Wesley Corbett

Associate Professor
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  • Career Highlights
    • Banjoist
    • Member of Joy Kills Sorrow
    • Performances with Mike Marshall and Darol Anger, Crooked Still, Laurie Lewis, Biscuit Burners, and the Bee Eaters
    • Recordings include Darkness Sure Becomes This City and This Unknown Science (Joykills Sorrow); The Bee Eaters and Oddfellows Road (The Bee Eaters); and Take Me Home (Biscuit Burners)
    • Publications include the Banjo Newsletter


In Their Own Words

"I found my way to the banjo completely by accident, through the roots of the banjo. We did an African percussion workshop at a Suzuki workshop that I was at. I started doing that as well as playing piano, and then from that started playing the kora, which is a West African traditional harp. It's basically a grandfather to the banjo. And then I heard Béla Fleck when I was 16 and just went banjo-crazy."

"Banjo has a reputation for being very unmusical, for being super loud, and for people having bad rhythm. It doesn't have to be that way. There's a whole vernacular that's only specific to the banjo and it doesn't apply to any other instrument. Bluegrass banjo is a really specific thing, because it's based on the playing of Earl Scruggs. A lot of banjo players learn all of that, and then everything else is a mystery. Improvising with harmony and single-note melody as opposed to improvising within the bluegrass vernacular are two very different things. I definitely view my job as trying to balance those out."

"I play full-time in a band called Joy Kills Sorrow—it's bluegrass mixed with indie rock. I'm very involved with the acoustic scene in Boston. It's close-knit. We all grew up meeting each other and playing together at bluegrass festivals all over the country; it's like a little bubble that travels from one place to the next. Everybody is very supportive."