english spanish italian

Fred Van Eps

Fred Van Eps (December 30, 1878 – November 22, 1960) was a noted banjoist and banjo maker. The Van Eps Recording Banjo was a well-known model until 1930.
Discovering the Extraordinary Music Life of Fred Van Eps
If you are a music enthusiast, jazz aficionado, or banjo enthusiast, you are probably familiar with the incredible works of Fred Van Eps. Born in 1878, Van Eps was an American banjo player and a pioneer in popularizing jazz music worldwide. His musical career started way back in the 1900s, and he played for many years, building a repertoire that made him unforgettable to this day. This blog post will take you on a journey through Fred Van Eps's amazing life, from his childhood to his impact on music and his most iconic songs.
Early Life and Musical Career
Fred Van Eps was born in Somerville, New Jersey, in 1878. His father, like many other professional musicians of the time, taught him to play the banjo. Van Eps learned well and soon began playing in a variety of bands and orchestras. In 1900, he joined the famous Sousa Band, which was a tremendous honor for any musician of that time. After spending a few years with the Sousa Band, he went solo and started recording.
Van Eps' Contributions to Music
Fred Van Eps is credited with popularizing the two-finger picking style in the banjo and changing the public's perception of the instrument. He was the first musician to use the banjo in a jazz ensemble, and his music style was a significant influence on jazz musicians of his time and beyond. Over the years, Van Eps played with some of the greatest musicians of the time, including Heifitz, Leopold Godowsky, and William Primrose.
Van Eps' Most Iconic Songs
One of Fred Van Eps' most popular songs is Sunflower Dance, which was recorded in 1916. It's regarded as one of the finest banjo solos ever recorded, featuring Van Eps' extraordinary finger work and melodic grooves. Dill Pickles Rag is another iconic song by Van Eps, showcasing his ability to play a range of genres, including ragtime, jazz, and blues.
Van Eps Famous Concerts
Van Eps Famous Concerts
Van Eps played in many famous concerts, including the legendary Town Hall Concert of 1946. The concert was sold out, and it featured some of the greatest musicians of the time, including Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, and Teddy Wilson. Van Eps' performance was one of the highlights of the night. Another famous concert Van Eps played is the Carnegie Hall Concert in 1947, where the audience gave him a standing ovation.
A Critic of Fred Van Eps
Fred Van Eps was widely acclaimed and regarded as one of the most phenomenal banjo players of his time. However, his music and influence weren't always recognized as they should have been. In 1943, a New York Times critic wrote that Van Eps' music wasn't sophisticated enough for a modern jazz audience. Still, Van Eps' contributions to music and his influence on jazz musicians are undeniable.
Not many musicians have left their mark on music as Fred Van Eps did. He was a true pioneer, a trailblazer, and a legend in his right. His music remains alive to this day, inspiring new generations of musicians to push the boundaries of what's possible with the banjo. If you have never listened to Fred Van Eps' music, do yourself a favor and give it a go – his style and playing are unique and unforgettable.


1 - Maple Leaf Rag
2 - The International Cakewalk
3 - Ragtime Oriole
4 - Persiflage
5 - Dixie
6 - Infanta
7 - Swanee
8 - Notoriety Rag
9 - Silver Heels
10 - Irish Hearts
11 - Dixie Medley
12 - Junk Man Rag
13 - Whipped Cream
14 - Darkies Dream