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.
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.
Bob on Facebook
Hilary Dirlam (OTB): Hilary Dirlam has taught banjo workshops at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, Alabama Folk School, Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week, Janey's Jumpstart, Suwannee Banjo Camp, and Madison County's Junior Appalachian Musicians Program. She has also instructed all-in-one workshops with fiddler Mary Gordon for the Charlotte Folk Song Society, Charlotte, NC McClellanville, SC, Columbus, OH, and at Cheddar, Dorset, United Kingdom. Hilary taught individual lessons at Celestial Mountain Music in Brevard, NC and continues to give individual lessons at home. Her publications include: Banjo Without Tears, All-In-One-Jam Books, Volume 1 and 2, and Tuesday Night Favorites. Hilary is also accomplished on string bass and guitar and has taught these instruments at numerous workshops and music camps. With extensive performance experience, she recently completed a month long tour of Australia with her present band, the Orpheus Supertones.
Eric Ellis (BGB):Eric Ellis was born and raised in Wilkesboro in a musical family. He has become one of the premier bluegrass banjo players in western North Carolina. His grandfather played music with Dock Walsh, a Wilkes County recording artist in the 1920s, and his father maintained that interest in music and played guitar. Musicians on his mother's side of the family include his second cousin, David Johnson, a Wilkes County master musician and recording artist. "David has been a big influence on me, making me want to keep playing music," says Eric. He reports other influences also. His father took him to see bluegrass bands including the Stanley Brothers at the local courthouse and the Osborne Brothers and Flatt and Scruggs at the local VFW. "I remember watching the Arthur Smith Show on television out of Charlotte and other syndicated shows on Saturday afternoons," he says. Seeing Don Rich picking guitar on the Buck Owens show made another lasting impression. "But," he reports, "there was also picking around the house." Eric received a Silvertone guitar at age five, and by the time he was twelve, he started taking music more seriously and bought a Fender Telecaster electric guitar. "But, in the back of my mind, I wanted to play banjo," he admits. At age fifteen, he started playing banjo. David Johnson's dad made the instrument for him, and David showed him a few bluegrass rolls. "From there it was just me and the radio and record player," says Eric. Eric started performing at fiddler's conventions at age sixteen with Harvey Batey and Steve Kilby. He later played with fiddler Tiny Pruitt. Eric also continued to play music with David Johnson who told him, "If you're going to play much, you're going to have to go out of town." He took that advice and began traveling to play music with a larger circle of musicians, including Clarence Greene in Lenoir and Carl Spann in Hickory. He also played with Roy McMillan's band. Eric continues to play bluegrass with a various groups. He picks with Lloyd Church and the Dixie Pals with Drake Walsh and David Johnson. "I'm playing as much as I can," he says. He plays some fingerstyle guitar, and he plays his Fender Telecaster around the house. He has been teaching for 23 years and gives banjo lessons to eight or nine students at his house. "It's helped me improve my own playing," he says. Together with ex-Clinch Mountain Boy, John Shuffler, he has helped numerous musicians record albums including Jim Shumate and Marshall Stevenson.
Eric Ellis Bluegrass Banjo Player
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.
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.
Brandon’s ETSU website
Marc Horowitz (OTB/BGB): Marc started playing guitar in 1957 and then five-string banjo and mandolin in 1960. Initially beginning with "frailing" or clawhammer, be began picking Scruggs-style banjo shortly thereafter. Practicing six to eight hours a day through high school led Marc to winning his first competition - the Philadelphia Folk Festival Banjo Contest - in August of 1966. His first professional gig came at age seventeen when he recorded a commercial jingle for Wetson's Hamburgers. Marc has recorded and/or toured with Raun MacKinnon, Patrick Sky, Doc Watson, Steve Goodman, Tom Paxton, The Phoenix Singers, Judy Collins, Liz Corrigan, and Andy Kaufman. He has logged hundreds of recording sessions for commercial jingles, played in Broadway show pit orchestras, and has performed in the Broadway production of "Foxfire;" with bandmates Kenny Kosek and Roger Mason (and accompanying Keith Carradine.) Marc has also played on film scores including "The Missouri Breaks" (written and conducted by John Williams, starring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson and directed by Arthur Penn). A proud former banjo teacher to Bela Fleck, Hank Sapoznik, Mike Kropp and scores of others, he has taught clawhammer banjo workshops at the Park Slope Jamboree in Brooklyn, at the Joe Val Festival in Waltham, MA, and at many other venues. Currently, Marc is an independent sales representative in the musical instrument industry, where he represents among others, Gold Tone Instruments.
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.
Tom McKinney (BGB): Now playing banjo for the Asheville-based Redeye Ramblers, Tom is known throughout the bluegrass world as one of the best Scruggs-style banjo pickers in the business. Beginning in 1969, he began his professional career playing and singing with a number of bluegrass groups including the Boys from Shiloh, the Shenandoah Cut-Ups, and the Country Grass. Tom has also been featured in a Walt Disney movie production playing the five string! Having spent much of his life on the road, including a stint with Curley Sechler and the Nashville Grass, he is devoted to teaching, to playing in local bands, and to performing banjo repair and set-up. Tom will be available for general questions and banjo counseling. He will be performing BGB setup.
Tom & the Redeye Rambler's website
Tom McKinney (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.
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.
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.