The 20th Annual Banjo Special

The Tranzac, 292 Brunswick Ave., Toronto

Featuring - Chris Quinn, Arnie Naiman, Brian Taheny, Chris Coole (plus guests) "A grand night of Irish, Bluegrass, and Old-Time banjo styles" The Banjo Special, once again and for the 20th year, brings together 4 of Canada’s top players to celebrate this wonderful instrument. Come and join Chris Coole, Arnie Naiman, Brian Taheny, and Chris Quinn, and our special guests, as we present an evening of songs and tunes with banjos at the heart of it all. There will be; breakdowns and marches, picks and bare fingers, songs new and old, tubaphones and flatheads, Vegas and Gibsons. And, it will all be handled with flair, fun, and big style.

20 years ago, it was rare to see anyone playing the banjo in Toronto, now the city has thriving roots, old-time, bluegrass, and Irish music scenes. It's hard to go anywhere without bumping into a banjo picker. In light of this fact, this year's concert will also feature a few of the younger bright lights who have come along in the Toronto banjo scene such as Frank Evans, Shane Mulcrone, and Hannah Shira-Naiman.

Meet the banjo pickers.

Across Canada and the United States, Chris Coole has become as much of a household name on the claw-hammer banjo as one can become. As a teacher, composer, and performer; he has plied his trade professionally for more than 30 years. Apart from his own albums, Chris can be heard as a sideman and/or producer on over 150 recordings by artists such as Sylvia Tyson, Jim Cuddy, Natalie MacMaster, Cara Luft, John Reishman, April Verch, Justin Rutledge, The Slocan Ramblers, and David Francey. Chris Currently plays with The Lonesome Ace Stringband. www,

Arnie Naiman is a unique banjo player for his claw-hammer and fingerpicking styles. He was influenced by folk music of the 60’s and 70’s as well as by the music of pre-war artists such as Uncle Dave Macon, Charlie Poole, and The Carter Family to name only a few: Arnie is a very fine interpreter of these old songs and tunes. Arnie’s own banjo compositions are various; some joyous and celebratory, others haunting and dark. Arnie currently performs with Hannah Shira Naiman, Ragged But Right, and also in the Virginia based old-time String Band, Albemarle Ramblers. Arnie has recently released his solo CD, My Lucky Stars.

String Guru Brian Taheny hails from the Irish music mecca of Sligo, Ireland.Brian plays Fiddle, Tenor Banjo, Guitar, Irish Bouzouki, Cittern, Mandolin, Mandola, Mandocello, Dobro and Bass guitar, and is also known for his innovative arrangements of traditional tunes. Brian has built a solid reputation for himself as an extremely accomplished Celtic musician with strong and uniquely distinctive style. He has performed with many of the greats in traditional music all over Europe, Canada, America, and Asia. He has performed on well over 100 albums, has received two Juno nominations and is currently part of the well respected trio "North Atlantic Drift" based out of Toronto. brian-taheny.html

Chris Quinn began his Scruggs style bluegrass odyssey in 1979. Having performed on over 100 CDs as a sideman or featured artist, Quinn is a central figure on the bluegrass scene in Canada and abroad. Chris has become renowned for his solid timing, his sense of taste and tone, and his creative back-up playing. A sought after teacher, Chris has taught hundreds of people at camps and workshops; from Quebec to Tennessee, from BC to Asia. As younger players have come along to join the professional scene, Chris has been a mentor to many of them. Today, some of Chris’ former students have gone on to professional careers in music too. Chris Quinn Friday, February 28 (8pm) The Tranzac Club (292 Bruswick Ave) Tickets $20 Ticket link -

Listen to the album -