When is a banjo not a banjo?
Strictly speaking, any instrument which uses a skin or vellum as a sounding board is a banjo, however, there are many variations, including the banjo-ukulele, banjo-mandolin and banjos with any number of strings from one to eight. The banjo most often played in American bluegrass and country music is the five string banjo, played with finger picks.
Graham Metcalf is a performer of many years standing, starting out in the 1960s playing rock’n’roll, he progressed through folk and country music, collecting instruments on the way. Apart from acoustic guitar, dobro and banjo, all of which he plays in the band, Graham also plays electric guitar and pedal steel guitar, as well as having a separate solo singing career.
What is a dobro?
The dobro or resonator or resophonic guitar owes its origins to an Eastern European family called the Dopyeras who settled in the United States in the 1920s and developed a guitar which would be loud enough to be played in the big bands of the day. Their guitar used a metal cone similar to a loudspeaker over which the strings passed on a bridge.
This instrument was further developed for Hawaiian style players who used the guitar in a horizontal position and played using a metal or bakelite bar to make the notes. The dobro was introduced into bluegrass music during the 1950s when a player named “Uncle Josh” Graves played it with the Flatt and Scruggs band in their famous TV shows. It has since been given wider appeal through players like Jerry Douglas.
Phil Quin is a seasoned musician and singer, having played in many bands and helped form several. He also runs a
large vocal harmony group.
Katharine Priestley joined Union Central after spending several years performing with The Saltmine Theatre Company. She replaced Josie Mills in 2010. Her great singing talent was immediately apparent, and she has shown true commitment to the band.
Geoff Earp is a bass player of extraordinary ability and sensitivity. He has played with many bands over a period of several decades. Geoff plays a NS (Ned Steinberger) upright electric bass, plus various electric bass guitars, including Fender Jazz, Precision and a home-built fretless.
Hannah Crawford is a classically trained violinist and music teacher. She plays several other instruments and has made her mark on the music scene in just a few short years. She joined Union Central in 2012, replacing Maggie Allred.