Ryan Cavanaugh: From Russia with a 5-string banjo and an 8-string guitar player.

Pretty quickly, you can figure out that Ryan Cavanaugh has phoned in a preview interview a time or two. He kindly spells out the more curious-sounding words, mid-conversation.

Like, Sochi. S. O. C. H. I.

Cavanaugh has recently returned from a tour in Russia with Bill Evans’ Soulgrass project, where the band played a festival in Sochi, a coastal town on the Black Sea. And Sunday, Ryan brings his solo project — Ryan Cavanaugh and No Man’s Land — to the Rooster’s Wife.

Ryan Cavanaugh and No Man’s Land Sunday, July 22 at the Rooster’s Wife. Tickets available online or at the Spot. 

Order tickets here.

Evans started the Soulgrass project with Bela Fleck, a crazy fusion of funk, soul, and bluegrass, Cavanaugh says.

“It’s very rootsy. Jim Hendrix with a sax.”

On the Russian tour, Cavanaugh and the band played with Igor Butman–Russia’s jazz offering to the world, and later gigged at “Le Club,” Moscow’s most famous jazz club.

“People responded to the banjo quite nicely,” Cavanaugh says.

Ever since Cavanaugh picked up the banjo at age 10 and started working his way from Earl Scruggs to John McLaughlin, Cavanaugh has been trying to bring the 5-string banjo back to jazz.

“Sometimes it’s really positive,” Cavanaugh says about the audience reaction. “The Bee Bop purists may not like it.”

Sunday’s show will, however, bring together a few world-class players from North Carolina.

“This is a unique line up. I don’t have a bass player, and I don’t have a keyboard player, but I have an 8-string guitar player, Chris Boerner, who plays both harmony and bass on one instrument. He’s from Raleigh.

“And Nick Baglio, on drums, one of the best drummers in North Carolina.”

It’s the first time these players will get their hands on Cavanaugh’s original material, but they’ve played together before, Ryan says.

Finally, when asked if he picked up a few Russian phrases on tour, he responds:

“I learned how to say ‘thank you,’ ” Ryan says, saying something that sounds like spah-seeba. “I don’t even know to spell it.”

(In case you were wondering, it’s Спасибо.)

by Molly McGinn, who has never been to Russia, but has been to Aberdeen.

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