Existential Banjo


Episode 1
Little Pink America
with Corky Siegel &
Sons of the Never Wrong

Episode 2
People Get Ready
with Sue Demel, vocals

Episode 3
MTA (Poor Ol' Charlie)
with Tony Trischka

Episode 4
Suite for Americas:  Dorian
with Nora Barton, cello

Episode 5
Midnight Rider
with Darol Anger. violin

Episode 6
Vincent Black Lightning
@ Chicago City Winery

Episode 7
Hasna ya Layla
with Aziz Samaoui, ngoni

Episode 8
Opus 821
with Geraldo de Oliveira

Episode 9
Gaudete & Sleepers Awake
with David Jennings, vibes

Episode 10
Corrina, Corrina
with Aziz Samaoui, ngoni 

Episode 11
with Erkan Ogur
(Concert in Istanbul)

Episode 12
Last Thing On My Mind
with Tom Paxton, songwriter

New Releases

A-sides CD

Fingerstyle guitar with Darol Anger on violin 


Two New Hal Leonard books



To Play on the Banjo 
(co-written with Greg Cahill)


About Michael J. Miles



When Pete Seeger first heard Michael Miles, he sent a letter to Michael saying that "in all my 70 years this is among the most beautiful recordings I’ve ever is enough to make me want to learn the banjo all over again.”

Michael Miles is one of America’s most inventive clawhammer banjo players. Add guitar, vocals, jazz instruments, orchestras and complex historically-themed theatrical presentations to the mix and, two decades later, Michael has a critically acclaimed catalog of original compositions, stage performances, music CD’s and music instruction books.

Michael's performance credits include the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution, Ravinia Festival, Harris Theatre in Chicago, American University in Beirut, Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival in Ireland, MIAM Graduate Conservatory of Music in Istanbul,  and the Royal Opera Theatre in Marrakesh.





Funkadesi Trio

TUES, OCT 17, 6:30pm @ THE HIDEOUT. 

The 10th and final episode of Panorama will feature the FUNKADESI TRIO --three musicians from the legendary Chicago world music ensemble playing in celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Light.

Seated in the middle is the amazing Lloyd Brodnax King on flute.   On his left is Maninderpal Singh on tabla; on his right is Rahul Sharma on sitar.  These players will be joined by Johnse Holt on guitar and I'll play banjo.     

Tickets at 

Existential Banjo, Episode 12.   Last Thing On My Mind.  Tom Paxton wrote and recorded this song in 1964.   Literally 50 years later, I had the privilege to play a few concerts with him.  If you know him, you'll know he was in fine form on this night.  And if you don't know him, allow me to introduce an American treasure. PLEASE SHARE.  PLEASE COMMENT. Peace on earth.  

Existential Banjo, Episode 11.   Dokunmak with Erkan Ogur in Istanbul.  This was a concert that we did in October 2015, just four days after the bombing in Ankara.  Erkan is a pioneer of the fretless guitar that he uses to play the microtonal pitches required for such grand melodies.  Western instruments can get close, but not quite right.  Listen to the same melody played by on Erkan's guitar and then on the banjo to hear the difference.  


Here is Existential Banjo, Episode 10.   Corrina Corrina is a traditional 12 bar blues tune played here on the fretless banjo accompanied by Aziz Sahmaoui, a Moroccan musician, playing ngoni.  His instrument is one of the grand African elders of the American banjo.  

Banjo Newsletter published a glowing review of my new book about Bob Dylan, written by Tim Jumper.  It's quite the honor to bring the banjo to Dylan's exquisite work.  And I'm further grateful that Tim Jumper has a such a thoughtful and gracious understanding of what I was trying to achieve.  

Click here for review. 


Bob Dylan


EXISTENTIAL BANJO, EPISODE 9:  Gaudete & Sleepers Awake.  This weeks episode is a medley from the 16th century.   "Gaudete" is a sacred hymm from 1582 first appearing in the Piae Cantiones.  "Sleepers Awake" was originally created by Philipp Nicolai in 1599 and later adapted by J.S. Bach in 1731.  This performance features the extraordinary work of David Jennings on vibes.  

Here is EXISTENTIAL BANJO, Episode 8---Opus 821.  This is a composition of mine that was originally performed in a Chicago Humanities Festival commissioned show, entitled "How Africa Met Ireland In American Song."  Opus 821 served as both an opening and closing theme.  This performance features the great Brazilian percussionist Geraldo de Oliveira and was filmed by Academy Award nominee Aaron Wickenden (Finding Vivian Maier).  

Existential Banjo, Episode 7 is "Hasna Ya Leila" (sometimes spelled Layla) featuring Azia Samaoui playing the ngoni.  This West African instrument is one of the great elder statesmen of the banjo.  It is literally, a hollowed-log, broomstrick neck, and three strings made of fishing twine.  

Existential Banjo, Episode 6.  "1952 Vincent Black Lightning"  by Richard Thompson played live at Chicago City Winery and featuring Geraldo de Oliveira, percussion and John Abbey, bass.  Next week, Episode 7 features Moroccan ngoni player, Aziz Samaoui playing a tune named Hasna ya Leila.  

Here is Existential Banjo, Episode 5.  This is the classic Allman Bros tune, Midnight Rider featuring Darol Anger, one of America's very finest violinists.  

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