“This is not like the Jonas Brothers, is it?” asked David Letterman, rhetorically, when the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys appeared on “Late Show” in 2011.
Well, they are three brothers from New Jersey. But that’s where the similarities end. The Banjo Boys, who are from Lebanon Township, play bluegrass, and they do it amazingly well.
Guitarist and background vocalist Tommy Mizzone, now 17, fiddler and lead vocalist Robbie Mizzone, 16, and banjoist Jonny Mizzone, 12, have already released two albums and an EP, and played everywhere from the Grand Ole Opry to Carnegie Hall. As Tommy explained to Letterman, they got their name because Jonny started playing the banjo so young he had to lie on his back when he played it, and he would sometimes close his eyes, so it looked like he was sleeping.
Check out the Letterman clip, below — they played Earl Scruggs’ “Flint Hill Special,” named after his North Carolina hometown — and prepare to be astonished.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.