Banjo Ben Shirley performs “Feast Here Tonight”


Banjo Ben Shirley performing near the Woolworth Walk in downtown Asheville, NC.

“I’m going to play this song because your fuzzy microphone cover reminds me of a rabbit,” Ben Shirley told me as he warmed up. After a moment, he added, “It was on the Three Pickers record, so this can be a tribute to Doc and Earl passing this year.”

I first met “Banjo Ben” Shirley last year, when he came through town with Abby “The Spoon Lady” Roach on their never-ending busking tour. Strangely, even though I’ve seen the video from that recording session, I didn’t immediately recognize him. (Even more surprising is that I’d written about him only that morning when I posted the HD video of their performance.) But once I made the connection, I couldn’t have been happier to see him perform again.


Shirley is, as should be obvious from the video, an outstanding picker. With all the attention Abby got from the 2011 video, I always felt that his playing was a little overlooked. And not knowing anything about him, and having not seen him perform since last year, I was starting to suspect I’d missed a great opportunity by not recording him solo. Thankfully, I had the chance to fix that situation last week. Check it out.

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