Roger Sprung



Roger Sprung is one of the founding fathers of the folk music revival of the 1950’s in New York City. His deft adaptations of Scruggs-style blugrass banjo picking to a broad range of musical material eaned Roger the title of ‘The Godfather of Newgrass banjo”.
Roger has influenced many notable musical acts, from the Kingston Trio and Doc Watson to Tony Triska, Bela Fleck and Jerry Garcia.

He is a master of not only of Blugrass banjo, but also clawhammer style. His influences include Dixieland Jazz, Celtic and English folk music, classical music, and boogie-woogie, along with Bluegrass and Appalchian old-time music.

Throughout the folk boom of the 50’s and 60’s, Roger was a central figure – always there in the park, leading jams and performing. His first band was the Folksay Trio, started around 1954. It included Erik Darling and Bob Carey (later of the Tarriers). They were recorded on the Stinson label. It was from this recording that the Kingston Trio learned their mega-hit “Tom Dooley.”

His next band was called “The Shanty Boys” and was recorded on Electra. This band included Mike Cohen (brother of John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers) on guitar and Lionel Kilberg on washtub bass. They performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center several times.

Starting in 1950, Roger began traveling south to collect music from the Appalchian players and to attend music festivals. There he fell in with the greats of the Old Time music scene – Bascom Lamar Lundsford, Samantha Bumgarner, Buell Kazee, Jean Ritchie – and performed with a stellar line up of the Bluegrass greats, from Bill Monroe to Peter Rowan and everyone inbetween.

Roger has many recordings, both with The Progressive Bluegrassers and with other artists. Five of his albums are on the Smithsonian-Folkways label and are considered classics.
Roger Sprung lives in Newtown, Connecticut with his wife, two daughters and 45 pets (including donkeys, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, ducks, geese, ferrets and a miniature pig).