Three New Banjo Videos – Dan Whitener

This weekend and last weekend I spent some time recording some songs, including the following banjo tracks:

Shooting Star – Dan Whitener original tune, available in On the Tracks.

Cluck Old Hen – Traditional tune played with Dave Gross.

Clare de Lune (intro) – Suite bergamesque, 3rd movt, by Claude Debussy.

Share and enjoy!

New Video from Blue Plate Special

Blue Plate Special got together this past weekend to shoot some videos. Here’s a behind-the-scenes image from the shoot and the first video (with more to come!):

At Grey Fox 2014 – Yesterday

This picture was taken moments before I played on the main stage at Grey Fox for the first time.
More to come. And we’re playing again tonight at 10:15 at the dance tent.

Fan Pics from Brinkley’s

You may remember from my recent post that I’ve been playing some weekends at Brinkley’s on Broome Street. I’ll be playing again next Saturday, June 14th, from 2-5 pm, so stop by if you’re in the area!

And if you do come out, tag your photos with #brinkleys on Twitter or Instagram, like these fine folks:

Classical Banjo & Composition

Here’s the trailer for Béla Fleck’s new documentary, How to Write a Banjo Concerto, which debuted recently at the Nashville Film Festival.
Near the end, it gives me the ominous, familiar sense that the director wants the audience to question Béla’s decision to compose for banjo and orchestra, as though it is something a little strange or dissonant. I’m used to the banjo being the butt of many jokes, but this is not that.
And, although I haven’t seen the documentary yet, I’m sure there are elements of the story that could be spun as questionable. Part of it could be an analysis of Fleck as someone with little formal classical training, and part of it could be a critique of banjo in orchestra in a broader sense.

I have played banjo with the orchestra for productions of Porgy & Bess and Ragtime, and I think that it would be a mistake for anyone to write off banjo as an instrument ill-suited for orchestral compositions without considering its capability of producing a variety of sounds and styles that can bring a lively voice to a piece. For me, as somebody interested in the task of composing for banjo–and who feels as though I might even have a unique perspective because of my classical training–I appreciate seeing my fellow musicians take on the task of creating new pieces and covering classical tunes.

Bluegrass Brunch at Brinkley’s

Brinkley’s, serving delicious food and a variety of beers on tap, has welcomed the bluegrass sound to add atmosphere to your weekend brunch plans. I’ve played a number of weekends so far this year with members of my band Blue Plate Special (and other talented musicians like Bennett Sullivan, pictured above) and hope to play several more.

You can catch some of the other members of Blue Plate Special play this upcoming Easter Sunday, and hopefully I’ll be playing at Brinkley’s again soon as well. Check the sidebar to the right for these and other upcoming shows!