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A Banjo Original

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Album Review

Will Keys is truly a banjo original, as the title of this album suggests. Over the years this Tennessee native has developed a two-fingered, up-picking style that is wonderfully melodic, and as the tracks on this marvelous disc attest, he not only makes his banjo ring, he makes it chime, waltz, and sing with a bell-like tone that is as clear as an Appalachian spring. Keys simply sounds like no one else on the instrument, an amazing achievement in traditional music, where tradition often translates into playing pieces in a time-honored and prescribed way. Keys manages to sound both traditional and creatively individual at the same time as he melodically winds his way through the waltzes and fiddle tunes included here, and while it is possible to single out some of these tracks ("Snake Chapman's Tune," "The Eighth of January," "Once More"), the whole album really makes a cohesive statement, each piece fitting into the overall fabric of the sequence. The rise of bluegrass and the explosive three-fingered banjo style has unfortunately muted the gentler, melodic, and modal possibilities of the five-string banjo, a situation this lovely album addresses nicely.

Customer Reviews

This guy is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This album is a must have!


Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Will Keys was born in 1923 in the Blackley Creek region of eastern Tennessee, the tenth of 11 children. He started playing the banjo at the age of eight, gradually developing his own unique two-finger picking style. After serving in World War II, Keys returned to his home state, settling in Gray, TN, in 1950, and began to work for the Eastman Chemical Company, where he remained for 42 years, retiring in 1984. Keys won the old-time banjo contest at the famed Galax Fiddler's Convention in 1978, and...
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A Banjo Original, Will Keys
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