About Aaron Jonah Lewis

aaron jonah lewis Champion fiddler Aaron Jonah Lewis has been elbow-deep in traditional American fiddle and banjo music since their first lessons at the age of five with Kentucky native Robert Oppelt. Lewis has taken blue ribbons at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, WV, and at the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax, VA, the oldest and largest fiddlers convention in the country. They are also noted for their mastery of multiple banjo styles.  They spend most of their time teaching, touring as a solo performer, with the Corn Potato String Band, and other projects.

Based in Detroit, Lewis has recorded on dozens of projects from bluegrass and old time to traditional jazz, contemporary  experimental and Turkish classical music projects. They have appeared at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington, D.C., the Philharmonie Paris Musée de la Musique, the New England Conservatory in Boston, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and at the English Folk Dance and Song Society in London.

As a banjoist, Lewis explores some interesting veins in the roots of Old Time, Bluegrass, Ragtime and Jazz music through their newest recording, “Mozart of the Banjo: The Joe Morley Project.” This project is devoted to the music of the great English prodigy and virtuoso composer Joe Morley (1867-1937), who wrote a significant body of great banjo pieces in a technique that people today call “classic fingerstyle.”

Author and producer Henry Sapoznik says, “Aaron Jonah Lewis – as did Morley before him -- launches headfirst into the deep end of the most finger-popping of these pieces, smoothly channeling and liberating their still potent, lapel-grabbing appeal. Aaron’s thrilling, easy ownership of this repertoire and instrument is but a single arrow in their deep music quiver (they are an equally celebrated, bulletproof championship fiddler), which combine to make them one of today’s great renewable musical resources.

But what Aaron does here in fully reanimating Morley’s effervescent tuneful compositions (which a period British Pathé announcer described as “a handful of finger music”) is little short of miraculous. Rippling, crisp and irresistibly compelling, Aaron’s repertoire and their vigorous and puckish nimble playing reveal what made this music wildly popular for Edwardian audiences. It still works for today’s incredulous and appreciative crowds.”

Greg Adams, Archivist at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, says, “Lewis is one of the few performing musicians with the facility to build compelling musical bridges between the printed banjo music and techniques of the 19th century and the instrument’s journey into recorded sound by the turn of the 20th century.” The album has been released on Tiki Parlour Recordings in early 2020.

Aaron Jonah Lewis is passionate about sharing early fingerstyle banjo music. They bring light to the fact that classic banjo was the most popular form of music a hundred years ago, though today it’s almost entirely forgotten. They are “trying to keep (classic banjo) alive and spread it around, as it’s a delightful style that brings joy and connects us to the depth of our shared American history.”