Tony Trischka

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Tony Trischka
Tony Trischka @ Passim.jpg
Tony Trischka, 2008
Background information
Birth name Tony Trischka
Born (1949-01-16) January 16, 1949 (age 67)
Origin Syracuse, New York, US
Genres Bluegrass, Country
Occupation(s) Bluegrass musician
Years active 1970s–present
Labels Rounder Records
Associated acts Béla Fleck, Steve Martin
Notable instruments
Banjo, steel guitar

Tony Trischka (born January 16, 1949 in Syracuse, New York) is an American five-string banjo player.


Tony Trischka (United States Artists Friends Fellow-2012) is considered to be the consummate banjo artist and perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. For more than 45 years, his stylings have inspired a whole generation of bluegrass and acoustic musicians with the many voices he has brought to the instrument.

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 America's premier sports-rock band Country Granola. In 1973, he began a three-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.

In 1978, he toured Japan and recorded with Peter Rowan and Richard Greene. In the early 1980s, he began recording with his new group Skyline, which released 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, with Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and John Denver. Three years later, he worked on the pre-recorded music for the off-Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy that featured Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. 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 continued his recording career with 1993's World Turning, 1995's Glory Shone Around: A Christmas Collection and 1999's Bend. New Deal followed in 2003.

Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, featuring appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, Béla Fleck, Tony Rice and many other luminaries, came out four years later. For this recording he went back to bluegrass and reinvigorated the double banjo tradition. 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 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 and Bruce Molsky. Twelve all-Trischka solo tracks explore a panorama of tunings, banjo sounds, and traditions, tapping the creative potential of America's signature musical instrument.

Tony is not only considered amongst the most innovative of banjo players, he is one of its most respected and sought after instructors, creating fifteen instructional books as well as a series of DVDs. In July 2009 he launched the groundbreaking Online Banjo School with Tony Trischka, an interactive, online learning school that teaches students from around the world how to play banjo.

2011 saw Give Me the Banjo aired on PBS stations nationwide with Tony as the musical director and co-producer of the documentary. It was subsequently released on DVD. He produced Steve Martin's Grammy-nominated Rare Bird Alert (Rounder), which features performances by Paul McCartney, the Dixie Chicks and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

In the summer of 2012, Tony continued to broaden the reach and influence of the banjo as performer and band leader for New York City's Shakespeare in the Park performances of As You Like It, placing the banjo in even newer ground.

In December 2012, Tony was awarded the United States Artists Friends Fellow in recognition of the excellence of his work.

In February 2014, Tony released his latest album Great Big World for Rounder Records.[1] With contributions from his band Territory, Steve Martin, Michael Daves, and many other special guests, more remarkable music and new ground is on offer.

Tony currently resides in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, and continues to maintain a national and international touring schedule with his band of extraordinary musicians.

“…the godfather of what's sometimes called new acoustic music."- The New York Times

Discography (albums)[edit]

  • Bluegrass Light (Rounder Records, 1974)
  • Heartlands (Rounder Records, 1975)
  • Banjoland (Rounder Records, 1977)
  • Before the Dawn – by Skyline (Accord, 1979)
  • Late to Work – by Skyline (Flying fish, 1981)
  • Fiddle Tunes for Banjo, with Bill Keith and Béla Fleck (Rounder Records, 1981)
  • A Robot Plane Flies over Arkansas (Rounder Records, 1983)
  • Stranded in the Moonlight – by Tony Trischka & Skyline (Flying Fish, 1984)
  • Hill Country (Rounder Records, 1985)
  • Skyline Drive – by Tony Trischka & Skyline (Flying Fish, 1986)
  • Fire of Grace – by Skyline (Flying Fish, 1990)
  • Alone Together, with Beppe Gambetta (Brambus Records, 1991)
  • Solo Banjo Works, with Béla Fleck (Rounder Records, 1992)
  • World Turning (Rounder Records, 1993)
  • Psychograss – by Psychograss (Wyndham Hill Records, 1993)
  • Live at the Birchmere – by The Big Dogs (Strictly Country, 1995)
  • Glory Shone Around: A Christmas Collection (Rounder Records, 1995)
  • Like Minds – by Psychograss (Sugar Hill Records, 1996)
  • Bend (Rounder Records, 1999)
  • Now Hear This – by Psychograss (Adventure Music, 2005)
  • Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular (Rounder Records, 2007)
  • Territory, (Smithsonian Folkways 2008)
  • Great Big World (Rounder Records, 2014)

Television appearances[edit]

  • Merv Griffin Show, 1976
  • Nashville Network's Fire on the Mountain, 1984, 1986
  • Ralph Emory's "Frets" Awards Show, The Nashville Network, 1987
  • CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Foxfire with Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and John Denver, 1987
  • British television production of Echoes of America: History of the Five String Banjo, 1989
  • Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (PBS), 1992
  • CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood – feature story (including Béla Fleck), 1995
  • ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Summer, 1996
  • ABC Views, with Béla Fleck, Summer 1997
  • Live at the Quick, with Bela Fleck, 2004–2006
  • The Ellen DeGeneres Show, with Steve Martin, Brittany Haas, and Michael Daves, April 2007
  • Late Show with David Letterman, with Steve Martin, Bela Fleck, Brittany Haas, and Michael Daves, April 2007

Published books[edit]

  • Trischka, Tony. Banjo Song Book, Oak Publications, 1977.
  • Tony Trischka, Pete Wernick. Masters of the 5-String Banjo, Oak Publications, 1988.


External links[edit]