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French Kirkpatrick just wanted to play music.

“I kind of wanted to be a singer, but I couldn’t sing worth a hoot,” the 75-year-old chuckled. “I wanted to be a regular picker, a banjo player, I even tried to play the fiddle one time, played the harmonica — I was a multiple-testing type of person.”

art frWhen he didn’t have the money to purchase a banjo, Joshua Grant took matters into his own hands.

“I couldn’t afford what I wanted, so I decided to build one,” he said.

A native of the Nantahala Gorge, the 31-year-old recently launched Grant Custom Banjos, a business that constructs handmade instruments as unique and full of character as Grant himself. 

By Chris Cooper

It hardly needs to be said that the banjo has taken major leaps in the hands of certain talented players over the years. It’s job as the “rhythmic glue” in traditional bluegrass continues, but has also evolved and found a unique voice in the more complex harmonies of jazz, “newgrass,” and all points in between. And the award winning playing of Tony Trischka has been a major force in taking the instrument to these new places for some 40 years or so.

By Michael Beadle

Laura Boosinger was a student at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa in the late 1970s when she decided to take a banjo class for a college credit.

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