Tom Hanway was born on August 20, 1961, in Cleveland, Ohio, grew up in Larchmont, Westchester County, New York, and attended Hampshire College. He is an American 5-string banjoist, composer, author, and an originator of "Celtic fingerstyle" banjo.In 1998, he and luthier Geoff Stelling co-designed the Stelling Tom Hanway SwallowTail banjo, available in both standard and deluxe models, used in bluegrass, folk, and Celtic music around the world.
Tom Hanway learned to play the banjo in the 1980s, studying with Tony Trischka and Bill Keith, being inspired by their music and the music of Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, Don Reno, Béla Fleck, David Bromberg, Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead, and Vassar Clements. In the late 80s and early 90s he worked with the John Herald Band (formerly the Greenbriar Boys), Blue Horizon, Burnt Toast, and with Kenny Kosek in the off-Broadway bluegrass musical Feast Here Tonight.
Hanway has played on dozens of recordings on both sides of the Atlantic, and has produced three recordings on his Joyous Gard Records label; for Bucket of Bees, he teamed up with Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, David Grier, Tony Trischka, Bill Keith and Vassar Clements in Nashville and New York City . He has performed onstage with Bill Monroe, Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, Rick Danko and Levon Helm. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he and Kathleen Low Hanway (1960–2002) organized the St. Mark’s Bluegrass Festival. In 2005, he won the European Bluegrass Music Association's 'European Bluegrass Band of the Year' award as a member of the Ravens.
In 1998, Mel Bay Publications published Hanway’s seminal book and CD, [[Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo https://www.melbay.com/Products/95759M/complete-book-of-irish--celtic-5string-banjo.aspx]] wrote in January 1999: "What Earl Scruggs' book did for bluegrass banjo, Tom Hanway's book may well do for the 5-string in Irish and Celtic music, and will certainly become regarded as 'the bible' for any 5-string player with an interest in this joyous music."
Hanway is a music journalist and contributing writer to the Celtic League, American Branch, Perspective and Meaning in Celtic Music. He is a member of the United Arts Club in Dublin, promoting traditional music concerts, including Irish, bluegrass and folk music. He now calls Ireland home and resides in Longford town.Currently Hanway remains a sought after talent on the Irish bluegrass scene where he plays with the top bands.
The banjo is a stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity to form a resonator. The membrane is typically circular, in modern forms usually made of plastic, originally of animal skin. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by African Americans and had African antecedents. In the 19th century, interest in the instrument was spread across the United States and United Kingdom by traveling shows of the 19th century minstrel show fad, followed by mass-production and mail-order sales, including instruction method books. The inexpensive or home-made banjo remained part of rural folk culture, but 5-string and 4-string banjos also became popular for home parlour music entertainment, college music clubs, and early 20th century jazz bands. By the early 21st century, the banjo was most frequently associated with folk, bluegrass and country music, but was also used in some rock, pop and even hip-hop music. Among rock bands, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin, and the Grateful Dead have used the five-string banjo in some of their songs.
William Smith Monroe was an American mandolinist, singer, and songwriter, who created the bluegrass music genre. Because of this, he is often called the "Father of Bluegrass".
Bluegrass music is a genre of American roots music that developed in the 1940s in the Appalachian region of the United States. The genre derives its name from the band Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. Like mainstream country music, it largely developed out of old-time string music, though in contrast, bluegrass is traditionally played exclusively on acoustic instruments and also has roots in traditional English, Scottish, and Irish ballads and dance tunes as well as in blues and jazz. Bluegrass was further developed by musicians who played with Monroe, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt. Monroe characterized the genre as, "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's a part of Methodist, Holiness and Baptist traditions. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound."
Earl Eugene Scruggs was an American musician noted for popularizing a three-finger banjo picking style, now called "Scruggs style", which is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music. His three-finger style of playing was radically different from the traditional way the five-string banjo had previously been played. This new style of playing became popular and elevated the banjo from its previous role as a background rhythm instrument to featured solo status. He popularized the instrument across several genres of music.
Scruggs style is the most common style of playing the banjo in bluegrass music. It is a fingerpicking method, also known as three-finger style. It is named after Earl Scruggs, whose innovative approach and technical mastery of the instrument have influenced generations of bluegrass banjoists ever since he was first recorded in 1946. It contrasts with earlier styles such as minstrel, classic or parlor style, clawhammer/frailing/two-finger style, jazz styles played with a plectrum, and more modern styles such as Keith/melodic/chromatic/arpa style, and single-string/Reno style. The influence of Scruggs is so pervasive that even bluegrass players such as Bill Keith and Don Reno, who are credited with developing these latter styles, typically work out of the Scruggs style much of the time.
Old & In the Way was a bluegrass group formed in 1973. It was composed of Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements (fiddle), Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, and John Kahn. When the group was forming, it was intended that John Hartford would be the fiddle player. Based on Hartford's engagements, and Clements' reputational stature in the bluegrass community, Clements became the group's fiddler.
Pete Wernick, also known as "Dr. Banjo", is an American musician.
Anthony Cattell Trischka is an American five-string banjo player. Sandra Brennan wrote of him in 2021: "One of the most influential modern banjoists, both in several forms of bluegrass music and occasionally in jazz and avant-garde, Tony Trischka has inspired a whole generation of progressive bluegrass musicians."
Vassar Carlton Clements was an American jazz, swing, and bluegrass fiddler. Clements has been dubbed the Father of Hillbilly Jazz, an improvisational style that blends and borrows from swing, hot jazz, and bluegrass along with roots also in country and other musical traditions.
The Keith style of playing the 5-string banjo emphasizes the melody of the song. Also known as the "Melodic" or "Chromatic style", it was first developed and popularized independently by Bobby Thompson and Bill Keith in the early 1960s. It is used primarily by bluegrass banjoists, though it can be applied to virtually any genre. Most banjoists who play Keith style do not use it exclusively, but integrate it as one aspect of their playing, a way of adding spice to the more common 3-finger style of Earl Scruggs.
Donald Wesley Reno was an American bluegrass and country musician, best known as a pioneering banjo and guitar player who partnered with Red Smiley, and later with guitarist Bill Harrell.
William Bradford "Bill" Keith was a five-string banjoist who made a significant contribution to the stylistic development of the instrument. In the 1960s he introduced a variation on the popular "Scruggs style" of banjo playing which would soon become known as melodic style, or "Keith style".
DeWitt "Snuffy" Jenkins was an American old time banjo player and an early proponent of the three-finger banjo style.
Allen Shelton was an American five-string banjo player mostly known for being a member of the bluegrass band Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys since the 1960s. Shelton was born in Rockingham County, North Carolina on July 2, 1936. Shelton started playing the banjo when he was fourteen. His father Troy Shelton was a guitar player mainly, but also played mandolin and banjo. A local musician named Junior Biggs showed him some three-finger style rolls.
The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo is a 2009 album by Steve Martin, featuring Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Earl Scruggs, Tim O'Brien, Tony Trischka and Mary Black. It contains 15 songs and is the first album focusing on Martin as a musician. Martin's 1977 comedy recording Let's Get Small, however, did feature him briefly playing the banjo during some of the comedy bits, and The Steve Martin Brothers devotes one side to banjo playing, including earlier renditions of some of the music presented here. It was first released on January 27, 2009, as an Amazon.com exclusive and then released to retail stores everywhere on May 19, 2009. On January 31, 2010, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards.
Bluegrass Album, Vol. 5 - —Sweet Sunny South is a fifth album by bluegrass supergroup, Bluegrass Album Band, released in 1989. Violinist Vassar Clements is on this album replacing Bobby Hicks, and bass duties are taken over by Mark Schatz (instead of Todd Philips, who otherwise plays on all Bluegrass Album Band albums.
In bluegrass music, a banjo roll or roll is a pattern played by the banjo that uses a repeating eighth-note arpeggio – a broken chord – that by subdividing the beat 'keeps time'. "Each ["standard"] roll pattern is a right hand fingering pattern, consisting of eight (eighth) notes, which can be played while holding any chord position with the left hand."
Banjo music is a genre of music that consists exclusively, or primarily of, the banjo. Banjo music can be played as a solo, or it can be played with a band. Banjo music can be played with all types of banjos.
William G. Evans is an American musician, author, and instructor noted for his banjo proficiency and knowledge of the history of the instrument.