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Tony Trischka: 70 Years of Music in the Making

Tony Trischka: 70 Years of Music in the Making

It’s January 16, 2019, and the ArtistWorks studio is buzzing with bluegrass standards as flatpicking icon Bryan Sutton graces us with his musical talents. It seems to be the appropriate setting in the studio, as today also marks a milestone birthday for legendary banjo virtuoso and ArtistWorks master musician, Tony Trischka.

Today we celebrate 70 years of hot banjo licks, and unique melodic arrangements, paired with boundless imagination in the musical roots realm and beyond.    

 

Tony Trischka with Earl Scruggs, 2011

Tony Trischka with Earl Scruggs, 2011

 

Tony Trischka is a multifaceted instrumentalist and is considered to be one of the most influential banjo players of our time. For more than 45 years, Tony has been a leading figure in the banjo community, a highly sought-after studio musician, a music producer, and a master instructor. Much like his musical career, his teaching has grown and evolved through the years, starting with instructional books and cassette tapes and eventually maturing into interactive online Video Exchange learning. Trischka’s artistry and unique style techniques continue to be passed down through the decades, inspiring a whole generation of bluegrass and acoustic musicians with his take on banjo music.

 

Tony Trischka: Christmas 1962 with Mother (Coryl), Sister (Dale) and Tony with his First Banjo (13 years old)

Christmas 1962 with Mother (Coryl), Sister (Dale) and Tony with his First Banjo (13 years old)

 

Born in Syracuse, New York, Trischka was introduced to the banjo at the tender age of 13. Tony accredits his interest and inspiration from the American folk and pop group, Kingston Trio and their song “Charlie and the MTA.” Two years later, Tony eagerly joined his first band, the Down City Ramblers, where he remained through 1971. Shortly after his departure, Trischka joined Syracuse bluegrass group Country Granola. In that same year, Trischka was called upon to join the band Country Cooking where he made his recording debut on 15 Bluegrass Instrumentals. It was after this monumental moment that Trischka’s career began to take off.

 

Tony Trischka's Very First Bluegrass Festival - Fincastle, Virginia 1965

Very First Bluegrass Festival - Fincastle, Virginia 1965

 

The 1970’s were a pivotal decade in Trischka’s musical saga. He partnered with numerous local bands where he could utilize his eclectic taste in music which touched on genres ranging from country music, bluegrass, old‐time music, and blues pushing the envelope to go as far as street rock. Between 1974 and 1975, Tony recorded his first two solo albums, Bluegrass Light and Heartlands, and after one more solo album in 1976, Banjoland, he went on to become musical leader for the Broadway show The Robber Bridegroom.

 

Tony Trischka with John Denver (Left) & with Paul McCartney and Steve Martin (Right)

Tony Trischka with John Denver (Left) & with Paul McCartney and Steve Martin (Right)

 

As the years progressed, Tony continued to define his role in the musical root realm as he became recognized by fellow musicians, producers, pop icons, and artists from all around the world. With the dawn of a new decade, overly saturated with distinct production aesthetic drowning in synthesizer sounds and drum reverb, Tony was called upon to play with artists such as Peter Rowan, Richard Greene, and Stacy Phillips. The 80’s marked the beginning of a career shift as he began to experiment with tone, sound, and genre and expanded his talents to other areas of the music industry. From recording with his new group Skyline, performing in his first feature film, starting his long standing relationship with NPR, to producing his first album, the 80’s hallmarked the beginning of many breakthrough achievements that would help define Tony’s career in the years to come.

 

Tony Trischka with Alison Krauss, 2018 (Left) and David Crosby, 2018 (Right)

With Alison Krauss, 2018 (Left) and David Crosby, 2018 (Right)

 

The 1990’s were monumental for Trischka’s recording career with three album releases as he geared up for the turn of the century. In 2007, he returned to bluegrass and reinvigorated the double banjo tradition for the award winning recording Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular. This instrumental album featured appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice and many other influential icons in the bluegrass community. It was from this recording that 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 as well as a Grammy Nomination. In the years to come, Trischka turned his talents towards creative side projects which included touring, playing as a studio musician, studio production, and online instruction.

 

Tony Trischka with Sam Bush, 2017

With Sam Bush, 2017

 

Tony is not only considered amongst the most influential and accomplished banjo players, he is also one of the most respected and highly demanded instructors. Tony has spent his career refining his talents into a tangible craft to be passed down through the generations. However, through his high demand and ever evolving schedule, he has always managed to have time for his students. Teaching future generations how to play music has always been a cornerstone of Tony’s career.  

 

Tony Trischka with Michael Daves and Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2018

Tony Trischka with Michael Daves and Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2018

 

Tony Trischka with David Grisman - Outside ArtistWorks Studio, 2013

With David Grisman - Outside ArtistWorks Studio, 2013

 

In 2009, Tony partnered with ArtistWorks and launched the groundbreaking Tony Trischka School of Banjo, a universal, interactive, online Video Exchange program that is the home for banjo students from all around the world. His course has been regarded as being sharp, informative, and deeply compelling as they showcase his expansive instrumental talents broken down into easily approachable lesson plans. Tony fits perfectly into our hand-selected arrangement of highly sought-after Master Musicians as his principles are aligned with our mission statement to Teach the World Music. We all share the same desire to preserve the cultivation of melodic innovation and love for music throughout generations to come.

 

“When it came to choosing someone to teach the world banjo, there was no question we wanted Tony Trischka. He’s got that rare combination of music mastery and talent for teaching. No one else could teach banjo at ArtistWorks except Tony Trischka.” - CEO and Co-Founder, Patricia Butler

 

Tony Trischka with his Hero Aaron Copland, 2017

Tony Trischka with his Hero Aaron Copland, 2017

 

Tony Trischka represents the pure embodiment of fearless musical curiosity and creative innovation. His work is compelling and complex, layered with profound imagination and virtuosity. He has masterfully taken America’s signature bluegrass instrument and found a place for it’s sound in an array of genres while expanding to all corners of the music industry. His craft continues to push the musical envelope as it explores a panorama of banjo tunings, ancient tones, experimentation, and traditions. From his far-ranging musical interests to distinctive songwriting skills, Trischka manages to embrace all manner of possibilities while keeping one foot firmly planted in the traditional bluegrass roots that first inspired him to make music. Tony continues to maintain a national and international touring schedule with his band of extraordinary musicians.

Tony Trischka with Bela Fleck, 2017 (Left) and with John Lithgow, 2018 (Right)

Tony Trischka with Bela Fleck, 2017 (Left) and with John Lithgow, 2018 (Right)

Interested in picking up the banjo for the first time, but you don’t even know where to begin? Or maybe you’re teetering on the brink of a breakthrough, but have found that your playing has plateaued? Whether you are a first time player or are just looking to take your playing to the next level, Tony has a banjo lesson that is right for you! Sign up for Free Sample Lessons and experience first hand what Tony can do for your banjo technique and playing!

Have you finished the free sample lessons and are ready for the real thing? Take the chance on Tony Trischka's School of Banjo and gain access to hundreds of courses, and personal video feedback from legendary Tony Trischka himself!

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