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Ben Krakauer

Bluegrass & Progressive Banjo

I am a scholar, educator, and musician specializing in South Asian music, bluegrass, and popular music. I hold a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. from Tufts University and play five-string banjo with roots in bluegrass, old-time, new acoustic, and jazz. I was a founding member of the bluegrass/jazz/Latin/pop string band Old School Freight Train. In 2005-2006, I toured and performed with mandolinist and Dawg music founder David Grisman. Since 2006, I have performed in various small group configurations with Tashina Clarridge, Tristan Clarridge, Simon Chrisman, Grant Gordy, and others. I have recorded banjo on productions by Acoustic Disc, CMH Records, and the Fiddle Masters Series.

I have won awards at the Merlefest, Rockygrass, and Telluride banjo and band competitions, and appears on recordings for Acoustic Disc, CMH Records, and the Fiddle Masters series. I have taught banjo at the Shasta Music Summit, the Banjo Summit, the University of Virginia, and Tufts University, and has given banjo residencies at Berklee College of Music. I teach fingerstyle repertoire for bluegrass, old-time, and new acoustic music, as well as techniques of improvisation, composition, accompaniment, arranging, and jazz harmony.

I have conducted ethnographic research in West Bengal, India and Bangladesh since 2010, and have studied and performed Bāul-Fakir music with Basudeb Baul, Amirul Fakir, Mansur Fakir, and others. Previously, I was a member of Javanese Gamelan and West African drumming ensembles at the University of Texas at Austin and Tufts University, and studied jazz performance at the University of Virginia with trumpeter John D’earth.

“Ben Krakauer is one of my favorite banjo players and favorite human beings. His banjo playing is incredibly swinging, grooving, and wildly inventive, but always grounded in the best of tradition. He’s got a fertile brain and I love talking to him about all things musical. Check him out right now!” - Matt Glaser, jazz violinist & Artistic Director of the American Roots Music Program at Berklee College of Music.

Ben's Workshop Descriptions