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Blues banjo maestro Larry Unger plays house concert for Ten Pound Fiddle


It’s the start of a joke: a blues guitarist, fiddle player and banjo aficionado walk into Lansing.

Skilled as an international touring multi-instrumentalist, Detroit-native Larry Unger is set to bring his chameleon-like instrumental talent to Lansing in a solo performance at a home concert open to the public.

As part of the Ten Pound Fiddle concert series, Unger will take the floor July 17, 7:30 p.m., at 431 Gainsborough Dr., East Lansing — home of local music supporters Bob and Laura Stein.

Playing as a professional musician since 1984, Unger is fluent in traditional music as well as the blues. He's played with greats like Etta Baker, John Jackson, Turner Foddrell and Ted Bogan.

“I play the old finger-style blues,” said Unger. “I used to come across some of the older players like Etta Baker — I went to her house maybe 50 times. I started playing tunes from people I met,” said Unger.

Unger believes the intimacy with the crowd at a house concert makes this event unique.

“It’s better, because the people are right in front of you and can ask questions — it's informal that way," Unger said. "Probably most touring musicians say it’s a headache getting sound system right. You don’t have to deal with that here. I like both but the house concert is special.”

As part of his repertoire, Unger will switch instruments to keep things fresh. Unger said you can expect the old time banjo, a jaw harp and an oddball Marx Family Instruments’ Marxophone made in Michigan. “It is like an autoharp but it’s unique,” said Unger. “People are amused by it.”

Unger believes traditional blues music is alive and well in the 21st century. “There is still a lot of interest in it. It isn't the most popular thing, but that's OK,” said Unger. “It’s harder to get people out to clubs but there is a lot of interest in workshops and teaching. I don't see the interest in that type of music of dying.”

Unger said that he loves to teach at the Music Emporium in Lexington, Massachusetts. “The music is important to me and I like to share with other people,” said Unger. “Once they learn it, it is so exciting for them. It’s something they’ve never had. I like to introduce people and give them that.”


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