Hey everybody: time for Banjo Friday!
If you’ve been following along, you know that all month we’ve been featuring great bluegrass banjo players—& a good thing there were five Fridays this month, I must say. Still, you can only cover so much ground in the space of five posts, so I promise we’ll be featuring more bluegrass banjo in the New Year.
Today’s featured player is Ron Stewart, & what a talent this man possesses! In fact, if one were running a similar series of posts on great contemporary bluegrass fiddlers, Stewart would be deserving of a feature there too—he’s that strong of a double threat on banjo & fiddle. Of course Stewart also plays guitar, mandolin & bass too, but who’s counting!
Ron Stewart has worked with some of the top names in bluegrass music during a 30 plus year career that dates back to his youth—he played on a live album with Lester Flett when he was age 9; he spent a half dozen years playing fiddle with JD Crowe, & also played with the Lynn Morris Band & with Curly Seckler, as well as filling in with acts like Rhonda Vincent & the Lonesome River Band. As a first-call session musician, he’s appeared on scores of albums adding his fiery instrumental expertise. Stewart is currently the banjoist in the Dan Tyminski Band.
Lynn Morris, a certified bluegrass star in her own right, has said, "Ron Stewart has Flatt & Scruggs in his deepest roots, the feel of a Mississippi blues man in his soul, & the power of a lightning bolt in his touch."
We began this month’s series of bluegrass banjoists with the legendary Earl Scruggs (naturally), so it’s fitting that we bring it to a close with a contemporary version of a Scruggs’ classic, “You Can’t Stop Me From Dreaming.” Earl Scruggs played this as a banjo & bass duet with the Foggy Mountain Boys’ bassist, “Uncle Jake” Tullock. Leave it to Scruggs—always an innovator—to take a 1930s pop tune & give it full-on Scruggs picking treatment, but with a bass solo! “You Can’t Stop Me From Dreaming” is in fact not a “country” song at all, but a “standard” that’s been covered by the likes of Billie Holiday—& was introduced by Dick Powell, of Busby Berkeley musical fame!
Stewart brings his considerable banjo chops to bear on the tune & is joined to great effect by bassist Marshall Wilborn of the Lynn Morris Band & other top-flight bluegrass outfits.
It’s a rollicking good time—enjoy!