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April 23, 2016

Annie Staninec - Banjo pickin' Girl

Mike Walton talks to Rod's newest band member, violin and banjo player Annie Staninec

posted by Thomas Stadelmann

Annie began playing gigs when she was twelve, and by the ime she was in high School, she had joined a couple bands. Some of her previous bands are All Wrecked Up, Donner Mountain, Dark Hollow, and Lost Coast. Donner Mountain won several band competitions, including the 2006 Huck Finn Jubilee National Playoffs, 2005 Music on the Mountain Band Contest and 2004 Bluegrass in the Foothills Emerging Artist Band Contest.

In 2005 Annie played with Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings at the Four Corners Folk Festival in Colorado. In 2006, she was the fiddler for the Gypsy Kidz in the Gypsy Caravan Tour, and was the recipient of the Dudley Hill Award for Outstanding Young Musicians at Djangofest Northwest, and presented with an SV-1800 Cremona Violin by Saga Musical Instruments. From 2007-2010, Annie toured part-time with Town Mountain and recorded an album called Heroes and Heretics with them. More recently she has performed and recorded with Peter Rowan, John Reischman and the Jaybirds, Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, Red Wine, Travers Chandler & Avery County and the Crooked Jades.

Most recently Annie performed with The Kathy Kallick Band based out of the Bay Area. They released an album last year called Time and had been having fun touring with it nationally and internationally. She has also worked with Mary Gauthier, Andrew Carriere & the Cajun All-Stars, Jimmy Grant, Jimbo Trout & the Fishpeople, the Sleepy-Eyed Johns, and Mitch Polzak & the Resonators and has become the latest member of Rod's fantastic band playing at the last Vegas residency.

SMILER caught up with Annie as she had just finished the Vegas dates and was teaching at a bluegrass camp before the UK and European tour starts in May.

SMILER: Is it true Rod spotted you in a YouTube video and hired you soon after?
Annie: Janna Jacoby found YouTube videos of me and showed them to Rod; apparently he liked them. I then got invited to audition for the band.

When I was compiling the questions for this interview, I watched some YouTube videos of you playing banjo myself and was blown away by how good you are - how long has it taken you to get to that standard?
I've been playing banjo for 9 years, though the fiddle is my main instrument.

I remember when I was about 9 or 10, a relative gave me an album by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs; I loved it, mainly because it had the theme tune to The Beverly Hillbillies TV Show. Did you ever check these guys out when you were younger?
I love Flatt & Scruggs! I grew up listening to them, mostly their late 40's to early 60's era.

Rod has been known to get his banjo out on occasions, did you know he could play?
I did see a video of Rod playing banjo!

You are even more well known as a very accomplished fiddle player. Did you really start playing at 4 years old?
Yes, I did.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
Traditional bluegrass, old-time, early country, early blues, gypsy swing, and a bit of traditional Irish and Scottish fiddle music.

Last year you released your self-titled solo album, Annie Staninec, what style of music do you play on it?
There's bluegrass, old-time, Cajun, and Irish fiddle music on it. It's about half songs and half instrumentals.

I see you did a version of Man of Constant Sorrow. Have you ever heard Rod's version of that song?
Not yet, but I can't wait to hear it!

You really should check it out. It was recorded for his first solo album 'An Old Raincoat will Never Let You Down'
I'll check it out.

You also have a book out 'Bluegrass fiddle Solos' who is it aimed at beginners or advanced players?
It's intended for the intermediate to advanced player, but I hope that everyone can get something out of it, including beginners, or even people who don't play fiddle but want to learn about bluegrass fiddling. They're all solos that fiddlers played on various bluegrass records.

One thing you seem very passionate about is teaching at music camps what does that entail?
I do love teaching at music camps, and I love teaching in general. The camps are particularly fun because teachers and students alike are immersed completely in the music for several days, and making new friends and being around great players is so inspiring.

Did you know any of Rod's music before you joined the band?
No, I was not familiar with Rod's music before I joined the band.

Out of the set list have you got a favorite song you like to play?
I love various songs in the sets for different reasons. Rollin' and Tumblin' is a great blues song that's super fun to play on the fiddle. Gasoline Alley is very beautiful and the lilt is great for the clawhammer banjo.

Have you enjoyed playing alongside Janna in the band?
Yes! Her personality and musicianship are both so wonderful. She's super fun, and she's also helped me so much with all the things I've had to learn, musically and otherwise.

Our US members have already been singing your praises and telling us how well you fit in the band. Have you had any stand out shows yet?
That's great to hear! I think the shows have been fairly consistent so far.

Has Rod got you into football yet?
Not yet

You have already done gigs all over the world but are you looking forward to playing to stadium crowds in Europe in the summer with Rod?
Yes! It will be a new and exciting experience.

OK that's it, thank you for talking to us. All of us at SMILER would like to welcome you to the world of Rod and wish you all the best for the upcoming tour... Have you got a message for all Rod's european fans who will get to see you for the first time in the summer?
Thank you so much for such a warm welcome! I very much look forward to the adventures, and seeing you all in Europe!

Annie was interviewed by Mike Walton on 17th April 2016.
Photo: Karen Chande

© 2019 SMILER Magazine

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