Kurt Abell and His Rhythm Knickers Whether they're on stage or on the back 9, these guys can swing! You won't believe your eyes and ears, watching three grown men create so much music, laughter and fun. Novelty tunes, classic standards, an occasional ballad and who-knows-what-else is par for the course as they tee up their own brand of eclectic, musical delight. The unabashed threesome incudes: Kurt Abell, on banjo, guitar and ukulele; Tom Schmidt, on clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax and washboard; and, Evan Dain, on string bass and ukulele. With over 100 years of professional stage experience amongst them, the trio's credits include: jazz festivals, worldwide; stage productions; television, radio and motion pictures; nightclubs; banjo conventions; county & state fairs, corporate events; and, Las Vegas!
John Wilder Professional entertainer and musician and show producer, he has performed throughout the United States, internationally and on cruise ships. Recently, John performed in the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel. John writes arrangements (charts) for entertainers - mostly those working on cruise ships. He formerly leased and ran the Gaslight Theatre in Folsom, CA where John produced musical revue-style shows. Currently John produces similar shows for conventions, parties and corporate events.
Charlie & Nori Tagawa and friends. In 2005, Charlie was inducted into the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame. He began playing banjo and guitar at age 20 in Tokyo. He was a favorite with the Americans who heard him with the Dixieland Dukes at Tokyo's Gaslight Club. A Bay Area restaurant owner convinced him to come to the U.S in 1964 to entertain. He eventually became the music director of the Peninsula Banjo Band, organizer of a great youth band, and an outstanding performer at almost every Banjo-Rama in recent times. He is joined today by his son, Nori, who plays an outstanding banjo, and with Mary Horn on washtub bass. Get ready to hear everything from honky tonk to the classics.
Dick and Helen Martin. This wonderful husband and wife team has headlined banjo gatherings all over the U.S.A. Dick plays either plectrum or tenor banjo and Helen accompanies him with the sweetest washtub bass and voice you have ever heard. Dick learned banjo with his dad's Southern California Banjo Band. The family moved north to the Bay Area and Dick and Helen were members of the great Peninsula Banjo Band. They are back in Sacramento due to popular demand. They now live in Sweet Home, Oregon, near Mom and Dad Martin, site of the Annual Oregon Trail Camp.
Steve Peterson. Steve joined the Peninsula Banjo Band as a youth and he entertained groups throughout the Bay Area including Marriott’s Great America, Marine World, and various banjo s hows throughout the U.S. and Canada. He now lives in Corvallis, Oregon. He still entertains banjo lovers, but a little farther north, now. We are fortunate to have him with us today.
Bill Lowrey. Bill Lowrey began studying the Tenor banjo from Charlie Tagawa at the age of 14. Bill joined Charlie's Junior Banjo Band and quickly progressed in both chord and melody techniques. He studied Plectrum banjo from Kevin McCabe at the age of 17 and fell in love with the styles of Perry Bechtel and Eddie Peabody. Bill has spent countless hours studying and mimicking great musicians such as Chet Atkins, Les Paul, David Grisman and many others to create a style of banjo playing as diverse as music itself. Bill has recently undertaken the task of mastering the works of the Tenor great, Harry Reser, on the Plectrum banjo. Bill loves to play all types of jazz from traditional to modern and particularly loves to immerse himself in the works of George Gershwin. Bill feels the banjo, as life, is to be constantly explored and expanded to encompass new ideas. Bill works as a software consultant to the healthcare industry, is actively involved as a Boy Scout volunteer and is the father of two wonderful pianists: Katie and Laura.
Southtown Strummers The Southtown Strummers are a high energy group focusing on music of the 1920s and Tin Pan Alley with lively vocals and lots of banjo playing! Throw in some sing-alongs and the Strummers have created a formula for over 30 years of continued success entertaining audiences around the country. The band consists of banjoists Dave Frey and Bill Houston, pianoman Greg Stevens and well-known tuba specialist Jim Brennan. The Southtown Strummers with Frey and Houston have been playing since 1975. Greg Stevens joined the band in 1983 - Jim Brennan in 1989. 2009 marks the 20th anniversary these players have been performing together.
Paul Doerner started with the Capital Kids four years ago. He has made tremendous progress and now plays regularly with the Sacramento Banjo Band. He has performed at several major banjo festivals throughout the country. He was recently recognized in the Fretted Instrument Guild Association magazine for his outstanding accomplishments.
Jack Convery. Born in 1954 in Wichita, Kansas, Jack spent his childhood in Fresno, California. He learned how to play the banjo at the age of 12 and he paid his dues by attending festivals and performing at pizza parlors. He was for many years the musical director for the San Francisco 49ers. He won the 1973 award fo the United Artist "Best Banjoist of Northern California." His success as an entertainer has brought him into the entertainment booking business. Jack has volunteered to help the Capital Kids, and Paul Doerner especially, in their quest to master the banjo. Jack has just released his latest CD, "Beatles on the Banjo."
The Capital Kids Banjo Band. Some of these kids are in their eighth year of banjo lessons provided by Peggy Lewis, assisted by Barbara Kampe. Some are new to the band and are performing for their first time. They are all dedicated to learning how to play the banjo. Thanks to the financial support of many groups, the banjos donated by numerous players, the wonderful cooperation from the parents, and the hard work by the youngsters, they are on their way to keep banjo music alive and well.
Peninsula Banjo Band. This band organized in 1963 to preserve the four-string banjo and its music. They have up to 70 members including plectrum and tenor banjos, as well as the washtub bass players. They have played for numerous functions in the Bay Area including Candlestick Park, the 50th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Black and White Ball, the Tech Museum in Oakland, and the Mayors' Convention in San Francisco where Mayor Willie Brown directed the band. They have raised over $180,000 for charities such as the Research Institute of S.F., the Stanford Hospital, Hospice of the Valley and the Ronald McDonald House. Charlie Tagawa is their music director. They meet each Tuesday from 8:00 -9:00 p.m. at the Straw Hat Pizza, 1535 Meridian San Jose. They hold a wonderful Banjo Jubilee each September with great banjo performers and bands.
Wineland Banjo Band. Here is a new, enthusiastic group of banjo players from Northern California Wine Country areas and beyond. The WineLand Banjo Band gets together each week in Livermore to practice, plan and jam under the direction of Jim Bottorff. You will hear old-time and popular music played with 4-stringed plectrum banjos and washboards, plus singing by various members of the band. Many of the members are in other banjo bands as well. The WineLand Banjo Band is making their third trip as a group to the Sacramento Banjo-Rama.
Sacramento Banjo Band. This band has grown to over 50 playing members and about 60 Friends of the Band. They have been performing each year at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee in May. On the first and third Sundays of the month, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., they fill the Straw Hat Pizza Parlor on Mather Field Road with happy players, fans, and music. Last summer they performed a concert for the Tahoe Music Festival at Squaw Valley. In 2005 they donated over $12,400 to children's charities, including Shriners Hospitals for Children, the Make A Wish Foundation, W.E.A.V.E., Sacramento Children's Home, Red Cross, Salvation Army and other deserving charities.