The banjo isn’t widely regarded as a sexy instrument. But much the way Jake Shimabakuro has redefined the ukelele, Ian McFadyen has managed to expose the humble 5-string’s naughty side, awakening fans to pleasures previously unknown.
Packing a healthy repertoire of electric roots rock songs about love, lust and heartbreak, 50 Sticks of Dynamite exploded onto the Ventura County music scene in 2010 — and it’s been nothing but fireworks ever since. The band has released two full-length records, the most recent being Love Dream Truth Love, and maintains a No. 1 position on ReverbNation’s local Americana chart.
Weaned on bluegrass, McFadyen and has been plucking strings with passion and precision since he was 9 years old. He is joined by Whitey Wingland (who trained with seminal folk artist Mary McCaslin and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jimmy Ibbotson) on guitar and harmonica, and the dynamic duo of bassist Michael Dominguez and Chris Jensen on drums.
With an energetic tall drink of water like McFadyen front and center, Wingland’s red hot flourishes and a rock solid rhythm section to make it all move, the band routinely accomplishes the impossible: coaxing people out of their chairs and onto the dance floor. It’s what sets 50 Sticks apart from the rest. Everyone sweats. Everyone smiles. Everyone returns.