Alan Munde and Bill Evans at The Stage

Date: 01/25/2024

Time: 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Alan Munde and Bill Evans, both recipients of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize, will stop by WTJU Thursday afternoon for a special hourlong session at The Stage. When they are not playing, Folk & Beyond host Peter Jones and Bill will pepper Alan, one of the most highly respected and best-loved banjo players in the world, with questions about his storied career.

This is a free event, open to all. You can also listen on the radio (91.1 FM) or on-line, and even video stream it at WTJU’s Facebook page or YouTube channel.  But concerts always sound better with you as part of the studio audience.

Alan Munde was born November 4, 1946 in Norman, Oklahoma and began his bluegrass banjo career while attending the University of Oklahoma. He and fellow student Byron Berline, fiddler extraordinaire, spent much of their time away from classes honing their performance skills at various fiddle contests and musical events.

When Alan graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1969 he moved to Kentucky, where he recorded with Sam Bush and Wayne Stewart on the legendary, groundbreaking album Poor Richard’s Almanac

Alan moved to Nashville in late 1969 and began playing with Jimmy Martin and his Sunny Mountain Boys. He toured and recorded with Jimmy Martin for two years appearing at many of the early festivals and participating in the recording of the much-acclaimed Jimmy Martin gospel album Singing All Day and Dinner on the Ground. He also performed on Jimmy Martin’s album, I’d Like to Be Sixteen Again.

Leaving Nashville in early 1972, Alan rejoined his musical schoolmate Byron Berline and bassist Roger Bush in California, where they formed the seminal bluegrass band Country Gazette. The Gazette traveled extensively for over 20 years and made regular tours to Europe and Japan. The group’s first album, Traitor in Our Midst, was a top selling album for United Artists. The Gazette recorded over 30 projects together (albums and CDs). 

Alan also released many highly acclaimed banjo instrumental albums such as Banjo Sandwich and Together Again (for the First Time), with Sam Bush. His latest recording project is a pair of CDs with mandolin player Billy Bright titled Bright Munde in 2017, and Es Mi Suerte in 2019, both receiving excellent reviews. 

During his career Alan also spent much time developing bluegrass banjo workshop/seminar materials and presentations that have become a mainstay of the summer music camp scene. Munde was one of the first high-profile bluegrass banjo players to make his recorded solos available in written form and also one of the first artists to present workshops. Much of his musical output is available in instructional material for Mel Bay Publications, Texas Music and Video, and his self-produced material.

To further the educational aspects of his career, Munde joined the faculty of the Creative Arts Department at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas n 1986. As the bluegrass expert in the Commercial Music Program, Munde further developed his unique teaching concepts that resulted in several publications including Getting into Bluegrass Banjo, a book that offers a systematic path to learning the bluegrass style banjo.

Alan retired from the school in 2007 and maintains an active performance, teaching, and recording career. Alan and co-author Beth Mead-Sullivan have a book available from publisher Hal Leonard titled The Great American Banjo Songbook containing banjo arrangements of 70 songs from the golden age of American popular songwriting. Alan also operates an online business called “Al Munde’s Banjo College” where he sells his instructional books, DVDs, bluegrass banjo recordings, and downloadable lessons. 

Virginia native Bill Evans has been involved with bluegrass music and the banjo for over forty-five years as a player, teacher, composer, author and historian. Bill occupies a unique niche in the banjo world: he is celebrated worldwide for his traditional and progressive bluegrass banjo styles and his innovative original compositions. He also enjoys a reputation as an outstanding instructor and music camp director as well as being an expert player of 19th and early 20th century minstrel and classic banjo styles. He has recorded four critically acclaimed solo recordings, including The Banjo in America, a DVD/CD set covering music from the 1780’s to the present day, and is the author of Banjo For Dummies and Bluegrass Banjo For Dummies. He directs his own music camps in New Mexico and hosts four online instructional courses for Peghead Nation.  

Bill counts his many teachers and mentors as crucial to his development as a musician. These include Ben Eldridge, Bill Keith, Tony Trischka, Alan Munde, Ron Thomason, Sonny Osborne and J. D. Crowe. Bill currently tours with his solo show The Banjo in America and performs with guitar legend Dan Crary and with the All-Star California Bluegrass Reunion. Over the years, Bill has performed with Dry Branch Fire Squad, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Jody Stecher, Tony Trischka , Kathy Kallick & Alan Munde, among many others.

Bill has taught at over 200 banjo and bluegrass camps all over the world and he has helped thousands of people to find joy in the banjo through his books, online courses and videos, workshops and one-on-one lessons. He feels that his greatest accomplishment has been to bring people together through the banjo.

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