Apparently, part of being Joe Banjo is being involved in lots of projects. So, so many projects. Below, you can see why--they're all really fun! Being collaborative by nature, Joe welcomes you to support any of these projects by reaching out via email. Of course, the most direct way to support Joe's work on everything you see below is to click here and contribute a small, monthly fee to his Patreon page!
A program of Community Arts Create
The Rhapsody Project invites you to explore your own heritage, find what resonates, and extend those valuable traditions. To spur this movement, we task the young with talking to their elders, then teach them to turn those stories into their own songs using a myriad of American musical forms. When these stories are shared, all involved explore the backgrounds and cultures of those around them. This music makes people dance, sing, and celebrate cultures we may otherwise miss meeting face to face. Help us build our model!
Our non-profit's fiscal sponsor is Shunpike, donate by going here!
To equitably address and explore his heritage as a 5th generation Oregonian, and to work with his friend Gwen Trice, Joe serves as the Board Chair for the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center. This lovely museum is located in Joseph, Oregon, and is dedicated to exploring the hidden histories of multi-ethnic timber camps that existed in many parts of the Northwest when lumber was king. Thanks to Gwen, Joe discovered that he grew up near one such former camp--the town of Vernonia, Oregon. Now, MHIC is working on a multi-year project to tell stories of Maxville in a new album of original songs! Learn more about that here.
Briar is the stage name of the artist and forest nymph that just so happens to be Joe's partner in life. You can hear her sing, and you really should, by checking out her website. See the Gigs link here to find out where you can hear Joe playing banjo, guitar, and harmonica on the traditional and original songs that the two lifelong Pacific Northwesterners arrange together.
NW Folk Music
Traditional music in the United States has been largely identified with two regions: the Deep South and the Appalachian mountains. The traditional songs of the Pacific Northwest colonizers and their descendants are of more recent vintage, and thus given much less attention and consideration by American academies and institutions. However, there are a few musicians who have worked to balance this narrow thinking. For instance, Vivian Williams continues her work to document Northwest folk idioms of social music and dance music.
Asking and answering the question, "What is Northwest folk music?" Joe has produced two albums of material. The first, Timberbound, was recorded to document songs written by or about logging, fishing, and sawmill culture in Northwest Oregon. The second, Roll Columbia, was produced to serve as the first-ever collection of all 26 songs that Woody Guthrie composed in 1941 for the Bonneville Power Administration. This album was released in 2017 by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and can be purchased here.
Going forward, Joe is working with his mentors and students to further explore the nature of Northwest folk music--a traditional style of song and culture that is being consciously created to reflect the ethos and values that define our region.