Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy 2006
Third Annual

The SMBA 2006 was held April 21-23, 2006, at Wa-Floy Retreat near Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

SMBA 2006 was a huge success! The weather was warm with a little rain that moved out Saturday. We filled all the rooms in Steiner-Bell Lodge and even a couple of offsite cabins and motel rooms. The students had a blast, and the jamming was very much improved over previous years, lasting way past midnight. We had a surprise visit from Butch Robins on Thursday night. He was jamming with students and sharing banjo and music business tidbits between tunes until early Friday morning. The SMBA student banjo contest had more entries than ever and there were four nice prizes awarded including a Deering Goodtime banjo to Garrett Gregg (first place), Dogwood Designs straps awarded to Alan Tompkins and Dick Neff, for 2nd and 3rd place respectively, and a Leroy Troy Boogerpicker doll won by Bruce Artman. The doll a was donated by Nancy Nitchie of Banjo Newsletter, who was also in attendance.

Regular faculty included Banjo Player of the Year (and multiple other awards) winner Tom Adams, Winfield finalist Jason Bales, brush-style virtuoso Dave Ball, teacher/publisher BNL columnist/performer Eddie Collins, banjo virtuoso and builder/setup man Charlie Cushman, three-time national champ Gary "Biscuit" Davis, performer, teacher and ethnomusicologist Bill Evans, old-time teacher and prolific publisher Wayne Erbsen, BNL writer, Mel Bay author and SMBA Director Jack Hatfield, classical technique specialist Andy King, National Champ James McKinney, bridge designer Rick Sampson, master bluegrass stylist Sammy Shelor, genius banjo designer and manufacturer Tom Nechville, and insane country boy banjo slinging entertainer extraordinaire Leroy Troy. The personable and entertaining Russ Jeffers from Opryland was again concert MC.

Garrett Gregg,
SMBA Contest Winner with his first prize Deering Goodtime
Sammy Shelor
Eddie Collins
Sammy Shelor
& Staff Band
Charlie Cushman
Bill Evans
Lola McGill
& Timberwinds
James & Jack
Tom Nechville
Jammin' Eddie,
Cable, Nocona, James
Jane Browder
Eddie & Debi Dunlap
in private lesson

Thanks to everybody for a fantastic weekend of banjo music, learning, listening, and the making of new friends!
~ Jack Hatfield, SMBA Director

Catering: Flint and Margaret Patterson and Rhonda Langston. Concert stage manager: Betsy Burgin. Concert MC: Russ Jeffers. Staff: Jane Hatfield, Daniel Cunningham, Jason Bales, Lola McGill.

Check out the 2006 SMBA 2006 T-Shirts with banjo tablature on the back! We have a few extras, just click to order.


9:00AM: Orientation.

9:30AM: History of the Banjo presentation to entire group.

11:30 AM: Lunch

1:00 PM: - Classes begin

CLICK HERE FOR SMBA 2006 PRINTABLE SCHEDULE including private lesson assignments. See what you missed!


Tom Adams -- First gaining national recognition more than twenty years ago with the legendary Jimmy Martin, banjo master Tom Adams' debut recording, Right Hand Man, was hailed as the "heir apparent" to Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Banjo. Three-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association's "Banjo Player of the Year" award, you can hear Tom's distinctive style on recordings by some of the genre's most influential artists, including the Johnson Mountain Boys, Lynn Morris, Blue Highway and Rhonda Vincent. In 2004 Tom's Live At The Ragged Edge with fiddler Michael Cleveland produced the year's IBMA "Instrumental Album of the Year". Described by Ricky Skaggs as "one of the best banjo players ever" Tom has also published several books of banjo tablature and writes a monthly column for Banjo Newsletter. Tom's awards include:1990 - Album of the Year - At the Old Schoolhouse - Johnson Mountain Boys 1992 - Banjo Player of the Year. 1993 - Banjo Player of the Year. 2001 - Entertainer of the Year - w/Rhonda Vincent & The Rage. 2002 - Banjo Player of the Year. 2004 - Instrumental Album of the Year -Live At The Ragged Edge - w/Michael Cleveland Grammy Finalist: 1989 - At the Old Schoolhouse - Johnson Mountain Boys. 1993 - Blue Diamond - Johnson Mountain Boys.

Tom has been on the faculty of many major banjo camps: Tennessee Banjo Institute (1990, 1992) NashCamp (2001, 2002) Augusta Heritage Center, Elkins WV (many years), Sore Fingers Bluegrass Week - Cotswolds, England.

Because of a tendon problem in his hand, Tom has not been touring the last couple of years, but will be teaching one-on-one lessons all weekend at SMBA. Hopefully every student should get a lesson with Tom in addition to their elected one-on-one lesson(s) with other teachers.

Jason Bales was born and raised just three miles from the SMBA site and from Dolly Parton' s homeplace. Jason is an authentic East Tennesse banjo player (just listen to his accent!) who has entertained at various theatres in Pigeon Forge for many years, including the first music theatre in Pigeon Forge, the Smoky Mt Jubilee and Dollywood. For the last two years Jason has been a finalist at the National Banjo Championships at Winfield, Kansas. Jason has also worked on the road with country music star Mindy McReety. He also works with his dad Ronnie who makes custom banjos and does expert repair at Bales Banjo works in Jefferson City, TN. Jason is an experienced full-time banjo teacher, very patient and good with children (Just listen to Zane Petty, National Junior Banjo Champion and Nolan Renison, his two ten year old students!). Jason will host slow jams and teach beginner and intermediate Scruggs and Reno style and may be convinced to play a few Bela Fleck tunes.

Dave Ball is a fine old time and minstrel banjo player and banjo builder. He plays for "The Mumbillies", a well known group in the East Tennessee area. Dave has a collection of old banjos that is so special the world's largest banjo exhibit The Banjo - From Africa to America and Beyond" has asked him to loan them several instruments. This exhibit is at McClung Mueseum in Knoxville, just 50 miles from SMBA. All students should take a extra half day and go see theis rare exhibit! Dave started playing banjo in 1970, when he took up three finger Scruggs style playing. Dave's grandfather and father both played in western Kentucky stringbands, so he had been around this kind of music his entire life. By the late 1970's, Dave was playing banjo seven nights a week in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and it was also about this time that he took up old time clawhammer style playing. Since those days, Dave has won many banjo competitions including multiple first place honors at the prestegious Mt. Airy North Carolina festival and was National Champion Old-Time Banjoist in 2001. Dave is also an accomplished banjo maker, specializing in fancy high-end custom openback and internal resonator banjos. Dave will perform concerts and talk about banjo history and building and teach old time and minstrel style classes.

Eddie Collins is a long-time performer, author and instructor. He has performed for the President of the United States, the Queen of England's Royal Color Guard and The Country Music Academy's annual Award's Program, where his band was awarded "Best Non-touring Group." He has played alongside a diverse array of musicians ranging from the 60s super-group, The Drifters, to Texas fiddle legend, Johnny Gimble. Along with his trio, the High Stakes Rollers, Eddie has opened shows for many of the top acts in bluegrass, including Ricky Skaggs.

Collins’ career has been highlighted in national publications and on the syndicated TV program, Texas Music Cafe. A multi-instrumentalist, he has recording credits on nearly 50 projects. His 2002 solo CD, Rise & Shine, was praised by several publications, including highlight features in Banjo Newsletter and Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. His just-released CD, Golden Wings, features 13 original tunes.

Collins received international recognition among banjo players as the founder and editor of 5-String Quarterly. He has published numerous music instruction courses, including Basics of Bluegrass Banjo, and its follow-up, Beyond The Basics of Bluegrass Banjo, which have become popular instruction tools. Collins is the "Beginner's Corner" columnist for Banjo NewsLetter and regularly contributes instruction and feature articles to a number of music magazines. Eddie resides in Austin, Texas. He will perform and conduct music workshops throughout the United States and Europe in 2006.

Charlie Cushman Read the March 2006 feature story on Charlie in Banjo Newsletter

Charlie became interested in the music around age 4! The search for a teacher began, and soon Charlie was taking lessons every Saturday. His teacher played electric lead guitar for Webb Pierce, and occasionally for some other Nashville based acts, and knew only a couple of three finger style tunes on the banjo. He agreed to give the lessons, and after a few months, Charlie was showing him things he had learned at home, from his Earl Scruggs records. His "formal" lessons were over. Age 10 found Charlie playing over station WPHC in Waverly, Tennessee each Saturday night on the "Tennessee Valley Jamboree". This was a Country music radio/stage show, featuring some fine local talent from the middle and west Tennessee area. His dad would compete each week at the local drag strip, and his mom and dad would alternate driving him to the shows he played, as most parents of musical children so often do. " I owe so much to them," Charlie says. In early 1974, 14-year-old Charlie began playing the banjo six days each week on the Carl Tipton Show. The show was on WLAC-TV in Nashville, and was broadcast for over 25 years. The show featured Bluegrass and Country music in a down home format. From 1979 till 1986, Charlie worked as a musician and business owner, in Nashville. He played the banjo with James Monroe and the Midnight Ramblers, Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys, Mel Tillis and the Statesiders, and also became a part of the Nashville session scene. Opryland, USA, then employed him, as a multi-instrumentalist from 1986 to mid 1990. On September 20, 1990, his long time friend and fellow banjo picker, Mike Snider, hired Charlie. Charlie went to work with Mike as his bass player, and later switched to guitar after some personnel changes in the band. Mike became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in June of 1990. Charlie was employed by Mike Snider playing road dates and the Grand Ole Opry until September 1, 2004. Charlie enjoys playing music with a variety of artists and friends. He is an in-demand session player on banjo and guitar and is available as a free-lance artist. He also enjoys working on Mastertone style banjos, and appreciating antiques. When he's not involved in music, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends. Charlie Cushman is a people and music enthusiast. For the last several years Charlie has done final setup and inspection on Gibson banjos ay the Gibson Showcase at Opry Mills. He recently went to work for Deering banjos as their representative in Nashville.

Wayne Erbsen moved from his home in California to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1973. His sole aim was to dig deep into the roots of Southern Appalachian music by learning from the masters. Realizing that the true Southern Appalachian music was on the verge of becoming extinct, Wayne was determined to ensure that this music was preserved and passed on to future generations. First, he met and learned from many of the masters of Southern Appalachian music including Charlie Monroe, Tommy Jarrell, Kyle Creed, Albert Hash, Jim Shumate, Wiley and Zeke Morris and Jimmy Buchanan. Wayne then began presenting programs of North Carolina traditional music to students of all grade levels. At that very time in the 1973, the movie "Deliverance" came out. Although it promoted a stereotype of the Southern mountaineer, it also fired people up about the banjo. Wayne’s banjo classes at Central Piedmont Community College were suddenly filled and overflowing with people wanting to find their own roots and learn to play the banjo. To better serve his many banjo students, Wayne typed up his lessons on an old-timey typewriter and off-handedly titled his book, A Manual on How to Play the 5-String Banjo For the Compete Ignoramus! Because he knew all his students personally, Wayne wrote the book in an extremely relaxed, informal style that would later become his trademark. One of his students, Julie Gillespie, owned a fancy IBM electric typewriter, so that "high-tech" piece of equipment was used to type up the manuscript for the printer. Another of Wayne’s students, Everett Carpenter, was a graphic artist, so he produced the cover. Other friends and students contributed drawings for the book. Wayne assembled the book and bravely marched down to the nearest printer and invested his savings and printed 300 copies. In a matter of weeks, the first printing of Ignoramus books were gone. Wayne then revised it and was back to the printer, this time to print a whopping 1,000 copies. Wayne’s marketing efforts eventually reached Carl Fischer Inc., a venerable music publisher who took over the publishing and distribution of "the Ignoramus." With their encouragement, Wayne soon wrote and published more books. First was Starting Bluegrass Banjo From Scratch, then The Complete & Painless Guide to the Guitar for Young Beginners, and finally The Backpocket Old-Time Songbook and The Backpocket Bluegrass Songbook. Wayne eventually realized that no publisher, not even a power-house like Carl Fischer Inc., would sell his books with the zeal and conviction that he could sell them. From that point on, he concentrated on producing and distributing books and recordings under the name Native Ground Books & Music. Although Wayne’s initial goal was to preserve and present Southern Appalachian music, he soon realized that there was a broader range of American folklore that demanded his attention. He was soon digging deep into themes such as the Civil War, cowboys, outlaws, railroads, rural America and gospel. He also produced additional instruction books for clawhammer banjo (Clawhammer Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus!) and bluegrass banjo (Bluegrass Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus!) and fiddle (Old-Time Fiddle for the Complete Ignoramus!). Wayne currently offers classes and workshops in a 1940s log cabin in Asheville, North Carolina on clawhammer banjo, bluegrass banjo, old-time fiddle, mandolin and guitar. Visit Log Cabin Cooking & Music. In 1995, Wayne realized the need for some historic cookbooks in the Native Ground catalog. Since he had a great cook right in is own home, Wayne encouraged his wife Barbara to write a book on pioneer cooking, but she promptly refused! After all, in addition to raising three small children, she had her own counseling practice. Not being one to take no for an answer, Wayne proceeded to goad Barbara into writing the book by insisting that HE would write the book. Barbara knew that Wayne was the world's worst cook, so to save him further embarrassment, she went ahead and wrote Log Cabin Cooking. To their amazement, the book went on to become a best-seller for Native Ground. Since then, she has written seven other best-selling cookbooks, including Take Two & Butter ‘Em While They’re Hot!, Children at the Hearth, Secrets of the Great Old-Timey Cooks, Mama's in the Kitchen, Old-Time Farmhouse Cooking, The Lost Art of Pie Making and The 1st American Cookie Lady. Barbara currently offers cooking classes and workshops in a 1940s log cabin in Asheville, North Carolina. Visit Log Cabin Cooking & Music. As Native Ground expanded to include other genres of Americana, Wayne called on his old friend, naturalist Doug Elliott, who produced three recording of storytelling and music that have won Notable Library Awards from the American Library Assoc. Doug also produced the well-received book, Crawdads, Doodlebugs & Creasy Greens. As Native Ground Books & Music continues to grow, Wayne is committed to producing high-quality educational materials that reflect careful research combined with skilled musicianship and imaginative graphics. He takes pride in our commitment both to authenticity and creativity. Wayne is an incredible and personable teacher. He can get 25 people in a room who have nevr palyed a banjo before and have every one of them playing a song before the forst class is over! He will be teaching old time banjo styles and singing with the banjo. mostly concentrating on beginnerand intermediate level topics with at least one advanced clawhammer class. We may even get him to help cook a meal if Flint and Margaret Patterson don't mind!

Gary Davis is the ONLY three-time National Banjo Champion and owns many state titles as well. Gary is a dedicated banjo teacher, 15-year Dollywood entertainer, studio ace and most recently band leader for Dolly Parton on her bluegrass album tour. He is fluent in many music styles, from bluegrass to jazz. He is also an awesome lead guitar player, from bluegrass to country to jazz. Gary currently works at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge, is in demand in the studio, and teaches private lessons.

Bill Evans currently performs and tours nationally with Due West. Due West was selected as an official showcase act at the 2004 International Bluegrass Music Association Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky. In early 2003, the band released its latest CD, These Boots, on Native and Fine Records, featuring two new original instrumental tracks from Bill.

Bill also performs with the Bluegrass Intentions, and appears from time to time as a special guest with the Jim Hurst Band and Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozum & The Guest House Band. He has also performed with the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group, Peter Rowan, Suzanne Thomas, Don Rigsby & Friends, the Lynn Morris Band, the Kathy Kallick Band, the Gary Ferguson Band, Jeannie Kendall and the Falls City Ramblers. From 1993 to 1997, Bill toured nationally with Dry Branch Fire Squad and appears on their 1996 Rounder recording Live! At Last.Bill was the founder/leader of the 1980's progressive bluegrass band Cloud Valley, based out of Charlottesville, Virginia.

For the last several years, Bill has authored "Off the Record," one of the most popular monthly instructional columns for Banjo Newsletter magazine. He hosts his own NashCamp Fall Banjo Retreat with Sonny Osborne, held each year west of Nashville, Tennessee. He has also presented banjo workshops across the country at many major folk and bluegrass festivals and has taught at virtually every important music camp, including the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Port Orchard, Washington; Augusta Heritage Center's Bluegrass Week in Elkins, West Virginia; the AcuTab Banjo Seminar with J.D. Crowe and Sonny Osborne in Roanoke, Virginia; South Plains College's Camp Bluegrass in Levelland, Texas; the California Bluegrass Association¹s Bluegrass Jam Camp in Grass Valley, California; Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamp in Maryville, Tennessee; and Nashcamp in Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee. He has been on the teaching faculty twice for Banjo Newsletter¹s Maryland Banjo Academy as well as two times for the Jack Hatfield/Banjo Newsletter/SPBGMA workshop held each February in Nashville. He also teaches private lessons out of his home in Albany, California for students at all ability levels, including intensive sessions for out of town students.

Native and Fine, his 1995 Rounder Records debut featuring David Grier, Stuart Duncan and Mike Compton, was awarded an honorable mention for 1996 Acoustic Instrumental Recording of the Year by the Association for Independent Music (AFIM). He co-produced and appears on Dry Branch Fire Squad member Suzanne Thomas's Rounder Records 1998 release Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts, which features guest appearances from the Seldom Scene, the Lonesome River Band, IIIrd Tyme Out and others. This recording was named "1998 Bluegrass Recording of the Year" by Keith Lawrence of Knight-Ridder Newspapers and was a finalist for IBMA¹s 1999 "Recorded Event of the Year" award.

Bill released his second solo project, Bill Evans Plays Banjo, in late 2001 on Native and Fine Records. A collection of twelve original bluegrass instrumentals along with a remake of Bill Monroe's classic "Heavy Traffic Ahead," Bill Evans Plays Banjo assisting him are Darol Anger (fiddle), John Reischman (mandolin), Todd Phillips (bass) and Rob Ickes (dobro). Other musical guests include Missy Raines, Don Rigsby, Mike Compton, Jim Nunally, Nina Gerber, Steve Smith, Greg Spatz, Glen Duncan, and Mike Bub. In writing about this release, Chicago Tribune wrtier David Royko says, "Bill Evans has created an instrumental album certain to be viewed in the future as a classic," and named this recording to his Top 10 Bluegrass CDs of 2001 list. Bill Evans Plays Banjo was also named a Top 5 Bluegrass Instrumental Recording of 2001 by Dave Freeman in his County Sales newsletter. In addition, "Heavy Traffic Ahead" has been on Bluegrass Unlimited magazine's Top 30 Singles Chart for seven months, including four months in the Top 10 of that survey.

Bill is the co-host for the Homespun Tapes video The Banjo of Sonny Osborne and is a contributor to the Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of Country Music (1998). In addition he is the co-editor of The Banjo of J.D. Crowe from AcuTab Publications. Bill is the subject of cover stories in Muleskinner (June-July 1999), Bluegrass Now (Jan.-Feb. 1996) and Banjo Newsletter (July 1996, May 2001) magazines in addition to being included in the June 2002 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited. Bill's first instructional video, Power Pickin': Up The Neck Back-up for Bluegrass Banjo from AcuTab Publications, is now available. Two new AcuTab instructional DVDs and a new book from Mel Bay are set to be published in 2005.

A doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology from the University of California at Berkeley, Evans has taught courses in American music history at the University of San Francisco, the University of Virginia and Duke University. In 1994-95, he was the associate director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky. In 1997, he was artist-scholar in residence at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond as part of this university¹s New Perspectives in the Arts series and more recently has been a performer in residence at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota and Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky. Bill was also a recipient of a Brown Foreman-Al Smith Artist Fellowship in musical composition from the Kentucky Arts Council, this state's highest award for achievement in the arts.

Bill is an artist endorser for GHS Strings, Intellitouch Tuners, the Colorado Case Company, and Gary Sosobee and Scorpion banjo bridges. He currently resides in Albany, California with his wife Kathy and children Jesse and Corey. We could say more about Bill, but...that's really enough ain't it?

Jack Hatfield has been a writer for Banjo Newsletter for over 25 years and has written several acclaimed banjo instruction books published by his own company, Hatfield Music, and five banjo instuction books published by Mel Bay Publications. He has been a finalist in the Tennessee Banjo Championship and the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas, worked at Dollywood theme park and Dolly parton's Dixie Stampede.

Jack has taught banjo workshops all over the USA and in England, Ireland, Scotland and recently in Australia. He was Bluegrass Director for all three of Banjo Newsletter's Maryland Banjo academies and has directed the BNL/ SPBGMA workshop in Nashville for nine years which has featured names like Bela Fleck, Alan Munde, Bill Keith, Sammy Shelor, Terry Baucom, Scott Vestal, Eddie Adcock, Bill Evans, Doug Dillard, Curtis McPeake, James McKinney, Sonny Osborne, Geoff Stelling, Gary Price, Tony Wray, Tom Nechville, Charlie Cushing, and Frank Neat. Banjo Newsletter contributors featured at SPBGMA have included: Janet Davis, Ian Perry, Ira Gitlin, Murphey Henry, Eddie Collins, Ross Nickerson and Andy Cushing.

Jack was on the faculty of the very FIRST banjo camp, the Tennessee Banjo Institute at Cedars of Lebanon state park near Nashville. This event, the brainchild of bobby Fulcher and Wayne Ingram, was held three times in a six year period, then when state politics prevented the use of the state park, BNL's Maryland Banjo Academy took over the reins and held three Maryland Banjo Academies in a six- year span. Now that BNL is out of the banjo workshop business Jack intends for his SMBA to take over the reins for major banjo camps on a yearly basis. The initial SMBA (2004) was well attended and very sucessful toward this end. Jack is owner/operator of Hatfield Music, providing everything the banjo player needs from instructional materials to banjos to accessories. Jack was featured in Banjo Newsletter, July 2001.

Andy King has studied the classical technique of turn-of-the-century artists such as Fred Van Epps. He has written an important book called Advanced Studies in Five String Banjo detailing classical techniques now used by the masters such as Fleck and Trischka, and showing many classical techniques which are virtually forgotten today, notably the use of all four fingers of the picking hand on all four strings and playing slow songs using tremolo and chord solo techniques. He has mentored Jack Hatfield, Gary Davis, James McKinney, and Larry McNeely, among others. Andy is literally a "teacher's teacher".

James McKinney is an amazing banjo player, one of the most technically precise and advanced players alive. He won the South U.S. Banjo Championship at age 15. In 1982 he won the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas, to top off dozens of first-place state and regional championships. He made the first of several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry at age 19 and worked at Opryland theme park as banjoist and musical arranger. James recorded with his Dallas band Danger in The Air in the late 1980s and moved to Nashville for good in 1990 to play full time with his talented wife Angela in the James and Angela McKinney Band. James currently does studio and touring work out of Nashville. In addition to being a Scruggs and Reno style expert, he is a dedicated banjo teacher. He has taught at many major banjo camps, the SPGBMA workshop, and Master workshops all over the USA. He is one of the foremost jazz and theory experts in the banjo world, having been mentored by renowned jazz educator David Baker and Mr. Ferrell (teacher of Chet Atkins and Jethro Burns). He has performed and/or recorded with the likes of Porter Waggoner, Barbara Mandrell, John Hartford, and Johnny Cash, in addition to a long and close professional relationship with legendary fiddler Vassar Clements. His newest project is called "Mind Over Banjo", to be released sometime before the SMBA. He was featured artist in Banjo Newsletter July 1982.

Tom Nechville, of Nechville Musical Products, is the inventor and designer of the new class of banjos known as Helimounts. Tom has worked with Alison Brown, Bela Fleck, Eddie Adcock, and others in development of his designs, and currently provides instruments for many of the world's top country, bluegrass, and jazz performers. Learn what's wrong with most banjos and see how Nechville has designed solutions to nearly every banjo problem. His patented designs such as the elegant helical head tensioning Helimount, adjustable neck attachment, beveled armrest, built-in capos, and compensated Enterprise bridges are stirring up the banjo world. Nechville is leading the "Banjo Revolution" into new territory with his unique designs for the electric and synthesizer banjos as well. Tom will have several instruments on display and will cover things like the benefits of radiused fingerboards, tunneled 5th strings, in-line tailpieces, and compensated bridges. Owners of traditional banjos as well as anyone interested in banjo will benefit from Nechville's set-up tips and theories for optimum banjo sound. In adition to teaching banjo setup/repair and theory, he will be displaying his full line of banjos. His book Dynamics of Banjo Sound will also be available.

Rick Sampson is a gifted luthier and creator of the revolutionary Sampson banjo bridge. His other busienss is creator and builder of Woodland Flutes. He is also a gifted performer on the banjo, as SMBA attendees will find out. Rick has appeared at the Tennessee Banjo Institute and Maryland Banjo Academys.

Sammy Shelor began playing the banjo when he was four years old. Born in southwestern Virginia, Sammy played with the Virginia Squires before joining the traditional bluegrass band The Lonesome River Band in 1990. Sammy continues to work with the Lonesome River Band, and has received the International Bluegrass Music Association's Banjo Player of the Year award four times! Sammy has had two Acutab transcription books published of his recordings, and has also designed a unique fingerpick that has been hailed by many pros.


John Miller is an excellent guitarist and lead/tenor singer. He has worked recently with Herschel Sizemore and done some recent fill in work with the Lonesome River Band. Originally from th east tennessee area, has has also played many gigs with Jack Hatfield's True Blue Grass.

Jackie Miller is a virtuoso mandolin and fiddle player and sings great tenor Originally from Greenville TN, he now resides in Nashville, performing with the Reno Brothers. He works for the Gibson company durign the week, assembling and doing finish work Gibson mandolins.

Billy Proffit was satff bass player. He has performed and recorded with many fine East Tennesee bands, and has worked with Russ & Becky Jeffers and Smoky Mountain Sunshine.

Master of Ceremonies for the concert Saturday night again was Russ Jeffers. Russ and his wife Becky are from nearby Clinton, Tennessee, but lived in Nashville and performed at Opryland for over twenty years until the park was closed a few years ago. Russ is uniquely suited to be the SMBA Master of Ceremonies ~ more than one of the banjo players on the staff have worked with him in his band. It is rumored the reason Russ is so nutty is because the constant practicing of scales and exercises by James McKinney when they were on the road together has caused a form of hysterical dementia as yet untreatable by modern medicine. No worry though ~ Russ is perfectly safe and docile as long as his Martin guitar is in constant view! Russ also taught a class Saturday afternon on entertaining.

The full inventory of Hatfield Music banjos wasbe on display: Deering, Deering Goodtime, Stelling, Nechville, Gold Star, Gold Tone, Washburn, and many used banjos. (See website, click on "home" link below then "used instruments".) Banjo manufacturer/innovator Tom Nechville had many banjos on display including new models and products.

On Friday after orientation faculty member Bill Evans addressed the entire group, talking about the history of banjo playing and demonstrating old time, classical and minstrel styles on authentic "period" banjos. Bill is one of the most learned banjo players in the world. He has a degree in ethnomusicology and is working on his Doctorate. Bill is a master teacher and player.

CLICK HERE FOR SMBA 2006 PRINTABLE SCHEDULE including private lesson assignments.

Mini-concerts were ongoing, featuring each faculty member. Some of the more accomplished faculty performed two or more mini-concerts. Combination mini-concerts were held by groups of two to four faculty members. These "Jam" mini-concerts will had the following themes:

How great was last year's SMBA? Read the rave reviews and check out the photos from the 2005 SMBA!

Thinking of attending next year? Take an SMBA tour:

For information on next year's SMBA, contact Jack Hatfield at:

Hatfield Productions
325 Laurelwood Dr.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Click here for a registration form to print and mail.

Click here for Driving Directions to Wa-Floy retreat.

Click here for photos.

Click here for Yahoo driving directions to Wa-Floy retreat. Enter the destination address 3610 Parkway, Gatlinburg TN, 37738 WARNING: Yahoo often uses the shortest, but not the FASTEST or EASIEST route!

SMBA logo image courtesy of Dan Levensen.