Artist of the day: Mark Johnson
A few weeks back, Dunnellon banjo player Mark Johnson got one heck of a break: Comic-turned-bluegrass star Steve Martin, a student of Johnson's, invited him to perform on the Late Show with David Letterman.
But that was nothing compared to the $50,000 check he received in September as the winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo. Martin established the award in 2010 to reward artistry and bring greater visibility to bluegrass performers. "One of the greats," Martin called Johnson.
While Johnson, 57, may lack the instant name recognition of banjo greats such as Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley and Don Reno, devotees of the stringed instrument have become thoroughly enamored with the eloquent, melodic style Johnson has dubbed "clawgrass," a hybrid of bluegrass and old-time mountain-style clawhammer banjo.
You can check out Johnson at this weekend's Riverhawk Music Festival, running through Sunday at Sertoma Youth Ranch in Brooksville. Click here for details.
For more on Johnson, click here to read Logan Neill's full story.