Monday, 16 November 2015

Deering Banjos 40th Anniversary Event at Eagle Music

I shall start by repeating something that I said last year:

Close your eyes for a few seconds and think of towns that you would associate with Bluegrass and banjos. So, who was on your list? Was it Galax, the home of the annual Fiddlers Convention in Virginia, or Union Grove which has held the Ole Time Fiddlers & Bluegrass Festival for over 75 years – or how about Rosine in Kentucky, the resting place of Bill Monroe? What about Huddersfield in West Yorkshire? If not, maybe it should. Huddersfield is where you will find Eagle Music who are Deering Banjos’ No. 1 dealership world-wide.

Following their presentation with a Distinguished Achievement Award at IBMA in 2014, 2015 is another significant year for Deering Banjos as they celebrate their 40th Anniversary of making banjos.

Greg Deering

2015 has also been a significant year for Eagle Music who are, once again, the No.1 reseller of Deering Banjos worldwide - their 9th consecutive year as No.1. We might read about and see advertisements for some of the renowned instrument shops in the U.S. but we have one of our own here in the U.K. - Eagle Music.

The Deering Banjos 40th Anniversary Event had a full programme of on-stage performances and workshops such as those by Pat Kelleher (Long Neck Banjo) and Bill Forster (Bluegrass Banjo) as well as the opportunity to try many of the Deering banjos on display and other instruments available at Eagle Music. As described by our friends at the Bluegrass Ireland Blog, Ireland was well represented and, perhaps, most prominently by JigJam who performed two sets - the second being the opener for the evening concert with The Kruger Brothers.

Jens Kruger contributing to the discussion
by the Deerings
During the morning there was an on-stage presentation by Janet, Greg and Jamie Deering about the beginnings and evolution of the Deering Banjo company. We were told about the creative approaches to marketing and advertising that Greg and Janet took in the early days and how the aircraft industry in their region gave Deering Banjos the opportunity to obtain materials with which to produce their own manufacturing hardware. While Deering Banjos have associations with artists such as Scott Avett, David Holt and Tony Trischka - and, of course, Jens Kruger - it was interesting to hear about how important it was to the Deerings to develop the Goodtime range so that those seeking an entry-level instrument could benefit from the manufacturing quality that the professionals had come to rely upon. The innovative attitude continues at Deering Banjos with new materials and methods being researched and, with over 250 years of banjo-making experience within the Deering staff team, it is clear that Deering Banjos are not resting upon their laurels.

Steve Noon of Eagle Music being presented with his
9th No.1 Reseller award.

But what about the music? Well...there was the (now) traditional massed banjo extravaganza with a rendition of Oh! Susanna which started with a gentle tempo to enable the fingers to warm up followed by an interesting change by Uwe (I think it was to see if everyone was paying attention!) and then the full-speed version.

JigJam, from Ireland, have recently returned from a successful tour of festivals in the U.S. and are scheduled to return their again in 2016. Having previously reviewed their CD, Oh Boy!, in the EBMA Blog, it was good to meet them and hear them play live. From their sets it is easy to see why the organisers of Bluegrass and Irish Music festivals are keen to have JigJam appear. They have a warm stage presence combined with great musicianship with each of the members - Jamie McKeogh, Daithi Melia and Cathal Guinan moving comfortably between instruments and sharing vocals .

The day concluded with a performance by The Kruger Brothers which included pieces from their latest recording 'Lucid Dreamer'. As might be expected, the performance was exceptional - many of the audience had been at the North Light Gallery all day and had seen Jens, Uwe and Joel on stage and spending time talking with, helping and advising people who had come along for the Deering Banjos 40th Anniversary Event. The rapport between The Kruger Brothers and their audience can never be overstated and if you have seen the film 'Beautiful Nothing' made by Dames Don't Care about The Kruger Brothers you will know that this opinion is universal amongst their fans. The set included their song 'Carolina In The Fall' for which there is a movement to have this song adopted as the state song for North Carolina and which is the name of the Kruger's home-town festival which will be taking place in Wilkesboro, North Carolina on September 23rd & 24th 2016. Hopefully, we shall see The Kruger Brothers on this side of the Atlantic before then.