|The S e a t t l e B a n j o Fe s t i v a l||
This Year Celebrating
The Seattle Banjo Club's 41st Anniversary
and other Performers
The Southtown Strummers are a high energy group focusing on music of the 1920s and Tin Pan Alley with lively vocals and lots of banjo playing. They were very popular with the audience when they played in the 1989 Banjo Festival.
The group came into existence in 1975 with Dave Frey and Bill Houston on banjos, and Phil Anderson on string bass playing as a trio at Johnny and Red’s Pizza in Santa Rosa, California. They were soon busy playing private parties and picnics as well as interesting gigs like the inaugural run of the San Francisco Bay commuter ferry G.T. Sonoma. They were asked to play one last time at Johnny and Red’s on November 5, 1977 for a recording on a new medium, black and white reel-to-reel video tape. VHS and Beta videos had not been invented yet!
In 1983, Greg Stevens moved to the Sonoma County area and joined the group on piano. Greg had a background playing with many banjo players and groups in Southern California including many jobs with Carol Fehr and Ralph Martin. Shortly after Greg joined the Strummers, the band recorded and released their first cassette, “Sampler.”
In 1987, the Strummers were the first banjo band to play at San Francisco’s prestigious deYoung Museum. They were chosen in a competition to represent a specific segment of American music for a 200th anniversary celebration of the signing of the United States Constitution. The band released their second recording in 1988 – “Lost In Tin Pan Alley.”
In 1989 the group performed at the Seattle Banjo Festival for the first time. Tubaist Jim Brennan joined to play in Seattle replacing the retiring Phil Anderson - and the band has remained intact ever since!
During the 1990’s, the Strummers continued to perform mainly throughout California until Greg Stevens’ job transferred him out of the area. The band still found ways to get together and play, even though they had to travel distances to make it work.
In 2002, the Southtown Strummers went back into the recording studio and produced “Vested Interest” – a CD containing 25 tunes representing the nearly 30 years of performing together.