~ About Our Next Banjo Camp ~
Riley Baugus was born and raised near Winston-Salem, North Carolina and started playing banjo at the age of 11, inspired by the traditional Appalachian music that he discovered during weekends spent with his grandparents in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He also learned as a young man from such greats as Tommy Jarrell, Dix Freeman and Robert Sykes. Riley has played with numerous old-time stringbands, including The Red Hots and the Old Hollow Stringband, and currently plays with the Dirk Powell Band and Polecat Creek. He built the banjos that appear in the recent Academy Award winning film “Cold Mountain,” and his singing features on the soundtrack. Riley tours the US and Europe regularly with Dirk Powell, Tim O’Brien and Ira Bernstein. He has taught banjo at the Augusta Heritage Festival, Mars Hill, the Alaska Fiddle Camp, Pinewoods and Wheatland; his solo CD is called “Life of Riley.”
Paul Brown spent years learning music directly from some of the last fiddle, banjo, and guitar players to emerge before the age of radio and recordings, including banjoist and fiddler Tommy Jarrell, banjoist Gilmer Woodruff, guitarists and singers Paul Sutphin and Fields Ward, fiddlers Robert Sykes and Luther Davis, and mandolinist Verlen Clifton. He has played since 1978 with fiddler Benton Flippen, and he has been a member of numerous ensembles, including the Bent Mountain Band with Andy Cahan and Mike Seeger, Benton Flippen & the Smokey Valley Boys, Robert Sykes & the Surry County Boys, and the Toast String Stretchers.
Paul has been on the staff at music camps across the country since the early 1970s – from the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Washington, to Pinewoods in Massachusetts. His most recent CD appearances are “Way Down In North Carolina” with Mike Seeger, “Benton Flippen: Old Time, New Times” and “Blue Ridge Mountain Holiday: The Breaking Up Christmas Story.”
Brad Leftwich is the author of the Mel Bay book Round Peak Style Clawhammer Banjo. Best known as a fiddler, Brad has in fact been playing banjo longer. He first took it up more than thirty years ago, inspired by his grandfather, a banjo picker from Carroll County, Va., and by his father, a singer and guitar player in the old-time style.
Brad has learned much of his music from traditional musicians in the region formed by Surry County, N.C., and Grayson and Carroll Counties, Va., and in particular from Tommy Jarrell and other banjo players from the Round Peak community of Surry County. He was a member of the Plank Road String Band in the mid-seventies, toured with Leftwich & Higginbotham throughout the eighties and nineties, and more recently he performed with Tom Sauber and Alice Gerrard as Tom, Brad, & Alice.
Chuck Levy has earned the titles of Florida’s Old-Time Banjo Champion and Old-Time Fiddle Champion, and has received both the Thelma Boltin and the Ed Fleming Awards for his contributions to old-time music in Florida. He is equally at home on 5 and 6 string banjos, fretted or fretless, playing clawhammer, two-finger up-picking, and minstrel styles.
Chuck is a respected banjo scholar who has visited Senegal and Gambia where he learned to play the akonting (ekonting), a 3-string African banjo ancestor, with Jola master musicians Remi Diatta, and Ekona Diatta. His scholarly work has been featured in the Old-Time Herald, Banjo Newsletter, and in the upcoming book, “Banjo Roots and Branches” edited by Robert Winans. Gold Tone was inspired by Chuck to develop the a 6-string banjo (the OT-6), to Chuck’s specifications.
Chuck is a past president of both the Florida Banjo Society and the Florida State Fiddlers Association, and co-directs the Suwannee Banjo Camp with Ken Perlman, and the Stephen Foster Old-Time Music Weekend with Jim Strickland. Chuck is also active with the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine program as a performer and as Chair of the Advisory Board. .
Terri McMurray studied banjo intensively with the legendary “Round Peak” player Tommy Jarrell. She’s played with many other great banjoists including Earnest East, Benton Flippen, Fields Ward, Dix Freeman and Kyle Creed. She co-founded the Old Hollow Sting Band (with Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin) and currently plays with the Mostly Mountain Boys. She excels as a string band banjo player, and has taught at camps from Pinewoods in Massachusetts to FOATMAD in England. At SBC 2017, Terri will head up our old-time banjo novices’ program.
Michael Miles is renowned in the clawhammer world for his sparkling versions of Bach cello suites and his adventurous original compositions. A dedicated music-educator, he served from 1984-98 as Program Director at Chicago?s Old Town School of Folk Music; during which time he developed and expanded an old-time banjo program that ultimately served hundreds students. Michael has written, directed and performed in a number of critically acclaimed musical plays which feature the banjo prominently, including The Magic Banjo, American Songbag, How Africa Met Ireland in American Song, and Chicago Rhythm & Rhymes. His latest CDs include “American Bach,” “Magic Banjo,” and “New Century Suite.”
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 for over 30 years; 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 Maryland Banjo Academy, Banjo Camp North, American Banjo Camp, Midwest Banjo Camp, and the Bath International Banjo Festival. He recorded two CD projects with renowned Appalachian-style fiddler Alan Jabbour: Southern Summits and You Can’t Beat the Classics; his most recent solo recording is Northern Banjo and his most recent book is Everything You Wanted to Know About Clawhammer Banjo.
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 writes a column called “Five-String Traveler” and sometimes conducts interviews. He now fronts the Scott Anderson Band and teaches private banjo and guitar lessons from his home in Gainesville. His recordings include Rivers, Another Day (with his daughter Amanda), and the newly released Tales from the Swamp.”
Greg Cahill formed the Special Consensus in 1973 in the Chicago area and the band became a full time touring (nationally and internationally) and recording entity in 1975. Greg has appeared on all of The Special Consensus recordings (seventeen audio recordings and one performance video) and has released three solo recordings (two with internationally renowned mandolinist Don Stiernberg and one with mandolin maestro Jethro Burns), one European bluegrass music recording (with renowned Czech guitarist Slavek Hanzlik) and four banjo instructional videos/DVDs (Musician’s Workshop). He has also appeared on numerous recordings by other artists and on countless national television and radio commercials (jingles). Greg conducts workshops and master classes at bluegrass camps and festivals worldwide. His teaching credits include Nashcamp , the Maryland Banjo Academy, Banjo Camp North, the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshops, the Sore Fingers Summer School (UK), and Bluegrass Camp Germany. He has taught at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago for over 40 years and became the first adjunct professor teaching banjo at the Columbia College (Chicago) Strings Department. Greg is a regular contributor to Banjo Newsletter. He received the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement Award in 2011.
Wes Corbett has studied with some of the most talented banjo players in the country. A banjo player of uncommon grace and facility, he has recorded and toured with numerous high-powered musicians and bands, including the David Grisman Quintet, the Mike Marshall and Darol Anger duo, Robert Earl Keen, Crooked Still, Joy Kills Sorrow, and Sarah Jarosz. From 2011-15, Wes served as professor-manager of the banjo program at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Janet Davis was born and raised in Houston, Texas. In college, she played the guitar and sang as a folk and blues musician in many Austin clubs, learning from such greats as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Janis Joplin and others who played the same venues. In 1976, she founded Janet Davis Music, which marketed banjos and other bluegrass instruments worldwide. In addition to the 5-string banjo, Janet also teaches and plays all other bluegrass instruments, not to mention several more not generally used in the bluegrass field. She has written numerous best-selling instruction books for 5-string banjo, dobro and mandolin – all published by Mel Bay or Hal Leonard. She has been a columnist for Banjo Newsletter since 1976, with an emphasis on banjo back-up. Janet also performs, records, writes songs, and teaches frequently at banjo workshops and camps across the US and abroad.
Along the way, Alan also 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.
Bobby has been the coordinator of West Virginia’s Vandalia Gathering contests in Charleston, WV since 1979. He was the contest coordinator of the Appalachian Open Contest from 1984 through 1987, and for many years he has served as the contest coordinator at Appalachian String Band Music Festival (often known as “Clifftop”). Bobby is also a noted fiddle contest judge; he has judged the Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia state championships, and is a regular judge at the Old Fiddler’s Convention in Galax, VA. He has judged the Grand Master Fiddle Championship in Nashville, TN five times from 2006-2010. In 2008, he served as a judge at the Grand National Fiddle Championship in Weiser, ID.
Bobby has taught fiddle workshops at the Augusta Heritage Center and at Allegheny Echoes in West Virginia. He currently presents historical showcases on fiddle styles with his old-time band “Kanawha Tradition”.
Alan was one of America’s foremost exponents of mid-Appalachian fiddling. In the mid-1960s, he began what amounted to an apprenticeship under several old-time fiddling masters – in particular Henry Reed, a fiddler then in his eighties who lived along the New River in Glen Lyn, Virginia. Alan’s Hollow Rock String Band, founded in the mid-60s, served as the prototype for many of the North American old-time music “revival” bands that were to follow in their wake over the next few decades. He was also involved in producing a set of recordings documenting the Hammons family of Pocahontas County, West Virginia, and he was head of the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture for many years. His last three CDs were A Henry Reed Reunion (with Bertram Levy and James Reed), a duo project with camp director Ken Perlman called Southern Summits, and a project with Ken and guitarist Jim Watson called You Can’t Beat the Classics.
Tim is co-author of several books on flatpicking instruction, including the eight-volume course “Flatpicking Essentials,” “The Flatpicker’s Guide to Old-Time,” and “The Flatpicker’s Guide to Irish Music.” He now often performs in a trio with singer-songwriter Steve Smith and his wife Gretchen, with whom he owns and operates the Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee.
Niki Portmann lives Atlanta, GA and is the bassist for the Night Travelers, which also features SBC instructor James McKinney on 5-string banjo. Together they currently tour and play in the continental U.S. and are looking forward to tours in both Western Europe and Australia. Their first CD project, Campfire went into world-wide release in the fall of 2012. Niki’s other career is electrical engineering, so she naturally gravitated to serving as the Night Travelers’ acoustical engineer when they are on tour. She has just started up a company called Portmann Acoustics to market her own boutique line of custom engineered speakers for stand-up bass and banjo. At SBC, Niki will teach classes in both bass and “sound reinforcement” (how to make the best use of use of microphones, pick-ups and PA systems). She will also assist at our faculty-led jams.