About the Banjo Man (Frank Cassel)
Frank Cassel (the Banjo Man) began the study of music as a toddler, sitting on his Grandma's lap and learning "Swanee River" and "Blueberry Hill" on the piano. His dad was a sax player with a big band, and had toured all over the country with the Army Band prior to having a family. When he was ten years old, Frank's family moved from Baltimore to the Western Shore of the Chesapeake Bay just north of Annapolis, Maryland. One of their new neighbors was a self-styled hillbilly singer named Marty Rodey whose entertaining guitar playing and country songs led Frank to take up the guitar.
Frank later studied guitar with a very talented player in Baltimore, Danny Smith, and spent long hours in coffee houses and after-hours clubs studying the playing and singing of the folk, jazz and other musicians. At the University of Maryland in College Park he got to know Elizabeth Cotton, and was lucky enough to study first-hand the ragtime style of guitar picking she invented. When he was eighteen his group won second place in a national contest judged by Les Paul and John Hammond, Sr. (of Columbia Records). That same year he first heard The Country Gentlemen, with Charlie Waller on guitar, John Duffey on mandolin, and Eddie Adcock on banjo. That was the beginning of a life-long fascination with the banjo.
Frank began performing professionally in clubs in the Washington, DC area. Gradually, he came to realize that there were many venues other than local listening rooms, and began to perform at community festivals, special events and the like. For example, he wrote and performed the original music for the children's dance group, The Primary Movers. Frank also does a lecture-demonstration on the history of the five-string banjo at colleges and other institutions, and his strolling banjo show enlivens picnics, promotional events, and other gatherings.
Solo, or with his band, Mountain Fever, Frank performs folk and bluegrass music everywhere from huge events on the Mall in Washington DC, to cafes in small towns. His first album project, The Illustrated Nonsense Rag, now resides in the American Folklife Collection of the Smithsonian Institute. Frank has been the entertaining subject of many newspaper articles, radio interviews, and television appearances. The Banjo Man album project was inspired by the banjo show he does every Sunday morning at the Takoma Park Farmers' Market in Takoma Park, Maryland. These performances are attended by local children who now know Frank as "The Banjo Man". One parent suggested a child-oriented recording, and Frank enthusiastically embraced the idea. The result is a collection of fourteen of the most popular songs from the Farmer's Market show, accompanied by members of the Mountain Fever Band.
During the summer months, Frank performs at festivals from New York to Georgia. He will also be appearing at bookstores and children's stores throughout the mid-Atlantic region this fall as he promotes the new Banjo Man album. When he is at home, and the weather is kind, he may be found playing from 10am to Noon on Sundays at the Takoma Park Farmers' Market.
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This page was designed by Geff King
and it was last updated on 8/12/2007
The URL is http://www.banjomanfc.com/whoisfc.htm