LISTEN: Stephen Wade’s Banjo Diary

The roots music expert’s latest album is finger-picking good

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Steven Wade's new CD Banjo Diary Lessons from Tradition. Smithsonian Folkways

It’s hard to think of anyone who knows more about the banjo than Stephen Wade, the roots music expert who has played, studied and evangelized the instrument for five decades. He developed the one-man song-and-dance theatrical show Banjo Dancing (and performed it at the White House in 1979). On his debut CD for Smithsonian Folkways, Banjo Diary: Lessons from Tradition, released in September, Wade passes on what he has learned from a lifetime of seeking out American music at its roots, from his native Chicago to deep in the Appalachians.