Phone Number: +18055384899

Address: 24480 Miller Hill Rd.

City: Los Gatos

BanjerDan (Dan Mazer) is a banjo player/multi-instrumentalist based in Santa Cruz County, CA. His music is an Americana mix, rooted in straight-ahead bluegrass and branching out to include folk, country, blues, oldies, and other styles.

Dan was born in Summit, NJ, in 1959, and grew up in the Washington, DC area. He began playing the banjo after his brother received one as a birthday present when “Dueling Banjos” was a radio hit. They took some lessons for at a local music store, and used “Earl Scruggs and the 5-String Banjo” as their textbook. Dan’s passion for the banjo soon outstripped his brother’s, and he continued learning his craft during the DC area’s heyday as the “Bluegrass Capital of the World.” and earned a B.A. in Music Theory from George Washington University. His main banjo influences were Earl Scruggs, Ben Eldridge, Eddie Adcock, Alan Munde, and Bela Fleck.

Dan’s first performance was at a Junior High School talent show. His first working band, with a high school friend was called “No Strings Attached,” from about 1977 to 1981. His first theatrical appearance was in the onstage band for a production of “The Robber Bridegroom” at Silver Spring Stage, Silver Spring, MD, in 1979, His first professional gig was at King’s Dominion, a theme park near Richmond, VA, where he was in the band for a country revue.

During the mid-1980s, Dan was a member of “D.J. & the C.B. Pickers,” a traditional bluegrass band based in Fairfield, PA. During that time, he had the honor of performing with Baltimore bluegrass legend, Buzz Busby, on a Maryland Public Television program. He left the C.B. Pickers in 1988 to join “Rockcreek,” a progressive group fronted by vocalist Moondi Klein. Rockcreek won the Band Contest at the prestigious Winterhawk Bluegrass Fesrival (now called Grey Fox) in 1990.

After Rockcreek broke up in 1991, Dan and his wife moved to Nashville, where she had a graphic design business while he pursued his music career. During his time in Nashville, Dan was hired by Opryland, USA, first as a strolling solo performer in one of their restaurants, and then playing banjo and guitar in their signature “Country Music, USA” show. He was in the band for productions of “Pump Boys & Dinettes” and “The Robber Bridegroom,” and spent two winters as a band member for the country revue at The Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson, WI. At the same time, Dan hung out at the famous Station Inn on 12th Avenue, and eventually got booked there as leader of “The Guys in the Suits and Ties,” an improvisatory bluegrass band which included Randy Howard on fiddle, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin, Roy Huskey, Jr., Missy Raines, or Ernie Sykes on bass, and Greg Garing on guitar, among many others, depending on who was in town.

In 1994, Dan answered an ad on an AOL bulletin board, titled “Wanted: Banjo Player, Singer, Actor.” The reply led to an audition, and Dan was hired by “The Jackstraws,” a costumed, themed folk music act based in San Diego. The Jackstraws performed constantly, all over Southern California, in many configurations, but they were most consistently booked as “The Pirate Landing Party” at SeaWorld and Seaport Village, and as “The Safari Bush Band” at the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

After his divorce in 1999, Dan moved back to the D.C. area. He played everywhere he could, from busking in Metro stations to performances at the Fringe Festival and the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. He was also a member of “J.B. Beverley & The Wayward Drifters,” an outlaw honky-tonk trio that opened for Hank Williams III, toured coast-to-coast and in Europe, and recorded two CDs.

In January 2012, fed up with the cold winters and big-city lifestyle in Washington, DC, Dan moved back to California, this time to the Central Coast of California. He quickly established himself as a regular performer all over San Luis Obispo County and beyond, and he was the “House Musician” and music booker at The Last Stage West (on Highway 41 between Atascadero and Morro Bay) from 2013 until 2018.

In October 2020, BanjerDan moved a short distance north from Atascadero, to the mountains between Santa Cruz and Los Gatos, where he continues to perform solo, and as an ad hoc member of The Brookdale Bluegrass Band and The Wildcat Mountain Ramblers. He also teaches music lessons at The Great Room, as well as online via Skype and Zoom.