Beginning Clawhammer Banjo with Riley Calcagno
We will dive into the bumdiddying, dropthumbing, and clucking goodness of clawhammer banjo. Together we will listen to and analyze masters of now and then in a pursuit to uplift old-time stringbands both rhythmically and harmonically. Student will walk away with several tunes that provide examples of how to outline melodies and an understanding of a banjo’s role in a band. We will especially focus in on right hand techniques that make the clawhammer style what it is. The goal will be to emerge from the week with the technical tools to tackle clawhammer playing opportunities with ease, fun, and groove.
Originally from Seattle, WA, Riley Calcagno has been immersed in old-time music from an early age. He grew up at festivals around the Pacific Northwest learning fiddle directly from old masters of the style. He now feels at home on banjo, guitar, mandolin, and voice as well and is a founding member of The Onlies, a band described as “masterful” and “deliciously well-crafted” (Kithfolk) on the forefront of a new generation of traditional acoustic string music. The Onlies were the 2017 winners of the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV and recently released a collaborative record with John Herrmann and Meredith McIntosh as the band The Ruglifters.
In addition to The Onlies, Riley performs with Vivian Leva. Together they have toured across Canada, the US, and the UK. Vivian’s record Time Is Everything (feat. Riley Calcagno) has received wide critical praise since its release in early 2018. Rolling Stone Country wrote that it “shines a light on the past without giving up its place in the present” and Wide Open Country called the record “a triumph of lyricism and musicianship.”
Riley has performed with Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Seattle Symphony, Altan, Laurie Lewis, Tristan and Tashina Clarridge, Dirk Powell, and John Herrmann.