Sam Bartlett, nationally recognized musician and stuntologist, has been in town this past week, entertaining adults and kids alike with his mastery of the mandolin and banjo, as well as a wide range of other talents he’s perfected over the years. Tuesday night he was at the Valley Library for a stuntology show, and tonight he’ll be at the JACC for a concert. In between he’s been in the schools, leading stuntology presentations.
What is stuntology, you may be asking? And how does it relate to the banjo?
“Stuntology” is, among other things, a book Bartlett published in 2002; the “Best of Stuntology” was published in 2007. The books grew out of a ‘zine Bartlettt created in the early 90s, “The Journal of Stuntology and Tunelogy,” that spanned more than 32 issues. Both the ‘zine and the books contain a collection of silly or surprising activities -- or as Bartlett calls them “pranks, tricks & challenges to amuse & annoy your friends.” Sample entries include the “Potato on the Door” and the “Simulated Flying” stunt. All the stunts are illustrated by Bartlett in comic-book type panels that show the gentle, humourous nature of the genre.
Bartlett developed the stunts as a way to alleviate boredom while on the road -- he’s spent more than 20 years as an itinerant musician. He favors traditional styles such as Irish, old-time and contra, working those influences into his own originals. His CD “Evil Diane” was profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered” in 2004, and features musicians including David Greely, Christopher Layer, Jeremiah McLane, Eric Merrill, Sam Amidon and Danny Noveck.
Bartlett is now based in Bloomington, Indiana, and makes his living touring and through sales of his books.
Bartlett will perform in concert at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the JACC. Tickets are available at the JACC, Hearthside Books, Rainy Day Retreat, or online at www.jahc.org. General admission tickets are $10, $5 for students and seniors.