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Greg Liszt ’99: hail to the chief, bluegrass-style

Peter Salovey ’86PhD invited a lot of friends and dignitaries to his inauguration as Yale president last weekend. Only one of them is a Dylan-haired PhD from MIT who makes his living playing banjo.

That would be Greg Liszt ’99, whose band the Deadly Gentlemen performed at a community-wide block party celebrating the inauguration on October 13.

"When I was a [Yale] freshman, I noticed an article on the front page of the Yale Daily News entitled, 'Professors of Bluegrass Seek New Blood,'" Liszt tells the New Haven Independent. "It was about Peter Salovey's band, the Professors of Bluegrass, looking for a new banjo player. And I was the guy."

Liszt developed his rare—if not unique—four-fingered picking technique at Yale, where he also majored in biology. After earning his PhD in molecular biology, he "immediately retired from science and went on tour playing banjo for Bruce Springsteen," his bio says. He was also a memer of the now disbanded alt-bluegrass group Crooked Still.

Salovey's inauguration excited not only the Yale community but the bluegrass community as well. The new president, who's plunked upright bass in the Professors of Bluegrass for more than two decades, made time for interviews with both Bluegrass Today and the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Salovey, by the way, got his bluegrass start as a banjo player.

Filed under Greg Liszt, Peter Salovey, music
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