Williams Native, Jason Romero (son to Shelley Foley) discovered his passion for banjos after hearing a traditional Irish band – since then Jason and his Wife Pharis have become a new sensation in the mountain music style.
“I started playing the banjo when I was 20, going to college and living in Chico,” said Jason Romero, “I was a closet picker for the next ten years, taking lessons.”
In 1997, Jason relocated to Humboldt County and started his own old time band, and a bluegrass band – playing weekly. Romero’s love of classic rock music began to morph into early bluegrass and then into old time music.
Jason is not only a banjo player; he also builds them.
“Although I have been playing banjos for years, I had not thought about being a banjo builder until I moved to Arcata in 1997,” said Romero
By trade, Jason mastered in fine woodworking and cabinet making and began his career working at the Wildwood Banjo Company in Arcata, California. He also worked at the P.W. Crump Instruments and Clinesmith Guitars.
“I was the first banjo player to work there,” said Romero, “I was able to develop my eye and skills.”
Having a strong connection to the artistry of banjos, Jason knew that he wanted the banjos to sound, perform and look alike.
“I believe that being a banjo player makes me a better builder,” said Romero, “So I left Wildwood to focus on my own business, full time.”
For a better part of a decade, Jason has been handcrafting banjos for his customers. With orders booked several months in advance.
“We do not use CNC Machines in our shop; everything is handmade,” Said Romero.
Jason met his wife Pharis at an old time jam in Victoria, BC. Taking an 8 hour detour from a fly fishing trip, Jason and Pharis met for the first time after a mutual friend set them up.
“Jason brought his banjo; I played the fiddle and guitar,” said Pharis, “a few days later we both knew we’d be together for a long time.”
Both Jason and Pharis have played the music for decades. Sharing an similar passion for early country, old time, blues, and bluegrass music they married in 2007. Pharis and Jason began expanding their creativity and passion for banjos and its music alike, together.
Moving to Pharis’ hometown of Horsefly, B.C. in 2010, they settled in the wilderness building hand crafted banjos, and writing and singing the tunes they love.
In 2011, Jason and Pharis released their first duo album, A Passing Glimpse, a collection of songs that are sourced from old recordings or written by Pharis herself. A Passing Glimpse is an album of acoustic & National guitars, finger style and claw hammer banjo, with plenty of strong duet singing. Bringing memories of hard mountain days where hard work and difficult times echo through the lyrics.
In September of 2012, Jason and Pharis recently made a quick stay in Jason’s hometown of Williams, California where a friend hosted a backyard concert showcasing the Romero’s workmanship and musical talents.
Guests enjoyed beautiful tropical summer evening where tunes of bluegrass, old time country, and blues bellowed through the back yard making it a relaxing way to end summer and celebrate the bounty of the upcoming harvest.
“I have been waiting for Jason to come home and play for the masses of friends and family that love him,” said Shelley Foley, mother to Jason Romero.
After their release of, A Passing Glimpse, it won the Best Americana Album at the Independent Music Award; additionally was the number one hit on the North American Folk DJ.