Aaron Jonah Lewis is a champion fiddler who has been elbow-deep in traditional American fiddle and banjo music since their first lessons at the age of five with Kentucky native Robert Oppelt. Lewis has taken blue ribbons at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, WV, and at the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax, VA, the oldest and largest fiddlers convention in the country. They are also noted for their mastery of multiple banjo styles. They spend most of their time teaching, touring as a solo performer, with the Corn Potato String Band, and other projects.
As a banjoist, Lewis explores some interesting veins in the roots of Old Time, Bluegrass, Ragtime and Jazz music through their newest recording, “Mozart of the Banjo: The Joe Morley Project.” This project is devoted to the music of the great English prodigy and virtuoso composer Joe Morley (1867-1937), who wrote a significant body of great banjo pieces in a technique that people today call “classic fingerstyle.”
Greg Adams, Archivist at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, says, “Lewis is one of the few performing musicians with the facility to build compelling musical bridges between the printed banjo music and techniques of the 19th century and the instrument’s journey into recorded sound by the turn of the 20th century.”
Aaron Jonah Lewis is passionate about sharing early fingerstyle banjo music. They bring light to the fact that classic banjo was the most popular form of music a hundred years ago, though today it’s almost entirely forgotten. They are “trying to keep (classic banjo) alive and spread it around, as it’s a delightful style that brings joy and connects us to the depth of our shared American history.”
We are hoping to also offer a small-group banjo workshop with Aaron on the afternoon of the show. If you are a banjo player interested in attending, please let us know, we’ll need a minimum of 5 attendees in order to make sure it happens but will hope for as many as 12.