Paul Brown is a respected traditionalist and innovator in old-time music. He started playing banjo at age ten. He spent years learning directly from some of the last southern mountain fiddle, banjo, and guitar players to emerge before the age of radio and recordings. His mentors include banjoist and fiddler Tommy Jarrell, banjoist Gilmer Woodruff, guitarists and singers Paul Sutphin and Fields Ward, fiddlers Robert Sykes and Luther Davis, banjoist Matokie Slaughter and mandolinist Verlen Clifton. He played for three decades with fiddler Benton Flippen, and has been a member of bands including The Smokey Valley Boys, Robert Sykes & the Surry County Boys, The Toast String Stretchers, and The Mostly Mountain Boys. Paul maintains a love of the old ways of playing, but also heeds his mentors’ shared belief in creating one’s own signature sound. He explores tunings, techniques and repertoire constantly on banjo and fiddle. A multiple-time first place winner at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival and other events, he has been teaching at music camps and festivals across the U.S. and abroad since the early 1970s. His latest fiddle album is Red Dog (2018), and he’s the banjoist on a new album featuring Tennessee fiddler Mike Bryant.
Adam Hurt. 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.
Terri McMurray studied banjo with Round Peak icon Tommy Jarrell and has played with many other great traditional players, such as Earnest East, Benton Flippen, Paul Sutphin, Fields Ward, Luther Davis, Verlen Clifton, and Kyle Creed. She has taught at numerous music camps including the Swannanoa Gathering, the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Augusta Old-Time Week, Pinewoods Camp and the Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camp. She is a well-loved teacher known for her engaging manner, patience and ability to work with students of all ages. She is especially skilled at helping beginners become acquainted with their instruments and with old time music. A founding member of The Old Hollow Stringband, she has recently performed with the Toast String Stretchers and the Mostly Mountain Boys.
Michael J. 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 is 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 six CD’s with great collaborators including Bela Fleck, Darol Anger and some of Chicago finest musicians. His websites are MilesMusic.org and ExistentialBanjo.com.
Perhaps 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 has been a Banjo Newsletter columnist since the early 1980s; he has written several books on clawhammer instruction including the well known works Melodic Clawhammer Banjo and Clawhammer Style Banjo, he has recorded several series of 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, and his most recent banjo book is Appalachian Fiddle Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo. In the summer of 2017, Ken was invited to offer a Master’s Showcases at the Appalachian String Band Festival, popularly known as “Clifftop.” According to organizer Bobby Taylor, these Masters’ events are set up to “showcase the legends who have dedicated their lives to the preservation and presentation of old-time music.” kenperlman.com
Maggie Shar. Born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and now living in western Massachusetts, Maggie teaches private and group banjo classes to people of all ages from all over the world. She won 1st place at the 2018 Northeast Fiddler’s Convention Banjo Contest and the 2018 Oldtone Roots Festival Banjo Contest; and received an honorable mention in the 2020 Online Oldtime Banjo Competition. Nowadays, Maggie plays banjo in two bands: The Moon Shells and The Ephemeral Stringband; she is also co-creator of Little Roots, an early childhood music program. All three of these ventures have issued multiple CDs (see her website maggieshar.com for listings).
Native 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 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.
Gina Furtado. Born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley, Gina began her musical journey at age 5 with Classical piano lessons. Upon discovering the banjo several years later at the Galax Fiddlers Convention, she quickly changed gears along with her siblings, and they began touring up and down the east coast as what Bluegrass Today has dubbed “the absurdly talented Furtado Family.” Gina has played with a number of bands, including Blue Light Special, New Girls Night Out, Nash Street, Bud’s Collective, and Chris Jones and the Night Drivers; she currently tours with her own band, the Gina Furtado Project. She is a featured artist on “The Patuxent Banjo Project,” and has recorded on over half a dozen albums to date, including her own solo project which was released in 2017. Her fresh approach to the banjo demonstrates a strong focus on musicality, dynamics and precision, and she is accomplished in a variety of styles ranging from Scruggs to melodic and beyond. As a teacher, Gina is down to earth and a strong believer in teaching primarily by ear. She has taught at the Murphy Method Banjo camps, Suwannee Banjo Camp. and at many other camps and workshops.
Gabe Hirshfeld grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. At the age of fifteen, while listening to the NPR show, Car Talk, he heard the great banjo player Earl Scruggs. The sound of the banjo spoke to him in a way that no other sound ever had and it changed his life. After playing and obsessing over the banjo for several years he won the Lowell Fiddle and Banjo Competition bluegrass division several times and was the last winner of the New England Banjo Championship at the Ossipee Valley Music Festival. Gabe started to play in various bands around Boston before deciding to attend Berklee College of Music. While at Berklee he met many musicians and became a founding member of Lonely Heartstring Band.
James 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 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.
Pete Vigour has enjoyed playing old-time music since his childhood in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and has won first place ribbons in both fiddle and clawhammer banjo at numerous fiddlers’ conventions in Virginia and West Virginia. A highly experienced and inspirational music teacher, Pete has been on staff at Augusta Folk Heritage, Pinewoods Music Camp, Sierra Swing, and Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week; he is also director of Front Porch String Band Camp, an event held near his home in Charlottesville. Nowadays he plays with the old-time string band, Uncle Henry’s Favorites (which also includes his wife Ellen), with the Lovell Coleman Band and also with Zuzu’s Hot 5. For more on Pete go to VigourMusic.com and UncleHenrysFavorites.com
Fiddle classes will also be taught by Paul Brown, Adam Hurt, & Ellen Vigour (for Paul and Adam’s bios and photos, see the “Old-Time Banjo” Tab; for Ellen’s bio and photo, see the “Guest Instructors” tab). Check out the 2022 SBC Online Schedule when it comes out, for their class topics.
Jim Hurst Jim Hurst’s mastery of bluegrass guitar is revered by guitar students and widely respected by his musical peers. His eclectic career has made him a remarkable performer, an experienced instructor and a highly sought after session musician. His affability and gregariousness make him one of the most approachable musicians of his caliber. The product of a musical family, Jim was also influenced by the likes of Tony Rice, Clarence White and Jerry Reed. He got national exposure with Holly Dunn’s Rio Band, and had several high profile television and radio appearances while touring with Trisha Yearwood Jim also performed with Travis Tritt and Sara Evans, and then joined Grammy-nominated Claire Lynch and her Front Porch String Band in 1995. Later he formed a duet with bassist Missy Raines; in 2001 and 2002 they earned IBMA Guitar and Bass Player of the Year, respectively. Jim left the Claire Lynch Band in 2010 to embark on a solo career, and has five solo CD’s to his credit: Open Window, Second Son, A Box of Chocolates, Intrepid and his newest: Looking Glass. He performs his show full time and teaches at guitar workshops and music camps throughout North America and Europe. While he occasionally collaborates with other bluegrass notables, he is best known as a soloist.
Mike Compton was the obvious choice to inaugurate our brand new full-time mandolin program. As a Preservationist, performer, modern-day musical pioneer, composer, and educator, Mike Compton has earned a reputation as one of the best and most influential mandolin players in acoustic music today. As Mandolin Magazine, notes Mike has “taken a passel of influences including old-time fiddle tunes, rock salt and nails bluegrass, and the aching allure of the true Delta blues — to create one of the most recognizable and respected mandolin voices anywhere.” A Grammy award winner and nominated as IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year, Mike has entertained at Carnegie Hall, at the White House, and been honored by the Mississippi State Senate. He has made music with such diverse notables as Ralph Stanley, Elvis Costello , David Grier, John Hartford, and producer T-Bone Burnett, and he has performed as a sideman on over one hundred CDs in a variety of genres. When the Nashville Bluegrass Band was being put together, Mike was their first choice on mandolin, creating a “band like a marriage made in heaven.” www.mikecompton.net.
Ellen Vigour has been playing fiddle and mandolin since the 1970’s, and has taught at many camps and workshops including Augusta and Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week. She and her husband Pete are the organizers of the summertime Front Porch String Band Camp. Ellen plays regularly around Charlottesville, VA, with her bands: Uncle Henry’s Favorites and the Lovell Coleman String Band. She loves teaching fiddle and mandolin, jamming with her students and calling dances. Recently retired from her career as a Special-Ed teacher, Ellen is now happy to have more time for music-making.
Additional guest instructors are TBA.