Rhiannon Giddens wins banjo prize named after some comedian
September 14, 2016 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Since 2010, Steve Martin has endowed an eponymous prize "for excellence in banjo and bluegrass". The first six winners were white men, but the 2016 prize went to Rhiannon Giddens, a biracial woman who leads the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Martin acknowledged that the jury intentionally chose Giddens because "we want to have the banjo world and the wider world know that it is a diverse instrument with many different styles."

The prize includes $50,000, a bronze bust, and a gig with Martin on The Late Show.
posted by Etrigan (20 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
For a sample of their stylings, this is their cover of Hit 'Em Up.

Country Girl is a particular favorite of Mr. Machine's.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:42 AM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh man, I got to see the Caroline Chocolate Drops live a couple years back and they were awesome; Giddens is a hell of a player and a ton of fun to watch make music, this is more than deserved. (At the time that I saw 'em, CCD had the also-awesome cellist Leyla McCalla playing with 'em, too, if you need some bonus rad for the day.)
posted by cortex at 10:43 AM on September 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I saw them when McCalla was with the group as well, and, yeah, it was awesome. They do a really good job with the history of what they're doing, if you're into that, and also put on a great show. I had had a long day and snagged a table and then spent the whole show feeling like an absolute idiot for being in a seat.

I like their versions of Cornbread and Butterbeans and No Man's Mama, if we're just doing CCD songs we love.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:51 AM on September 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


The CCDs are a national treasure.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:53 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's great! She's so awesome!
posted by fritley at 10:53 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Very, very cool, and a good thing indeed in a year that, for her, included a pretty big disappointment: she was to take over for Audra McDonald in Shuffle Along, but after announcing the transition in May, the producers decided to shutter the production instead a month later.
posted by uberchet at 11:17 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


For a sample of their stylings, this is their cover of Hit 'Em Up.

While I enjoyed this cover of Hit 'Em Up Style, nothing will ever take away the disappointment of anticipating, and being denied, a bluegrass cover of Hit 'Em Up.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:25 AM on September 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


I saw them in St. Louis a while ago -- they had Justin Robinson playing fiddle with them then, and I bought their newest CD right after because I wanted to listen to Snowden's Jig a million times more. They put on a really good show.
posted by invitapriore at 11:42 AM on September 14, 2016


Oh man, I got to see the Caroline Chocolate Drops live a couple years back and they were awesome; Giddens is a hell of a player and a ton of fun to watch make music, this is more than deserved.

Seeing this is on my must-do concert list. CCD is good as hell, as is Giddens' solo album. She's awesome at playing, but nobody works a mic better. I tried to find her Letterman performance of "Waterboy", but CBS has pulled it because those cute li'l scamps think people will pay for a CBS-only streaming service. So here she is doing it at the Ryman.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:51 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]






Ruby at Merlefest
posted by maggieb at 1:29 PM on September 14, 2016


Um, I hit up a half dozen videos in this thread and not one showed said woman playing said banjo.
posted by BentFranklin at 1:56 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


banjo: Ruby at Merlefest
posted by kuatto at 2:00 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Julie" is linked on the prize page, and there's another performance of it here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:30 PM on September 14, 2016


She also plays banjo differently than most convenitonal pickers, and uses a fairly unique historically recreated instrument: playing it here banjo here
posted by PinkMoose at 2:50 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a fellow alumnx, I feel obligated to point out that Rhiannon is Oberlin '00.
posted by zebra at 3:34 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


She's a hell of a kazoo player too.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:29 PM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here you go Bent Franklin, said woman playing said stringed instrument
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 8:34 AM on September 15, 2016


Giddens was also the sole woman on The New Basement Tapes (a super group T Bone Burnett pulled together to turn old Bob Dylan lyrics into recorded songs). She plays some banjo and is generally awesome there, too.
posted by katieinshoes at 6:36 AM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


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