Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy 2007
Fourth Annual

SMBA 2007 was held April 20-22, 2007, again at Wa-Floy Retreat near Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

sponsored by:


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

Thinking of attending? Take an SMBA tour:

Many thanks to Rhonda Langston and Geisela "Mrs Dash" Burton for what the exit surveys and comments indicated was the best food yet. It was real authentic country cooking, not the bland commercial restaurant-style cusine often served at conventions and retreats.

Betsy Burgin again outdid herself as concert director. The concert was a palatable length, featured a wide range of styles and singing, and progressed very smoothly with minimum delays between acts. Russ Jeffers again lended an air of professionalism as MC with his wit and charm and hilarious antecdotes and jokes. It was the best SMBA concert yet.

But this is all "trimmings". The main point of gathering on a beautiful Spring Weekend in the Smokies was to learn about the banjo, and according to the exit surveys the 2007 faculty scored an average of almost "9" on a scale of 1 to 10! Many faculty members, (notably Bill Keith, James McKinney, Butch Robins and Randal Morton, gave private lessons late at night or during mealtimes or during their "breaks"...class periods when they were not teaching a scheduled class. Janet Davis was extremely popular. At one point I walked by her room and she had HALF the students there in her ONE class! I hope she never starts her own camp. She would put me out of business! Ken Perlman was praised by many students for his graduated approach and great communication skills as well as his high level performances. James McKinney was named by several as a favorite for his amazing technique and knowledge and his tireless teaching and jamming.


Special thanks to Jerri Jones and Jane Hatfield, (sisters of the director) who ran the vendor area, did odd jobs, montiored check-in and kept grand-neice 3 year old Bianca from "sorting" picks. Thanks to Mike and Betty Roe, Bill Bruce, R.B. Powell, Daniel Cunningham and others who helped with loading in and out, and Jim Womack, for setting up the PA system and carrying much of it up the stairs. Thanks to Nancy Nitchie for her support and friendship, Butch Robins for gormet coffee and being on hand to help with any task, no matter how small. Thanks to Lola McGill for slow jam moderating, Thanks to good friends Roger and Anne Simpson for carrying equipment and supplies not only at the camp, but at Hatfield Music before and after the event. Special thanks to Snuffy Smith and Tom Nechville who performed many banjo setups at no charge to students. Thanks to Rick Sampson who, besides his regular classes, was the "designated hitter", covering for faculty members who were either dead on their feet after a 12 hour drive and 90 minutes sleep (Keith!) or were double booked (Shame on you Jack!). # 1 son Daniel Cunningham did a great job working the sound and video. Betsy Burgin, besides running the concert, was instrumental in setting up Friday morning, keeping Jack focused and on track, and in general keeping the entire event running smoothly.

Mostly, THANK YOU to all the students who made it all possible.

The 2008 SMBA will be April 18th-20th.

The SMBA 2008 Staff is expected to include, among others: Dave Ball, Eddie Collins, Gary Davis, Jack Hatfield, James Mckinney, Tom Nechville, Rick Sampson, and Leroy Troy. More top artists to be announced soon. DON'T MISS IT!

2007 schedule:


9:00AM: Orientation.

10:00 AM: History of the Banjo presentation by Dave Ball, Butch Robins and Eddie Adcock

11:30 Lunch

12:30 Classes commence

CLICK HERE FOR SMBA 2007 PRINTABLE SCHEDULE so you can see what you missed. Suggestions for new topics in 2008 welcome!

2007 SMBA faculty:

Eddie Adcock, Dave Ball, Gary Davis, Janet Davis, Jack Hatfield, Bill Keith, Andy King, John Lawless, Randal Morton, James McKinney, Tom Nechville, Ken Perlman, Butch Robins, Rick Sampson, Snuffy Smith, Australian luthiers Laurie Grundy & Roger Simpson!

Eddie Adcock is a true pioneer of contemporary Bluegrass music. Eddie is one of Bluegrass' bonafide legends. One of the best-known and most distinctive of banjo and guitar players, Eddie is an innovator recognized for originating his own revolutionary style of playing, known – appropriately enough – as “Adcock Style”. He is one of the most influential banjoists in Bluegrass, almost singlehandedly introducing a progressive aspect to the music in the 1950's with the iconic "Classic" Country Gentlemen, and continuing to break ground in every decade thereafter. 'Country Music' Magazine calls this Bluegrass giant "legendary". He was the first internationally-acclaimed Bluegrass 5-string banjo player to appear at Carnegie Hall, as sparkplug in his former group, the groundbreaking Classic Country Gentlemen. During Eddie's 12-year tenure with them, they became the group who forever changed Bluegrass and took it uptown. In his earlier career, Adcock honed his talents playing with the great Mac Wiseman, and was a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, remembered by Bill as being his favorite baritone singer. And Eddie’s extraordinarily exciting Second Generation band, a group electric in more ways than one, was a master of their medium -- eclectic, energetic "newgrass" -- in the 1970s. Now, performing with wife Martha, they are re-setting the bar for the duet format. This native of Scottsville, Virginia, began playing many different musical instruments at a tender age, immediately developing his own style (the hallmarks of which include a self-invented single-string , a pedal-steel style, string-bending, a rhythmic thumbstyle, a certain energetic 'bounce', and unlimited improvisation). Early in Eddie's musical life, he was winning banjo contests. Later, he won such awards as Bluegrass Music's Entertainer of the Year in 1974. In 1987 he was installed in his home state of Virginia's Country Music Hall of Fame, when he was presented a Certificate of Special Achievement Award; and June 14 was named an annual "Eddie Adcock Day" by the Governor of Virginia. The Major Independent Record Labels award for Instrumentalist of the Year was accorded Eddie in 1991. Then the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America tapped him for their Preservation Hall of Greats in 1993; and he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor in 1996. The year 2005 saw his induction into the Bill Monroe Hall of Fame at Bean Blossom, Indiana, as well as being honored with an "Eddie Adcock Day" by the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, and being filmed in documentary as a Bluegrass Pioneer for the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Eddie's zany stage humor might at first belie the fact that he is an impressively innovative stylist on guitar and banjo : simply, a SuperPicker. He has been one of Bluegrass music's most noted performers for over forty years, a genius of the genre, considered one of the great pioneers of “new acoustic” music, a fusion of bluegrass with jazz and other styles. In the year 2000, Eddie celebrated 50 years in the music business -- his FIRST fifty years, he reminds us. He has earned his place as one of the masters. "Eddie Adcock is patriarch of modern bluegrass music,” claims 'The Richmond Times-Dispatch'. 'Bluegrass Music News' says "Eddie stands out as one of the greatest pickers in bluegrass music". Eddie's strikingly original guitar work perhaps elicits as much response today as his boldly different banjo picking did earlier in his career. "You ever ride a really big motorcycle? One of those 1200cc jobs that goes from zero to infinity in about 3 seconds? When Eddie Adcock kicks off a guitar solo he can accelerate the same way. The man probably keeps a radar detector in his guitar case and a fire extinguisher tucked behind his p.a. cabinet at all times. Inspiring." said 'Frets'. In the late '70s Adcock invented the Gitbo, a remarkable double-necked combination electric guitar with electrified acoustic banjo, so that he could play both guitar and banjo solos quickly in any tune. Gitbos are soon to be produced by a major manufacturer. Quite the inventor, Eddie has devised an impressive array of other useful musical items, such as loudspeaker designs, numerous electronic gadgets, a foot-operated device for universal control of an Echoplex, and "Tex", the heavy-duty stand for his acoustic banjo. Adcock's signature licks are taught by him on both banjo and guitar instructional videos for Homespun Tapes; and he's featured in a recent Mel Bay instruction book. He has taught at Levelland College, the American Banjo Camp, Tennessee Banjo Institute, Maryland Banjo Academy, Reno Revival, Roanoke Bluegrass Weekend; and he conducts numerous workshops. Eddie currently holds seats on the Board of Directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association and of the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music. As a former member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, he was honored with a commission as a Kentucky Colonel. A former winning race car driver and boxer (among many other hobbies and occupations), Eddie's varied pursuits still reflect his numerous interests.

EDDIE and MARTHA Partners in music and life for over three decades, the dynamic duo of Eddie and Martha Adcock has become known as "the Biggest Little Band in Bluegrass". They have toured the USA, Canada and Europe, charming all kinds of crowds and winning awards, rave reviews and heavy airplay around the world. Together since 1973, the spirited couple married in 1976 and now make their home near Lebanon, Tennessee, not far from Nashville. Award-winners and multi-Grammy finalists, this lively team of two are called "stellar musicians and vocalists" by 'Cashbox' Magazine; and 'Billboard' names them "one of the Bluegrass circuit's top acts" because of their dazzling delivery. Audience favorites dubbed "the Sonny and Cher of Bluegrass", they enjoy taking their warm and witty high-energy show everywhere from family-style bluegrass festivals to the Kennedy Center, from sea cruises to the Hot Club of France, venues as cross-cultural as their music and their appeal. Eddie and Martha feature their own original songs and instrumentals, showcasing their strong, expressive duet, and somehow sounding like much more than two. "A tremendous show...You will be entertained; you will be amazed; you will be impressed," says 'Banjo Newsletter'. 'Inside Bluegrass' describes "Progressive bluegrass that spellbound the audience. Exceptional music. Sterling vocal arrangements. This concert was memorable because of the balance between front-work and hot music." Woven into their distinctly-styled music, which they have named "TwoGrass", are influences from Bluegrass, Country, Gospel, Folk, Blues, Jazz, Rock and Rockabilly, which transcend into a unique and heady sound that is part of the past, present, and definitely the future. Indeed, while it is a gourmet's Bluegrass, representing both tradition and innovation, the musical label the pair prefers is "highly enjoyable". Their exceptional expertise coupled with their warm-yet-edgy, uninhibited stage persona is a real treat. The Adcocks have appeared on 'Austin City Limits', 'Ernest Tubb's Midnite Jamboree', TNN's 'Nashville Now' and 'Wildhorse Saloon', 'Grassroots To Bluegrass', and a host of NPR specials as well as syndicated, internet, and local TV and radio shows worldwide. Their video "Dog" aired on TNN, CMT, and even CNN. They have released a number of popular recordings, appearing on several Bluegrass, Americana, college, rock, and Country charts, and have recorded with quite a few other artists as well. They currently record for the Pinecastle label. Scores of articles, including many cover stories, have been published internationally about Eddie and Martha in books and periodicals. They've even contributed to the Bluegrass Cookbook and others, and have been featured several times on the Bluegrass Calendar. Their music and information about them appears on many internet sites. The Adcocks are songwriters, arrangers, record producers and engineers, with their own recording studio, called Sunfall Studio. For many years they owned and operated Adcock Audio, a large, state-of-the-art sound company providing sound reinforcement for major festivals and concerts, and which was a favorite with performers and fans. They continue to offer live digital recording. Also, the pair often conduct seminars on the subject. They both have served as instructors at South Plains College's summer Bluegrass Camp in Levelland, Texas, and often do learning workshops. The couple are members of a number of music and business groups, including I.B.M.A., the Folk Alliance, and several state and regional organizations. They are sponsored by Deering Banjos, Colorado Case Company, D'Addario Strings, Shubb Capos, and Tacoma and Gibson Guitars. Eddie and Martha maintain a growing mailing list of over 5,000 in order to stay in touch with deejays, press, and folks in their wide fan base. And they maintain a website at . In touch with the first generation of Bluegrass music, their visionary 1970's maverick "newgrass" group Second Generation nevertheless made an extraordinary impact as they pushed Bluegrass' envelope nearly three decades ago, fostering a whole movement. Before that, of course, Eddie's former group the Country Gentlemen had made the very first significant mark in expanding the boundaries of the music and is considered one of its premier bands of all time and one of its most important influences. Other Adcocks performing configurations of formidable reputation have included Talk Of The Town, The Eddie Adcock Band, The Masters (with Kenny Baker, Josh Graves, and Jesse McReynolds, winners of the International Bluegrass Music Association's Instrumental Recording of the Year award in 1990 for a CD produced by Eddie), The Allstars (with Russell Moore, Charlie Waller, and Ray Deaton), All Thumbs (with Randall Hylton), a country-rock group called Adcock, and even a stint as nucleus of country outlaw David Allan Coe's band, with Eddie as bandleader. Eddie currently plays several shows a year and records as part of Adcock, Gaudreau, Waller & Gray: The Country Gentlemen Reunion Band. Eddie and Martha make time for involvement in worthwhile projects, especially those related to music. Both have served on the board of directors for Tennessee Banjo Institute, and on the planning committee for Maryland Banjo Academy. They serve on the committee for the revitalization of Victory Hall Theatre in Eddie's hometown of Scottsville VA. The two have donated proceeds from recordings to Best Friends Animal Shelter, a no-kill facility; and they organize and host many benefit concerts -- for groups like Meals on Wheels, the Heart Fund, the Boy Scouts, Victory Hall Theatre, the Lee County SC Opera House in Martha's hometown, ill fellow musicians and their families, and their latest project, an annual all-star benefit concert for the homeless of Nashville.

Dave Ball is a fine old time, brush style and minstrel style banjo player. He is also a builder of fine banjos, with their roots mainly in the fine classic era banjo of the late 1800s. 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" asked him to loan them several instruments. This exhibit was held last year at McClung Museum in Knoxville. 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.

Gary Davis is the ONLY three-time National Banjo Champion having won Winfield in 1986, 1987 and 2002, and owns dozens of state and regional titles as well. Gary is a dedicated banjo teacher, very patient with children and slow learners. He performed for fifteen years at Dollywood, playing wioth Dolly Parton's kinfolks. Being adept at both contemporary country on electric guitar and a banjo whiz, he is one of the most in-demand studio session men in East Tennessee. Recently was band leader and banjo player for Dolly Parton on her bluegrass album "Halos & Horns". he toured with Dolly for a year to promote that album. Biscuit is fluent in many music styles, from bluegrass to swing to jazz. As mentioned, he is also an awesome lead guitar player, bluegrass or country or jazz, and brings many lead guitar techniques to his banjo style. He currently works at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede dinner attraction in Pigeon Forge, is in constant demand in the studio, and somehow finds time to operate his recently opened music store, Biscuit's Music Barn in Pigeon Forge.




Janet Davis was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Music was always an integral part of her family life. Although Janet's formal musical training was primarily in the classical field, she showed a keen, early interest in stringed instruments, particularly those involved in folk and bluegrass music. In college, she played the guitar and sang as a folk and blues musician in many of the Austin, Texas clubs, learning from such greats as Lightnin' Hopkins, Janis Joplin and others who played the same venues. Janet is equally adept on both Dobro® and 5-string banjo. janet is no stranger to the banjo world. For over thirty years she has written the Backup column for Bano Newsletter. She is one of the most prolific authors of banjo instruction books in the field, having authored over a dozen Mel Bay instruction books and several DVD' as well as dobro, Mel Bay has several of her books listed as "Best Sellers." Janet teaches all bluegrass instruments. In addition to her instructional writing she is founder of Janet Davis Music, one of the largest bluegrass oriented music stores in the USA. Janet Davis Music Company is celebrating it's 31th Anniversary this year. She was on the faculty of the very irst banjo camp, the Tennessee Banjo Institute at Cedars of Lebanon State park near Nashville, and many other national banjo workshops including the Banjo Newsleter/SPBGMA workshop in Nashville. Her simple explanations, down home delivery and extreme patience with beginners are her most valuable workshop teaching qualities.


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 v ariouis area a theatres and attractions including 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, Wayne Erbsen, Sonny Osborne, J.D.Crowe, Pete Wernick, 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, Murphy 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 Academys in a six- year span. Now that BNL is out of the banjo workshop business Jack intends for his SMBA to fill this void in major banjo camps held on a yearly basis. The initial SMBA (2004) was well attended and very successful toward this end, and SMBA is now going into its fourth year. 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.

Bill Keith is one of the foremost innovaters and music theory teachers among banjo players. He was instrumental in developing the melodic style, winning the pregistigous Newport Folk festival banjo contest in 1962 in what was probably the first exposure of the melodic (many call it "Keith") style. He recorded and toured with Bill Monroe, David Grisman, Pete Rowan and many others. He did the original transcriptions for Earl Scrugg's banjo instruction book in the 1960's and is thus responsible for thousands of second generation pickers learning Earl's tunes accurately. He has a Homespun instructional tape out called "Play Bluegrass Banjo by Ear" in addition to dozens of recordings on Rounder and other major bluegrass record labels. Bill presides over Beacon Banjo Company, producing Keith banjo tuners, precision manufactured tuning machines which allow the quick and acurate re-tuning during a solo. Bill helped design keith Tuners along with Earl Scruggs and company founder Dan Bump. Though he is known for the melodic or "fiddle" style, he can play Scruggs style with the best of them, and is fluent in many music styles, from bluegrass to jazz. Bill has been a faculty member at virtually all the major banjo camps and workshops. He is incredibly captivating when teaching and is tireless. When you go to one of his sessions, use the bathroom FIRST and bring a sandwich! (Just kidding ~ meals and IV's provided.) Bill has also graciously volunteered to bring many old tapes of Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, and Reno to be played in one of the common areas. Bill was featured in Banjo Newsletter, August 1983.

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 which were developed on banjo in the late eighteen hundreds and perfected by artists such as Fred Van Epps and kept alive by the relatively small group of classical players in the American Banjo Fraternity. Many of these techniques have been assimilated into the styles of modern masters such as Bela Fleck, Tony Furtado, and Tony Trischka. Most of these classical techniques are still virtually unknown by the five-string banjo players of today, notably the use of all four fingers of the picking hand on all four strings (use of the thumb on the first string and the index and middle on the fourth string!) for lightning fast single string passages, and playing slow songs using tremolo and other chord solo techniques. Andy has kept these techniques alive by detailing them in his book and passing them on to others, notably SMBA faculty members Jack Hatfield, Gary Davis, James McKinney, and Larry McNeely, among others. Andy is literally a "teacher's teacher". Any advanced students who wish to break out of the old-time or three-finger bluegrass mode should definitely take some of Andy's classes as an eye-opener if for no other reason.



John Lawless is president of AcuTab Publications. He has worked closely with dozens of top pros in rendering note-for-note transcriptions of great banjo recordings and has published many instructional videos and DVDs in partnership with these great players. John has brought many fine products to the banjo market, most recently Shelor finger picks designed by Sammy Shelor. He was also closely involved with Steve Huber and was instrumental in helping Steve bring his products to the market, leading to the founding of the Huber banjo company. He is owner of AcuTab banjo listserve, the longest running bluegrass banjo listserve on the internet. John is a fine player as well, as evidenced by ten memorable original tunes on his solo CD "Five and Dime". He is director of his own banjo camps, notably the annual Roanoke Bluegrass Weekend, featuring the banjo artists he works with on his various publishing and recording projects and many others on all bluegrass instruments.In addition to all this, John is an excellent teacher. He has the unique advantage of bringing his associations with dozens of great banjo artists into the classroom. A class with John is like a class with an entire panel of top bluegrass banjo artists.




James McKinney is an amazing banjo player, one of the most technically precise and advanced players anywhere. 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.

Randal Morton Randal began playing guitar in 1969, but he switched to banjo after being inspired by watching Larry McNeely on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. At that time, listening to records was the only means of learning because in 1969 banjo instructional books were hard to come by. Randal soon developed a keen ear for hearing individual notes and tones from the LP’s enabling him to transcribe breaks or songs from his favorite players note-for-note. (Custom tabs are now offered at These tabs vary in level and style.) At 15, Randal performed with jazz artist Edwin Hubbard and the Prana Band throughout the 70’s. During this time he became a session player for many Memphis studios, recording jingles as well as commercials. Randal began using his ability to teach at the age of 16. The “banjo boom” from the “Deliverance” movie sparked a huge interest in learning the banjo. Several banjoists that he has instructed have found much success in Nashville, such as Mike Snider from Hee Haw. In the early 70’s, Randal and his twin brother Greg won numerous local and state competitions. Backed by Twin brother Greg & Mark O’Connor, Randal won the 1975 National Banjo Championship in Winfield, KS. He also performed with many top artist such as Buck White and The Downhome Folks, Mark O'Connor, Don Ho in Hawaii, and Mark Collie. He later toured the Orient and Europe for the USO-DOD shows. Randal and Greg were also featured in the 1989 July issue of Banjo Newsletter Magazine. Randal was a show cased entertainer for The Grand Casino in Tunica, MS as a solo banjoist for 4 years where he played a variety of styles such as bluegrass, pop, jazz, blues, and show tunes. In 1994 , he performed with Captain Phil McGee, a sax/clarinet entertainer. It was during this time that Randal became "capo-free" due to the nature of keys that horn players use. Although, capo-free he still used it for fiddle tunes or Bluegrass songs that "just sound better" with one. Randal currently teaches in Memphis and conducts workshops for the Memphis Area Bluegrass Music Association (MABA). “I truly love teaching all levels of banjo playing, from beginner to intermediate as well as advanced”. With his lessons, he takes pride in sharing the art of chord substitutions and licks that "color the chords," chord-connectors and single-string styles of Reno and Adcock. He teaches the “Adcock style,” a unique blend of Travis-style and pedal steel approach. He also incorporates melodic styles as in the playing of Alan Munde. Randal was a faculty member for the Tennessee Banjo Institute in the Cedars of Lebanon Park in Lebanon, TN. Mel Bay Publications features Randal in two books: “The Winfield Winners National Banjo Champions” and “Banjo 2000 Solos from the World’s Greatest Banjo Players.” He is currently teaching private, local lessons to students of all levels. He plays his banjo with a local progressive Bluegrass group called Grassfire, as well as Devil Train, a gypsy jazz/grass group of young jam-band players. He is also entertaining as a soloist on banjo or guitar in the style of Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins. He recently completed work with Ron Franklin, a rising Memphis artist, on a cd project that is receiving outstanding reviews. Randal and banjoist Terry Ferguson are completing a cd project due out sometime in the summer of 2007.

Tom Nechville, of Nechville Musical Products, has been in business since 1989, manufacturing professional banjos and related accessories for the booming acoustic and electric string instrument market. He has gained a respected reputation among the nation's top builders as being a leader in innovation and design. His company owns patents on Nechville's unique Heli-mount banjo design and it has been enthusiastically accepted by the world's top players such as Bela Fleck and Alison Brown.

Nechville Musical Products is always innovating to meet the changing needs of modern musicians. Replacing more than seventy parts of a traditional banjo, the Nechville Heli-Mount body tightens together much like a jar on a lid; greatly reducing the assembly time and improving the banjo's sound.

Tom has spent years in development and in consultation with the world's top players researching and finding ways to meet the needs of professionals. His experience has led to the refinement of the electric banjo, which has re-directed a new world-wide spotlight on the banjo. Nechville instruments have appeared on MTV, the Olympics opening ceremonies, CMA Awards show, numerous cable and Direct TV specials and in major live Country, Rock, Jazz and Bluegrass concerts around the planet.

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.

Ken Perlman is a superb instrumentalist, acclaimed teacher of instrumental skills, gifted performer, award-winning folklorist. Ken is surely a welcome addition to any festival or concert-series lineup. He is both a pioneer of the 5-string banjo style known as "melodic clawhammer," and a master of fingerstyle guitar. He is considered one of the top clawhammer players in the world, known in particular for his skillful adaptations of Celtic tunes to the style. On guitar, Ken's sparkling finger-picked renditions of traditional Celtic and Southern fiddle tunes are simply not to be missed. He draws his material from traditional sources -- the music of Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island and the American South. His approach to the music, however, is highly innovative. He has developed many new instrumental techniques, and much of his repertoire has never before been played on 5-string banjo or guitar. Around the folk scene, Ken is often referred to as a musician's musician -- a player whose style is so accomplished and unique that other musicians go out of their way just to hear him. Ken is an acclaimed teacher of folk-music instrumental skills. He has written some of the most widely respected banjo and guitar instruction books of modern times, and he has been on staff at prestigious teaching festivals around the world. He has also served as director, or co-director for seveal banjo -instructional camps, including Maryland Banjo Academy, American Banjo Camp, Suwannee Valley Old Time Banjo Camp, the Bath Banjo Festival, and Banjo Camp North. Also an active folklorist, Ken has spent over a decade collecting tunes and oral histories from traditional fiddle players on Prince Edward Island in eastern Canada. Two outgrowths of his research are a tune book called The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island and a two-CD anthology of field recordings called The Prince Edward Island Style of Fiddling (Rounder Recordings). In 1997 and '98, each of these works received awards from the Prince Edward Island Heritage Foundation for helping to "preserve, interpret, and disseminate our province's fiddling heritage." He has several recordings to his credit, including: Southern Summits: A duet recording with fiddler Alan Jabbour. Northern Banjo Island Boy Devil in the Kitchen Live in the U.K. Clawhammer Banjo & Fingerstyle Guitar Solos (Ken's first recording, on the Folkways label).

Butch Robins Hailing from the Celtic descended southeastern United States, as a student of music and the banjo in the 60’s & 70’s, Butch established himself as an instrumental innovator and explorer. Butch developed banjo playing techniques that enabled him to share the sound of that instrument and enhance the music of an extremely diverse range of musical stylists and definers of genre.Described by Tony Trischka as a musical chameleon, Butch’s musical diversity was further evidenced in the Bluegrass world by his opposite ends of the spectrum inclusion as banjoist for Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys and bassist the New Grass Revival. In the early 70’s, along with his somewhat regular sideman work, Butch was one of the busiest of Nashville’s freelance banjo players lending the sound of his instrument to country music sessions, and live performances by such musical giants as Leon Russell and Harry James. During the late 70’s & early 80’s Butch began making musical statements as an artist comfortable with his creativity and creation. With interest and attention to ensemble sound he produced three landmark banjo-featured instrumental records before defining the role of banjo in all facets of the ensemble sound of Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys. In the 90’s his ensemble recorded efforts helped start the Hay Holler record label and in 1995 produced a masterpiece banjo oriented Blue Grass recording, GROUNDED, CENTERED, FOCUSED featuring, among a magnificently talented supporting cast, Bill Monroe himself. The turn of the century signaled a transition from the “introverted master of an extroverted instrument” to performer/entertainer and teacher. Memoirs in the form of an autobiographical sketch What I Know ‘Bout What I Know enabled Butch to be nominated for the IBMA’s printed media personality of the year in 2004. Today Butch performs as a solo banjo recitalist and serves as Master Of Ceremonies for ensemble show groups designed & assembled with promoter and audience in mind. He also teaches banjo technique in workshop, seminars and camp environments. Butch is recording a new album with his . Butch was featured in Banjo Newsletter, October-November 2003.

Rick Sampson is a gifted luthier and creator of the revolutionary Sampson banjo bridge, used by many top pros, notably as Alison Brown. Woodworking seems to be his first calling... his other business is designer and builder of Woodland Flutes. he also works with Nechville Musical Products, traveling with Tom's entourage to festivals and trade shows. Rick is a talented performer on the banjo, as SMBA attendees will find out. He is adept playing anything from Scruggs to fiddle tunes, in a fluid style that is always tasteful. In addition to SMBA, Rick has appeared at the Tennessee Banjo Institute and Maryland Banjo Academys.

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Roger & Anne Simpson & Laurie Grundy are banjo builders from Australia. Roger is the luthier of Eculaypt Banjos which are made from all native Australian materials, even the tone rings and other hardware. His beautiful banjos are almost all unique because of Anne's goregous wood inlay resonaters and inlays. This tedious and detailed art is called "marquetry". Roger is a retired commercial pilot and Anne is a practicing physician.

Laurie Grundy builds banjos only for the Austrailian market, mostly fine Gibson style instruments with quality components and fine workmanship. Ecualypt banjos can be purchased in the USA from Hatfield Music. Roger and Laurie taught banjo building, maintenence and repair while Anne demonstrated her marquetry at SMBA 2007. The Aussies were a valuable and welcome addition to SMBA, and the help of Roger & Anne in setup and teardown was much appreciated (where were YOU Laurie???)


John Miller is an excellent guitarist and lead/tenor singer. John hails from Northern Virginia, but is an east East Tennessee native. He has worked recently with Herschel Sizemore and done some fill- in work with the Lonesome River Band. He has has also played with Jack Hatfield's True Blue Grass and does instrument repair work specializing in acoustic guitars.

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.

Cindy Miller, wife of Jackie, will lend an apt hand on upright bass. (By the Way, Jackie and Cindy are not related to guitar player John Miller!)

Master of Ceremonies for the concert Saturday night again will be 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. Russ, the ultimate front man, will also teach a class on entertaining. Russ and Becky Jeffers are from Clinton, Tennessee, a small town just north of Knoxville near the foothills of the great Smoky Mountains. They attended the same high school and met in the local drug store in 1965 when both were teenagers. They married in 1967 and have a son David and a daughter, Christy. Small town beginnings have produced their share of hard-working successful people, and Russ and Becky are no exception. In 1971 after Russ was discharged from the United States Air Force, they decided to pursue their dream of music. With little else but a guitar, an up-right bass and two tiny children they moved to Nashville. Very few people move to "Music City" and live their dreams. This year they are celebrating their twenty-eighth year of entertaining and playing music. Russ and Becky performed over 15,000 shows at Opryland USA from 1974 - 1997 where they introduced "Bluegrass Music" to people from all over the world. Now they travel the world to bring their unique style of harmony, comedy and "down home" music. They have independently produced and marketed numerous recordings. They are living proof that in our wonderful country of America that with God's grace and a lot of hard work, you can live your dream. To paraphrase a popular commercial, they are indeed "The Professionals - The Old Fashioned Way - They Earned It!!

The full inventory of Hatfield Music banjos will be 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 will have many banjos on display including new models and Austrailian luthier Roger Simpson will have his Eucalypt banjos and fellow Aussie Laurie Grundy's handiwork will also be displayed.

CLICK HERE FOR SMBA 2007 PRINTABLE SCHEDULE so you can decide in advance what classes you may want to attend. Schedule subject to changes, so check again just before you come.

Mini-concerts will be ongoing, featuring each faculty member. Some of the more accomplished faculty performed two or more mini-concerts. Combination mini-concerts such as Scruggs Jam, Fiddle Tunes jam and Winfield Winners Jam will be performed by groups of two to four faculty members.

How great was last year's SMBA? Read the rave reviews and check out the photos from the 2006 SMBA!

Contact Director Jack Hatfield at:

Hatfield Productions
325 Laurelwood Dr.
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Click here for a SMBA 2007 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, as calculated by a computer, but not always the FASTEST or EASIEST route!

SMBA logo image courtesy of Dan Levensen.