My Profile

George Wootten

Year you joined AFM: 

2014

Why are you a member of AFM?: 

To perform with other Union members and in venues supporting the Union.

I am originally from Chicago and a 30+ year resident of Arizona. At age 7, I had wanted to play the saxaphone, but at a try-out in elementary school, the band teacher told me that I "didn't have the right lips for the sax."  So, when I told my parents I wanted to play the drums instead, my dad decided to buy me a banjo (when he told me, I thought he said "bongo") and he enrolled me in private banjo lessons at age 7, which I did every Tuesday night for over nine years (along with an hour a day of "expected" practice time).  I told no one I played banjo, until my Junior year of High School when it was announced that "Mame" was selected as the annual stage play, and I was given the opportunity to perform with the pit band. Then the following year, "Hello Dolly" was selected and I played banjo during a couple of on-stage appearances as well as being in the pit band. 

In my freshman year at University of Denver, I was blessed with an audition at one of the local Shakey's Pizza Parlors and played in that sing-along environment for over 9 years (I graduated in 4).  During that time I also played with Denver's "My Father's Moustache (Trad Jazz) Band" and would frequently head over to the Cherry Creek Inn and sit in with the great ragtime piano player Johnny Maddox, who 20 years later, and much to my surprise and pleasure, I had the opportunity to sit in with again at the Stater Hotel in Durango, CO, during a last minute, getaway weekend and a chance glance at a street promo sign, outside the bar. 

I moved my young family to Wichita, Kansas for a "real job" and better quality of life and thankfully joined the Wichita Banjo Band which maintained my sanity, and played with them regularly for 3 years before moving briefly back to Denver, and then to Phoenix.  I joined "The First Arizona Banjo Band" (a 501c3 group) over 20 years ago and am currently director for them.    

12 years ago, I had a Tenor Guitar made for me because many of the venues I was playing in were small, with low ceilings and tile floors and the banjo was just too loud to play solo for a full hour or longer, and it also enabled me to perform other music that deserved a softer sound.  Then, 8 years ago, I added a custom made Mandolin into my repertoire' which further enhanced the diversity and style of my performances and enabled me to accompany other musical groups around town, in virtually any genre' of music, in any venue.

While my banjo skills span the "traditional" ages and styles of banjo related music, I also hear and play the banjo in non-traditional arenas, very much like Bela Fleck.  I look forward to continuing to add my musical gift and talents of banjo, mandolin and tenor guitar to other groups and also expanding my solo work into more visible and larger public venues.  I also welcome the opportunity to perform with other musicans and groups that would have an interest in adding new sounds to theirs, and seeing what the future brings!

Private Lessons Referrals: 

Yes

Private Lessons Location: 

Scottsdale & Valley Wide

Instrument(s):