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Danny Barnes

FEATURED ARTIST - APRIL 2016
Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass Winner 2015

I’ve been at this a pretty long time. The main thing I use to get my ideas across has been the banjo, it has an unusual sound and is capable of a wide range of expression. However, it isn’t very developed yet, in terms of what is being done with it in a current macro sense. It’s untapped.

A lot of what I do was informed by punk rock and dub music from the 70’s, I bought those records when they were new, thus starting a lifelong obsession of buying records. I received a degree from the University of Texas [Austin] in audio production, and loved the classes there about the history of audio and recorded music. That’s where I first started hearing experimental music, that’s also where I learned to be very comfortable in a recording studio. Later I became the principle songwriter/producer/singer for Bad Livers, and eventually launched my own private record label ( Minner Bucket Records ), publishing company, and solo career in about 1998.

I have some good friends in bands of various sizes, some of them are these quite famous people, though I try to learn from anyone that has an “idea.” My whole thing is music, and trying to make my own sound. I have developed a specific technique I call barnyard electronics which is an aesthetic combining various bits of bluegrass, noise, rock, and electronic music. The live aspect involves a computer program I built in max/msp and a banjo. I do about 150 domestic shows a year with that set-up.

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Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson has revolutionized the art of clawhammer banjo by adapting its techniques and rhythms to the demands of playing in a bluegrass ensemble. He calls his banjo style Clawgrass. He has performed and recorded with many bluegrass and acoustic luminaries on the music scene today and is also a gifted teacher and songwriter. His second recording -- Acoustic Rising with Emory Lester, released on the Crossroads / Mountain Home Record Label -- was nominated by the International Bluegrass Music Association ( IBMA ) in 2007 as Instrumental Album of the Year. Mark's music was used in the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan television commercial and in September of 2012, Mark was named as the third annual winner of the prestegious Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music Award and has performed his clawhammer banjo style on the Late Show with David Letterman. Mark has conducted countless Clawgrass/Clawhammer workshops at bluegrass and acoustic music festivals across the country, has hosted the annual clawhammer banjo workshop as part of the IBMA Fanfest in Nashville, Tennessee, and will be appearing at IBMA 2015 Clawhammer banjo workshops in Raleigh, NC September 2015.

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Kristin Scott Benson

Kristin Scott Benson is the four-time International Bluegrass Music Association’s Banjo Player of the Year (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011). She grew up in South Carolina, surrounded by a musical family. After receiving a much-anticipated banjo for Christmas when she was thirteen, Kristin became enthralled with the instrument and spent her teen years studying the playing of all the banjo greats from Earl Scruggs to Bela Fleck. After high school, she attended Nashville’s esteemed Belmont University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BBA in Marketing and a minor in Music Business. After 13 years in Nashville, she relocated back to the Carolinas with her husband and young son. Her latest solo release, Second Season, features eight instrumentals (half of them originals) and four vocal performances. The album showcases her powerful banjo playing, while still appealing to fans that aren’t motivated solely by instrumental prowess. The project received stellar reviews and features some of bluegrass’ brightest musicians.

"The Grascals." The Grascals. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2015.

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