‘Dueling Banjo’ collaboration returns to Bash

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Two of the world’s best and most awarded banjo players again will team up for a “Dueling Banjos” segment at the Suncoast BBQ & Bluegrass Bash on March 28 at the Venice Airport festival grounds.

Sammy Shelor of the Lonesome River Band and Kristin Scott Benson of The Grascals will play with their own bands then play a short set of banjo-only tunes. The popular collaboration debuted at last year’s Bash, which also features six-time Male Vocalist of the Year Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out. 

Shelor is a five-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Banjo Player of the Year Award and is a member of the Virginia Music Hall of Fame. South Carolina native Benson also has won the IBMA banjo award five times, most recently in 2019.

Both are recipients of the prestigious Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, Shelor in 2011 and Benson in 2018.

“Everyone on the board was aware of not only Sammy’s great talent on the banjo, his influence on other players, but also his long dedication to Lonesome River Band.” award namesake Steve Martin said of the prize, which comes with a $50,000 payout. “The one thing the award is not is an ‘old master’ award. We like active players who are in the daily struggle of creating music.”

Benson is one of the first females to front a top-tier band, and has played with The Grascals since 2008. 

“There was one grass ceiling no woman could cut through—until Kristin Scott Benson came along, that is. …It’s a high profile gig, as Kristin takes the banjo where no woman has taken it before,”wrote Larry Nager in the October 2010 edition of Bluegrass Unlimited.

Both pickers have their own signature sound and are popular with crowds all over the world. We are proud to have them return to the Bash to showcase their skills.

Parking and admission are free at the festival, which is in its 11th year and features a mouth-watering competition BBQ cookoff. Local favorites Swinging Bridge will kick off the music Friday night at the fairgrounds and also Saturday morning.

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