In 2009, banjo czar Wayne Shrubsall funneled much of his vast store of knowledge into a concert at Albuquerque's Covenant Church called The Really Big Banjo Show. It sold out to a standing-room-only crowd. Many people got turned away. A new incarnation, Dr. Wayne Shrubsall’s Really Bigger Banjo Show, happens this Friday night at the South Broadway Cultural Center. Shrubsall emphasizes that this is a different, expanded show. “Trust me,” he says with a smile. “This really is bigger.”
The first name that pops into the brain whenever the word “banjo” is spoken is usually Earl Scruggs, who largely invented bluegrass banjo picking from scratch back in the ’40s. There are other banjo-playing styles, though, that are less well-known but just as captivating. Among aficionados of this kind of banjo picking, Adam Hurt is considered one of the best.
Ben Wood plays banjo in The Porter Draw. He’s also a woodworker and projectionist, knows how to grow a fine mustache, and is descended from Jewish cowboys in Arizona from way back when. Below are five random tracks from his music library.
“Vaudeville” traditionally refers to mixed entertainment on the same bill, and Le Serpent Rouge is just that. A trio of belly dancers, The Indigo, weaves its act between two live musical groups, each old-timey in its own way—the Crow Quill Night Owls and the Gallus Brothers. The show is touted as “vintage cabaret with ragged edges,” implying a touch of disorder or a bit of bawdiness. Or both.
What do you get when you mix banjo, 8-bit Nintendo and karaoke? (Aside from a Missourian out on the town in Japan.) You get programmer/picker Bud Melvin’s LP release for Popular Music.
Bud Melvin creates a solo novelty using the banjo and chiptunes—music produced by older video game and computer systems that generate sound in real time. It’s both retro digital and pastoral, an unlikely combination that interacts with the dynamism of yin and yang. On Sunday, a live collision of Luigi and Jed awaits release party revelers at Ed's Pub, Leisure Bowl's wood-paneled, karaoke-fraught watering hole. The show is free and followed by a night of open karaoke. In the meantime, the Alibi shipped off a few electronic questions to Melvin about the record.
Why release digital chiptunes on an analog record?
The sonically and visually talented Bud Melvin agreed to share photos taken on his Game Boy Camera. Here’s a selection hand-picked by us. To see more, click here, and link to more photos at the bottom of each page.