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January 28, 2023

‘Banjo-ologist’ takes SBHS stage tonight

The San Benito County Arts Council is sponsoring Ohliger who
describes himself as

a musical Mark Twain with heritage you can hear.


Fans of American music and vintage instruments will want to attend the “Banjo-ologist” Gordy Ohliger’s performance at 7:30 p.m. today at San Benito High School.

“I’ll be performing this country’s original music on vintage instruments,” Ohliger says. “You can really appreciate a song from the 1860s when it is played on an instrument that was handmade in 1860.”

The San Benito County Arts Council is sponsoring Ohliger who describes himself as “a musical Mark Twain with heritage you can hear.”

Ohliger says there will be funky, old-time minstrel songs, 1800s ragtime; 20s jazz, bluegrass, novelty vaudeville, graceful ballads and 1930s hot swing.

Ohliger is an accomplished musician who has received seven grants from the California Arts Council, performed for PBS television projects, major concert series and the J. Paul Getty Museum.

But to understand what makes his performances special, you have to understand his self-described silly style.

“I am a humorous, musical historian,” he says. “I get a lot of comparisons to Mark Twain, the sort of fun approach to getting information across.

“There is a lot going on in my shows – humor, storytelling, and lots of history.”

Ohliger went on to say that in other parts of the world, much is handed down through song.

“Here, we are always off to the new and next thing, leaving everything else behind,” he says. “My show is a way to connect with the past in a fun way.”

The audience will be invited on stage to look at the “museum you can hear” of instruments. They include an 1893 Washburn 8-string combination Mandolin-banjo and an 1830s five -string African instrument called a M’banza and described by Ohliger as being made of gourd, goat guts and skin.

Jeff Gatlin
A staff member edited this provided article.

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