The latest CD from Banana (founding member of The Youngbloods),"Even Grandpas Get The Blues" has been named one of the Ten Best Marin CD's of 2012 by Paul Libertore in The Marin Independent Journal
With guest appearances by Ry Cooder, David Grisman,Terry Haggerty,Barry Melton,Steve Kimock,Bobby Vega,Michael Barclay,Roger Volz,David Thom,Sam Page,and Ethan Turner, this is a wonderful experience.
Banana's infatuation with Americana music started in the early fifties growing up in Santa Rosa California when he discovered the 'race station' KWBR in Oakland and started hearing the likes of and buying the records of Lightning Hopkins, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Big Bill Broonzy, Little Willie John, James Brown, and on and on. Then along came Chuck Berry and Ray Charles, and Little Richard and Fats Domino and Elvis and by that time he had learned enough piano to play with a group of local Philly street corner style singers called The Chandells. They got to go to LA to make a record but he was too young to go.
He got hooked on guitar as a teen and then the banjo of Pete Seeger and The New Lost City Ramblers and then, just before heading off to Boston University, he heard Flatt and Scruggs for the first time. A life changing experience. One that added a permanent place in his heart and in his practice for bluegrass.
Banana began his career in bluegrass on the east coast in Boston with "Banana and the Bunch, Old Time Music with Appeal" playing banjo. He then formed "Banana and the Bunch, Old Time Music with Appeal" playing bluegrass in the local coffee houses of the early 60’s being mentored by the likes of Bill Kieth and The Charles River Valley Boys. After several years in the east coast folk/bluegrass scene, he co-founded The Youngbloods with Joe Bauer, Jesse Colin Young, and Jerry Corbitt. The band moved from New York City to West Marin in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1967.
Along with co-producing The Youngbloods records with Joe Bauer and many others on his own, he produced the first two High Country albums for Butch Waller which were released by Warner Bros. Records in the early 1970's. This introduced California bluegrass to a worldwide audience.
He was accompanist to Mimi Farina for over twenty years, played keyboards and sang lead with Zero for over 10 years, played with Norton Buffalo, Steve Kimock and Friends, The Michael Barclay Blues Band, Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks, and old time psychedelic rock with The Barry "The Fish" Melton band. He has done duo gigs with David Nelson, Keith Little, David Thom, Paul Knight, and many others. And he plays the beloved bluegrass music with friends and neighbors including The Papermill Creek Rounders, David, Tracy and Sam Grisman, The David Thom Band, Peter Rowan and the legendary Artie Rose and associates.
As Grandpa Banana’s Band with David Thom on mandolin and Sam Page on bass, he plays five string tenor guitar and presents a vast repertoire of great songs old and new.