Banjo Earth: China - A Cross-Cultural Musical Journey Posted on 06 Nov 00:08

Last month I had the pleasure of meeting Andy Eversole, a fine banjo player and musical explorer who has undertaken an ambitious project called Banjo Earth. He plans to travel the world seeking out surviving musical traditions, and making a documentary film and a CD for each country he visits. The first country on his list was China, since he studied the language in college, and still has some connections here. He funded the trip through kickstarter, enabling him to bring along filmmaker, photographer, musician and recording engineer Ben Singer.

A mutual friend back in the US connected us online, and I was delighted to hear that Andy planned to make a pass through Dali during the trip. On his first night in town he caught my gig at Sun Island Bar in Dali, which featured fiddlin' friend Kirk Kenney. Andy sat in on the second set while Ben documented the show.

I felt an instant connection to these guys and the spirit of their project. Like Tea Horse, they are raising awareness of valuable cultural traditions, and promoting person-to-person cultural interactions that help build mutual respect between people of different cultures. His CDs will feature 50% songs selected from his American musical roots, and 50% songs from the local culture, and every track will feature local musicians he meets along the way.

Based on the synergy between Tea Horse and Banjo Earth, and the strength of personal connection I felt I was compelled to offer Andy and Ben all the support I could. And, as serendipity would have it, the old house in the courtyard at Tea Horse HQ was the perfect acoustic setting for Andy and Ben to record some much needed tracks for their album. I was also proud to lend them my treasured 1976 Mossman guitar for use on the backing tracks. Andy played it beautifully (he has a background in jazz guitar), and I was delighted to wake up in the morning hearing the sounds of his playing drifting out of the old house into the courtyard.

While originally I hope to write up a detailed blog post about Andy's visit, he beat me to it. Part of the Banjo Earth project is a daily blog of their adventures, to keep their kickstarter backers up to date on their progress. Below are a list of links to posts covering Andy's time in Dali.

But first, here's a link to the Banjo Earth homepage where you can pre-order the CD and documentary film (available March, 2016). If Andy and Ben are game, I will be selling the CD and DVD here at the Tea Horse store!

So here are the blog posts covering the Dali leg of Banjo Earth:

Andy and Ben's arrival in Dali.

Andy and Ben's second day in Dali. (didn't see him much this day)

Andy and Ben visit our village, and we feast and play music.

More hanging out in the village, and a plug for Tea Horse straps!

Andy and Ben depart for Lijiang. (everyone feels sad)

Andy and Ben return to Dali.  (everyone feels happy)

Andy and Ben's last day in Dali, which involves an epic show at September Bar.

I had a fantastic time hanging out with these wonderful people. It is rare that us Americana musicians in China have an opportunity to reconnect to our musical roots back home, so I treasured every moment of picking with these guys. I highly recommend that you all follow Banjo Earth on twitter and facebook. And while you're at it, follow Tea Horse as well (links, as always, at the bottom right of the page)!

 

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