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David Swarens — Banjos and History

David Swarens with banjo
Photo by William Dunaway

Old Time Banjos

David Swarens plays a variety of banjos in old time styles, and is particularly noted for his mastery of the fretless banjo. He specializes in nineteenth century American music, but can also be talked into performing more modern pieces, like those from Charlie Poole or from the Skillet Lickers. He often wins first place in banjo at the Annual Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Goleta, California.

San Diego Friends of Old Time Music

David is also President of San Diego Friends of Old Time Music, a California non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation and performance of traditional music and dance.



David Swarens
Photo by Ellen Wallace


Los californios®

A Project of
San Diego Friends of Old Time Music

David Swarens plays guitar in this favorite Mexican California band. Los californios® works to research, recreate and preserve the secular music of the Spanish and Mexican eras of California History.


Young David Swarens in Kentucky
Young David Swarens in Kentucky



Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO)

Historic Preservation

At an annual membership meeting of Save Our Heritage Organisation, the historic preservation group for the greater San Diego area, David was introduced as the organisation’s long-term memory. David was a SOHO board member for two decades, and served several times as President. David currently serves as the Director of Interpretive Programming for SOHO.

In addition to being the champion for saving historic sites and culture, Save Our Heritage Organisation maintains an 1850s house museum, the Whaley House, with its historic garden and park and an 1870s house next door. The Whaley House is, among other distinctions, reputed to be America’s Most Haunted House.

Young David Swarens in Kentucky
David and his trusty steed, El caballo blanco.

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