Black-Tie Banjo

Geoff Freed, 5-string banjo
Ann Frenkel, piano

About the Musicians

Geoff Freed and Ann Frenkel are one of just a few classic-banjo ensembles active in the United States today. Actually, Geoff and Ann were one of just a few classic-banjo ensembles active in the United States today. They stopped performing as a duo in 1999, shortly after Geoff developed a case of focal hand dystonia that brought an unexpected end to his banjo playing. (Geoff still gives occasional solo performances, however. Check the schedule.) But while they were together, Geoff and Ann performed regularly in and around New England. In addition to playing the standard classic-banjo repertoire, they also performed many contemporary pieces by West Virginia composer and banjoist, Tim Mainland. Black-Tie Banjo released two fine recordings, which you can still purchase today.

Geoff is a classically trained pianist. He was inspired to learn classic-style banjo after hearing recordings by two British banjoists, William J. Ball and Derek Lillywhite. In addition to playing the conventional five-string classic banjo, Geoff also plays the zither banjo, as recorded on Centennial Souvenir. He had a brief encounter with bluegrass banjo in the mid-1970s, but nobody seems to hold that against him.

Ann is a pianist, harpsichordist and singer, and has played keyboard instruments since the age of eight. She has a masters degree in musicology from Boston University. Ann's strong approach to accompanying makes Black-Tie Banjo's duet playing distinctive, with the two instruments treated more as equals rather than one simply providing background for the other.

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