Creole banjo star to raise the roof for church fund

KING CREOLE Don Vappie is bringing a flavour of New Orleans to Kent

A WORLD-FAMOUS banjo artist from New Orleans is on his way to pluck at the heartstrings of concertgoers in Frant, as he performs under the rafters of St Alban’s Church tonight (November 9).

Playing a style of Creole banjo with its origins in the early days of jazz, Don Vappie will be making a stop in Frant, playing in a concert to raise funds for the parish church, after thieves stripped lead from the roof in June.

The Frant concert is part of Don’s ‘Jazz Creole’ tour in November, jazz and world music promoter Dave Kelbie of Lejazzetel London told the Times.

“Don Vappie is a rare person,” said Dave.

“The style of Creole banjo he plays has a direct connection back to the early days of jazz, passed on to him by an iconic Creole musician from New Orleans, Danny Barker, who in turn learned from the originator of this style – Johnny St Cyr – in the early 1910s.”

Don was inaugurated into the American Banjo Hall of Fame earlier this year, and last year won the prestigious Steve Martin Banjo Prize.

“He is the only musician with this repertoire,” explained Dave.

“Frant Church has been very fortunate with a very switched-on, energetic and inspiring concert programmer until recently called Paul Barber. He retired from the position just before Covid and now (Tunbridge Wells-based jazz and classical guitar player) Stuart Jackaman has taken over and he’s equally diligent,” said Dave.

“It’s due to them that the audience catchment area has not just been restricted to Sussex and Kent.”

He added: “Occasionally I stop and think how lucky that Paul and I found each other.”

Dave himself will be playing rhythm guitar during the concert, along with David Horniblow of The Dime Notes on clarinet and Sebastien Girardot of Django à la Creole on double bass.

Don Vappie & Jazz Creole perform at St Alban’s Church, Frant on November 9 at 8pm.

Tickets cost £19 and are available from Frant Stores or online at:

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