Instructors

Old Time BanjoBluegrass BanjoFiddleGuitarGuest Faculty
Paul Brown

brown, paulPaul 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 (often referred to as “Clifftop”) 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

Adam Hurt. Deemed a “banjo virtuoso” by the Washington Post, Adam Hurt draws on diverse musical influences from the North Carolina piedmont, the mountains of central West Virginia, the Ohio River Valley, and beyond to create his own elegantly innovative clawhammer banjo playing. By his mid-20s, Adam had already placed in or won most of the major old-time banjo competitions including Clifftop, Mount Airy, and Galax, and won the state banjo championships of Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio, as well as the state fiddle championships of Virginia and Maryland. A respected teacher of traditional music, Adam has conducted banjo workshops at the Swannanoa Gathering, the Augusta Heritage Center, and Appalshop, among other venues around the country. Adam’s playing can be heard on multiple recordings, and has been featured in concert at the Kennedy Center.

Terri McMurray

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. For 2019, Terri will head up our old-time banjo novices’ program.

Michael Miles

Michael J. Miles is one of America’s most innovative clawhammer banjo players. His musical background is steeped in the folk & blues of Chicago, 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’s finest musicians. His websites are www.MilesMusic.org and www.ExistentialBanjo.com.

Joe Newberry

 Joe Newberry is a Missouri native and North Carolina transplant who has played music most of his life. Known far and wide for his powerful banjo playing, he is also a prize-winning guitarist, fiddler, and singer. Joe was a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, and was recently featured on the Transatlantic Sessions tour in the United Kingdom with fiddler Aly Bain and Dobro master Jerry Douglas.  In addition to performing solo, Joe plays in a duo with mandolin icon Mike Compton, sits in the banjo chair with old-time music legends Mike Craver, Bill Hicks, and Jim Watson, and also performs with the dynamic fiddler and step-dancer April Verch. The recipient of the songwriting prize for Gospel Recorded Performance at the 2012 IBMA Awards for his song “Singing As We Rise,” and co-writer of the 2013 IBMA Song of the Year for “They Called It Music,” Joe writes songs that consistently show up on the Bluegrass charts, does solo and studio work, and teaches and performs at festivals at home and abroad.

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 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. 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, Frails & Frolics, is due for release in the fall of 2017 and his most recent book is Everything You Wanted to Know About 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.”

Scott Anderson

Anderson, Scott-editedNative 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.”

Ryan Cavanaugh

Ryan Cavanaugh may well have taken the art of playing jazz on 5-string farther than any other living player. He grew up in North Carolina playing traditional bluegrass and took first place at the Merlefest, Rockygrass, and Renofest banjo contests. He began studying jazz in high school, and soon began adapting it to banjo, in the process developing a method for playing rapid runs by in effect performing forward rolls on single strings. Discovered by guitar legend John McLaughlin in 2006,  Ryan spent several years touring the international jazz scene with acclaimed saxophonist Bill Evans. He also played on several cuts of Evans’ CD, The Other Side of Something. Ryan’s first solo CD, Songs For the New Frontier was released in 2007.

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. Casey has taught at Kaufman Kamp, Banjo Camp North, Midwest Banjo Camp, American Banjo Camp, Augusta Heritage Bluegrass Week, and many other instructional events. 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 Scruggs Style Fiddle Tunes, Banjo Backup for Fiddle Tunes, and Beyond Vamping: Fancy Banjo Backup. She has a banjo CD entitled Real Women Drive Trucks. http://www.caseyhenry.net

Bill Evans

“Banjo For Dummies” author Bill Evans has taught thousands of players in both group and one-on-one instruction over the last forty years. He has authored five books, nine DVDs and also teaches beginning and bluegrass banjo courses online at Peghead Nation. His instruction is down-to-earth, highly organized and hands-on with detailed tab examples designed for the adult learner. His mentors include Sonny Osborne, JD Crowe, Bill Keith, Tony Trischka, Ben Eldridge, and Alan Munde. As a performing artist, Bill has performed and recorded with David Grisman, Peter Rowan, David Bromberg, Dan Crary, Norman Blake, Fletcher Bright and Dry Branch Fire Squad, among others. His 2012 CD “In Good Company” topped both folk and bluegrass charts as well as making many best of year lists. His former students include pro players Chris Pandolfi (The Infamous Stringdusters), Jayme Stone, Wes Corbett and Erik Yates (Hot Buttered Rum).

James McKinney

James McKinney. Both a Scruggs and Reno-style expert, James is also considered a leading expert in jazz banjo and jazz theory. In his early days he often played with such legends as Bill Monroe, Vassar Clements, and John Hartford. He won the South US Banjo Championship at age 15 and in 1982 he won the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas; he has also won first-place at dozens of state and regional banjo championships. At age 19 he joined the Smoky Mountain Sunshine troupe and appeared with them at the Grand Ole Opry, Opryland, and the Porter Wagoner Show. In the 1980s James lived in Dallas and recorded and toured with his band Danger in the Air. He then spent many years as a popular studio musician in Nashville, performing and recording with such artists as Porter Wagoner, Barbara Mandrell, John Hartford, and Johnny Cash; he also developed a long and close friendship and professional relationship with legendary fiddler Vassar Clements, and toured with him in The Vassar Clements Band. James has taught at many major banjo camps including the SPGBMA workshops, Suwannee Banjo Camp, American Banjo Camp, Midwest Banjo CAmp, and Smokey Mountain Banjo Camp. He now lives in Atlanta, where he has launched a new acoustic group called the Night Travelers with bassist Niki Portmann. Their first release is a CD called Campfire.

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 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.

Pete Vigour
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 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
Jim Hurst
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.

Susie Coleman
Coleman, SusieSusie Coleman of Pegram, Tennessee, has over a dozen first place singing awards from major regional music contests, such as the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree, the Indiana State Folksinging Competition, Uncle Dave Macon Days and Bluegrass Along The Harpeth. An avid fan of old time music, she co-hosts the PegramJam.com website (offering free audio samples of hundreds of old time tunes) and publishes the popular PegramJam Chord Chart Book. She’s served multiple years as a judge at the Tennessee Valley Fiddlers Convention in Athens, Alabama and Hillbilly Days in Lafayette, Tennessee. Susie teaches at home and on the road, giving courses in beginner to intermediate old-time rhythm guitar. She has recently authored a series of beginner-to-intermediate level songbooks for women called Fabulous Folksongs Every Girl Should Know. At SBC 2019, Susie will help out as a “jam assistant” at the faculty run jams. Also a web and graphics designer, she is the webmaster for SuwanneeBanjoCamp.com! Her own website is www.folkslingers.com.
Niki Portmann
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 US 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 recently started 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 a class in bass and will also assist at our faculty-led jams.