Tony Trischka

Tony Trischka (born January 16, 1949 in Syracuse, New York) is an American five-string banjo player.

Tony Trischka
Tony Trischka @ Passim
Tony Trischka, 2008
Background information
Birth nameAnthony Cattel Trischka
BornJanuary 16, 1949 (age 70)
Syracuse, New York, U.S.
GenresBluegrass, country
Occupation(s)Musician, educator
Years active1970s–present
Associated actsSkyline, Steve Martin

Music career

A native of Syracuse, New York, Trischka's interest in banjo was sparked by the Kingston Trio's "Charlie and the MTA" in 1963. Two years later, he joined the Down City Ramblers, where he remained through 1971. That year, he made his recording debut on 15 Bluegrass Instrumentals with the band Country Cooking; at the same time, he was also a member of America's premier sports-rock band Country Granola. In 1973, he began a three-year stint with Breakfast Special. Between 1974 and 1975, he recorded two solo albums, Bluegrass Light and Heartlands. After one more solo album in 1976, Banjoland, he went on to become musical leader for the Broadway show The Robber Bridegroom. Trischka toured with the show in 1978, the year he also played with the Monroe Doctrine.

In 1978, Trischka toured Japan and recorded with Peter Rowan and Richard Greene. In the early 1980s, he began recording with his group Skyline, which released its first album in 1983. Later albums included Robot Plane Flies over Arkansas (solo, 1983), Stranded in the Moonlight (with Skyline, 1984) and Hill Country (solo, 1985). In 1984, he performed in his first feature film, Foxfire. Three years later, he worked on the pre-recorded music for the off-Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy that featured Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. Trischka produced the Belgian group Gold Rush's No More Angels in 1988. The following year, Skyline recorded its final album, Fire of Grace. He also recorded the theme song for Books on the Air, a popular National Public Radio show, and continued his affiliation with the network by appearing on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, From Our Front Porch, and other radio shows. Trischka continued his recording career with 1993's World Turning, 1995's Glory Shone Around: A Christmas Collection and 1999's Bend. New Deal followed in 2003.

Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, featuring appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, Béla Fleck, Tony Rice and many other luminaries, came out four years later. For this recording Trischka went back to bluegrass and reinvigorated the double banjo tradition. In October 2007, he was given an IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) award for Banjo Player of the Year 2007. Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular received IBMA awards for Recorded Event of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and a Grammy Nomination.

He has written over fifteen instructional books and a series of DVDs. In July 2009 he launched the groundbreaking Online Banjo School with Tony Trischka, an interactive, online learning school that teaches students around the world how to play banjo with ArtistWorks. Trischka is closely associated with "newgrass," which features several innovations to traditional bluegrass, including jazzy arrangements, non-traditional chordal structures, and frequent covers of non-bluegrass songs. Trischka is one of the major innovators of the "chromatic" banjo style, which features sinewy, snaky melodic runs not strictly played out of chord positions.

2011 saw Give Me the Banjo aired on PBS stations nationwide with Trischka as the musical director and co-producer of the documentary. It was subsequently released on DVD. He produced Steve Martin's Grammy-nominated Rare Bird Alert (Rounder), which features performances by Paul McCartney, the Dixie Chicks and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

In December 2012, Trischka was awarded the United States Artists Friends Fellow in recognition of the excellence of his work.


  • Bluegrass Light (Rounder, 1974)
  • Heartlands (Rounder, 1975)
  • Banjoland (Rounder, 1977)
  • Before the Dawn – by Skyline (Accord, 1979)
  • Late to Work – by Skyline (Flying Fish, 1981)
  • Fiddle Tunes for Banjo, with Bill Keith and Béla Fleck (Rounder, 1981)
  • A Robot Plane Flies over Arkansas (Rounder, 1983)
  • Stranded in the Moonlight – by Tony Trischka & Skyline (Flying Fish, 1984)
  • Hill Country (Rounder, 1985)
  • Skyline Drive – by Tony Trischka & Skyline (Flying Fish, 1986)
  • Fire of Grace – by Skyline (Flying Fish, 1990)
  • Alone Together, with Beppe Gambetta (Brambus, 1991)
  • Solo Banjo Works, with Béla Fleck (Rounder, 1992)
  • World Turning (Rounder, 1993)
  • Psychograss – by Psychograss (Windham Hill, 1993)
  • Live at the Birchmere – by The Big Dogs (Strictly Country, 1995)
  • Glory Shone Around: A Christmas Collection (Rounder, 1995)
  • Like Minds – by Psychograss (Sugar Hil, 1996)
  • Bend (Rounder, 1999)
  • Now Hear This – by Psychograss (Adventure, 2005)
  • Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular (Rounder, 2007)
  • Territory, (Smithsonian Folkways 2008)
  • Great Big World (Rounder, 2014)[1]

Television appearances

  • Merv Griffin Show, 1976
  • Nashville Network's Fire on the Mountain, 1984, 1986
  • Ralph Emery's "Frets" Awards Show, The Nashville Network, 1987
  • CBS Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Foxfire with Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and John Denver, 1987
  • British television production of Echoes of America: History of the Five String Banjo, 1989
  • Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (PBS), 1992
  • CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood – feature story (including Béla Fleck), 1995
  • ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Summer, 1996
  • ABC Views, with Béla Fleck, Summer 1997
  • Live at the Quick, with Bela Fleck, 2004–2006
  • The Ellen DeGeneres Show, with Steve Martin, Brittany Haas, and Michael Daves, April 2007
  • Late Show with David Letterman, with Steve Martin, Bela Fleck, Brittany Haas, and Michael Daves, April 2007
  • CBS Television Network's Elton John: I'm Still Standing - A Grammy Salute, with Miley Cyrus, April 2018


  • Melodic Banjo, Oak Publications, 1976
  • Banjo Song Book, Oak Publications, 1977
  • Masters of the 5-String Banjo, Oak Publications, 1988


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External links

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Bill Keith (musician)

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Brad Davis (musician)

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singer-songwriter and guitarist. Initially a member of country singer Marty Stuart's road band, Davis has also performed with Earl Scruggs, Sam Bush, Billy Bob Thornton and several other country and musical acts, in addition to writing songs for artists like Tim McGraw, Jo-El Sonnier, Tony Trischka, and Thornton.

Davis also has a solo music career of his own, with several releases, both instrumental and vocal, and he has released instructional material on guitar playing, particularly the style of flatpicking.

Caravan of Thieves

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Crooked tune

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Daybreak (Béla Fleck album)

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Jayme Stone

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Stone has studied with Béla Fleck's teacher, Tony Trischka.Stone traveled to Mali in 2007 to learn about the banjo's African roots, and released a Africa to Appalachia in June 2008. Canadian journalist Brianna Goldberg produced a radio documentary about the making of the album.

Mike Marshall (musician)

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Natural Bridge (album)

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Peter Rowan with The Red Hot Pickers

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Psychograss was an American bluegrass supergroup founded by fiddler Darol Anger and mandolinist Mike Marshall.

Anger and Marshall had been members of the David Grisman Quintet, the band Montreaux, and had performed as a duo. They invited two other Grisman players, bassist Todd Phillips and percussionist Joe Craven, and recorded their first album in 1993. Tim O'Brien sang on the album and Tony Trischka played banjo. Guitarist David Grier joined the band on their second album, which included a cover version of a Jimi Hendrix song.

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Separate Ways (Teddy Thompson album)

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Along with Thompson's parents Richard and Linda Thompson, the album features contributions by Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Jenni Muldaur, Dave Mattacks, Matt Chamberlain, Smokey Hormel, Tony Trischka, and Garth Hudson (of The Band). The song "Separate Ways" featured in 2008 film 'My Best Friend's Girl'

Skyline (band)

Skyline was a newgrass group active in the 1970s and 1980s headed by Tony Trischka. The band consisted of Trischka, Danny Weiss on guitar and vocals, Dede Wyland on guitar and vocals, Larry Cohen on bass, and Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin. In the last year of their career Dede Wyland left the band and was replaced by Rachel Kalem. They were a major proponent of the "newgrass" sound, known for jazz-infused riffs and extensive use of harmony in their singing. Their first album, Skyline Drive, was released in 1977. The band released several more albums over the next few years, culminating with their final release, Fire of Grace, in 1989. In 1999, they released a retrospective album called Ticket Back.Some members of the band still play together at times. Weiss, Cohen, and Mitterhoff performed as Silk City, a band named after an old nickname for Paterson, New Jersey. The band was active around 2000-2004, before Mitterhoff left to join Hot Tuna.

The Walls of Time

The Walls of Time is the fourth solo album by country rock / bluegrass musician Peter Rowan. The album contains a solid set of mostly bluegrass compositions. Guest musicians include Jerry Douglas, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, Tony Trischka, and Peter's brother Lorin Rowan.

The tracks "Old, Old House", "Hiroshima Mon Amour," and "Willow Garden," all originally released on Peter Rowan with The Red Hot Pickers, were added to the 1993 CD re-release, presumably to fill out the play time to encourage sales of the CD. These tracks, added to the CD where the A-side on the LP ended, are not strictly part of the album.

Too Late to Cry (Alison Krauss album)

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Westcott, Syracuse, New York

Westcott is a neighborhood in Syracuse, New York, United States. Its proximity to Syracuse University makes for a diverse community, home to Syracuse University students, professors and other faculty and staff, as well as residents at all income levels. Westcott Street is the main retail street of the neighborhood, featuring numerous restaurants, coffee shops, stores and The Westcott Theater performing arts venue. It is the site of the annual Westcott Street Cultural Fair, a one-day celebration of the diversity and uniqueness of the neighborhood with food, art, live performances and cultural activities. Westcott is also home to Thornden Park, one of the largest parks in Syracuse. The Westcott neighborhood is the boyhood home of renowned banjoist Tony Trischka.

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