Boy Named Banjo to make Aspen debut
Special to the Aspen Times
Growing up in Nashville, the members of country-rock band Boy Named Banjo would go down to Lower Broadway to busk outside of the honky-tonk-lined streets to get a little extra cash for the weekend. This was back when they were all underage and couldn’t quite get into the bars yet.
“This one time a really drunk guy stumbled out of a bar and immediately locked eyes with me playing banjo,” singer and banjo player Barton Davies said in a recent phone interview from his home in Nashville. “He got up in my face and started waving a $10 bill in the air and was like, ‘Play that banjo faster, boy. Play it faster for me.’ We thought it was hilarious. That experience is what inspired the band’s name.”
On Saturday, the five-piece band will make its debut performance at Belly Up with opener Braison Cyrus (yes, Miley’s brother).
Three of the band members went to high school together, and that’s really where the group got its start.
“We put out a little album called ‘The Tanglewood Sessions’ right before we graduated from high school,” Davies says. “We weren’t going to pursue music; we didn’t really have plans on doing it professionally or anything.”
Fortunately, that album ended up doing well within the band’s immediate circles and in the southeast region.
“It gave us the confidence to keep going into college,” Davies says. “Once we got to college, we started playing a lot more. We decided we needed to take the sound and vamp it up a little bit.”
The gang all remained close throughout their college years.
“After college, we just went for it and started touring and playing our first public gigs at venues,” Davies conveys. “We had only really played private parties before that. We’re like, ‘Let’s just go for it. Let’s just do this full time.’”
Now 27, Davies admits that he didn’t start playing the banjo until he was 16. Shortly after that is when he really began to fall in love with music.
“I always dreamed of being a musician professionally, but I had no idea, really, what that looked like,” Davies says. “I just wanted to be playing in front of a lot of people on a stage. I had that dream but never really knew how to make it come true or if I actually would. It happened organically. We just never quit doing it.”
Most recently, in August, the band released a genre-defying EP “Circles.”
“I think it’s been pretty great,” Davies says. “We’ve gained a lot of new fans from it. I think everyone, it seems like, has their favorite song. There’s not one song that everyone’s leaning to. It’s all across the board. People like ‘Circles,’ or they like ‘Only You Know’ or ‘Go Out Dancing.’ I think that shows that we put a lot of effort into each song instead of just focusing on a single or two.”
The band went into the studio about three years ago to start on this EP.
“At that point in time, we were just searching for our sound, I feel like,” Davies says. “We wanted to make music that would translate to the stage, and it just fell into place from there. We recorded all these in our producer’s garage studio. They’re polished but also rough around the edges. That’s the vibe we were going for.”
“We always call our sound country rock, but it’s really a melting pot of so many different styles,” Davies says. “William and I have that bluegrassy, folk, country background. Willard, on the electric guitar, has more of a classic rock background. Then Ford (Garrard, bassist) and Sam (McCullough, drummer) are both metalheads. It’s really cool when you put it all together. It’s hard to put a finger on the sound exactly, but we found country rock fits our vibe.”
As far as the show this weekend goes, Davies promises: “It’s going to be full of energy, lots of smiles from us. We like to have a really good time on stage. We’re all best friends. We just get up there and have fun together. I would encourage everyone that wants to have a good time to come to the show.”
Who: Boy Named Banjo
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, Nov. 20, 9 p.m.
How much: $10-$20
More info: Braison Cyrus opens.
Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s new fall lecture series will run weekly from Oct. 20 through Dec. 6. The lineup consists of artists nationwide who will be spending one to three weeks at the ranch completing projects within their area of expertise and exploring new work in the studios.