NOAM PIKELNY: BANJO NEWSLETTER MARCH 2008
There is something jaw-dropping about Noam Pikelny’s banjo laying. His mastery and agility—his ability to play lines and scalar sections with fluidity, tone, drive and conviction—are all astounding. We all love the earthy, visceral sound of the banjo, but a musician that can play with the utmost technical prowess and yet retain that visceral vibe is truly special. Since Noam graced the cover of BNL in July 2004, his musical journey (via the John Cowan Band, Crooked Still, and Tony Trischka’s Double Banjo Spectacular) has led him to the upper echelons of stringband musicians. Mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile of the now defunct Nickel Creek brought together a new crop of young string masters, as he put it, “to put his stamp on the traditional bluegrass band.”
Here is the full text from the Banjo Newsletter feature on me from July, 2008. Written by Jayme Stone:
Jake Schepps keeps his ear to ground. You just never know what to expect when you stop by his musical laboratory (a barn-like coach-house around the corner from me in ever-sunny Boulder, Colorado). There’s Jake working on a Bach lute suite one day, a hard-hitting Scruggs standard the next and counterpoint fiddle parts for his chamber roots ensemble, The Expedition Quartet, on a third day. Always keen to pick a fiddle tune, retrofit a pre-war pot assembly or preview a newly-penned piece, Jake is a true banjo renaissance man.
The Modern Banjo Toolbox: A Compendium of Progressive Techniques for 5-String Banjo is currently in production. The book will feature ideas for endless harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic exploration, and includes many off the progressive techniques used by some of today's top players.