Whether you are a professional banjo player or a beginner banjo player before you start, you should follow an idol for a learning spirit. When putting together the best banjo players, we needed a lot of time and research to come up with the best results.
Do we consider everyone that plays a stringed instrument with a drum for a body, or spotlight on the players of what has now apparently become the most well-known variation of the banjo, the 5-string, or as The Gibson Company would have it, regular banjo?
Our first thought was that it may be hard to extract the notable examples of a whole group of instruments down to a top list. So in light of a genuine concern for a peaceful life, we chose to do what needs to be done and try to take on the whole family, yet with a major disclaimer; we have randomly chosen the best clawhammer banjo players for you.
Also, don’t forget to see our post on best clawhammer banjos.
Top Clawhammer Banjo Players
- Dock Boggs
- Carolina Chocolate Drops
- Kirk Sutphin
- Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves
- The Perreze Farm
Boggs, while playing a traditional style of play, didn’t play in the wreck, often called clawhammer or frailing style, rather using a three-finger playing technique that involved picking upwards on the strings of the banjo and allowed him to execute crisp single-note runs in a way like that of a fingerstyle guitarist.
All things considered, his style should not be confused with the bluegrass style of playing also called Earl Scruggs style, which also includes up-picking the banjo strings.
In 1920 Dock Boggs got influenced by blues tunes. He heard music played and sung by African-Americans while working in the coal mines and around the railways of Appalachia. In 1927 he went to an audition in Bristol, Tennessee with the Brunswick record organization.
By 1933, he had surrendered any desire for living as a performer. He hawked his banjo and didn’t play again until the mid-1960s when he was re-found by Mike Seeger of the New Lost City Ramblers. Because of his relationship with Seeger, Boggs appreciated a renaissance of sorts during the Folk Revival and recorded once more.
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Carolina Chocolate Drops is an American classic string band from Durham, North Carolina. Their 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig, won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards and was one of the best clawhammer banjo players of all time.
The band met up to play the rich tradition of fiddle and banjo music in Carolina’s Piedmont.
Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson both hail from Durham, North Carolina while Dom Flemons is local to Arizona. Although they have different musical foundations, they draw their musical legacy from the lower regions of North and South Carolina.
They have been under the tutelage of Joe Thompson, said to be the last black classic string band player, of Mebane, NC, and they try to carry on the long-standing classical music of the highly contrasting communities.
They are pleased to carry on the tradition of black musicians like Odell and Nate Thompson, Dink Roberts, John Snipes, Libba Cotten, Emp White, and countless other people who have passed past memory and honor.
Kirk’s banjo playing has been touched by the clawhammer styles of Tommy Jarrell, Dix man, Fred Cockerham, and Wade Ward, just as the three-finger picking styles of Frank Jenkins and Charlie Poole.
He has visited both broadly and globally, including exhibitions at the Alaska Folk Festival, the National Folk Festival, the Chicago Folk Festival, and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. In 1993, he was important for the acclaimed Masters of the Banjo tour sponsored by the National Council for the Traditional Arts.
Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves
Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves make a sound that is bold, masterful, and fresh, as they develop on the eccentricities of these classic songs, while never losing sight of what makes them stand.
The Perreze Farm
Pérezes’ own set of experiences follows back through a couple of local punk and alternative country bands, a show bill, and CD cover visualizer, just as an expert tattoo craftsman. In 2007 he started sitting in as a backup multi-instrumentalist for artists including J.B. Beverly, Graham Lindsey, Slackeye Slim, Sean Reefer and Rachel Brooke.
Songs for The Birds is The Perreze Farm’s debut offering, a six-song EP released May 26, 2009. For it, Perreze accumulated the backup of players Graham Lindsey and Joe Frankland of Slackeye Slim.
Touched with everything from clawhammer banjo, fiddle, and Telecaster to three-part harmonies, footsteps, and lead pipes, the tunes were spaded out over a few weekends and recorded by Perreze himself in an old chateau in his old hometown of Anaconda.
If you love the banjo sound or whether you are trying to discover the tool yourself, then you need to start tuning in to a couple of these banjo players mentioned above since they are the best clawhammer banjo players. You make certain to be surprised by all that you hear.