That odd musical instrument the banjo conjures up images of hillbillies and rednecks playing bluegrass and country music and, thanks to TV and films, images of toothless, retarded country dwellers suspicious of city folks (the film Deliverance springs to mind.) But that shows the power of propaganda to shape our perceptions.
The banjo is every bit as sophisticated as any other stringed instrument and a lot harder to play well. Alongside John Hartford (already featured in this series) one of the best banjo players is undoubtedly Bela Fleck who takes it out of Bluegrass and produces something quite extraordinary by using it in jazz, rock, Celtic music, African music as well as classical. (He is named after Bela Bartok after all!)
In the current lineup of his group The Flecktones he has three equally gifted musicians in the Wooten brothers and Jeff Coffin. Together they have created something quite unique!