Bobby Anderson (BGB): I have been playing for 55 years and teaching for 35 years. I travelled the road for 25 years with my band, "A Grain of Salt". I spent several years in Branson, Missouri; have recorded 12 Albums, 8 Tapes, and 5 CDs with my current band, "Bobby and Blue Ridge Tradition". We have performed on NPRs Song of the Mountain, at countless Festivals including MerleFest and Bluegrass First Class, and I teach privately at Blue Ridge Music Academy in Asheville, NC.
John Boulding (BGB): John restores and repairs all stringed instruments, focusing mainly on those of the bluegrass genre. For both amateurs and touring professionals, over a span of 35 years, he has repaired and restored more than a 1,000 instruments. John’s father, Wallace Boulding, a respected luthier in western NC, taught him to "work on their stuff like it was his own." His father’s advice has carried over into every area of John’s life and work. John handles other people’s instrument as though they were his own. Beyond repairs and setup, he has a deep respect for instruments and the living history they hold…the one that gets eventually gets passed down from one musician to another. Preserving old instruments, maintaining their playability, safeguarding family heirlooms and keeping modern day 'player' instruments in proper working order are John’s calling cards. Such service has established his integrity and reputation as a fine and dependable Luthier. John also teaches banjo. From rank beginners on up, he provides students with the knowledge, skills, tools and nuances required to play solid, fluid bluegrass banjo.
Bob Buckingham (OTB): Bob Buckingham (OTB) has played banjo since the late 1960's. For the past 15 years he has taught private lessons in Greenville, SC at 5th String Music and has taught at Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week in Mars Hill and teaches regularly at the John C. Campbell Folk School. He has appeared at festivals and contests winning numerous ribbons. He also has taught workshops throughout the South and Mid-Atlantic regions. He writes for Fiddler Magazine and Bluegrass Unlimited as well as occasionally for Banjo Newsletter.
Mary Z. Cox:
Mary Z. Cox (OTB): Two-time Florida & North Carolina banjo champion, Mary Z. Cox, has played banjo since she was 12 and has been a recording artist since 1999. She’s recorded 11 CDs, plays concerts & festivals, gives workshops, and authors banjo books. Her music’s been played on National Public Radio’s, “Thistle & Shamrock”, “All Songs Considered,” Pandora World Music Genome, & the BBC. She’s taught clawhammer banjo for over a decade at the John C. Campbell Folk School as well as camps & festivals nationwide, including the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, NC, Cal Tech & the Florida Folk Festival. Craig Evans, videographer & interviewer for the popular DVD series “Conversations With Old Time Performers” says Mary Z was included in this historical project because of her prolific recordings & instruction books & energetic hands on instruction, which have helped thousands of folks around the world become better banjoists and musicians. Many folks know Mary Z for her “Good Morning Banjo” videos on Face Book & YouTube where she posts impromptu banjo & dulcimer videos from unexpected places in the United States and around the globe. Others know her from the 2016 & 2017 Banjo Babes Calendar & compilation CD. 2019 is the 20th anniversary of Vintage Banjo, Mary Z’s first CD and there is a brand new CD this year to celebrate. Carolina Banjo was recorded in award winning fiddler & banjo builder Tim Gardner’s studio in October with 17 traditional and original tunes and songs. There’s a clawhammer Carolina Banjo Tab Book too & more. There’s lots of banjo music going on in 2019. Please check Mary Z’s website for updates.
Mary Z Cox holds 2 graduate degrees from Florida State University and grad level certifications in education for youth & adults. “Folks learn more when they are having fun” is her educational philosophy. “If a banjo calls to you—buy it—its your destiny” is her motto.
Wayne Erbsen (BGB/OTB): For the past twenty-eight years, Wayne Erbsen has taught Appalachian music at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. He also teaches at "The Log Cabin Cooking & Music Center" in Asheville, NC. For radio listeners, Wayne has a popular radio show called "Country Roots," which broadcasts on Asheville's public radio station, WCQS. You can listen live every Sunday when his show streams from 7:00 - 9:00 pm, Eastern Standard time, at http://www.wcqs.org/. In addition to Wayne's deep interest in old-time Appalachian and bluegrass music, he has researched, recorded and written on numerous other themes of American music, culture and folklore including The Civil War, pioneer America, log cabins, cowboys, railroads and gospel. Wayne will be directing the Jam Classes. He also teaches clawhammer and bluegrass banjo.
Maria Farichild (OTB): Maria Fairchild started playing clawhammer banjo in her teens, after being mesmerized by its unique interplay of melody and rhythm. Since then, her banjo has taken her to the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and England, where she unexpectedly, and happily, got to play with Tom Paley of the New Lost City Ramblers. She began collaborating with musicians in other genres, playing clawhammer with blues and jazz guitarists, and doing studio work for singer-songwriters. Since moving to North Carolina, Maria has played with Jim Watson, Al McCanless, and Tommy Edwards, and has accompanied the Cane Creek Cloggers at IBMA. She has won several ribbons for banjo and vocals at festivals, and continues to expand the banjo’s horizons, adding its rhythmic drive to diverse groups such as the Free Spirit Ensemble of the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra. She plays piano and banjo for contradances from Wilmington to Asheville and is an experienced contra and square dance caller. Maria’s solo CD Celebration features traditional and original material, as well as classic rock covers, and has been featured on many folk and bluegrass radio programs. TV and radio appearances include Wes Houston Presents, Long Island Blues Warehouse, Buddy Merriam’s Blue Grass Time, and The Bayou. Maria has taught privately for 30 years, and has led workshops for the Long Island Traditional Music Association and the New England NOMAD Folk Festival, and co-taught with Joe Newberry at the Long Island Bluegrass Festival. She loves helping beginners get the clawhammer groove. Her “mission in life” is to make the world a better place, one banjo player at a time!
Cathy Fink (OTB): Cathy Fink is a multi-GRAMMY® Award winning artist continuing a 45 year love affair with the banjo. Her banjo music includes a wide traditional repertoire plus original compositions played on everything from fretless minstrel-style banjos to modern replicas of instruments from the 1920’s. Cathy’s first solo banjo recording, “Banjo Haiku” has become an underground bible of the old-time clawhammer style. “Banjo Talkin’”, the 2007 release with special guest, Marcy Marxer, won a GRAMMY® nomination in the “Best Traditional Folk Album” category. Nat Hentoff of The Progressive and Village voice stated, " Her sound, phrasing, and resilient time combine with a compelling presence." Cathy teaches banjo online at www.truefire.com, www.homespuntapes.com, and in person at numerous camps & workshops from Augusta to Puget Sound to Mid-West and others. She is the director of “The Old Time Banjo Festival”, an annual concert in tribute to Mike Seeger at the Birchmere Music Hall. Cathy took first place in the banjo competition at the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV in 2018. She performs full time with Marcy Marxer.
Brandon Greene (BGB): I am originally from southern West Virginia and now live in Johnson City TN with my lovely wife Amy a 4 boys Josiah, Ezekiel, Ezra & Malachi. I first learned banjo from my grandpa, who was the banjo player at my church growing up. During high school, I studied banjo under Will Parsons. I attended East Tennessee State University (ETSU) my first year of college and studied classical banjo and business at Concord University. I then completed a Master's Certificate in Appalachian Studies at ETSU. I have toured internationally with the Abrams Brothers of Canada, my family Gospel band called Judah's Lion, the Darrell Webb band, Jonathan Buckner and Chosen Road and been a guest performer with Bill Keith, the Isaacs, Jesse McReynolds, Doyle Lawson, Mark O'Conner, Adam Steffey, Hunter Berry. I enjoy playing music with my friends at church and sharing music to edify the body of Christ. I have won a few competitions, to the Glory of God, including the WV state three times, Merlefest, the Eastern US at 5-string fest, and the National Bluegrass Banjo Contest in Winfield, Kansas. I have been teaching full time over 10 years and have been on the faculty at ETSU in the Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music Program since 2010.
Jack Hatfield (BGB): Jack Hatfield was born in Knoxville Tennessee. He started playing banjo at age 17, and after six months of lessons was asked to replace the local banjo guru Wayne Goforth who left to found another music store. Right time, right job - this was during the Deliverance (Dueling Banjos) upswing in interest in the banjo. Jack at one time had eighty students per week. He dropped out of college in 1974 to teach banjo guitar, mandolin and fiddle full time. He placed in several local and state banjo contests when a young man, including the National Banjo Championship in Winfield, Kansas. He taught full time for seventeen years before moving to tourist Mecca Pigeon Forge to perform at the Dollywood theme park, Dixie Stampede and other tourist venues. He performed on the Saturday Night Barn Dance on WNOX radio in Knoxville. Her also worked with mandolinist Red Rector and performed with Ava Gardner and Dick Dale at their show in Pigeon Forge. He currently works the East Tennessee convention /weddings/private party circuit with his band True Blue. Jack has appeared in two full-length feature films and three syndicated television shows. Jack began his writing career in 1976 as a columnist for Banjo Newsletter magazine, writing the Scruggs Corner column, followed by Beginner's Corner, then Systems and Concepts column which delved into music theory and other "big picture" ideas. Jack has authored several instruction books through Hatfield Music and through Mel Bay Publications, Inc. His most recent Mel Bay release is Exercises for Three-Finger Banjo. Jack was on the faculty of the first banjo camp, the Tennessee Banjo Institute at Cedars of Lebanon TN in 1988. Since then he served as Bluegrass Director of all three of Banjo Newsletter's Maryland Banjo Academy camps and Chuck Stearman's Nashville Academy of Traditional Music. He has directed the banjo workshop at the SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America) Convention in Nashville for twenty-one years. This workshop has featured noted banjo players including Bill Keith, Bela Fleck, Tony Furtado, Alan Munde, Sonny Osbourne, Doug Dillard, J. D. Crowe, Terry Baucom, Larry McNeely, Sammy Shelor, Kristin Scott-Benson, and many others. In 2006 Jack established his the Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy banjo camp which merged briefly with Five-String Fest in 2014. In 2015 he began renovations on his barn adjacent to the Hatfield Music banjo shop. The Hatfield Music Barn was home of Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy until the Sevier County TN wildfires of November 2016 destroyed the music barn, banjo shop, his home and two rental houses. The disaster precipitated his semi-retirement from the day-to-day duties of Hatfield Music. He moved back to his home town of Knoxville, and his sister Jane runs his e-commerce business Hatfield Music, now selling only self-authored books and self-produced products. Jack is on call to consult, answer customer questions, teach an occasional private lesson and perform banjo set ups. He still occasionally writes articles for Banjo Newsletter. The silver lining to the disaster is that Jack is now free to delve into his music again, and is practicing banjo more than he ever did as a youngster. He has time to implement musical ideas and techniques he has devised over the last forty years. Now he has time to begin to develop them into a unique and personal musical signature. Jack continued his Full Moon Jam when he moved back to Knoxville. This monthly session features the area's finest bluegrass musicians and an occasional touring pro who may be passing through. Along with the several Mel Bay instruction books Jack has authored, Hatfield Music still carries his twenty or so self-published books and several items he invented and/or has manufactured such as the Banjo Board right hand practice simulator, the Pick Pouch, the Anti-Gravity strap, his patented Capo Caddy, Raejusters (adjustable resonator screws) and the re-designed Gerald Jones Acoustic Plus banjo pickup, now called the Jones-Hatfield banjo pickup. Jack will be teaching banjo setup Friday and be available to roam around chiming in on other classes when asked Thursday and Saturday. He is also available for private lessons.
John Lawless (BGB): John Lawless has been playing bluegrass banjo since 1973. The mechanics of the three finger style fascinated him from the start, and he has made a deep study of the techniques and practice of the Earl Scruggs style. Starting in the late ‘70s, he took on private students and kept a stable of 40-50 students/week for many years. After forming the AcuTab company in the 1990s, the opportunity to closely analyze the playing styles of top bluegrass artists has led to further insights, shared in four DVDs in the AcuTab instructional series. Now working primarily as online editor at Bluegrass Today, John keeps his teaching chops sharp these days teaching banjo and bluegrass at Hollins University near his home in Roanoke, VA.
Donnie Little (BGB): Just celebrating his 50th year anniversary playing the banjo, since 1989, Donnie Little (shown on left picking one with Don Wayne Reno at NCBC) has been teaching the instrument full time. He also works in conjunction with banjo-maker, Warren Yates. He has his own Yates banjo model. His stage performances began at age 5 while playing in a local band around 1965 called
The Little Brothers
. It was a big hit consisting of his family (Dad) Clyde, (Mother) Jane, and (Brother) Joel. Professional bands book in the area needed show openers to set the stage for them. His ability to play so well at such a young age made the band that much more popular. The Little Brothers became the The Little Family. His father had to hand-build him a little banjo from scratch in order for him to use it. This was during a time when out founding Bluegrass fathers were starting the music we love. Donnie knew many of the bluegrass legends and basically grew up with them. He later chose the profession of teaching music at his home rather than traveling away from his family, but Donnie still loves playing with friends whenever he can.
Jake Loew (BGB/OTB): Jake Loew is an Asheville based teacher and performer. Formerly a member of The Wayfarers and The Sandy Tar Brothers, he has performed on NPR's Song of the Mountains, at Bluegrass on Main, Suits Boots and Bluegrass, and The Torsåker Bluegrass Festival. He has won ribbons from the West Virginia Stringband Festival, Galax Fiddlers Convention, and Mt Airy Fiddlers Convention. Jake teaches in the Asheville area as well as online via Skype/Facetime. He regularly shares free lesson videos on YouTube at youtube.com/jakeloewmusic1.
Marcy Marxer (Guitar): Marcy Marxer is a multi-instrumentalist, studio musician, performer, songwriter and producer with 40 years of experience and a shelf of impressive awards. Her GRAMMY Awards say “Artist, Engineer, Producer” and she is top notch at all three of those roles. Her studio engineering has graced GRAMMY award winning projects and countless indie recordings through the years.
She has played acoustic music on Emmy Award winning National Geographic specials, platinum shipping Eva Cassidy CD’s and on over 50 recordings and instructional materials created with her partner, Cathy Fink. Marcy is a two-time GRAMMY Award winner and fourteen-time GRAMMY nominee whose guitar playing spans a variety of styles- swing rhythm and lead, bluegrass, old time, Celtic fingerpicking, folk fingerpicking and some of the most tasteful backup you can hear. She plays signature a Martin guitar, signature National Steel Tenor guitar and signature KALA tenor ukulele. She is a well-loved instructor at many camps including Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Camp and she teaches online via Truefire, Homespun Tapes and Peghead Nation. It is the power of her playing that keeps listeners coming back – the alternate route.
James McKinney (BGB): James McKinney is a specialist at Scruggs and Reno-style banjo picking. A master at jazz banjo and music theory, he has played with such legends as Bill Monroe, Vassar Clements, and John Hartford. At age 15 he won the Southern US Banjo Championship. In 1982, he won the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas. Along the way, James has taken first-place at dozens of state and regional banjo championships. He has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry, at Opryland and on the Porter Wagoner Show with the Smoky Mountain Sunshine Troupe. In the 1980s James recorded and toured with his band, Danger in the Air. Since then, he has worked as a Nashville studio musician and has performing and recorded with many top artists including Porter Wagoner, Barbara Mandrell and Johnny Cash. For many years, James has enjoyed a long and close friendship with legendary fiddler Vassar Clements. They have toured together in The Vassar Clements Band. James is quite active teaching at many major banjo camps including the SPGBMA workshops, Suwannee Banjo Camp, American Banjo Camp, Midwest Banjo Camp, and Smokey Mountain Banjo Camp. Now living in Atlanta, he has launched a new acoustic group called the Night Travelers with bassist Niki Portmann. Their first release is a CD called Campfire.
Billy Presnell (BGB): Billy Presnell, born and raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina has played music all of his life. Beginning with piano he fell in love wit stringed instruments during his teenage years. Mostly captivated by the sounds of Béla Flecks banjo. He has since gone on to to study with the likes of Victor Wooten, and Ryan Cavanaugh to name a few. Billy’s approach to the banjo is experiential and most importantly musical. Making music a conversation as opposed to a strict methodology.
Seth Rhinehart (BGB): Currently 24 years old, Seth has been playing the banjo since the age of twelve. The music of Flatt and Scruggs and many other early pioneers of bluegrass left a lasting impression on him at an early age. Since learning the banjo, Seth has been fortunate enough to be on many well-acclaimed projects. His own release in 2009, Come on In, was voted the number (5) bluegrass album of the year by WNCW. His work has been featured on albums that have been and are still at the top of the bluegrass charts. His latest work has been with Mark Kuykendall and award-winning fiddler player Bobby Hicks for their Rebel Records albums. He has been fortunate enough to work with Michael Cleveland, Doyle Lawson, Barry Scott, and many other acclaimed bluegrass musicians. Seth places a great importance on backup and playing behind a singer. To him, that is the most critical aspect of banjo playing.
Butch Robins (BGB): As far as banjo players are concerned, few are as innovative or stylistically diverse as is Joseph C. ("Butch") Robins. Butch's musical diversity is evidenced in the bluegrass world by his inclusion as one of the longest tenured banjoists for Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys and bassist for the New Grass Revival, earning him the distinction of being "the one and only New Grass/Blue Grass Boy". He has been one of the busiest of Nashville's freelance banjo players and has performed with big-band leader, Harry James, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, Leon Russell. Hailing from the Celtic-descended, southeastern United States, as a student of music and the banjo in the 1960's and 70's, Butch acquainted himself with and befriended many of the first generation bluegrass musicians at early festivals and fiddlers' conventions. As a teenager he won major banjo contests and participated in banjo workshops at both the 1969 Newport Folk Festival and also Carlton Haney's 1969 Camp Springs Bluegrass Festival in Reidsville, NC. While serving in the US Army in South Carolina, he was introduced to Snuffy Jenkins & Pappy Sherrill, and subsequently dedicated his album, "Forty Years Late", to Snuffy. The 70's found Butch playing in various bands, including Charlie Moore, Jim & Jesse, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper and the New Grass Revival. It was during these years that he explored different banjo playing techniques and helped lay the groundwork for the progressive, melodic, 5-string banjo playing of today. He is one of the featured banjoists in the book, "Masters of The Five-String Banjo" by Tony Trischka & Pete Wernick. As a self-produced, solo recording artist with interest in and attention to ensemble sound, Butch contracted with Rounder Records and released three landmark albums - "Forty Years Late", "Fragments of My Imagicnation" and "The Fifth Child". In 1977, Butch became the banjoist for Bill Monroe and his "Blue Grass Boys". With Monroe, he traveled and performed throughout the United States, including the White House and Lincoln Center in New York City, until 1981. After the Monroe experience he founded the first incarnation of The Blue Grass Band. In the early 90's Butch helped start the Hay Holler Record label with 2 recordings sold through means of telemarketing. In 1995 he produced a masterpiece banjo-oriented bluegrass recording, "Grounded-Centered-Focused", featuring, amongst a magnificently talented supporting cast, Bill Monroe himself. Since then, Butch has traveled to and performed in Japan, Australia and Europe. As a result of these travels, he assembled some of the world's finest bluegrass musicians into the World International Bluegrass Band in 2007 as "a musical statement of international cooperation and goodwill". The band toured Virginia before performing at the IBMA Convention in Nashville, TN and taping a live TV performance for "Song of the Mountains". Also noteworthy is Butch's role in preserving the history of Blue Grass music and keeping alive the legend of Bill Monroe. His autobiography & memoirs, "What I Know 'Bout What I Know" earned strong reviews and a nomination for the IBMA's Printed Media Personality of the Year in 2004. Butch has also been an instructor at several camps, including the Tennessee Banjo Institute, Jack Hatfield's Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy, Midwest Banjo Camp, Augusta Heritage Center, The Alabama Folk School and Camp Ausgrass in Australia. In 2013, Butch recorded a series of videos for Radford University entitled "Butch Robins Presents- Blue Grass Music, its Origin and Development as a Unique and Creative Art Form." In this 5 part video series, Butch Robins explains the fascinating history of Blue Grass music. He uses both recorded and live music to set and illustrate the timeline, relates real life anecdotes of the musicians involved and tells personal stories of his life and relationship with Bill Monroe. Having had a working and friendly relationship with Monroe and many of the other musicians in this story, his insight and knowledge come together to form a unique perspective of this part of history. On September 24, 2016, Butch was inducted into the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame in Bean Blossom, Indiana.
Akira Satake (BGB): Akira Satake first discovered the banjo through his older brother’s Flatt and Scruggs recordings while growing up in Osaka, Japan. After relocating to New York City in his early 20's he spent two decades honing his innovative banjo style in venues from Village clubs to Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. He went on to master the shamisen (Japanese banjo) in his own original style, and has made it an important part of his repertory. Satake garnered international attention with his collection of original compositions, "Cooler Heads Prevail," and shared the 1998 German Music Critics’ Award for Best World Music Recording with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. He has performed and/or recorded with such artists as Shawn Colvin, Nancy Griffith, Jim Lauderdale, Hazel Dickens and Tony Trischka, and produced award-winning CDs for Tim O’Brien, Mamadou Diabate, Johnny Cunningham and flamenco guitarist Gerardo Nunez.
American banjo virtuoso Tony Trischka calls Satake, "a brilliant banjoist with a split-level passion for the fiery breakdowns of southern Appalachia and the kaleidoscopic rhythms and melodies of World Music."
Mike Scott (BGB): Mike Scott is from Johnson City, Tennessee. Well versed on banjo, guitar, and mandolin, his credits include singing, songwriting, producing, publishing, and hosting media, including TV. Having performed professionally since age 10, Mike celebrated 42 years in music last December 2014. Since moving to Nashville, he has performed in over 450 shows at the Grand Ole Opry. An internationally known banjo/guitar player, he has earned a reputation as a solid solo artist, studio musician, and as a sideman for some of music's greatest performers. Now leading Mike Scott & The Nashville Band, he also performs with Ronnie Reno & The Reno Tradition. They can be seen regularly on 'Reno's Old Time Music Fest' TV Show airing weekly on RFD TV. Mike hosts Rural Rhythm Records TV Show "Behind The Dream" on Blue Highways TV. After being offered jobs with Grand Ole Opry Stars "Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys" and with "Jim & Jesse and The Virginia Boys," at age 15 Mike continued to perform regionally with area local bands in East Tennessee. At age 18, he joined "Carl Story and The Rambling Mountaineers" (The Father of Bluegrass Gospel) for two years. Then he joined Jim & Jesse at The Grand Ole Opry for nearly four years. Mike had an acoustic Bluegrass & Country record deal in the works with Randy Tallmadge (RCA) as Mike Curb (Curb Records) in 1990 & 1991 which including Nashville's top studio musicians including Carl Jackson, Stuart Duncan, Steve Turner, Gary Smith, Bruce Bouton, Emory Gordy Jr., & Brent Mason. This project featured Emmy Lou Harris on vocals and was produced by Carl Jackson. Mike later performed from with "Big Band" sensations "Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass" and with "Boot Randolph". Mike still enjoys occasionally playing with Jesse McReynolds and The Virginia Boys, Jesse carrying on the legacy since the passing of Jim McReynolds. He continues to travel across the globe with "Mike Scott & The Nashville Band" as well as with "Ronnie Reno and The Reno Tradition".
Gary Spence (BGB/OTB): Gary studied and played music with Obray Ramsey and later prepared Ramsey's recordings for the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center collection. Soon after Gary Spence arrived in Madison County and began studying with Obray Ramsey, David Shelton and Obray Ramsey began working together on a Polydor International album (circa 1970-1971). Gary Spence has gone on to both perform and teach music, continuing a lifelong love of Appalachian music and history. He was awarded the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Award in 1996. Gary has also been an adjunct music faculty member at Mars Hill University for 43 years. Aside from performing and judging at the Asheville Folk festival, 2014 marked his 45th Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival performance at Mars Hill University. He has performed at both the Union Grove Fiddlers Convention, the Fiddlers Grove Festival, and the Galax Virginia Old Time Fiddler Convention. He recorded Blue Ridge Gospel Guitars with Eddie Swann c.2003-2004 and collaborated on a number of bluegrass CDs released in western North Carolina.
Bennett Sullivan (BGB): North Carolina based Bennett Sullivan is one of the foremost educators and performers in the bluegrass genre. He's created multiple learning platforms for banjo players at all skill levels and has toured internationally with artists such as Maria Muldaur, Ben Sollee, Jim Kweskin, and more. In June of 2016, Bennett finished up a 4-month run as banjo and guitar player for Steve Martin's Bright Star at the Cort Theater on Broadway, of which he was a part of for two years performing at notable theaters across the country. Currently, Bennett performs regularly with Ben Sollee & Kentucky Native. Teaching: In the Spring of 2015, Bennett teamed up with the talented Czech programmer Jiri Markalous to form Listen & Learn, Inc., a company dedicated to creating unique and effective learning tools for banjo and other bluegrass instruments. Since their partnership began, Jiri and Bennett created a number of mobile apps such as Pocket Lick, Listen & Learn, and most recently, TuneFox. Bennett also shares weekly lessons on his YouTube channel, with the focus being on learning by ear. These are complimented by his lesson website, Banjo by Ear (banjobyear.me). This $4.99/month membership is a great resource for learning banjo by ear on the web. Composition: In addition to being a recognized sideman, Bennett writes and records his own music both to be released to the public and to be licensed for film, games, and tv.
Warren Yates (BGB): Warren Yates has been building rock solid banjos for years. Clinic attendees will have the opportunity to play many of his banjos. Prior to starting Yates Banjos, Warren worked as an engineer for a furniture company. An avid player for over 40 years, his banjos can be heard on multiple recordings. He is Ronnie Stewart's banjo supplier and technician. Ronnie, as well as Donnie Little, has been instrumental in providing feedback and design considerations further defining Warren's banjos. Skilled as a machinist, Warren builds most of his banjo parts. He has built over 500 banjos. The wood, detail, and construction of a Yates banjo is impeccable. After Donnie Little sets one up, players will appreciate the power and tone emanating from a Yates banjo.