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Banjo Masters Oral History Project- Hank Smith

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Dec 4, 2019 - 5:23:41 AM
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1952 posts since 8/10/2005

I am sure by now most of you are aware of my long-running oral history project of talking to influential and unique banjo players. I do this through my work in the Special Collection and Archives department of a university library and am always happy when I can carve out the time to set up these projects, and see them through. They take a lot of time and it always pleases me to release them to the public so that other folks can be as amazed as I am with what these folks have to say and play. This new "interview".... Hank Smith.

Hank Smith may not be a household name to a lot of people so briefly- Literally days after receiving his Masters Degree in (I think it was) Religious Studies, he went on the road with an acoustic based jam band- Barefoot Manner, and played all across the country in a constant and punishing schedule. After that he was in various bluegrass and Americana bands frequently with Pattie Kinlaw. The two of them struck up a musical friendship and later formed their current band- Hank, Pattie and The Current.

Musically, Hank is a genius. He and Pattie can be frequently found playing bluegrass but just as often the can be found playing with classical music quartets or chamber orchestras. While I was with him doing the interview that I turned into this oral history video, Hank played several pieces including a lovely original tune inspired by his travels in Iceland, a banjo interpretation of a Shostakovich piece, and Shuckin The Corn. He can do all three of these things amazingly clean, fast, and well. In addition to being a professional touring musician all of his adult life, he has also written a novel, teaches banjo as part of the music faculty at UNC, and is involved in several teaching situations through Raleigh NC, and a foundation he and Pattie set up. The guy is fascinating- and funny too. We laughed a lot that day. So here it is, Hank Smith-


Edited by - budbennett on 12/04/2019 14:00:20

Dec 4, 2019 - 7:17:44 AM
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Greg Denton


39 posts since 10/5/2014

That's awesome! Thank you!

Dec 4, 2019 - 8:51:20 AM
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Players Union Member



35 posts since 4/8/2013

Great interview. I was lucky enough to see Hank play with Jens at Carolina in the Fall in September.

Dec 4, 2019 - 8:54:33 AM

1952 posts since 8/10/2005

Originally posted by Greg Denton

That's awesome! Thank you!

I go every year to that festival- it is my favorite for sure.  Wasn't it amazing when Hank and Jens played Margaritte- did you see that?  Beyond amazing!

Dec 4, 2019 - 6:18:36 PM

1952 posts since 8/10/2005

Bluegrass Today write-up!

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