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Come Hear Banjoist Pluck Away

Concertgoers are in for a jazzy treat when acclaimed banjo-musician Cynthia Sayer comes to town Wednesday night.

“Every few years I play in Greenwich, but it’s been three years,” Sayer said. “I love playing there. A lot of towns have lost their summer arts performance budgets and I’m glad this is still being offered to the community.”

Sayer will be performing at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. with Dennis Lichtman on clarinet and fiddle, Mike Weatherly on string bass and Rob Garcia on drums.

Sayer, regarded as one of the top 4-string banjoists in the world today, grew up in New Jersey playing various instruments as a kid, but it wasn’t until a middle school talent show that she was inspired to play more seriously, though her eye was not on the banjo at first.

“There was a dance band doing a number and I remember being mesmerized by the drummer, but my parents said no way to the drums,” she said. “One day I came home and there was a banjo on my bed. I didn’t really know what it was, but I knew instantly that it was a bribe and I would never get my drums, so I said, well, okay, I’ll play this thing.”

She took up lessons with a female banjoist and jazz-enthusiast, Patty Fischer who became a role model and a close friend. After graduating from Ithaca College she decided to postpone going to law school to give the banjo a try on a professional level, and she never looked back.

“My parents were not exactly ecstatic about the idea,” she said. “My family has a wonderful ongoing cultural involvement and we grew up immersed in the arts, but the last thing they expected was for any of us to go into it professionally.”

Sayer has since performed at Carnegie Hall and the White House and with Woody Allen and his New Orleans Band. She has accumulated numerous awards and honors, including induction into the National Banjo Hall of Fame. Come out to the park tonight and see Cynthia play for yourself.

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