|Sunday 15 May 2022 @ 02:00pm : -
Aaron Jonah Lewis
Virtuoso banjo player and fiddler Aaron Jonah Lewis has been elbow-deep in traditional American music since their first lessons at the age of five with Kentucky native Robert Oppelt. Their concerts take audiences on a journey through the back roads of American old time and folk music, with detours through ragtime and early jazz. Lewis has taken blue ribbons at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, WV, and at the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax, VA, the oldest and largest fiddlers convention in the country. They spend most of their time teaching, touring as a solo performer, with the Corn Potato String Band, the Lovestruck Balladeers, and other projects.
Lewis has appeared on dozens of recordings from bluegrass and old time to traditional jazz, contemporary experimental and Turkish classical music projects. They have taught workshops at the the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and at the English Folk Dance and Song Society in London. They also play and teach banjo, mandolin, and guitar and are currently based in Detroit.
As a banjoist, Lewis explores some interesting veins in the roots of Old Time, Bluegrass, Ragtime and Jazz music through their newest recording, “Mozart of the Banjo The Joe Morley Project.” This project is devoted to the music of the great English prodigy and virtuoso composer Joe Morley (1867-1937), who wrote a significant body of great banjo pieces in a technique that people today call “classic fingerstyle.”
Greg Adams, Archivist at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, says, “Lewis is one of the few performing musicians with the facility to build compelling musical bridges between the printed banjo music and techniques of the 19th century and the instrument’s journey into recorded sound by the turn of the 20th century.”
Other musicians featured on the album include banjoist Ben Belcher, pianists Tessa Hartle and Kevin Allswede, Grace van’t Hof on ukulele and Rachel Pearson on bass. The album has been released on Tiki Parlour Recordings in early 2020.
Aaron Jonah Lewis is passionate about sharing early fingerstyle banjo music. They bring light to the fact that classic banjo was the most popular form of music a hundred years ago, though today it’s almost entirely forgotten. They are “trying to keep (classic banjo) alive and spread it around, as it’s a delightful style that brings joy and connects us to the depth of our shared American history.”
"...Eclectic and high-spirited fiddling. Technically, he’s a brilliant fiddler, able to blend genres at will, and he’s got the kind of high-wire aggression that makes for compelling listening." ~ Sing Out! Magazine
"I've heard quite a lot of old-time fiddle and banjo playing, trust me, but I've never heard it like this... played at break-neck speeds, Aaron's fiddle whipping around tight corners like a high-end sports car... It's like watching Bach hopped up on speed, composing kickass barn dance tunes in Appalachia... [Aaron is] a player you need to watch." ~ No Depression
"So THAT'S what you meant by pedestrian fiddle music!!! I'm listening to Wild Hog and it's my favorite record I've heard in a long time by a long shot. Well done. It's so wrong in all the right ways and I love that. Excellent work and big big fun to listen to." ~ Joseph 'Joebass' Dejarnette, Studio 808A
"Impressive fiddle work... authentically raw and homespun" ~ The Scotsman
"Every time that fella with the big beard picked up the banjo it was like I'd died and gone to heaven!" ~ Alastair Ferguson
"Aaron is blinding and probably the most perfect exponent of fiddling I've witnessed live (and I've witnessed a few). Others have their niches where they excel but Aaron's range and dexterity is quite awesome. His unpretentious approach and his own obvious enjoyment in playing makes such a vast difference too." ~ Colm Daley, The Newtowners
"Fiddlin' and banjoin' genius Aaron Jonah Lewis: multiple award-winning fiddler, banjo player extraordinaire, Aaron is well known for taking audiences at concerts and festivals by storm both here in the UK and in the USA... Aaron is rapidly becoming iconic, not just on account of his virtuosity but because of his rapport with his audience. Skills in abundance, passion and presence. All that, then in addition, charisma, pure creativity, and SOUL." ~ Charlie Hardie, Willesden Folk Union