Next Suwannee Banjo Camp dates:
March 22-5, 2018
We Begin Accepting Reservations for the 2018 Camp in late August
Click for an Enlargement of the 2017 SBC Camp Photo
Come study 5-string banjo with some of today’s best players and teachers. Our program features hands-on classes, demonstrations, and two big faculty concerts, and still leaves lots of time for jamming with your fellow banjo enthusiasts. SBC offers serious instruction in clawhammer, old-time fingerpicking, and bluegrass banjo styles. In addition, we offer introductions to both minstrel banjo and the west-African banjo ancestor known as akonting or ekonting (if you don’t have your own ekonting, contact us ahead of time and instruments can be provided).
Note: Clawhammer and old-time fingerpicking together are often referred to as old-time banjo.
Suwannee Banjo Camp inaugurates a new format this year, and runs straight through from Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. We now offer nine class sessions — three on Friday, four on Saturday and two on Sunday. Each session is one hour and fifteen minutes long. There are staff concerts on both Friday and Saturday evenings; over the course of the weekend you’ll have the opportunity to hear our entire staff in concert. Rounding out the program are “demonstrations,” presentations, and staff-led bluegrass and old-time jams conducted at a variety of skill levels. See below for more details.
SBC still offers a Weekend-Only Option (Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon). See below for more details.
Fiddle & Guitar Tracks
SBC also offers full-time tracks in fiddle and guitar! For more information, click on the Classes menu item.
SBC offers nine class sessions over the course of the weekend — three on Friday, four on Saturday and two on Sunday. Each session is one hour and fifteen minutes long.
Student Orientation takes place on Thursday evening right after dinner, and prior to the start of the Thursday evening activities.
Thursday Evening Activities
On Thursday evening following Orientation, we kick off our program with a student open mic and band scramble, in which students can perform as soloists, in groups of their own choosing, or in randomly assigned ensembles (some people call these “band scrambles”). To make the band scramble experience more rewarding, assign an instructor to serve as coach for each ensemble. The evening concludes with staff-led jams at different levels featuring either old-time or bluegrass music. We usually also offer jams with a vocals focus.
“Demos” take place on Friday afternoon. They are presentations or mini-performances combined with explication and Q&A sessions. They are similar to the kind of round-robin events called “workshops” at many Folk or Bluegrass Festivals.
Why attend Demonstrations? Although there’s no hands-on instruction, demonstrations offer a valuable learning experience. By watching our instructors play in the demos, and listening to their explanatory remarks and verbal interchanges, you get a strong sense not only of the state of the field, but also of the history of bluegrass and old-time music. What’s more, observing the instructors in action is a great way to discover whose styles you are most attracted to, and whose methods of presentation suit you best.
We have two faculty concerts at SBC — one on Friday and the other on Saturday evening. During the course of SBC you’ll have an opportunity to hear our entire staff in concert. To get the idea of what to expect, here is a selection of videos from past SBC Faculty Concerts.
Staff-led jams at different levels are held following each faculty concert for bluegrass and old-time banjo. We also feature jams for vocalists and other specialized interests.
- Old-Time Banjo: Riley Baugus, Paul Brown, Brad Leftwich, Chuck Levy, Terri McMurray, Michael Miles & Ken Perlman
- Bluegrass Banjo: Scott Anderson, Greg Cahill, Wes Corbett, Janet Davis, James McKinney, & Alan Munde
- Camp Fiddler: Bobby Taylor
- Camp Guitarist: Tim May
- Guest Faculty: Mickey Abraham (guitar); Susie Coleman (guitar); and Niki Portmann (bass)
Our New Format
Starting this year, Suwannee Banjo Camp starts mid-afternoon on Thursday and runs through lunchtime on Sunday. Instead of dividing things up into a “regular camp” with classes and an optional “Extra Day,” SBC is now a single event. The new format allows us to use our time more efficiently and gives us an opportunity for a bit more breathing room. Here are just some of the advantages:
- A single, streamlined student orientation covers the entire event. This will be held right after dinner on Thursday evening.
- We can get started with hands-on classes first thing Friday morning; as a result we can offer one additional hands-on class relative to previous years.
- All attendees will now have a chance to experience our entertaining and informative “demonstrations” and “presentations”
- The extra free time means that you’ll have more of an opportunity to get to know your fellow attendees and jam on your own.
Can I Still Attend Suwannee Banjo Camp Just from Friday to Sunday?
(The Weekend-Only Option)
Yes, you can. You can still enjoy SBC even if you can’t take an extra day off. Our Weekend-Only Option begins with the first class Friday afternoon. Included are seven hands-on classes and all meals from Friday dinner through Sunday lunch. Also included are the two faculty concerts, staff-led jams on Friday and Saturday evenings, and demonstrations on Friday afternoon. Rates for the weekend-only option appear on the “Registration” page.
Starting and Ending Times
Check-in for the full Camp Opens at 3:00 PM on Thursday April 6; classes start promptly at 9:15 AM on Friday April 7. Camp ends following lunch at 1:30 PM, Sunday April 9.
Start Time for the Weekend Only Option
Check-in for the Weekend Only Option starts at 11:30 AM Friday, April 7; your first camp meal is dinner (6:00 pm). The program begins about 1:30 pm that afternoon and continues through the morning of Sunday April 9.