On the morning of Sunday, June 5, 2016, the small Horsefly, British Columbia workshop where the J. Romero Banjo Co. is located burned to the ground. Jason and Pharis Romero lost all of their tools, inventory and even their personal vintage instruments (including a 1943 Gibson banner J-45 that came from Alice Gerrard). The cabin they were also sleeping in while their home was being renovated was also destroyed.
We were lucky enough to feature the Romeros and their workshop in one of our early documentaries (watch below). It remains one of our favorite video productions to date.
Director Matt Miles made the long drive to Horsefly, British Columbia and documented the Romero’s idyllic setting and unique banjo creations. “We’re always having to balance playing music and building banjos… which is a great place to be,” Jason said in our film.
The CBC has posted an article with photos of the fire’s aftermath. They reported that “In the morning, [the Romeros] found piles of vinyl records fused together. Finished banjos, meant to be shipped Monday, reduced to melted hardware. Old guitars vanished, along with 15 years of tools and wood…” A compressor may have been the culprit.
The couple does have insurance but it’s unclear how much that will cover. In the meantime, Pharis wrote on Facebook that, “as we deal with these next months and anticipate rebuilding costs, folks have been sending money to our PayPal account to firstname.lastname@example.org (via family/friends transfers – no fee), buying digital albums (we have no physical ones left), and sending e-transfers, and we are incredibly grateful.”
Beyond the exquisite banjos, Jason and Pharis Romero are remarkable musicians. Their 2016 album, A Wanderer I’ll Stay, just won the 2016 Juno Award for Traditional Roots Album of the Year. We hope they’re able to have a speedy comeback and begin producing their gorgeous instruments and music again soon.