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TED@New York

Sleepy Man Banjo Boys: Teen wonders play bluegrass

June 7, 2012

Brothers Jonny, Robbie and Tommy Mizzone are The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, a trio of virtuoso bluegrass musicians who play with dazzling vivacity. Did we mention they're all under 16?

Sleepy Man Banjo Boys - Bluegrass musicians
The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys is made up of 11-year-old banjo sensation Jonny Mizzone and his brothers Robbie, 14, on fiddle, and Tommy, 15, on guitar. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
Tommy Mizzone: Tonight we're going to play you two songs.
00:16
We're three brothers from New Jersey,
00:18
and the funny thing is that,
00:20
believe it or not, we are hooked on bluegrass
00:22
and we're excited to play it for you tonight.
00:24
(Music)
00:26
(Applause)
02:22
TM: Thank you, thank you.
02:25
(Applause)
02:28
Robbie Mizzone: Thank you.
02:32
I'm Robbie Mizzone. I'm 13, and I play the fiddle.
02:33
This is my brother, Jonny. He's 10, and he plays the banjo.
02:36
And on guitar is my 14-year-old brother, Tommy.
02:38
(Applause)
02:41
We call ourselves the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys.
02:45
(Music)
02:51
(Applause)
04:48
TM: Thank you.
04:50
JM: Thank you all.
04:52
TM: Thank you very much.
04:53
Translator:Morton Bast
Reviewer:Thu-Huong Ha

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Sleepy Man Banjo Boys - Bluegrass musicians
The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys is made up of 11-year-old banjo sensation Jonny Mizzone and his brothers Robbie, 14, on fiddle, and Tommy, 15, on guitar.

Why you should listen

These days your kid can get famous on YouTube for having water sprayed at him, for being duped about his Halloween candy, and for being high off laughing gas. But what if your 8-year-old gets famous on the Internet for being an absolute genius on the banjo? So goes the story of Jonny Mizzone, who first became a YouTube sensation in early 2011 for videos of him and his brothers tearing it up playing Earl Scruggs's Flint Hill Special. It wasn't long before the press started calling.

Now Jonny, Robbie (fiddle) and Tommy (guitar), known as the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, are 11, 14 and 15 respectively. In 2011 alone they got calls from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and in the summer of 2011 they appeared as musical guests on The Late Show with David Letterman and NBC’s Today Show.

While the trio grew up in New Jersey -- which is known more for rock music than for bluegrass -- they fell in love with the unique sounds of J.D. Crowe, Ralph Stanley, Clarence White and Earl Scruggs after some creative YouTube searching. Now, having become sensations on the platform themselves, the trio has accumulated more than 17 million video views. Their first album, America’s Music, was released in September 2011 and charted top eight on the Billboard Bluegrass Album Chart. In October 2012 they released their second album, The Farthest Horizon, which cracked the top three. The group is already at work on their next album.

The original video is available on TED.com
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