Sacramento California is home to singer/songwriter JL “Pepe” Espada, a.k.a. Banjo Bones. With a music career that spans nearly 40 years, including work in Central America, Japan and the Washington DC area, has a new record out, called Ghostly Musings From the Delta. He started playing music when he was 10, and in his first band by the time he was 14. The latest incarnation of his musical career started around 2012 which coincided with his move to California.
In 2008 he found himself on vacation in Virginia at a place called Smith Mountain Lake. “For the first time in my life I got to see a bluegrass jam,” he recalled. “Although I had been a musician all my life, I had never been exposed to bluegrass, let alone experience something like this live. I was absolutely fascinated by it. I could not believe want I was hearing.”
On a trip to San Francisco he bought himself a banjo and completely immersed himself in the music and its instruments. “When I really started writing again objectively with the intent of recording my music I decided to adopt a name rather than go by my given name,” he recalled. “The whole concept of Banjo Bones is given to the fact that I was drawn towards this roots music in nature, and bones representing the structure of it.”
When he started performing under that name it really stuck, and everyone just started calling him Banjo. His first EP under that mantra was released in 2012, followed by a few singles, and in 2015 his first full CD, The Place of Dead Roads. In 2017 he released Cowboy Dreams. “I’m really proud of this latest record though,” he said. Ghostly Musings From the Delta allows him to pursue his latest musical fascination with the Steel Guitar and the music of Robert Johnson. “It’s not a blues record, its blues infused. It’s really a tribute record to all the blues influences on me,” he said.
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