BanjerDan (Dan Mazer) is a solo acoustic performer based in Washington, DC. He plays a wide variety of originals and cover tunes on banjo, guitar, mandolin and dobro. His style ranges from straight-ahead bluegrass to folk, blues, pop and even a little jazz and classical music. In addition to his solo performances, Dan "hires out" to bands and solo artists as a backup musician, and is a full-time member of "J.B. Beverley & The Wayward Drifters."
Dan learned his craft in the Washington, DC area's hot 1970s bluegrass scene. He took up banjo in 1974 and played in numerous bluegrass bands, notably D.J. and the C.B. Pickers and Rockcreek. In over 25 years of performing, Dan has played in almost every imaginable situation, from busking to bar gigs, from coffeehouses to musical theater productions, from studio work to symphonic concertizing. In addition, Dan has written articles for Bluegrass Unlimited, Acoustic Musician, Banjo Newsletter, and other magazines.
From 1991 to 1995, Dan lived in Nashville, freelancing as a musician and writer. He put in three seasons at Opryland, U.S.A., two of them playing acoustic guitar and banjo in Opryland's most famous revue, Country Music U.S.A. He also established his own band, The Guys in the Suits and Ties, which performed at The Station Inn, Nashville's bluegrass hotspot. The other members of The Guys included (at various times) Randy Howard, Missy Raines, Ronnie McCoury, Roy Huskey, Jr., Ernie Sykes, John "Tater" Berry, Keith Little, Rich Arnold, and Greg Garing.
In November 1995, Dan moved to San Diego to work with The Jackstraws, an acoustic group that performs costumed, themed entertainment all over Southern California. He was hired by SeaWorld of California as a strolling entertainer in the Spring of 1999. In November 2000, Dan returned to the Washington, DC area to be near his family, and to re-immerse himself in the East Coast acoustic music world.
Dan's first CD, "Old Stuff," was released in January 2001. Among its 14 cuts are four BanjerDan originals. On this CD, Dan is joined by some of the finest pickers and singers in the bluegrass/acoustic field, including Mike Auldridge, Jimmy Gaudreau, Pete Kennedy, Dave Giegerich, Tom Gray and Moondi Klein.
You are quite a performer! You have a personalness that audiences love! You're on my list of top entertainers!
- Kathy Svoboda, National Theatre, Washington, DC
The audience you collected in just minutes was glued to you. Your ability to assess the age of the audience and pull from your song bag just the right favorite melodies was perfect.
- Priscilla J. Wimpress, Producer-Children's Day 1985, Adventure Theatre, Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD
We've heard some wonderfully enthusiastic reviews of your performances. Folks have mentioned that they enjoyed hearing about the history of the banjo as well as listening to the music. You were a pleasure to work with and provided a fabulous act!
- Mary Lynn Bobbitt, Executive Director, First Night Alexandria, Alexandria, VA
I want to say THANKS for playing on my record. It really is some great stuff!
- Tim Flannery
Your talent was just what we needed to launch our new folks series. You helped us set precisely the tone we wanted -- quality music, fun, joyousness, and high humor -- bless you forsharing your gifts with our community.
- Pam Blevins Hinkle, Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis
We enjoyed your performance at this year's festival as much as the audience did. You were a big hit!
- Frank Cassell, Takoma Park Folk Festival Program Committee, Takoma Park, MD
Mazer is an efficacious musician whose style embraces a diversified blending of contemporary influences including Eddie Adcock and Bela Fleck.
- Les McIntyre, Bluegrass Unlimited, Vol. 23, No. 9
NOTES ON "OLD STUFF"
1) "Mahoney's Mumble" is a hot original banjo instrumental, named for Pat Mahoney. Pat was a writer for Bluegrass Unlimited, and a mentor when Dan attended his first bluegrass festival at Indian Springs, Maryland, at the age of 16. This tune features a sizzling electric guitar solo by Allan Hughes.
2) "Till the End of the World Rolls 'Round" is a Flatt & Scruggs classic. Dan plays rhythm guitar and sings lead.
3) "Soldier's Joy" is a traditional American fiddle tune. Dan is playing all the instruments except bass, which is handled in fine style by Moe Nelson.
4) "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby" is from the Louvin Brothers' repertoire. Bob Hummer sings the lead solos and tenor on the refrains, where Dan sings melody, and mandolinist John Akin sings baritone. Check out the banjo, played capoless in Bb!
5) "The Guys in the Suits and Ties" is a BanjerDan original, inspired by a conversation Dan had with his brother David in the late 1960s. (They were both children at the time.) It's a portrait of a man who feels he's wasted his life.
6) On "Blue Bossa," Dan takes the dobro to Brazil! Listen for an inspired fiddle solo from Jim Queen, and tasty lead guitar work by Dave Bernhardt.
7) "Harlequin Mountain" is a rather contemplative BanjerDan original instrumental. Some folks have pointed out a similarity to John Hartford's "Steam Powered Aeroplane." Moondi Klein contributes an astounding guitar solo!
8) "Mary Dear" is a lovely ballad from the classic Country Gentlemen. Ben Eldridge and Mike Auldridge on banjo and dobro give it a great Seldom Scene-like treatment, with Jimmy Gaudreau ably filling the shoes of the mighty John Duffey by playing mandolin and singing ALL the harmony parts.
9) Dan wrote "Humble Pie" in a college notebook, where it sat for several years before Dan found it again. It's a cute novelty song, with puns riffing on food images.
10) "Ground Speed." Earl Scruggs classic. 'Nuff said!
11) "4 and 20" was written by Stephen Stills and appears on CSNY's "Deja Vu" album. Dan defies banjo conventions by slowing down the tempo from the original. This stark arrangement features only Dan on banjo and vocal, and Mike Auldridge's haunting dobro.
12) "Can't You Hear Me Callin'?" is one of Bill Monroe's best songs. Moondi Klein sings it superbly, and plays a mean guitar solo. Dave Giegerich and Jimmy Gaudreau add solid breaks on dobro and mandolin.
13) "Wave" is second only to "Girl From Ipanema" in the pantheon of Bossa Nova standards. Dan states the melody on the banjo and then lets a super cast of pickers have at it! Mike Auldridge nails it on 8-string dobro, and Jim Queen's soaring fiddle solo uses musical quotes to great effect. The tour de force is Pete ("One Take") Kennedy's shimmering guitar break.
14) The "Prelude #20 in C Minor" by Frederic Chopin was assigned to Dan for analysis in a music theory class at George Washington University. With a quick look, Dan's instant analysis was, "I could play this one on the banjo!"