Sheffield-based Banjo Jen is an unlikely musician. A designer and a teacher by training, she cut her teeth in workshops and classrooms, not bar rooms (well, she drank in the bar rooms… but didn’t play music!). But when she picked up a banjo at the tender age of (well, we’ll not mention that), something just clicked. After all she thought, all the best folks play banjo (Dolly Parton, Billy Connolly, Kermit the Frog…). Then the songs just started tumbling out, and before she knew it, she was known as ‘Banjo Jen’ and was performing original songs in front of audiences.
Tipped by Maverick magazine for a ‘long musical career’, Jen hit the ground running by playing fringe events in Austin TX during SXSW - just a couple of months after her first ever gig. She was then selected by the Americana Music Association UK to showcase at both Red Rooster and The Long Road festivals, was invited to perform at Eagle Music / Deering Banjo Company’s banjo event of the year, and has supported many touring international Americana acts and British folk artists.
The ‘smart and sassy’ debut EP “Lost & Found” offers a flavour of Jen’s sharp songwriting. Playing the traditional frailing style of banjo, and usually accompanied by punchy double bass, she is influenced by aspects of folk, country, blues and ‘old-time’ music - though she doesn't stick to any particular tradition and makes her own rules up as she goes along! This, combined with a skill for finding a great melody and an interesting story, makes for highly original songs; songs of sinning and straying, of characters and conflicts, of running from the past and of running from yourself.
Jen's live sets have proved a hit with audiences, and she has recently added more instrumentation and harmonies into the regular line-up. Weaving clever lyrics with catchy melodies, and incorporating Appalachian step-dancing and Yorkshire charm and humour into her act, she’s been described as a refreshingly original addition to the UK folk and Americana music scenes, and her genuine warmth and rapport with audiences will leave you wanting more. And with new recordings in the works, there's definitely more to come from this banjo-pickin' girl, so grab yer cowboy boots and come along for the ride!