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Tony Trischka Has More Than One Banjo on His Knee

Steve Martin, Tony Trischka and Bela Fleck together with their banjos in NPR's New York Bureau.
Ned Wharton, NPR
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Steve Martin, Tony Trischka and Bela Fleck together with their banjos in NPR's New York Bureau.

When people think of the banjo, the music that comes to mind is most likely the theme song from Deliverance or The Beverly Hillbillies. But there's more to a banjo than pop culture plucking. Over more than 30 years, Tony Trischka has explored the instrument and its rich history, from African melodies to jazz fusion and classical arrangements.

Trischka's new album, Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, is billed as an "acoustic bluegrass homecoming." Each song features a banjo duet. The list of guest musicians includes such banjo biggies as Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Steve Martin (yes, the movie star) and Alison Brown.

Multiple banjo music is unusual, says Trischka: "[Banjos are] loud instruments, tricky to get a cohesive, harmonious sound." Guess that makes him a plucky so-and-so.

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