Photograph of Diane Jones Diane Jones at the Celebration of Traditional Music, Berea, Kentucky, October 1997.   Photo by Geoff Eacker

DIANE JONES was born in New Jersey but adopted West Virginia as her home so she could be near old-time music. She says she got hooked on the banjo “as soon as I heard it” at a music festival in Boone, North Carolina, where she purchased her “little mountain banjo” from an old-time musician and instrument maker. After taking a banjo class from Dwight Diller, Diane went on to teach banjo at the Augusta Heritage Workshops in Elkins, WV. Her playing style has been influenced by Ola Belle Reed, Maggie Hammons of Pocahontas County, WV, and Lily May Ledford. She once heard Lily May in person and remembers being inspired not only “because here was a woman banjo player just singing her heart out. That’s not what got me. It was the playing.”

Diane is keenly aware that she is a woman banjo player. She was once in a banjo contest with one other woman and fifty-six men. As the only female banjo player in a group of male fiddlers, she says that “it used to be that they’d sort of look at you like ‘we don’t need this woman.’ I still get it as a joke: ‘You’re my favorite banjo player—for a girl.’”

She has recorded a CD with banjoists Hubie King entitled There Are No Rules. Of this work she says: “If anybody listens to me and likes something particular and it moves them the way it has moved me, the whole thing was worth every dime.”

INTERVIEW:   Audio    Transcription

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