Steve Martin and SpongeBob SquarePants

Guest Blogger: Brent Davis

What do Steve Martin and SpongeBob SquarePants have in common?  They are both fans of Circleville, Ohio, banjo player Tony Ellis.

Ellis is among the musicians featured in “PBS ARTS FROM THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS: GIVE ME THE BANJO,” a documentary history of the instrument narrated by Martin. The program will air on WOSU TV at 9:00 p.m. Friday, November 4.  Immediately following that at 11:00 p.m. WOSU will present “TONY ELLIS’S QUEST,” a half-hour documentary about Ellis.

Martin, himself a banjo player, has invited Ellis to appear with him on stage and on “The David Letterman Show.”  Ellis has played traditional bluegrass, but in recent years he has created slower, thoughtful tunes that reflect the Ohio river country he loves. Martin says Ellis is the master of melody on the banjo. Ellis has paired the banjo with celtic harp, blues guitar, and pump organ, and has taken his original music to audiences around the world.  And the very first song he learned to play on the banjo, “Run, Boys, Run,” which he learned from his grandmother growing up in the mountains of North Carolina, has been used in an episode of  “SpongBob SquarePants.”

Watch both “PBS ARTS FROM BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS: GIVE ME THE BANJO ” and “TONY ELLIS’S QUEST” and see how musicians in Ohio and all over the world are exploring new territory with the banjo.

 

PBS ARTS FROM BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS: GIVE ME THE BANJO: 9:00pm Friday, November 4 on WOSU TV.

TONY ELLIS’S QUEST: 11:00pm Friday, November 4 on WOSU TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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