Stokes County, North Carolina will be the center of the banjo universe this Saturday, Nov. 11 as The Arts Place of Stokes in Danbury hosts a workshop and show by nationally recognized banjo musicians Riley Baugus, Ryan Cavanaugh, and Stokes County’s own Rex McGee.
Riley Baugus represents the best of old time American banjo and song. His powerful singing voice and his expert musicianship place him squarely in the next generation of the quality American roots tradition. He grew up in the Winston-Salem area and learned directly from Round Peak style legend Tommy Jarrell and other area traditional musicians Dix Freeman and Chester McMillian. His recording experiences have included the Grammy Award Winning Album of the Year “Raising Sand” by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, and he was featured on Willie Nelson’s Grammy nominated recording “Country Music.”
Ryan Cavanaugh’s innovative ideas of how and what is played on the 5-string banjo are occupied by few banjo players and musicians alike. Born in New Jersey, Ryan grew up in Mount Airy and has shared the stage with traditional greats Doc Watson, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Doug Dillard, and John McEuen. Having honed his present ultra-modern chops under the wings of Jazz sax legend Bill Evans, Cavanaugh has meticulously developed a technical approach and songwriting craft entirely his own while not compromising his instrument, or the music, to play new genres. Lauded by roots music authority No Depression, the ambitious and musically Cavanaugh is “the most versatile banjo player in the world whose name isn’t Fleck…”
Stokes County native Rex McGee is known by three finger style banjo players all over the world as a vanguard innovator on an instrument of humble origins. His reputation as an accomplished performer extends to other instruments including fiddle and guitar, and his performing acclaim is perhaps surpassed by his creative composing and sought after teaching skills. The son of accomplished pianist Rex Sr. and the grandson of renowned fiddle player Ralph “Ole Timer” McGee and Hamp Easter, McGee’s roots in traditional music run deep. His collaborations have included guitar legend Larry Keel, newgrass vocalist John Cowan, Tony Rice, Pat Flynn, and Tony Williamson.
A workshop with Baugus, Cavanaugh and McGee will take place from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at a cost of $30 per person. The workshop will include demonstration and instruction and limited to the first 12 participants to sign up. Participants must bring their own instrument.
The day will culminate with an evening performance by the three from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Joining the trio onstage will be National Fingerstyle Guitar Champion Todd Hallawell. Admission to the evening show is $20 per person, $10 per person for workshop participants.
In honor of Veterans Day, all Veterans will be admitted free to the evening performance.
To register for the workshop, purchase advance show tickets, or for more information, contact the Stokes County Arts Council at 336 593-8159.