A Brief History of Suwannee Banjo Camp

orientationIn 2002, Folklorist Jon Kay came up with the idea of starting up an old-time banjo camp at Stephen Foster State Park in White Springs, Florida and brought in Mark Johnson to help; Mark then suggested bringing in Ken Perlman to design the event. The inaugural run of SBC was held in the Fall of 2003, with about 40 students attending and a staff of about 6. In 2006, SBC moved to O’Leno State Park in High Springs, FL, with Ken as its lone director.

Chuck Levy joined Ken as Co-Director after the 2006 Camp and remained in that role through 2015; Ken has served as sole director since then. SBC began adding bluegrass banjo to the program in 2007 (Bill Keith was our lone 3-finger instructor that year); gradually the bluegrass banjo program has expanded and is now roughly equal in size to our old-time banjo program. We added a full-time fiddle track in 2011 and a full-time guitar track in 2014. We have just added a full-time mandolin track this year.

SBC moved from O’Leno to its current location at the Cerveny Conference Center in Live Oak, Florida in 2014. Due to the Pandemic, SBC ran online-only for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. We have been back at Cerveny since 2023 and very happy to be running in-person.

Many thanks to all the founders and former directors of SBC!