Dolly Parton to make appearance at OKC's American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame virtual induction ceremonies
The American Banjo Museum is reimaging this year's American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame induction ceremonies as virtual celebrations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The virtual festivities planned for Monday-Oct. 16 are slated to feature a special appearance by music legend Dolly Parton, according to a news release.
Each year since opening in 1998, the museum has honored the best of the best in the banjo world with induction into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame. Originally established as The National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame, early honorees were Jazz Age four-string banjo performers, educators, promoters and manufacturers. The American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame was established in 2014, with the museum's leadership embracing the opportunity to honor all types of banjos and playing styles, with the addition of the categories honoring five-string as well as other types of banjos.
From iconic names such as Earl Scruggs, Steve Martin and Belá Fleck to lesser-known yet still vital contributors to the art or industry of the banjo, the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame continues to recognize those who have shaped the banjo’s past, present and future. Like past recipients, the 2020 honorees have each displayed a lifelong commitment to the banjo in one of five categories.
The American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame inductees for 2020 are:
GARY “BISCUIT” DAVIS - Five-String Performance - Davis began playing banjo at age 10. He was Tennessee State Champion by the age of 12, and he has since been named two-time Kentucky State Champion, four-time Alabama State Champion and National Banjo Champion on four separate occasions, first in 1979 at age 16 and again in 1988, 1996 and 2012. Davis began playing professionally at age 13 in Chattanooga, and he moved in 1988 to Pigeon Forge, where he joined Jim and Charlie Smith‘s Southstar Band and Dollywood. There he evolved to be the band leader and record producer for Dolly Parton. Davis currently performs daily at Dolly Parton’s Stampede dinner theater while teaching private banjo and guitar lessons and traveling to host banjo instruction clinics and concerts throughout the year.
ED “FAST EDDIE” ERICKSON - Four-String Performance - Erickson began his banjo and guitar career in the San Jose, California, area in the 1960s performing at Capone's Warehouse and Disneyland. From there, he went to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, where he was featured in the Class of '27 show, starred in the Banjo Kings in the Magic Kingdom and, from 1978 to 1983, led the Riverboat Rascals show band on board Disney's Empress Lilly Showboat in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. A beloved musician and entertainer in the classic jazz world, Erickson continues to be a featured performer at many jazz festivals, parties, and concerts around the world.
DON RENO - Historical - A product of the North Carolina concentration of bluegrass banjo pioneers, Reno’s banjo playing is recognized as one of the most innovative and recognizable five-string banjo styles of all time. Influenced by old-time banjo player Snuffy Jenkins, Reno developed his own three-finger "single-string" style that allowed him to play scales and complicated fiddle tunes note-for-note. As a member of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys and the banjoist who brought the iconic "Dueling Banjos" to life, Reno will be forever be associated with innovative and musical banjo playing.
GEOFF STELLING – Design & Manufacture - Since 1959, while still in high school, Stelling has been either playing the banjo or trying to improve on its design. His Stelling Banjo Works was established in 1974 while he was at a naval base in San Diego, California. As a semi-professional banjoist in various bluegrass bands since the 1960s, he developed an ear for banjo tone and experimented with the mechanics of banjo construction until he patented the revolutionary designs which his banjos are famous for today. Included among Stelling’s innovations are his wedge-fitted pot assembly, the “pivot-pin” tailpiece and compensated bridges and nut assemblies. Combined with the simple elegance of Stelling’s visual dynamic, his contributions to sound and playability make his banjos internationally revered.
ROGER SPRUNG - Instruction & Education - An argument could be made that Sprung was the first progressive five-string banjoist. While his contemporaries in the bluegrass world were experimenting with swing in the 1940s and ‘50s, Sprung was expanding the acceptable banjo repertoire to include swing, ragtime, pop and classical styles as well. Credited with introducing bluegrass banjo techniques to the folk music world, his eclectic musical influence is reflected today in players such as Bela Fleck, while Sprung himself continues to explore new and exciting musical possibilities for the banjo.
In past years, American Banjo Museum took place during gala ceremonies in Oklahoma City as part of the Banjo Fest weekend. However, with the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, this year’s induction ceremonies will be streamed via the internet.
Leading up to the induction ceremonies, music lovers are invited to tune in at noon Monday-Oct. 16 for an interview with each of the inductees about their life’s work with the banjo.
At 7 p.m. Oct. 16, the Oklahoma City museum be broadcasting a coast-to-coast road trip, visiting each honoree and present their induction ceremony into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame from their hometowns.
In addition to presentations with the honorees, the 2020 hall of fame program on Oct. 16 will include special guest appearances by Parton, Tony Trischka, John McEuen, Jason Skinner, Bill Dendle, Shelley Burns and many others.
To watch daily interviews or the virtual induction ceremonies, visit www.americanbanjomuseum.com. After the live broadcasts, interviews and the complete induction ceremonies will be available at the website.
For more information on upcoming events, or to become a member of the American Banjo Museum, visit www.americanbanjomuseum.com.