A child prodigy of the banjo, California-born Tony Furtado won national bluegrass competitions as a teenager.

The first time he played before a live audience, he says, “I heard the applause, the energy of the crowd, and it was like a drug.” He left college at 19 to join a band.

“I love playing live music,” Furtado says. “It’s something that’s always stirred my soul.”

His versatility on banjo, acoustic and electric slide guitars ranges from classic folk songs of the 1930s, to Tom Petty and original work. “I love a wellcrafted melody and soulful lyrics,” he says, having added singer-songwriter to his many musical credits. His sixteenth and most recent recording was captured in 2011 in Portland, “Live at Mississippi Studios.” This performance encapsuled his energetic, funloving style of play, as well as his banter with the audience and other musicians.

That love of live performance has put him on the road for much of his life, sometimes eight months a year. Now 40-something, the Portland resident spends more time at home with his singer-songwriter wife, Stephanie Schneiderman, and their son, Liam, but still maintains an active tour schedule. Though his musical tour takes Furtado from Fairbanks to Florida, he’ll be playing in March in Hood River and again in June in Joseph.

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