A 5-string good time with Banjoman & Company

Image: Banjoman & Co. — Dave Hunt on fiddle with the Banjoman, Dave Taylor, performing in the Smithfield Youth Center.

Banjoman & Co. — Dave Hunt on fiddle with the Banjoman, Dave Taylor, performing in the Smithfield Youth Center. (Arianna Rees)

Smithfield residents were treated to a night of bluegrass on Saturday as the popular local band Banjoman & Co. played at the city’s weekly Concert in the Park. Consisting of sing-a-longs, popular tunes, and original compositions, the evening’s performances brought smiles and nostalgia to the faces of all who listened.

The band, consisting of Dave Taylor, his wife Kathy Taylor, Dave Hunt, and Brian Judy, played favorites such as “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” “On Top of Old Smokey,” and “Rocky Top” on as many as six different instruments, including the mandolin and autoharp. They also performed compositions written by Taylor, the Banjoman himself. Those played included “My Home Town,” a tribute to Smithfield, and a quirky song called “Don’t Put Me On Hold” that described the pains of cell phone use.

Formed in Logan in 2003, the group has been playing at church functions, local concerts, and county fairs ever since. Taylor explained that the idea of the Banjoman name itself started far earlier. A strolling minstrel at the Festival of the American West for fifteen years, Taylor was far from being a stranger to the banjo when the group was formed. “The Mountain Men were the ones who called me the ‘Banjoman.’ That’s when it stuck,” he laughed. With a nationally published book titled “Christmas Songs for 5-String Banjo” and a recent retirement to devote more time to music and song-writing, he is definitely no amateur.

Taylor is not the only one to shine in the group. Dave Hunt, who joined on in 2009, plays the fiddle, the mandolin, and the guitar in the band. He is a two-time Utah State champion on guitar and mandolin, and he took third place honors in the Pizza Hut Bluegrass Showdown at the finals in Owensboro, Kentucky in 1995. Brian Judy, also a guitarist, plays not only with Banjoman & Co., but in an ensemble composed of children and adults from many families. Kathy Taylor began playing the stand-up bass when the band was formed, bringing background experience in piano, organ, and vocal coaching.

With so much talent and passion for music, the group was definitely a crowd pleaser. Taylor brightly remarked, “I enjoy the performing part. It’s really neat to have a band playing all together.” The audience appeared to agree.

Concert in the park

Banjoman & Company’s performance was part of the Smithfield Concert in the Park series. Upcoming concerts include:

  • 8 Track Mind — June 26
  • Lightwood Duo — July 10
  • Red Desert Ramblers — July 31
  • Mark Gibbons — Aug. 7