BANJO FEST 2021
After an unprecedented year and a half without live music, social gatherings and fun, it’s time to celebrate! In our musical world that means just one thing: Getting together to play and enjoy the joyful music and spirit of the banjo. And for those who share that sentiment, there will be no better place to celebrate America’s Instrument than Oklahoma City and BANJO FEST 2021 – October 7th thru 9th.
From humble beginnings as an annual banquet honoring incoming American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame inductees, BANJO FEST has grown into an internationally known and respected event which shines the spotlight of the banjo world on Oklahoma City. Mixing performances, parties, concerts, and jam sessions with fun-loving banjo players and enthusiasts from around the world, BANJO FEST 2021 promises to make up for time lost during the pandemic in new and exiting ways.
True to its roots, the centerpiece of this year’s event will be the induction of the “Class of 2021” American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame honorees - Jens Krüger, Brad Roth, Greg Rich, Paul Buskirk (posthumous) and Scott Whitfield, each of whom have devoted a lifetime to the performance, preservation and promotion of the banjo and its music. Doubling the Hall of Fame attraction, the weekend will also include special recognition of 2020 inductees – Gary “Biscuit” Davis, “Fast Eddie” Erickson, Don Reno (posthumous), Roger Sprung, and Geoff Stelling, all of whom missed their chance to experience OKC and BANJO FEST last year because of COVID.
Knowing it is the music of the banjo which is the heartbeat of BANJO FEST, live performances of all banjo styles including jazz, Bluegrass, folk and old time - coupled with jam sessions welcoming banjo players of any skill levels - will create the soundtrack of an unforgettable musical weekend. The first strums, picks and plucks of BANJO FEST 2021 will take place at 6PM on Thursday, October 7th as friends – new and old – gather for a welcome reception and barbeque at the American Banjo Museum. Live music, great food and kindred spirits will set the mood for a fun night of hobnobbing with banjo stars as well as being part of the ceremonial grand opening of the Women of the Banjo exhibit (which quietly opened to rave reviews during COVID). Another highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the ABM Awards of Excellence.
As final preparations for the evening’s Hall of Fame festivities take place, during the day on Friday the adventurous will explore the many unique shops and attractions in and around downtown OKC while the banjo faithful will be jamming, socializing or participating in educational workshops planned for the daytime hours at the museum. Then it will be off to the 50th floor of the Devon Energy Tower for the weekend’s main event…the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame inductions.
Since 1998 the American Banjo Museum has had the annual opportunity to honor the best of the best in the banjo world with induction into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame. With each passing year, the Hall of Fame event grows in acceptance and stature among the worldwide banjo community. The inclusive nature of its mission is seen through its honoring of a diverse body of banjo notables. From iconic names such as Earl Scruggs, Steve Martin, Alison Brown and Belá Fleck to little known – yet equally important – 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 colorful past, exciting present and unlimited future. Like past recipients, honorees for 2021 have each displayed a lifelong commitment to the banjo in one of five categories. As a participant at BANJO FEST 2021 you’ll have a chance to be part of this historic banjo evening.
A new and exciting addition to the weekend will be Saturday’s BRICKTOWN BANJO BASH. With a plethora of banjo players in OKC – all anxious to perform after the long COVID shutdown, multiple outdoor stages in the newly renovated and landscaped public space directly across the street from the museum will offer unprecedented performance opportunities for performers of all skill levels and playing styles to be part of BANJO FEST 2021…If you’d like to be part of the performance schedule, please include your request with your registration.
A crowning jewel for an already amazing weekend will take place on Saturday, October 9th, when the world-renown KRUGER BROTHERS headline the BANJO FEST concert at the Hudiberg Chevrolet Performing Arts Center at Rose State College in Midwest City, OK. Opening the show will be 2020 HOF inductee, Ed “Fast Eddie” Erickson joined by Shelley Burns and Bill Dendle - showing the OKC audience why they are perennial favorites at jazz and banjo festivals around the world. Next will be the delicious musical pairing of tenor banjoist, Tyler Jackson and 2020 HOF honoree and five-time national five-string banjo champion, Gary “Biscuit” Davis creating some unique banjo fireworks which can only be described as unbelievable.
Since their introduction to American audiences in 1997, the Kruger Brothers’ remarkable discipline, creativity and ability to infuse classical music into folk music has resulted in a unique sound that has made them a fixture within the world of acoustic music. Through an ever-expanding body of work – Jens Kruger (banjoist and 2021 Hall of Fame inductee) along with his brother Uwe Kruger, guitarist and lead vocalist, and Joel Landsberg on bass, personify the spirit of exploration and innovation that forms the core of the American musical traditions. Their original music is crafted around their discerning taste, and the result is unpretentious, cultivated, and delightfully fresh. Anyone who saw the Kruger Brothers at during their 2017 OKC appearance will attest to this phenomenon and encourage you not to miss BANJO FEST 2021.
The weekend wraps up with a post-concert afterglow party and jam session at the American Banjo Museum…what better way to close a weekend of banjo music and camaraderie than with more of the same. All BANJO FEST activities are open to the public BUT space for some events is limited. Don’t be disappointed…make your reservations NOW to be part of the American Banjo Museum’s BANJO FEST 2021!