When I think of the banjo, I imagine a black and white film of an old man wearing a straw hat, sitting on a porch, chewing on tobacco, strumming a banjo, and singing about how his woman left him, or about heading out west to look for work. The instrument has a rich and lengthy history, but has only been in use in the United States since the 19th century. While the banjo is often regarded as the weirdo bluegrass cousin in the string family, its sound has long been associated with old men in straw hats and country music, however more recently and most regrettably, that association has now grown to be with Mumford and Sons.
Recently I attended a show at Boston’s newest venue, The Sinclair, where all of my preconceptions and stereotypical thinking about the banjo and its musical functionality were swiftly uprooted and cast out of my mind. At that show I saw the wonderfully talented experimental violinist, Kishi Bashi, accompanied by Mike Savino, a young bearded gentleman on the banjo, who goes by the name, Tall Tall Trees. I have never seen a music spectacle like what I saw at that show, especially the unconventional and frankly extraordinary playing of Tall Tall Trees on plugged-in banjo.
A few weeks ago Quiet Lunch caught up with Tall Tall Trees in New York City for a stroll through Central Park. Unfortunately it was raining rather vigorously that day, but we managed to have a nice chat under one of Central Park’s many bridges. Mike even graced us with the song “The Seagull & the Eagle” to accompany our video with him. To listen to more music by Tall Tall Trees, please visit his bandcamp page where you can stream and purchase his latest album, Moments.
Written by Matia A. Guardabascio.↓
Matia Guardabascio is a proud citizen of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in both English and French Literature. As the daughter of a musician and a school teacher, Matia grew up in a musical household with parents who made a concerted effort to instill in her the value and importance of the arts. She is a music enthusiast, an avid reader, a writer of prose and poetry, a traveler, and an enthusiastic imbiber of red wine. The piano is her favorite instrument, followed by the drums, and she loves Impressionist artwork, especially because she doesn’t need to wear her glasses to see what’s going on. That’s right, the glasses are not for show. She wears tri-focals because she reads too much, or as her good friends might say, she actually 80-years-old.