Gwendolyn McGrath 
(Jody Stecher) 

Gwendolyn McGrath 
© Jody Stecher, Vegetiboy Music (BMI) 

Gwen McGrath was already an accomplished banjo player before she became my student. She played the three finger “melodic” bluegrass style and knew the whole banjo fingerboard very well before I began teaching her the down-picking technique called “clawhammer”.  Clawhammer music typically lingers in the lower frets. I composed a wide-ranging tune for her that I hoped was worthy of her skills. Gwen mastered it in a week. It took me 2 months.  Bill Evans and I often played this tune, which I named for Gwen,  as a banjo duet in the performing duo we called The Secret Life of Banjos. Bill joins the ensemble on this recording, playing banjo with bluegrass technique, which contrasts and harmonizes with my banjo, which I play using the clawhammer technique. 

Most of the instrumental playing on this CD was spontaneously composed by the players as we recorded. “Gwendolyn McGrath” is an exception. Bill composed his harmony banjo part in advance and I wrote the mandolin and fiddle parts. I also composed the double fiddle parts on “Five Rode Up To Phoenix”. 

Jody Stecher: banjo and mandolin 
Bill Evans: banjo 
Suzy Thompson: fiddle 
Eric Thompson: guitar 
Paul Knight: bass