Tony Trischka – Banjo

Tony TrischkaTony Trischka is perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. For more than 35 years, his stylings have inspired a whole generation of bluegrass and acoustic musicians. He was not only considered among the very best pickers, he was also one of the instrument’s top teachers, and created numerous instructional books, teaching video tapes and cassettes.

A native of Syracuse, New York, Trischka’s interest in banjo was sparked by the Kingston Trio’s “Charlie and the MTA” in 1963. Two years later, he joined the Down City Ramblers, where he remained through 1971. That year, Trischka made his recording debut on 15 Bluegrass Instrumentals with the band Country Cooking; at the same time, he was also a member of Country Granola. In 1973, he began a two-year stint with Breakfast Special. Between 1974 and 1975, he recorded two solo albums, Bluegrass Light and Heartlands. After one more solo album in 1976, Banjoland, he went on to become musical leader for the Broadway show The Robber Bridegroom. Trischka toured with the show in 1978, the year he also played with the Monroe Doctrine.

Beginning in 1978, he also played with artists such as Peter Rowan, Richard Greene, and Stacy Phillips. In the early 1980s, he began recording with his new group Skyline, which recorded its first album in 1983. Subsequent albums included Robot Plane Flies over Arkansas (solo, 1983), Stranded in the Moonlight (with Skyline, 1984) and Hill Country (solo, 1985). In 1984, he performed in his first feature film, Foxfire. Three years later, he worked on the soundtrack for Driving Miss Daisy. Trischka produced the Belgian group Gold Rush’s No More Angels in 1988. The following year, Skyline recorded its final album, Fire of Grace. He also recorded the theme song for Books on the Air, a popular National Public Radio Show, and continued his affiliation with the network by appearing on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, From Our Front Porch, and other radio shows. Trischka’s solo recordings include 1993’s World Turning, 1995’s Glory Shone Around: A Christmas Collection and 1999’s Bend. New Deal followed in 2003. The new studio album was a bluesy adaptation of bluegrass standards that featured, among other things, a vocal cameo by Loudon Wainwright.

Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, featuring an appearance by comedian Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs and many other luminaries, came out four years later. For this recording he went back to Bluegrass and reinvigorated the double banjo tradition of that style along the way and brought along some fine companions. In October 2007, Tony was given an IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) award for Banjo Player of the Year 2007. Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular received IBMA awards for Recorded Event of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and a Grammy Nomination.

With his fearless musical curiosity as the guiding force, Tony Trischka’s latest critically acclaimed release, Territory roams widely through the banjo’s creative terrain. Nine selections partner Tony with fellow banjoists Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, Bill Evans, Bill Keith, Bruce Molsky, and twelve all-Trischka solo tracks explore a panorama of tunings, banjo sounds, and traditions; tapping the creative potential of America’s signature musical instrument.

Throughout his upcoming tours, Tony will be presenting both his Solo works from Territory and will continue to present an “astonishing” (Boston Herald) group of musicians to perform his Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular.

Biographical info:
Courtesy Rounder Records
Courtesy Smithsonian Folkways
Courtesy Hi-Gain Management
Sandra Brennan – courtesy All Music Guide

“…the godfather of what’s sometimes called new acoustic music.”
– New York Times

“…most influential banjo player of the latter part of the 20th century, certainly in terms of his profound influence on succeeding generations of modern players.”
– Banjo Newsletter

“Urban bluegrass whiz.”
– Time Magazine

“Explosive banjo playing.”
– Boston Globe

“One of the most impressive banjoists alive.”
– Billboard

“Keep playing them new notes.”
– Bill Monroe


The Boston Pops Orchestra
Barry Bostwick*
Sam Bush*
David Bromberg
William S. Burroughs*
Buddy Cage*
Larry Campbell*
Keith Carradine
Vassar Clements*
Ornette Coleman
John Denver*
Hazel Dickens*
Jerry Douglas*
Bill Evans (saxophonist with Miles Davis)*
Bela Fleck*
The Flecktones
John Goodman
Richard Greene*
Merv Griffin Orchestra
Nancy Griffith
David Grisman*
Thomas Hampson*
John Hartford
Levon Helm
Chris Hillman
Garth Hudson
Ferlin Huskey
David Johansen (aka Buster Poindexter)*
Jorma Kaukonen
Jeannie Kendall
Alison Krauss*
Malachy McCourt
Roger McGuinn
Steve Martin*
John Medeski
Natalie Merchant*
Edgar Meyer
Jane Monheit
Bill Monroe
National Radio Orchestra of Korea
Mark O’Connor*
Charles Osgood*
Van Dyke Parks*
Tom Paxton
Robert Randolph
The Roche Sisters*
Peter Rowan*
Earl Scruggs*
Mike Seeger*
Pete Seeger*
Ricky Skaggs
Phoebe Snow
Bruce Springsteen
Ralph Stanley*
Tanya Tucker
Jay Ungar and Molly Mason*
Violent Femmes*
Loudon Wainwright*
Doc Watson
Waverly Consort*
The Whites*
Wichita Percussion Ensemble
Tom Wopat
*denotes recordings

Television Appearances

Live at the Quick, with Bela Fleck, 2004-2006
ABC “Views”, with Bela Fleck – Summer 1997
“ABC World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings – Summer1996
“CBS Sunday Morning” with Charles Osgood – feature story (including Bela Fleck), 1995
“Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” (PBS), 1992
British Television Production of “Voice of America: History of the Banjo” , 1989
CBS “Hallmark Hall of Fame” production of “Foxfire” with Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and John Denver, 1987
Ralph Emory’s “Frets” Awards Show, The Nashville Network, 1987
Nashville Network’s “Fire on the Mountain,” 1986, 1984
Merv Griffin Show, 1976


Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular Tour – Currently touring with guitarist/vocalist michael daves, fiddler brittany haas, bassist skip ward & double banjo seat filled by noam pikelny, gordon stone, and others.
Tony Trischka Band – Kennedy Center (2000), Seaside Jazz Festival (2002), plus tours throughout the United States, Canada, and Germany, 1997-present
Solo tours throughout the United States and Korea, Japan, Finland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Croatia, 1986-present
World Turning – Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) 1997, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Winterhawk Bluegrass Festival, Black Mountain Folk Festival, and countless concerts and club dates, 1993-2002
National Public Radio – “Next Big Thing”, 2005, “World Café”, 2004, 2001, “Morning Edition”, “Fresh Air”, Mountain Stage”, 2001, 1995 and 1994; The Connection (2001), “Prairie Home Companion”, 1996, 1982
With Skyline – appearances in 40 states, five tours throughout Europe; two tours of Japan, 1981-Present
Performances With Others

Duo performances with Bela Fleck – tours of U.S., and New Zealand, 1992-2006
With John Modeskey and Robert Randolph, 2001
Leftover Salmon, Flecktones, Vassar Clements, and Violent Femmes, 1999-2001
Old and in the Way reunion at Rocky Grass Festival (CO), 1997
Waverly Consort – 1998 Spring tour, NPR’s Performance Today, Summer 1996; Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), 1995.
With Peter Rowan and Richard Greene – Telluride,CO, 1996, Japan and Hawaii, 1978
Guest soloist with National Radio Orchestra of Korea, in Seoul: “The Slavery Documents”, 1991
Guest soloist with Wichita Percussion Ensemble: “The Void Beneath the Coffee Table” a three movement banjo concerto composed by Paul Elwood for Tony Trischka, 1986
“Foxfire” with Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, and Keith Carradine, Los Angeles and Denver, 1985-1986
“The Robber Bridegroom” – Ford’s Theater, Washington, D.C., 1978; bus and truck tour, 1978; musical leader of Broadway production, 1976-1977
With David Bromberg and Ferlin Husky – Avery Fisher Hall, NYC, 1973

Instructional Materials

Mel Bay

Fiddle Tunes for Banjo, to be published in 2006
Alfred Publishing

Banjo for Beginners, 2001
Hal Leonard Publications

The Tony Trischka Collection, 1999
AcuTab Publications

Masters of the 5 String Banjo (with Peter Wernick) 2000 (re-pubublication)
Glory Shone Around, 1995
Books for Oak Publications

The Complete Banjo Player, to be published 2006/2007
Masters of the Five String Banjo (with Peter Wernick), 1987 (first publication)
Hot Licks for Bluegrass Banjo, 1983
Bill Keith, 1979
Teach Yourself Bluegrass Banjo, 1977
The Banjo Songbook, 1975
Melodic Banjo, 1973
Independently Published Books

Tablature for Hill Country
Tablature for Robot Plane Flies Over Arkansas
Homespun Tapes


Bluegrass Repertoire, to be published 2006
Tablature to Solo Banjo Works, with Bela Fleck, 1998

Classic Bluegrass Banjo Solos, and Practicing Tips, 2002, 2003
Bluegrass Banjo: Tunes and Tips, 1990


Easy Banjo Solos, 1988
Hot Licks for Bluegrass Banjo, 1986
Advanced Banjo (with Bill Keith), 1979