Stephen Wade Brings The Banjo's History To Life In One Man Show in Milwaukee
The strum of the banjo is a distinctly American sound.
The earliest forms of the banjo came to this country with the West African slaves during the middle passage, and since then the instrument has become a centerpiece in Southern musical traditions.
A new show at the Milwaukee Rep explores the banjo and American folk music.
Wade has been fascinated with the banjo ever since he was a child. He’s turned that passion into a lifelong quest to uncover and document American folk songs and playing styles. He’s played at the White House, on Broadway, and is now here in Milwaukee.
He joins Lake Effect's Bonnie North to discuss the banjo's history and play a few tunes.
"The idea of the banjo as a metaphor for America I think is true," Wade says. "Here's a music brought here by black musicians, and shared with mountain whites to make a new music for us all."
Listen to a few tunes played live by Wade: