Pete Wernick of Flexigrass add vocals to their bluegrass music |

Pete Wernick of Flexigrass add vocals to their bluegrass music

LESLIE BREFELDsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

KEYSTONE – Pete Wernick of Flexigrass left the world of academia by way of the banjo.The Niwot resident, who has his doctorate in sociology, wrote an instructional book teaching the three-finger style for the banjo. “The person who invented it, Earl Scruggs, didn’t have as well of a handle on teaching it as he did on playing it,” he said. Wernick taught himself the method by listening to records and has been teaching it ever since.

Through the quarter-million book sales, Wernick made his break for a career in bluegrass and the banjo.He began making video instructional materials, and now offers camps – in banjo, and jamming.Wernick and Flexigrass will be playing at the Keystone Bluegrass and Beer Festival, 1-2:15 p.m. on Sunday. He’s played the festival before under the name of Pete Wernick’s Live Five and also as a duet with his wife.

He says the new name describes their music a little better, as a variation of bluegrass.Flexigrass has recently released a new album, their first in five years, called “What The.” Unlike their previous albums that were all instrumental, this one features the vocals of his wife Joan on about half the tracks.His next teaching camps, which are weeklong or weekend length, are coming up in November in Colorado.

Wernick said he helps novices get over their intimidation of other players with a little guidance.”There is a lot of need for people to learn to play with each other. There’s not a lot of written instruction with that,” he said. When asked about the banjo’s place in musical history, Wernick said, “It’s very much an American instrument, even though its origins are in Africa.”People think of sitting around a campfire at night with the quiet plunky sounds of a banjo, or in a more revved up stage setting. That’s what my band specializes in.”

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