Solivan, a 36-year-old multi-instrumentalist who lives in Alexandria, Va., says Munford plays with a combination of power and authority but also maintains a "tasteful touch."
"He combines it all in a way," Solivan said. "And you're moved by his playing."
Respect and recognition, Solivan says, are given to Munford by all of the genre's best-known artists.
"If you were to name a handful of upper-echelon players like Bela Fleck or Jens Kruger or Noam Pikelny or any of those players, they all would say, 'Oh, Mike Munford, he's pretty much a badass,'" Solivan said.
You won't hear the humble Munford, who moved to Glen Rock six years ago, speak about himself that way, and that is how he likes it. Besides, he's busy writing parts for the third Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen album, which the band will begin recording in February at Nashville's Compass Records Studio. Forty years after first hearing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," Munford says, the banjo continues to reveal itself in new ways. For that reason, he cannot put it down.
"I don't practice like I used to, but it really does still thrill me to play," Munford said. "I will dig back and listen to a recording that made me want to play in the first place, or I'll listen to some early things that, still to this day, when I hear them I can't get to my instrument fast enough. It sparks something."
Born: March 20, 1958, in St. Louis. Moved to Roland Park in August 1958.
Education: Graduated from Boys' Latin School of Maryland in 1976.
Family: Married to B.G. Munford for 25 years. Has one dog, Miki, and two cats, Tweedle and Wobble.
Recordings: To hear his most recent work, check out the first two Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen albums, 2010's self-titled LP and April's "On the Edge."