The fourth annual California Banjo Extravaganza featured Peghead Nation banjo instructor Bill Evans, Ryan Cavanaugh, and Riley Baugus headlining four concerts and hosting a Banjo Mini-Camp last fall. In this video, Riley, Bill, and Ryan play the bluegrass classics “June Apple” and “Salt Creek” backstage at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse before their last Extravaganza gig.
Bill Evans teaches Beginning Banjo and Bluegrass Banjo on Peghead Nation, and is the author of the popular Bluegrass Banjo for Dummies and Banjo for Dummies books. He has recorded and performed widely, both as a solo artist and with folks like Fletcher Bright, David Grisman, David Bromberg, Dan Crary, Peter Rowan, J.D. Crowe, Tony Trischka, and many others. Bill started the California Banjo Extravaganza to celebrate the artistry of the five-string banjo and the many approaches to playing the instrument.
Ryan Cavanaugh is a North Carolina musician who honed his jazz chops for over a decade as a member of saxophonist’s Bill Evans’ band Soulgrass. He’s won every major banjo contest in the world, including MerleFest and Rocky Grass, and he is now focusing on his own compositions, which he performs in both acoustic and jazz fusion contexts. He is leading the pack among young instrumentalists pushing the progressive boundaries of the five-string banjo.
Riley Baugus was inspired to start playing banjo at the age of ten by the traditional Appalachian music that he heard in the Blue Ridge mountains. After learning his craft from old-time greats like Tommy Jarrell, Dix Freeman, and Robert Sykes, Riley has played with old-time string bands like the Red Hots and the Old Hollow Stringband, and has recorded on his own for Rounder and Sugar Hill records. He sings on the soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning film Cold Mountain and performs on the Grammy Award-winning Raising Sand by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.