Put candy cane striped vests, straw hats and talented guys playing banjo together and you get the Easton Banjo Society. An institution in town since 1957, the 15-member band puts smiles on the faces of people across the area, whether or not they're into that type of music. "The band started in Easton, so it'll always be based in Easton, but it just fits," said Mick Reed, a filmmaker who joined in the '90s after seeing it on a float at Fairfield's Memorial Day parade.
"Easton is a town that really has preserved some pretty core American values," he said. "And I think that the type of music that the Easton Banjo Society plays is very traditional, but it's also very alive."
Reed had never played much banjo, but his guitar skills helped him to pick it up quickly. "It's a type of instrument where it's harder to play slow than it is fast, and you really need to know what you're doing to really play the music," Reed said. "Luckily, we have some real professional level players." One of the original founders is 95 and still plays.
The members play a variety of instrumentstenor banjos, five-string, plectrum, mandolin and even a six-string, along with an upright bass, piano and a sousaphone. In the past, they had a fiddle and are now looking to bring it back. The society has plucked its way into the hearts of many, playing at events all over: the Easton Farms Tour, parades, church fairs, private parties and town greens.
"There's nothing more rewarding than the smile you get, whether we're on a Memorial Day float and the crowd is just going wild--grown people cheering us on-- or just the simple smiles on the faces--it's just a type of music that makes people smile," Reed said. "It's pure Americana."
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