Five Firsts: Banjo Dan Lindner of the Sky Blue Boys

The Blue Sky Boys
The Blue Sky Boys

NAME: Dan Lindner, known for over 35 years around the northeast as “Banjo Dan”
BAND AFFILIATION: The Sky Blue Boys; Banjo Dan and the Mid-nite Plowboys
INSTRUMENT: Banjo, guitar, autoharp, dobro and mandolin

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … My brother Willy and I shared a record collection in our youth, and as teenagers we got into traditional music (after our rock ‘n’ roll phase), inspired first by the New Lost City Ramblers’ first Folkways LP.

2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … Hard to say for sure, but my brother and I grew up in Baltimore, close to Washington DC, where there was a terrific bluegrass music scene – and where the drinking age was 18 – so as soon as we could get away with it, we started driving down to DC as often as possible to see the Country Gentlemen, who not only played great bluegrass but were also funnier than hell.

3. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS … I played piano as a kid, but that doesn’t count. As a really young kid, I had a ukulele and could play a few tunes on it until the day I sat on it. But it was around the time I was finishing up high school and really taking an interest in traditional music that I started picking for real. My first serious interest was banjo, and that’s still my primary instrument.

4. THE FIRST SONG THAT I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC WAS … Got no idea. My brother and I pretty much memorized that first New Lost City Ramblers record, and the first time we actually performed together was in a school where our mom taught. So it was probably a note-for-note knockoff of some tune the Ramblers recorded.

5. THE FIRST BAND I WAS EVER IN WAS … In college. I went to Oberlin and played in the college bluegrass band, the Plum Creek Boys. We even recorded and album. I listened to it the other day for the first time in years, and it’s not half bad. Then my brother and I founded Banjo Dan and the Mid-nite Plowboys in 1972.

Banjo Dan Lindner and his brother Willy Lindner team up as the Sky Blue Boys for a performance at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs at 8pm on Friday. Tix are $15 in advance; $17 at the door.

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