2025 Instructors

Old Time BanjoBluegrass BanjoFiddleGuitarMandolinGuest Faculty
Paula Bradley

Paula Bradley. A West Virginia-born multi-instrumentalist residing in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, Paula has been involved in old-time and roots music for many years. Known for her strong, spirited vocals, as well as deep knowledge of old-time music, she has toured with old-time darlings “Uncle Earl”; with old-time powerhouse Bruce Molsky (on guitar and banjo uke); recorded and toured with Tony Trischka and Bruce as part of the acoustic roots trio “Jawbone”; and, performed and recorded with old-time trio “The Rhythm Rats.” She has been an instructor at many camps and gatherings, including: Augusta, Swannanoa, Ashokan, Mars Hill, Bluff Country, MBOTMA, and Stephen Foster Old-Time Weekend. She was a founding member of the popular New England honkytonk combo (on piano) “Girl Howdy,” and with her late husband, Bill Dillof, old-time duet “Moonshine Holler” in which she played guitar, banjo, and banjo ukulele. Currently, she leads her own popular juke joint swing combo “Miss Paula & The Twangbusters,” and performs with a variety of old-time musicians.

Hilarie Burhans

Hilarie Burhans

Hilarie Burhans has been playing and teaching clawhammer banjo for more than 45 years. She lives in the Appalachian foothills of Athens, Ohio and is a much in-demand player at old-time music festivals thanks to her intensely rhythmic, driving banjo style. Hilarie co-founded the Hotpoint Stringband, a nationally-touring contradance band with whom she has recorded five albums. HBO used a song she recorded on the critically acclaimed show Deadwood, and she has collaborated on too many other musical projects to count! More than 5,000 subscribers enjoy her banjo YouTube channel, and her instructional videos on the Patreon platform have many devoted subscribers who praise her clear, relaxed teaching style.

Joseph Decosimo

Joseph Decosimo has introduced audiences around the world to the beauty and vitality of the fiddle, banjo, and song traditions from the Appalachian South. A student of the last master traditional musicians in his native Tennessee, Joseph draws on a well of profound creativity and repertoire even as he creates fresh sounds. A sought-after, supportive teacher, and PhD holding folklorist, he served on the faculty of East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies Program. He is a national old-time banjo champion, winner of the Clifftop fiddle contest, and a member of the prize-winning Bucking Mules. His most recent recordings, While You Were Slumbering and The Aluminum Wonder have resonated in the Old-Time scene and far beyond.

Adam Hurt

Adam Hurt (Old-Time Banjo) Deemed a “banjo virtuoso” by the Washington Post, Adam Hurt has fused several traditional old-time idioms to create his own elegantly innovative clawhammer banjo style, having been introduced to the instrument at age eleven in his native Minnesota. A respected performer and teacher of traditional music, Adam has played at the Kennedy Center and conducted banjo workshops around the country and abroad at such prestigious events as the Swannanoa Gathering, the Augusta Heritage Center, Midwest Banjo Camp, American Banjo Camp, Suwannee Banjo Camp, and Sore Fingers. Since moving to the South in 2002, Adam has placed in or won most of the major old-time banjo competitions, including three first-place finishes at Clifftop, and he has claimed several state banjo and fiddle championships. Adam’s music can be heard on multiple recordings, including Earth Tones, Perspective, Insight, and his most recent, Artifacts. adamhurt.com

Michael Miles

Michael Miles is one of America’s most innovative clawhammer banjo players. His musical background is steeped in the folk & blues of Chicago, in Bach and Motown, rock ‘n’ roll, and the American Songbook hits that his blue collar father sang in the car. With expansive unpredictable repertoire and high-reaching musicality, his work was described by Banjo Newsletter as: “a brilliant tour-de force that effectively obliterates the limits of what was thought possible on clawhammer banjo.” Hailed by the Chicago’s legendary WXRT as “Genius,” the Chicago Sun-Times simply says, “Give the banjo to Michael J. Miles you’ll hear a mighty soul stirring sound.” When Pete Seeger heard Michael’s very first recording his response was, “This is enough to make me want to learn the banjo all over again.” Michael has published more than a dozen books with such companies as Hal Leonard and Mel Bay; he has recorded several CD’s with great collaborators including Bela Fleck, Darol Anger, and some of Chicago finest musicians. His websites are www.MilesMusic.org and www.ExistentialBanjo.com.

Ken Perlman

kenbnj02Perhaps the best-known exponent of the “melodic” clawhammer style, Ken Perlman is known where-ever banjos are played as a master of clawhammer technique and an expert teacher of clawhammer mechanics. He was a Banjo Newsletter columnist from the early 1980s till the magazine closed down in 2021; he has written several books on clawhammer instruction including Melodic Clawhammer Banjo and Clawhammer Style Banjo, he has recorded several series on audio and video banjo instruction, and he has taught at well over a dozen music camps including Augusta Folk Heritage, Common Ground on the Hill, the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, the Swannanoa Gathering, and the Tennessee Banjo Institute; he has also been music or co-director of several banjo camps including American Banjo Camp, Banjo Camp North, the Bath International Banjo Festival,  Maryland Banjo Academy, and Midwest Banjo Camp. Ken toured for nearly fifteen years with renowned Appalachian-style fiddler Alan Jabbour (1942-2017), and recorded two CDs with him: Southern Summits and  You Can’t Beat the Classics. His most recent solo recording is Frails & Frolics; his most recent banjo books are Appalachian Fiddle Tunes for Clawhammer and Cape Breton & Prince Edward Island Fiddle Tunes for Clawhammer. In the summer of 2017, Ken was invited to offer a Master’s Showcase at the Appalachian String Band Festival  (AKA: “Clifftop”) an event set up to “showcase the legends who have dedicated their lives to the preservation and presentation of old-time music.” kenperlman.com

Scott Anderson

Scott AndersonNative Floridian Scott Anderson has been performing in professional bluegrass bands since the late 1980s; his first groups were Tom Henderson’s Bluegrass Parlor Band and a band he co-founded called Endless Highway. He has since toured in the US and abroad as banjoist and vocalist with the Jim Hurst Band and Keith Sewell; and he has performed or recorded with such well-known bluegrass figures as Claire Lynch, Vassar Clements, Larry Rice, Byron Berline, Adam Steffey, Clay Hess, Newtown, Chubby Wise, Allen Shadd, and Chief Jim Billie. He has also played banjo with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. Scott has been a featured artist in Banjo Newsletter, for which he also writes features and conducts interviews. He now fronts Medicine Springs and The Scott Anderson Band and teaches private banjo and guitar lessons from his home in Gainesville. His recordings include Endless Highway, Rivers, Another Day (with his daughter Amanda), and his most recent, Tales from the Swamp.

Greg Cahill

Greg Cahill formed the Special Consensus in the Chicago area and began touring nationally (and internationally) in 1975. Greg has appeared on all 20 of the Special Consensus recordings and has released three solo recordings (two with internationally renowned mandolinist Don Stiernberg, one with mandolin maestro Jethro Burns), and one European bluegrass music recording (with renowned Czech guitarist Slavek Hanzlik). He has also released four banjo instructional videos/DVDs (Musician’s Workshop), one banjo lessons book and one banjo tablature book (both co-authored with Michael Miles, Hal Leonard publishing). Greg has appeared on numerous recordings by other artists and on countless national television and radio commercials (jingles) and conducts workshops and master classes at bluegrass camps and festivals worldwide. His teaching credits include Nashcamp, the Maryland Banjo Academy, Banjo Camp North, Midwest Banjo Camp, Suwannee Banjo Camp, Nashville Banjo Camp, Augusta Heritage Bluegrass Week, Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp, the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshops, the Sore Fingers Summer School (UK), and Bluegrass Camp Germany. Greg has taught at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago for over 40 years and became the first adjunct professor teaching banjo for the Columbia College (Chicago) Strings Department in 2011. Greg is a regular contributor to Banjo Newsletter, received the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement Award in 2011 and was inducted into the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) Hall of Greats in 2019.

Eli Gilbert

Eli Gilbert is one of the most watched and supported banjo instructors online today. His videos have been viewed on YouTube millions of times, with over 60,000 subscribers. In addition to his online educational resources, Eli has taught at numerous bluegrass and banjo camps, including Banjo Summit, Augusta Bluegrass Week, Banjo Camp North, and Ashokan Bluegrass Camps. As a performer Eli has toured throughout the US and Canada with such artists as Dale Ann Bradley, Alan Bibey, Chris Jones, and Rick Faris; he now tours with Missy Raines and Allegheny. Eli is an alumni of the Jazz Studies program of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, as well as the Bluegrass and Country Music Program at East Tennessee State.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry After spending a decade in Nashville, Casey Henry now plays and teaches banjo in Winchester, Virginia. She started out as a bass player for her family band and then went on to play banjo with Uncle Earl, the Dixie Bee-Liners, Tennessee Heartstrings, and her own band, Casey and Chris and the Two-Stringers. She now plays with a new trio, the Gooseneck Rockers, with Tom Adams and Marshall Wilborn. Casey has taught at Kaufman Kamp, Banjo Camp North, Augusta Heritage Bluegrass Week, and many other camps. She has done several instructional DVDs for the Murphy Method and co-hosts three camps a year in Winchester with her mom, Murphy Henry; she teaches the Murphy Method way: by ear (no tab)! Casey’s newest instructional DVDs are Banjo Backup for Fiddle Tunes, Beyond Vamping: Fancy Banjo Backup, and Easy Songs for Banjo. She has a banjo CD titled Real Women Drive Trucks. http://www.caseyhenry.net

James McKinney

James McKinneyJames McKinney is both a Scruggs and Reno style expert, one of the foremost jazz players of the bluegrass banjo world, and one of the most technically precise banjoists around. He won the Southern U.S. Banjo Championship at age 15. Before long he had won dozens of state and regional championships, including the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas. He made the first of several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry at age 19 and worked for a time at Opryland theme park as a banjoist and musical arranger. James moved to Nashville for good in 1990 to play full time in the James and Angela McKinney Band. He has taught countless workshops, and he has been on the staff at a number of major banjo camps, including the Midwest Banjo Camp, Smokey Mountain Banjo Academy, and the SPBGMA workshop. He has performed and/or recorded with Vassar Clements, Porter Wagoner, Barbara Mandrell, John Hartford, and Johnny Cash. His latest CD is called Mind Over Banjo.

Alan Munde

Alan Munde needs no introduction to long-time Bluegrass fans. From his early creative work with Sam Bush in Poor Richard’s Almanac to his traditional bluegrass apprenticeship with Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys to his 21-year stint anchoring the landmark Country Gazette, Alan has blazed a trail as one of the most innovative and influential banjo players of all time. Along the way, Alan has recorded and contributed to numerous instrumental recordings, including the 2001 IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year — Knee Deep in Bluegrass. Alan has supplemented his recorded work with several instructional publications for the banjo; from 1986-2006 he taught Bluegrass and Country Music at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas.

Erynn Marshall

Erynn MarshallErynn Marshall is an old-time fiddler, living in Hillsville, Virginia who is known internationally for her traditional music. Erynn learned the nuances of Appalachian old-time fiddling from archival recordings and directly from visiting 80-95 year-old southern fiddlers. Her effortless, transportive way of playing expresses joy, mournfulness, and stays true to the old tunes while revitalizing the tradition. Her original tunes are becoming common repertoire in fiddle circles. Erynn won first place fiddle at “Clifftop” (the first woman to do so) and the Mt Airy Fiddlers’ Convention. She tours regularly with husband/musician Carl Jones, has recorded numerous albums, appeared in five films and is featured in the books As Has It and Singing at the Clothesline. Erynn is coordinator for Swannanoa Old-Time Week (NC) and previously was director of music programs at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, VA and Alleghany JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians). She is excited to be returning to Suwannee Banjo Camp!

Other Fiddle Instructors

Fiddle classes will also be taught by Joseph Decosimo &  Adam Hurt. Check out the 2025 SBC Online Schedule when it comes out for their class topics.

Tim May

Tim MayTim May is a recording artist, sideman and performer whose projects have included touring with Patty Loveless, Eddie Rabbitt, Rodney Dillard and John Cowan. He was a regular performer for years on the Grand Ole Opry with Mike Snider and was solo guitarist on Charlie Daniel’s recording of I’ll Fly Away in 2005 (from Songs From the Long-Leaf Pines), nominated for Best Country Instrumental Performance Grammy that year. In 2012 The Nashville Scene selected Tim as Nashville’s Best Instrumentalist in their Reader’s Choice Poll. In 2017 he performed in legendary Carnegie Hall in New York. He currently tours with mandolinist Steve Smith, fingerpicker Richard Gilewitz, with his wife Gretchen Priest-May, and with country music artist Kathy Mattea. Tim is co-author of the eight-volume series Flatpicking Essentials: the Mandolin Player’s Practical Guide to Scales and Arpeggios, and is a contributing writer to Bluegrass Unlimited magazine.

Other Guitar Instructors

Guitar classes will also be taught by Alan Munde & others TBA. Check out the 2025 SBC Online Schedule when it comes out for their class topics.

Carl Jones

Carl Jones photo and bio are forthcoming

Other Mandolin Instructors

Mandolin classes will also be taught by other instructors TBA. Check out the 2025 SBC Online Schedule when it comes out for their class topics.

Niki Portmann

Niki Portmann is currently the bassist for The Night Travelers with James McKinney on 5-string banjo. Together they tour and play in the continental U.S. and are looking forward to tours in both Western Europe and Australia. The Night Travelers’ first CD project, Campfire went into world-wide release in Fall of 2012. Niki studied electrical engineering and worked as an engineer for many years before discovering the acoustic bass and re-discovering her childhood love for playing music. Using her engineering skills, she also works as sound engineer for The Night Travelers and founded Portmann Acoustics, which sells her own boutique line of custom engineered speakers and amplifiers for acoustic instruments. Niki was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame in November 2016.

Other Guest Instructors

Additional guest instructors are TBA.