Don Van Palta, "The Flying Dutchman"
This year's show features "The Flying Dutchman", Don Van Palta. Don was born in The Hague, Holland. By the time he was seven he was already strumming a little ukulele. After World War 11 Don came to the United States and settled in Sacramento, California. Inspired by Eddie Peabody he traded his ukulele for a banjo at the local pawn shop.
In 1960 Don moved to San Diego where he became a member of the wacky, raucous Mickie Finn Band. In 1966 'The Mickie Finn Show", with Don As featured banjoist, was a popular NBC Television show. During the run of the television show Don worked with Jimmy Durante, Merv Griffin, Regis Philbun, Glenn Campbell, Bing Crosby, Liza Mannelli, Tim Conway, Frank Sinatra Jr., Artie Johnson, Foster Brooks, Jonathan Winters, George Gobel (Lonesome George), Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Jerry Van Dyke and Bob Hope. He went on to perform in Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe casinos, along with all the leading nightclubs, resort hotels, dinner theaters and cruise ships. Don is often referred to as the "Victor Borge of the Banjo". So if you like good old fashioned music, from Stephen Foster to Rhapsody in Blue and 12th Street Rag to Jesus Christ, Superstar, with a bit of humor mixed in, be sure to catch Don's act.
After 23 years of doing his act on the major cruise ship lines he decided to leave that business to the younger, single players, some of them his former pupils. In December of 1999 Don and his wife Carolyn moved to Grand Junction, Colorado where they started an alternative health business that has been Carolyn's main interest for many years. Don is playing as a soloist around town and also developing an act as part of a trio consisting of tenor sax, tuba and banjo.
Don is still teaching banjo with his unique video system and plans to do that for many more years. He also contributes to
jazzbanjo.com, an internet banjo magazine started by former student, John Mumford. Don was greatly pleased and honored when in 1999 he was inducted in the Guthrie, Oklahoma Banjo Hall of Fame.