The Blazin' Banjos of Topanga

Have strings, will jam? Topanga's twangiest day is just ahead.

TWANGY TIMES: While we long for the day when all instruments will have legs -- meaning the ability to pop up in the hit songs of the day, again and again and again -- we can be comforted by the banjo's supreme knack for getting trendy every decade and a half, or so. "Trendy" isn't a bad thing, at all; it is a positive when fresh bands, bands that have songs at the top of the charts, incorporate sounds that are often (and wrongly) called old-timey or even fusty. Fusty? What? Not the banjo, and not the fiddle, either. These instruments' appeal has lasted for such an epic amount of time because both possess warm 'n twangy characters. They emit sounds and feels that can turn any gathering from sad ol' slump to a dance-a-thon. And they're easily portable, which means they're forever tied to traveling music, the songs of the road. No wonder new folk has taken both under its wing, and pop and rock fans are once again discovering that certain thwangy string sweetness. It's a thwangy string sweetness that will be much on display in Topanga on Sunday, May 19 at the Banjo Fiddle Contest.

HALF-CENTURY PLUS THREE: The venerable music-filled gathering turns 53 in 2013 (yep, as mentioned, banjos and fiddles keep their popularity cycles rollin' right through the decades). Dancing, jams, bands, singing contests, and all sorts of convivial music-making fill the long and happy day. An who is set to play? Local favorite Triple Chicken Foot will be there, natch, as will other goodies like Dustbowl Revival, The Murphy Family Band, and The Show Ponies. Will there be square *and* contra dancing? Of course. Will people be rocking suspenders and flowering dresses and clogs? Fingers crossed. It's a sweet songy spring day, and a true Topanga tradition. Yep, we want to see banjos and fiddles at the top of the charts, but sometimes it is nice to gather in the canyon and honor all that is vintage and true, too. And online ticket is eleven bucks for the 18-64 crowd. Need other prices? Okay.

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