Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy
Eighth Annual
SMOKY MOUNTAIN BANJO ACADEMY

May 3rd-5th at Wa-Floy Mountain Retreat near Gatlinburg, Tennessee


sponsored by:


FOLLOW THIS LINK TO SEE PHOTOS FROM PREVIOUS SMBAs.
SMBA 2014 will be May 2nd-4th. Mark your calendar!

SMBA 2013 students and faculty

  • Beginner to Advanced classes were taught by experienced professionals and touring pros. Styles presented included bluegrass, classical, minstrel, and various old-time styles. The teacher-student ratio was excellent...often there were as few as three or four students in a classroom with a top pro, teaching what was practically a private lesson. Every student also got their choice of instructors for a one-on-one private lesson. Primary sponsor Tom Nechviille made himself available all weekend, teaching classes on setup and theory of banjo tone and saving campers what would have been a combined hundreds of dollars in complimentary banjo set-ups.

  • R.B and Bridget Powell from Lewiston, PA, long time supporters and attendees of SMBA, funded two full scholarships for promising young musicians. Winners of the Powell scholarships were Noah King from Ider, Alabama and Chris Sexton from Chandler, North Carolina. Long-time SMBA friend Alan Tompkins' Bluegrass Heritage Foundation also funded a full scholarship. The recipient of that scholarship was Ian Wallace from Killen, Texas. Congratulations to all these dedicated young musicians and thanks to R.B., Bridget, and Alan. Alan, we were thinking of you and Julie!

  • Many students and faculty arrived Thursday night to get acquainted. Nothing was structured, just a cookout and jamming, the students and faculty hanging out and getting acquainted. The weather was good Thursday and Friday, but it rained Saturday and Sunday. Since everybody and everything was under one roof it did not dampen spirits.

    The student banjo contest Friday evening was won by one of the scholarship recipients, Chris Sexton from Chandler, North Carolina. He won a Deering Goodtime banjo. The second prize was a custom Dogwood Designs Elk skin strap valued at $200. It was awarded to Tibor Szenti from Atlanta. Third place went to Noah King from Ider, Alabama, who won Jack's latest Mel Bay Best of Jack Hatfield. The remaining seven contestants received Dogwood Design SMBA commemorative items.
    Chris Sexton, winner of Deering Goodtime banjo SMBA would like to thank all ten contestants who were brave enough to get up on stage in front of their peers and be judged by some of the best banjo players in the world. This was a true "learning by doing" experience for them. From left to right: Tibor Szenti, Chris Sexton, and Noah King

    The concert Saturday night featured a nice balance of old time, bluegrass, folk, minstrel and even a touch of classical. The staff band, the award-winning Blue Moon Rising (featuring Chris West, Tony Mowell, and David Mowell) did a great job and worked their fingers to the bone...literally! Tony Mowell had bleeding fingers even before the Saturday evening concert started. They drew much praise from the audience and the professional banjoists who make up faculty were complimented their high level of musicianship.

    The concert had a new twist - Jack Hatfield and Betsey Sesler from Charlotte, NC played Dueling Banjos on banjo and harp and JACK started the tune the harp! That mistake was quickly remedied when they got to the fast part and swapped places. Check out the video on Youtube: Dueling Banjo and Harp and Greensleeves: Greensleeves

    Jack and Betsey Sesler "Dueling" photo by Tibor Szenti
    Sunday morning Bridget Powell moderated a gospel jam and other slow jams throughout the weekend. Sunday morning we also had an onstage student jam, allowing everybody to perform for a live audience. Saturday night there were several jams, including a big one in the dining hall.
    clockwise: Ian Wallace, bass. Bridget Powell, guitar. Savannah Simmons, plucky banjo. Parrish French, banjo. Anna Crume, banjo clockwise: Tedd Williams (orange shirt), Sonny Smith, R.B. Powell, Billy Proffit, Tom Nechville, Brad Gurganous, Jack Hatfield Savannah Simmons and her new Plucky Anna Crume (Allison Brown, look out!)

    SMBA 2013 continued the tradition of authentic delicious Southern home cooking.The food was delicious, scoring a 98.375% on the exit surveys. In the "portions" category they got a better than perfect score...one person gave them an "11" out of a possible "10"! Tom Simmons and company made everything from scratch, even items many fine restaurants get pre-made or frozen, such as buttermilk biscuits, slaw and potato salad...there was lots of fresh fruit and salads...and DESSERTS! SMBA 2013 featured a varietiy of home-made pies, including the best chocolate chip pie ANYWHERE! Tom, Niki, and Larry Simmons and Cindi Medley will definitely be back again in 2014.

    Favorite sister Jane Hatfield oversaw check-in and registration, ran the office and camp store and kept Jack on schedule for his classes, which he taught more of this year since Jane and Betsy can practically run the camp by themselves now (that's a hint, ladies!). Assistant Director Betsy Burgin assisted by organizing the faculty concert and working behind the scenes dealing with the little problems that always come up, from someone locking themselves out of their room to making photocopies of handouts to solving room assignment issues. Many campers have commented on how smoothy things ran in general. Jane and Betsy are primarily responsible for this, and can't be thanked enough.

    Here are more great photos taken by Tibor Szenti.

    SMBA 2013 Schedule:

    FRIDAY

    8:00AM: Registration

    9:00AM: Orientation

    9:30 History of the Banjo Presentation: Marc Smith

    10:15 Classes begin

    12:30 Lunch

    1:30 PM Classes resume

    6:00 Dinner

    7:00 Student Banjo Contest

    8:00 Free time, Jamming

    SATURDAY

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    . 7:00 AM Breakfast

    8:00 AM Classes begin

    12:45 Lunch

    1:30 Group Photo

    2:00 PM Classes resume

    6:30 PM Dinner

    8:00 PM Faculty Concert

    11:00 Free time, Jamming

    SUNDAY

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    . 7:00 AM Breakfast

    8:00 AM Gospel jam, Classes begin

    9:00 Student onstage jam

    12:30 Lunch

    1:30 PM Classes resume

    4:30 PM Classes end

    CLICK HERE FOR SMBA 2013 REGISTRATION FORM

    Below is the 2013 class schedule.

    CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT SMBA 2013 CLASS SCHEDULE

    Check out the SMBA T-Shirt! These are printed in three color on 100 percent cotton heavyweight safety yellow shirts. The hand image is on the front and the SMBA logo is on the back. See anything "strange" about the front image? These shirts are available for sale on the Hatfield Music website.

    Help us promote the camp! Take flyers to concerts, bluegrass association meetings, banjo teachers, music stores and jam sessions. Put a couple in your banjo case and hand out to other banjo players, invite them to attend!

    photos by Tibor Szenti

    . Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy & Nechville Musical Products Special Banjo Auction

    As major sponsor Nechville Musical products offered a special SMBA Nechville Flextone banjo with a traditional pot for auction. This banjo is valued at $3300. The auction winner was Joe Lipman from Nashville, Tennessee.

    Thanks to Tibor Szenti from Atlanta, Georgia who shot and published on the Picasa site dozens of fine professional grade photos after the official SMBA camera died early in the weekend. Here are a few highlights:

    Door prizes and trivia quiz prizes were donated by Mel Bay Publications, Dogwood Designs and Hatfield Music.

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    2013 SMBA Bluegrass Faculty:

    Tom Adams, Terry Baucom, Jason Burleson, Jack Hatfield, John Lawless, Frank Lee, Joe Mullins, Jason Skinner, Sonny Smith.

    Old Time Faculty:

    Dave Ball, Wayne Erbsen, Frank Lee, Marc Smith, Leroy Troy.

    Setup/builders:

    Dave Ball, Ronnie Bales, Tom Nechville.

    photos by Tibor Szenti

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    . Tom Adams , three-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, first gained national recognition thirty years ago as the banjo player with the legendary Jimmy Martin in the mid 1980s. Tom’s first solo album, Right Hand Man, a collection of bluegrass standards and fiddle & banjo duets released in 1990, was hailed as the "heir apparent" to Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Banjo. Tom’s current focus on the banjo involves full-time work as a teacher at his home in Adams County, Pennsylvania and through online banjo lessons via Skype. You can find Tom's instructional videos on the YouTube BanjoThink Channel. Tom has published four books of transcriptions, two from his solo CDs and two on albums showcasing his style with Audie Blaylock and Rhonda Vincent. Tom’s most recent recording, Foggy Mountain Rock, can be found on the 2012 Rounder CD “A Bluegrass Tribute to Earl Scruggs”. You can also hear Tom's distinctive style on recordings by the Johnson Mountain Boys (including the two Grammy-nominated albums, Schoolhouse and Blue Diamond), James King, Lynn Morris, Blue Highway, and Dale Ann Bradley, among others. His album of fiddle & banjo duets with Michael Cleveland, Live at the Ragged Edge, won the 2004 IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year. Described by Ricky Skaggs as "one of the best banjo players ever,” Tom has added a new role to his bio – that of guitar player/lead singer, featured on a Top 5 song from Bill Emerson’s 2009 album, Southern, and contributing five original songs to Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper’s 2011 release, Fired Up.

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    . Ronnie Bales is a luthier who has in a very short time built a great reputation for producing fine Gibson style reproduction banjos. Ronnie is from Pittman Center, just a couple of mlles from the camp. His son Jason is a very accomplished professional, having worked at Dollywood theme park, Hatfeld-McCoy dinner theatre, Smoky Mountain Jamboree, and other Pigeon Forge theaters. Jason has won the Renofest banjo contest, and placed 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the prestigious National Banjo Championship at Winfield Kansas. If his schedule at Dollywood allows, we hope to get Jason there to teach some classes or private lessons.

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    . Terry Baucom grew up in Monroe, North Carolina and picked up the banjo at the age of 10 and played locally in a band with his father, The Rocky River Boys. His first professional job was with Charlie Moore on fiddle. Terry was a founding member of Boone Creek with Ricky Skaggs and Jerry Douglas. He was also a founding member of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver in 1979. He was with Quicksilver until 1985 and rejoined the band in 2003 (Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver are 6-time winners of the IBMA Vocal Group of the Year Award). Terry was a founding member of IIIrd Tyme Out in the early 90′s. He teamed up with Lou Reid to form Lou Reid, Terry Baucom & Carolina (1994 IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year). Currently Terry is free-lancing, working on various recording sessions and conducting banjo clinics. His instructional Banjo DVD is now available on the John Boy & Billy label.

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    . Dave Ball is a fine old time, brush 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 in 2009 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.

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    . Jason Burleson grew up in Avery County North Carolina in a musical family and community. "Three of my grandparents played old time two-finger banjo," he says. He also had uncles and cousins who played. In addition, neighbor musicians Jim and Jennie Vance owned a nearby music park and hosted numerous bluegrass bands. "There were a lot of places around here to hear good music," he says. Jason began playing at the age of eleven when his father, a fan of Flatt and Scruggs, asked if he'd like to learn to play the banjo. Jason was immediately enthralled, and his cousin Jeeter Griffith showed him some basic rolls and a few tunes to get him started. It was not long before Jason was playing banjo in a local bluegrass band. Jason was about twelve or thirteen at the time. "That really helped," he says. "It's good to get thrown into a situation." His professional career as a musician started when he worked for a few years at Tweetsie Railroad playing in the house band. He has not stopped performing since then. "I've just been lucky," he says. But it is musicianship that has propelled Jason's career. He is a master on the banjo and guitar, and he plays mandolin and bass as well. Jason has been playing with the award-winning Blue Highway since 1994, and the band keeps him busy performing full time. Jason has had the opportunity to play with a number of his musical idols, including Tony Rice, Sam Bush, and Stuart Duncan. With Blue Highway, he has performed at festivals and venues all over the country, including the Grammy Award presentations where the group has appeared twice as nominees. The band's website describes Jason as a talented multi-instrumentalist who "brings all-around musicianship to the group, not the least of which is his distinctive, rock-solid banjo style. Jason also anchors the group's quartets with his growling bass. A jazz devotee, Jason's talent hasn't been fully revealed yet to the bluegrass community and gives Blue Highway unlimited options for the future."

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    . 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 books and DVDs in partnership with these great players. In 2011 he co-founded Bluegrass Today , a daily blog that keeps bluegrass fans and professionals everywhere abreast of what's happening in our world. John has brought many fine products to the banjo market, including 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 list serve, 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.

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    Frank Lee is the banjo player for The Freight Hoppers, who were chosen California Bluegrass Association's emerging artists for 1998 and the Emerging Artist award for 1998. The Freight Hoppers are rapidly making themselves known to a wide audience of old-time music fans.

    The Freight Hoppers started in Franks' hometown of Bryson City North Carolina playing for the scenic railway. Next came tapes and then CDs and more performances all over the country. In March 1996, The Freight Hoppers performed live on Garrison Keillor's acclaimed radio show, "A Prairie Home Companion," which is aired throughout the country and in Europe by Public Radio International. They performed there because they had entered Keillor's contest of Talent From Towns Under 2000, and was chosen from among 492 entrants. Since then they have been seen in California twice, Michigan, Oregon, Colorado, Kansas, Ohio, New York, Canada and Kentucky. Frank was featured in Banjo Newsletter.

    . Wayne Erbsen is a walking encyclopedia of musical Americana. He is master of a number music styles including old-time, bluegrass, folk, Appalachian, cowboy, pioneer, railroad, gospel and music of the Civil War. His repertoire is over one thousand songs. As a solo performer living in Asheville, North Carolina, he plays clawhammer and bluegrass banjo, fiddle, mandolin and guitar. He has published over forty books on everything from banjo instruction, cowboy, railroad and Civil War songs to historic cookbooks through his own publishing company, Native Ground Books & Music.

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    . Jack Hatfield wrote for Banjo Newsletter for over 30 years and has written several acclaimed banjo instruction books published by his own company Hatfield Music, and several banjo instuction books published by Mel Bay Publications. the largest publisher of stringed instrument music in the world. Jack was a finalist in the Tennessee Banjo Championship and the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas and has worked at several Pigeon Forge 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, Australia and Canada. He is scheduled to teach in Alberta Canada, and Hamburg, Germany later in 2010.He was Bluegrass Director for all three of Banjo Newsletter's Maryland Banjo academys and has directed the BNL/ SPBGMA workshop in Nashville for fourteen years which has featured names like Richard Bailey, Ron Block, Bela Fleck, Alan Munde, Bill Keith, Sammy Shelor, Terry Baucom, Scott Vestal, Eddie Adcock, Bill Evans, Doug Dillard, Steve Huber, 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 in 1988. He was Bluegrass Director for all three of BNL's Maryland Banjo Academys. The SMBA is now going into its seventh 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.

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    . Joe Mullins is bandleader and banjo player for The Radio Ramblers. He is a southwestern Ohio native who has been a recognizable banjo player, vocalist, and radio broadcaster for 30 years. Mullins toured and recorded as a founding member of the band The Traditional Grass until 1995, when he purchased WBZI Radio in Xenia, Ohio. Mullins recorded and performed with the band Longview, earning Song of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year awards from the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) in the late 1990’s. He was honored by winning an Instrumental Recording of the Year award in 2001 from the IBMA for his banjo work on Rebel Records’ Knee Deep In Bluegrass. Mullins was also one of many artists in 2006 sharing Album of the Year honors for Celebration of Life, on SkaggsFamily Records. Mullins owns an Ohio network of radio stations, adding three other stations over the past decade. Most weekdays he is on the air from 1 until 3PM featuring Bluegrass and Bluegrass Gospel music on all four stations and webcasting at www.myclassiccountry.com. He was a 2010 SPBGMA nominee for Broadcaster and Promoter of the Year and WBZI was nominated for Bluegrass Radio Station of the Year. He is SPBGMA’s 2011 SPBGMA Broadcaster of the Year. Joe lives near Cedarville, Ohio, with his wife, Tammy; son, Daniel; and daughter, Sarah.

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    Tom Nechville, of Nechville Musical Products has been in the banjo building 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, Sonny Smith 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.

    Jason Skinner , born in Edenton NC, started playing guitar at the age of 12. However, his true passion came a year later when he started playing the banjo. Jason was immediately drawn to the unique banjo style of Don Reno. At age 34, he's spent the last 20 years studying the Don Reno style and has become one of the top Reno pickers in the country. Jason leads his own band, Decker and Skinner and The Blue Ridge Cut-Ups. He also created his own series of Reno style instructional DVDs and writes the Reno Style Banjo column for Banjo Newsletter magazine. Jason has made his main focus increasing awareness of Don Reno's contributions to the banjo world through his articles in Banjo Newsletter and his Reno workshops. He also created and maintains the Don Reno Fan club and has produced ten instructional DVD's teaching Reno style. He has published several Youtube videos which can be accessed from his website. Check these out...if you close your eyes you would believe it is Don himself.

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    . Marc Smith is a fine eclectic banjo player and collector whose interests run the gamut of banjo history from the minstrel era to bluegrass. He plays old time, classical, brush style and minstrel style on authentic period instruments, as well as some fine bluegrass. Marc will perform a mini-concert, talk about banjo history and teach introductory classes in all these various styles. Marc has been playing the 5-string banjo since 1979 and teaching informally since the late 1990’s. Initially playing Scruggs-style, he quickly branched out into Clawhammer and Irish Tenor styles. A Banjo Newsletter reprint of “Spanish Fandango” from 1877 sparked an interest in historical banjo styles and attending the Tennessee Banjo Institute in 1992 fanned that spark into a flame. Since then, he has collected and studied banjos and banjo sheet-music from the 1850’s thru the 1920’s, learning the specific styles needed to play the music with historical accuracy and a feel for the period. Marc’s collection of 19th cent. Banjo sheet music is getting close to 1000 individual pieces with more being added every month. Marc has attended every Antietam Early Banjo Gathering (studying the banjo and its music 1830-1870) as well as being a long-standing member of the American Banjo Fraternity (Classic banjos and music 1870-1920) and is a member of a variety of internet groups which specialize in early banjos and the music that was played on them.

    . Sonny Smith was born in Winchester,Tennessee on July 19, 1965. Around the age of seven his father instructed him to not play the banjo that he just put in his closet . His father also put a guitar in his brother's closet and instructed his brother Kenny as well "what ever you do do not play that guitar. Well being the golden goodness that they were and after being instructed to leave those instruments alone. Their father stepped outside of the house. Sonny gave the wink to little brother that the coast was clear ! The rest is history. These two boys would grow up playing music professionally. Sonny winning the National banjo championship in 1998 and little brother hauling in top honors in the bluegrass world as I.B.M.A. guitar player of the year. Sonny recalls his father not reprimanding him or his brother for playing those instruments in the closets.

    Sonny entered his first banjo contest at age 10 in Portland, Indiana. "There were a lot of people out there in the audience" Sonny recollects "...and they had trophies that were almost as tall as we were to give away". From that moment on Sonny was hooked on contest banjo playing, something he still enjoys today.

    Sonny also plays fiddle and has won many state titles and performing with some of country music greats such as Dolly Parton, Ray Price, Johnny Russell, Little Jimmy Dickens, Billy Walker, Johnny Bush, Arkey Blue and Elmer Dryer. Sonny recently performed in the Smoky Mountain String band at Dollywood theme park, along with Joe Sharp and guitar virtuoso Richard Bennett. He is currently performing at the Hatfield-McCoy Dinner Theatre in Pigeon Forge. Sonny also teaches private lessons when time permits.

    . Leroy Troy is famous for zaney antics and entertaining in the style of Uncle Dave Macon, a minstrel/old time performer famous in the 1930's and 1940's. Leroy has apprared and Tennessee Banjo Institute, Maryland Banjo Academy, previous SMBA's, on the Grand Ole Opry, at dozens of festivals, and on Hee HawTV show. He was recently featured on the CMT TV show "Outsider Inn" with Bobby Brown, Carney Wilson and Maureen McCormick.

    Leroy was only 2 years old when he got a toy fiddle for Christmas. Then at the age of seven he discovered his parent's Flatt and Scruggs records. He wore that Foggy Mountain Breakdown record out and that started his fascination with the banjo. When Leroy Troy was 13 he found his first banjo on a junk truck at a flea market. He paid $7.00 for it. The frets where burnt off so he removed the fret board and made a fretless out of it.

    By 1980 Leroy Troy had developed a reputation as a good Old Time Banjo Picker and Singer minus the banjo tricks. Then when he was 17 he met an old timer named Cordell Kemp. Leroy was amazed with Cordell's banjo playing. Cordell had learned first hand from"Uncle Dave Macon" star of The Grand Ole Opry. Cordell showed Leroy some banjo licks and tricks! Cordell Kemp influenced young Leroy so much he wrote and recorded "Ballad of Cordell Kemp." Leroy practiced, refined and expanded those banjo tricks and it was not long before he dazzled a nationwide audience on the hit TV Show Hee Haw. It was on this show Leroy Troy honed his country humor with some help from the Hee Haw cast Grandpa Jones, Archie Campbell, Junior Samples, and Minnie Pearl. Leroy made regular appearances on Hee Haw the seasons of 1984 and 1985, playing his banjo and he also played the part of Billy Bob in the "Farmer's Daughter" skit along side of Linda Thompson and Kenny Price. Leroy Troy has been entertaining audiences since 1979 and continues to do so from New York to California, Maine to Florida and even Ireland and England. Be sure to check out his schedule and catch him at a festival near you!. He will be onsite Saturday doing concerts and teaching classes in Old Time and entertaining. .

    SMBA STAFF BAND

    Blue Moon Rising (minus banjo and dobro) was be the SMBA staff band. We heard Chris West on guitar, Tony Mowell on bass, and David Mowell on mandolin backing up the finest banjo players in the world. Blue Moon Rising is a national touring band based out of East Tennessee. BMR is features Chris West (lead vocals and guitar); Tony Mowell (bass and vocals); Brandon Bostic (mandolin, guitar, vocals); and Rusty Ferrell (banjo.) Rusty had subs like Terry Baucom, joe Mullins, Jason Burleson... The band garnered international recognition with the release of their third album, “On the Rise” that proved to be a symbolic title for the group as the album debuted at #14 on the BILLBOARD Top 50 Bluegrass Chart in 2005, "CMT.com Top 10 Bluegrass Albums" and "Gritz Magazine's Top Overall Albums” of 2005." The album spent ten months on Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine's Bluegrass National Survey Top 15 Album Chart. IBMA honored the group with a 2006 nomination for Emerging Artist of the Year with band leader, Chris West performing in the 2006 IBMA Songwriter’s Showcase. In 2010 BMR released their fifth career project and first with Rural Rhythm records titled "Strange New World". This record had chart topping success on multiple charts. "Time To Be Movin On" being the first single, then spawning the haunting "My Sittin' Window"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMi3rlqt9N0 this record quicly became a fan favorite. Their latest CD is scheduled for release may 25th 2013.

    Master of Ceremonies for the concert Saturday night again was the dapper Russ Jeffers. Russ and his wife Becky are from nearby Clinton, Tennessee, but lived in Nashville and performed at Opryland for over twenty four until the park was closed a few years ago. Russ is uniquely suited to be the SMBA Master of Ceremonies ~ many great banjo players have worked with his band, including Larry McNeely and James McKinney. Russ and Becky are from nearby 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!!

    SHOPPING FOR A BANJO? DAYDREAMING ABOUT A FUTURE PURCHASE?
    The full inventory of Hatfield Music banjos will be on display: Deering, Deering Goodtime, Nechville, Gold Star, Gold Tone, Recording King 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 his newest models.

    MINI-CONCERTS
    Mini-concerts featuring each faculty member were ongoing, Combination mini-concerts such as Scruggs Jam, Fiddle Tunes jam and Essential Banjo Tunes Jam were performed by groups of two to four faculty members.

    How great were the last seven SMBAs? Read the rave reviews and check out the photos from the 2012 SMBA!

    Contact Director Jack Hatfield at:

    Hatfield Productions
    325 Laurelwood Dr.
    Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
    1-865-428-8063

    CLICK HERE FOR SMBA 2013 REGISTRATION FORM

    Help us promote the camp! Click here for a SMBA 2013 flyer to print and post at music stores, teaching studios, concerts, and jam sessions. Put a couple in your banjo case and hand out to other banjo players!.

    Click here for photos.

    Click here for Driving Directions to Wa-Floy retreat.

    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.