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    Greg Liszt, banjo player for the Deadly Gentlemen and Crooked Still

    Jay Blakesberg

    Age: 35 (“But my bandmates are all in their very early 20s, which makes me feel like a bona fide head of state.”)

    Hometown: Born in Charlottesville, Va., now living in Brighton

    Think of: A younger Béla Fleck who knows and appreciates tradition while riffing on it to create something new.


    What caught our eye: During his 10 years with Crooked Still, the Boston-based progressive string band that’s now on hiatus, Liszt was unrivaled in his virtuosity on the banjo. The Deadly Gentlemen, a contemporary bluegrass band he also plays with, has just released “Roll Me, Tumble Me,” the group’s third album and first for Burlington-based Rounder Records.

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    Light-bulb moment: “When I was 15, I saw Béla Fleck play a tiny little concert in my hometown. I had only been playing banjo for a few months, and I sat in the front row. I got so excited that the buzz never wore off!”

    Biggest thrill: “I toured playing banjo for Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions Band back in 2006. Every single show exceeded my wildest banjo fantasies. By far! We played venues such as Spanish bullfighting arenas and Madison Square Garden.”

    Biggest surprise: “That I can play the banjo this much and nobody is stopping me.”

    Inspired by: “Well, other than Béla and Bruce, I’d have to say my old Crooked Still bandmate Rushad Eggleston, who revolutionized the bluegrass cello.”


    Aspires to be: “Spider-Man, but on the banjo.”

    For good luck: “I’ve had very good luck so far, but I do keep a desperate prayer in my back pocket just in case! I’ve never said it too seriously:

    It’s human to do and it’s human to die/

    Help me to stare down doom in the eye/

    The last’ll be first and the first be last/

    The blood drop and the tear feed thirsty grass.

    What people should know: “The Deadly Gentleman play original music on bluegrass instruments, and we have a brand-new CD on Rounder Records.”

    Coming soon: “Roll Me, Tumble Me” is out now.


    James Reed can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJamesReed.