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15 Professional Lady Banjo Artists You Have Probably Never Heard Of (But Should!)

Posted by einglish on Monday, November 24, 2014

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Presenting the 2015 Banjo Babes Calendar & Album! A silly, fun, thematic calendar (emphasis on the silly part :) with a seriously awesome compilation album featuring some of the most exciting music from lady banjo artists around the world. The second-annual, international, limited-edition calendar and album features fifteen lady banjo artists in both the calendar (thematic photo of each) and on the album (one track from each). Ummmm, so the calendar is a joke. (A rather creatively produced one nevertheless!) But the album is serious. And it's really good! You can preview the tracks here: www.banjobabes.bandcamp.com. If you're into banjo music of any kind - old-timey, bluegrass, newgrass, folk, progressive, country, rock - these artists are going to amaze you!

Produced by one of the artists, Erin Inglish, the Banjo Babes Calendar & Album is a grassroots project, collaboratively created and distributed by the artists, made in the USA, professional quality, and guaranteed to make you smile and tap your toes! Who are these ladies? Their bios and websites are below! They all would love it if you checked out their music, projects, tour dates, etc.! Why have you not heard of them? Well, it can be quite challenging to get the word out as independent artists - in world overwhelmed with information, large publishing companies, and limited resources. Which is why the Banjo Babes project came to be! This mission of this project is to promote lady banjo artists in a fun and productive way - with the goal of widespread distribution to share our music...while having a little bit of fun, 'cause life's short :) We hope you'll join us in celebrating these artists! More at www.banjobabescalendar.com.

Just an aside: another cool thing about this project is that the advertising sponsorship program is going to make it possible for this album to be distributed to Americana radio stations - all part of the mission and vision of sharing their music with the world! This year that includes Shubb Capos, Drum Dial, Inc., Gulliver’s Travel, Bill Gaines Audio, Inc., National Fingerpicks & Black Diamond Strings, Ohm Banjos, BooBoo Records, The Lowest Pair, Erin Inglish Music, Folk Alliance International, Elderly Instruments, and more. These artists are grateful for the support - and are very excited to share their music with the world in 2015!
 

MEET THE ARTISTS!

BB2015_ERIN_1_smallErin Inglish (Organizer, Banjo Babes Calendar & Album)
www.erininglish.com

California banjo songstress Erin Inglish often performs just voice and banjo, and her songwriting reflects her passion for traveling and grounding  for environmental conscientiousness, social justice and artistic expression. A graduate of mechanical engineering, Inglish worked for many years in sustainable development and green building consulting before opting to become a full time musician in 2012. In 2013, Inglish released her first solo album titled, A Melody So Sweet, and then toured – by bicycle – the entire coast of California to celebrate Earth Month as part of what would become her annual Earth*Bike*Banjo tour. The 2014 tour pedaled from Portland to San Luis Obispo debuting a banjo-puppet music for kids called The Good Folk Show. Inglish is the organizer the annual Banjo Babes Calendar & Album, a collaborative project amongst lady banjo players aimed at supporting and promoting independent artists via a fun, thematic calendar and professional compilation album. In January 2015, she will tour for a second season with Duncan Phillips, son of Utah Phillips, as part of his Long Memory tour celebrating the life and times of Utah. Inglish tours internationally for part of the year, and while at home in the countryside in California, she writes music, teaches banjo, and is a potter and graphic artist. She believes in freedom of positive expression, fostering kindness and celebrating good, and making the world a better place through music. Namaste.

 

MacKay_Maggie_PHOTO 2_smallMaggie MacKay
www.maggiemackay.com

Maggie MacKay is the first female principle banjo player to graduate from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Professional Music with an emphasis on songwriting and performing. A Nova Scotia native, now residing in Boston, Maggie fuses her maritime influences with blues, rock, and traditional bluegrass. In 2012 Maggie released her first full-length solo project of original material - produced by Ryan Roberts and Dave Demay. Maggie’s musical focus Boston-based bluegrass band, Chasing Blue and Nashville-based Americana band, The Local Memories. When off the road, Maggie is a private instructor for banjo, violin, and piano in the Sudbury, MA, area.

 

McKamey_Megan_PHOTO 2_smallMegan McKamey
www.meganmckamey.com

Megan McKamey might be young, but she’s no stranger to bluegrass music. She first picked up the banjo at age nine after her Papa Conner told her she could have his old banjo if she’d learn to play it. Now, at 21, she has done just that. In the past several years, McKamey has begun to make a mark on the East Tennessee bluegrass scene. She currently performs at the popular Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge six nights a week. She recently released her first album titled, Here’s Your Goodbye - featuring some of today’s top Bluegrass artists!

 

BB2015_Rilko_Lindsay_small Lindsay Rilko (of “Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys”)
www.lindsayloumusic.com

Lindsay Lou (Rilko) and her band, Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys have been non-stop traversing the country since their 2012 record, Release Your Shrouds. The album showcased the band’s meshing of Appalachian tradition with a rootsy Michigan vigor. They are anticipating the release of their second full-length album, Ionia, in 2015.  Motivated by the power of music to connect; to ask questions; to heal and to learn about what it means to be human, Lindsay Lou, Joshua Rilko, Mark Lavengood and PJ George are a finger pickin’, harmony slingin’, tight knit family fashion conglomeration who show no signs of slowing down.

 

Aubert_Dani_PHOTO_1_smallDani Aubert of “Patchy Sanders”
www.patchysanders.com

Dani Aubert is a lover of the land, and her music grows from the vines, trees, polypores and spring ephemerals that inspire her. Her songs are filtered through dreams, forests, owls, and cedar trees - and weave chromatic melodies, dissonant vocal harmonies and a soundscape of rhythmic and melodic orchestration. She plays the banjo, harp, penny whistle, and “sings like a hawk nestled in a rose patch.” She is a founding member and songwriter for “folk orchestra” Patchy Sanders. Their debut album Patchy Sanders & The Wild Peach Forest was added to the 2015 Grammy ballots under the category “Best Folk Americana Roots Album of the Year.” From the Appalachians to the Cascades, the wilderness continues to inspire Aubert to write and share her music.

 

Caner_Laurie_PHOTO 2_smallLaurie Michelle Caner of “Hey Mavis”
www.heymavis.com

Laurie Michelle Caner lives her songs every time she sings them. Her banjo playing is an original style of curious origin, and serves as a strong yet ethereal foundation for her lyrics. Her band Hey Mavis released their second album to a sold-out crowd in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in February 2013. Tracks are getting airplay in London, the Netherlands, and across the US. If you are unfamiliar with the music of Hey Mavis, they welcome you to enter their world of “Appalachian Americana”.  With banjo, fiddle, upright bass, guitar, kick drum and harmonica, they easily move from a softly orchestrated lullaby to a raw and raucous love song.

 

Lynn_Jami_PHOTO 2_smallJami Lynn
www.jamilynnmusic.com

In a few short years, folk, jazz, and blues songstress Jami Lynn has made her mark on the Midwest. Jami majored in Vocal Performance and Commercial Music in college, during which time she recorded her first album, Dreamer, as Jami Lynn & The Aquila Band. She has since released her second album, “Sodbusters,” and Cluck & Croon - a duo project with Black Hills flat-picker, Dylan James. Jami Lynn also brings folk music to elementary school students via the South Dakota State Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools and Touring Artists programs. She has also shared the stage Spider John Koerner, The White Buffalo,Trampled by Turtles, Charlie Parr, Portland indie-rockers Blitzen Trapper, Chatham County Line, The Pines, Special Consensus, and Mark Johnson.

 

Ladin_2_SQ_smallEvie Ladin
www.evieladin.com

The polyrhythmic heat of Evie Ladin’s clawhammer banjo, resonant voice, real stories and rhythmic dance have been heard from A Prairie Home Companion to Celtic Connections, Lincoln Center to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Known as a driving force behind San Francisco’s Stairwell Sisters, Ladin’s solo debut Float Downstream (2010), co-produced by Mike Marshall and Keith Terry, was quickly followed by Evie Ladin Band (2012), which won Americana Album of the Year by the Independent Music Awards Vox Pop Vote. Based in Oakland, CA, Ladin tours solo, duo with Keith Terry, or with her expansive stringband - Evil Diane. In every combination, Ladin’s live performance is a demonstrative, gorgeous storm. www.evieladin.com

 

Vant Hof_Grace_PHOTO 2_small

Grace Van’t Hof
www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Vant-Hof

Grace Van’t Hof studied classical violin and piano at a young age until she discovered the banjo in high school. A university scholar of Americana voice and banjo, she has performed in venues from the Merlefest Midnight Jam and the Grey Fox Mainstage, to the International Folkdance Festival in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Van’t Hof has share the stage with an impressive array of artists including Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Tony Trischka, Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers, the Dixie Beeliners, Della Mae, Locust Honey, and many more. Apart from her music career, she also works as a graphic designer and illustrator.

 

Monick_Susie_PHOTO 1_smallSusie Monick
www.susiemonick.tripod.com

Susie Monick is a multifaceted artist and a true banjo pioneer. Monick studied at Syracuse University where she took up the banjo and founded the first all-woman bluegrass band Buffalo Gals. Her 1976 album Melting Pots is hailed as the first jazz banjo album. An accomplished instrumentalist on banjo, mandolin, and accordion in various Nashville bands, she also fronts her own band Holly Wood And the Extras. Also a sculptor, she turned to clay to ease pain in her hands. Monick has made appearances in ABC’s Nashville and several movies.

 

Winter_Kendl_PHOTO_2_smallKendl Winter (of “The Lowest Pair”)
www.thelowestpair.com

A traveler, a dreamer, and a bold banjo pickin’ songstress from Arkansas, Kendl Winter now calls Olympia, Washington home. While spending most of her time on the road as half of the new old-timey banjo duo, The Lowest Pair, she writes and performs in both clawhammer and three-finger style. This quirky, old-time roots influenced duet performs traditional and original music, often nestled-in between. Dave Simonette (of Trampled By Turtles) recorded their debut record 36¢. They are road warriors with a city folk front and back porch sentiment. This dynamic banjo duo is turning heads across the country.

Caskey_Donna Lynn_PHOTO 1_smallDonna Lynn Caskey
www.donnalynncaskey.com

Banjo gal Donna Lynn Caskey honors folk tradition while sometimes taking it to edgy, new places. Her debut album, Nameless Heart, consists of twelve timeless-sounding, boundary-stretching originals on clawhammer banjo. Caskey began writing and playing banjo in 2011 after attending an intensive banjo course in North Carolina on a full scholarship. Shortly thereafter, she left her home in Virginia by train for California. Her heartfelt, engaging performances inspire audiences to sing along, weep at soul-stirring ballads, and laugh at playful one-liners amidst occasional bouts of tuning. www.donnalynncaskey.com

 

Downden_Emily_PHOTO 2_small

Emily Dowden
www.facebook.com/emily.dowden.band

Singer/songwriter Emily Dowden performs with her band The Emily Dowden Band, teaches music, writes, models, and is a health and wellness consultant. Originally known for her decade-long run with family band “The Dowden Sisters,” Dowden was raised on her father’s dairy farm in the rolling green hills and “hollers” of Wright County, Missouri. She spent the first sixteen years of her life developing musical skills, performing regionally, going to school, and experiencing the rural Ozarks lifestyle and musical culture - all which contribute to the genuine artist that she is today. www.reverbnation.com/theemilydowdenband

 

de Groot_Allison_PHOTO 2_smallAllison de Groot
www.allisondegroot.com
www.ohmydarling.ca

Allison de Groot is one of Canada’s top clawhammer banjo players. She combines love and passion for old-time music, technical skill and a creative approach to the banjo forming her own sound – unique and full of personality. De Groot is part of The Goodbye Girls based in Boston, and also founded the Canadian country quartet Oh My Darling, which has toured all over the world from the United States to London to Denmark. In 2012, Allison was awarded the Slaight Family Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. where she has studied intensively with Bruce Molsky. Although firmly rooted in old-time and traditional music, Allison has shown her ability to collaborate and create outside this genre, pushing the boundaries of the clawhammer banjo.

 

Rogers_Amber_PHOTO 1_small3Amber Rogers of “Scenic Roots”
www.scenicroots.com

Amber Rogers is a talented multi-instrumentalist and band leader for Scenic Roots. She has been immersed in bluegrass and old-time music since she was young, beginning with fiddle and piano at age four. She now commonly performs on fiddle, clawhammer banjo, and hammered dulcimer; but also plays bass, guitar, and mandolin. Scenic Roots is a sister duo (with her sister, Erin) which combines old-time mountain melodies, bluegrass drive, Irish traditions, and down-home humor. In addition to her instrumental mastery, Rogers’ voice is a driving force in Scenic Roots’ sound, with a rawness reminiscent of the old Appalachian hills. Her voice has an innocence and purity that makes it instantly accessible and likeable.



Thanks for stopping by! Namaste! ~ Erin

More at www.banjobabescalendar.com.



2 comments on “15 Professional Lady Banjo Artists You Have Probably Never Heard Of (But Should!)”

Ks_5-picker Says:
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 @9:58:38 AM

I've known Amber Rogers since she was a wee child. I've enjoyed watching her and her sister grow and mature as musicians and fine young ladies.

stanleytone Says:
Saturday, November 29, 2014 @12:26:47 PM

Donna Caskey's family lived right down the street from me during the very early '70's.One of her brothers was one of my best friends during my teen years, and one of her sisters was good friends with my sister.Not even sure if Donna was even born at that time. She comes from a large family.

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