one of the world’s most respected and sought after banjo instructors, creating fifteen instructional books as well as a series of DVDs. In 2009, he launched the groundbreaking Tony Trischka School of Banjo, an advanced, interactive, online instructional site that is the banjo home for students from around the world.
John McEuen, Paul Erickson, Roy Clark, Tony Trischka and Joel Walker Sweeney will be inducted into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame during gala ceremonies to be held atop the fabulous Devon Tower on Friday, September 8th, 2017 in Oklahoma City. The following day, informal performances as well as a very special BANJO FEST
evening concert performance will take place at the ABM as well as the Hudiburg Chevrolet Performing Arts Center at Rose State College.
During their visit, Hall of Fame weekend guests will enjoy recent additions to ABM exhibits including a new blockbuster exhibit, ROY CLARK - AMERICA’S SUPER PICKER which features instruments from Martin’s personal collection as well as entertaining video clips and an enlightening interview with the Wild and Crazy Guy himself.
All American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame weekend events are open to the public. For tickets and more info visit: www.americanbanjomuseum.com or call 405-604-2793.