2013 Prize Winner: Jens Kruger
Banjo player extraordinaire Jens Kruger is the recipient of the 2013 Steve Martin Banjo Prize. The musician is known for his innovative banjo style that integrates folk music with European classical music. Jens Kruger performs with The Kruger Brothers which consist of Jens Kruger (banjo, harmony vocals), Uwe Kruger (guitar, lead and harmony vocals) and Joel Landsberg (bass, harmony vocals). Born in Switzerland, Jens is the first prize winner born outside of the United States.
Kruger and his brother Uwe left Switzerland to become street musicians. As adults they were billed as the Kruger Brothers, adding the third “brother,” Joel Landsberg, from New York City. Their interest in the music of Doc Watson motivated them to relocate near where Doc lived, in North Wilkesboro, NC in 2003. They became friends of Doc, and had the honor to play music with him. Jens has also performed with Earl Scruggs, John McEwen, Willie Nelson, and Ricky Skaggs, to name only a few.
Kruger is known for his inventive, hard to categorize musical style of composition and performance, which can be described as thoughtful and lyrical. His virtuosic playing style ranges from the very complex, to the simple and profound. Jens Kruger and The Kruger Brothers have raised awareness about bluegrass music by writing and performing classical pieces that incorporate the instrumentation of banjo, guitar and bass.