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David Royko Psy.D


Tony Trischka, concert preview, 1999

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

COPYRIGHT 1999

FRIDAY SECTION

MUSIC

September 17, 1999


BANJO VIRTUOSO TONY TRISCHKA REDISCOVERING THE PAST

By DAVID ROYKO

    Tony Trischka's age--he is 50--does not show when the progressive

banjo innovator is fronting his new hard rocking jazz fusion Tony

Trischka Band. The TTB features the banjo/saxophone/electric guitar

combination Trischka pioneered 25 years ago, and which Bela Fleck--

Trischka's most famous protege--has recently incorporated into the

Flecktones' sound.


    When performing solo concerts, however, Trischka's age does show,

but in a positive sense. Where the young turk in his twenties was more

intrigued with where the banjo could go, especially with him

navigating, a generation or two of musical exploration has stirred in

Trischka a passion for exploring where the banjo and the music

associated with it was born.


    "For my solo shows, I play an African tune on gourd banza [a

precursor to the modern banjo], and music that was probably played

later by the slaves," says Trischka. "I do a minstrel banjo tune on a

replica of an 1842 banjo, a turn of the century march, some old-time

music, some bluegrass, a Beatles medley, some originals," the latter

being the advanced music most listeners associate with Trischka.


    Trischka's solo performances also touch on an obscure yet important

facet of a living folk music legend.


    "I [also] do some Pete Seeger music, which I've fallen in love

with," says Trischka. "He was so far ahead of his time. When I started

working up his arrangement of 'Blue Skies' [from Seeger's 1954 'Goofing

Off Suite'], I was like, 'Whoa, this is not easy stuff.' Seeger's

returned to being my hero. After all these years of being, like, too

hip for Pete, now it's like, Pete's too hip for me!"


    And even though a solo banjo show tends to draw an older crowd than

might the TTB, even that is changing.


    "Nowadays, a part of my audience is the jam band audience, kids

that are very open minded," says Trischka. "They're not falling for the

MTV party line. You can just get up and play music, whatever it is, and

they're open to it."




Tony Trischka performs Sunday, 8:00 PM at Schuba's, 3159 N. Southport,

phone 773-525-2508 (tickets are $15 at the door, $12.50 through

Ticketmaster via www.schubas.com); and Monday, 7:00 PM at the David

Adler Cultural Center, 1700 N. Milwaukee, Libertyville, phone 847-367-

0707 (tickets are $20, $15 for Adler members)


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