Lydia Sylvia on Around This Town, May 5


on Around This Town

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

4:30 pm (edt)

Lydia SylviaLydia Sylvia will stop by the WTJU studios on May 5 for a visit to Around This Town.  You can listen at 91.1 FM around Charlottesville, 102.9 FM in the Richmond area, and streaming everywhere at

Lydia is currently touring behind her new album, Chasing the Ghost.

Lydia Sylvia Chasing The GhostLydia Sylvia plays traditional old time banjo. A teacher, performer and songwriter, she loves music made by the people and for the people.

Lydia learned the long history of America’s musical traditions in person and by ear. To master the banjo, Lydia traveled from Maryland to West Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina for several years to learn older playing styles. She studied archival recordings of her own family members from Southwestern Virginia, and revived their songs by singing them herself.

Lydia recently co-authored a book of Robert Johnson’s guitar music for banjo, creating new tunings and right hand techniques for the arrangements. The book is available from Hal Leonard Publications. Fascinated by the common ground between blues and old time music, her playing emphasizes the importance of open chords, drones, syncopation and microtones. She also has deep respect for the connection between music and dance. Formal education at Levine School of Music, Montgomery College and Goucher College only intensifies her understanding of the folk traditions.

After nearly two decades performing with a family band for dances and festivals, Lydia released a solo album meant to portray the many facets of banjo as an instrument. Chasing the Ghost was recorded in three locations: New York, Maryland and Louisiana. Produced by Dirk Powell, the album also boasts a diverse array of heavy hitting traditional players as guests. Dom Flemons, Joey Abarta, Tony DeMarco, Cleek Schrey, Phil Wiggins, and Lydia’s own siblings Emily Martin and Fiddlin’ Claude Martin are some of the collaborating artists.

In performance, Lydia Sylvia was hailed as an “Appalachian tree sprite” at the Jalopy Theatre in New York, and said by Archie Fisher of BBC to have “Raised the eyebrows, as well as the roof!” Lydia’s special gift is to bring an unaffected and sincere presence to the stage. She is unforgettable.