Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy
Tenth Annual

11th annual SMOKY MOUNTAIN BANJO ACADEMY May 1-3 2015 featured Kristin Scott-Benson, Butch Robins, James McKinney, Jack Hatfield, Rex McGee, Dave Ball, Sonny Smith, .

sponsored by:

Cades Cove photo above courtesy Dan Levensen


  • Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy 2015 moved to the new Hatfield Music Barn on a ridge overlooking Pigeon Forge, adjacent to the Hatfield Music shop. This is closer to all the area tourist can hear the Dollywood steam locomotive from the site. Students will stay in nearby hotels and eat in local restaurants. The barn and lot were the site for classes, concerts and jamming by the campfire. A full tuition plan was offered that includes hotel and breakfast/lunch at a nearby buffet restaurant, or students were offered "classes and concerts only" admission and fended for themselves for lodging and meals. There are three campgrounds within walking distance of the Hatfield Music Barn. Accompanying friends or family members can ride the fifty-cent trolley to all the area attractions. There are also several miles of hiking trails adjacent to the property. Students and faculty can stay at their choice of one of the the host hotels or campground cabins a few hundred yards away, and eat at their choice in hundreds of area restaurants or have meals provided in the full tuition package.

    Bluegrass Faculty for 2015 consisted of: Kristin Scott-Benson, Tony Ellis, Jason Burleson, Butch Robins, Wayne Erbsen, Rex McGee, national banjo champions James McKinney and Sonny Smith. Old time faculty included Dave Ball and Tony Ellis. Setup: Ronnie Bales of Bales Banjos, Pete Allen from Nechville Musical Products, and Dave Ball.Sponsored by Nechville Musical Products, Deering Banjos, and Mel Bay Publications, Inc.

    Enjoy some great photos of past SMBA's shot by Tibor Sventi, regular SMBA student.

  • Long-time SMBA supporters R.B. and Bridget Powell and an anonymous donor generously funded scholarships for promising young musicians who may not otherwise afford to attend. email SMBA Director Jack Hatfield to apply for these scholarships for 2016.

  • To stay current with SMBA or comment, go to the Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy Facebook page.

    For more detailed info or to ask questions or inquire about vendor space, email Camp Director Jack Hatfield.

  • 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 at SMBA is excellent...often there are as few as three or four students in a classroom with a top pro, teaching what is practically a private lesson. Every three-day student also get their choice of instructors for a one-on-one private lesson.

  • Students and faculty may arrive Thursday night to get acquainted...nothing structured, maybe just have a beer, and roast some dogs and marshmallows and jam around the campfire.

    The concert Saturday night will feature a nice balance of old time, bluegrass, folk, minstrel, and maybe even a touch of classical.

    The 2013 concert had a twist - Jack Hatfield and Betsey Sesler from Charlotte, NC played Dueling Banjos on banjo and harp and JACK started the tune on 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 will moderate a gospel jam and other slow jams throughout the weekend. Sunday morning we also had an onstage student jam, allowing everybody who dares to perform through a PA system for a live audience.

    Below is the class schedule. If you are a three-day student your guaranteed private lesson should be included. If not contact Jack Hatfield with your choices of faculty for your lesson. Note that a one-mile hike has been added at 7:15 Saturday and Sunday morning.

    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./TD>

    . The following artists and teachers will be teaching SMBA classes and performing.

    Kristin Scott-Benson (Fri-Sat-Sun) performs with The Grascals , Grammy-nominated and two-time IBMA Entertainers of the Year. Kristin is the reigning, four-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year. As a member of The Grascals, she has made an indelible mark on the bluegrass music industry. Kristin grew up in South Carolina, surrounded by a musical family. She started playing mandolin and stepped on stage for the first time at the age of five. After receiving a much-anticipated banjo for Christmas when she was thirteen, Kristin became enthralled with the instrument and spent her teen years studying the playing of all the banjo greats from Earl Scruggs to Bela Fleck. After high school, she attended Nashville’s esteemed Belmont University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BBA in Marketing and a minor in Music Business. Kristin has attained a national identity as one of the top bluegrass banjo players on the scene, exhibiting impeccable taste, timing, and tone. With an attentive ear to back-up, she is known and respected as a true team player among her peers. Many attribute her as one of the first females to successfully be a side-musician in a top-tiered bluegrass band: “There was one grass ceiling no woman could cut through—until Kristin Scott Benson came along, that is. Almost two years ago, she joined The Grascals. Not to front the band, not to sing, not to be eye candy, but instead to drive the group with her five-string banjo. Until then, no woman had ever been hired to play one of the most defining of the bluegrass instruments in an A list, festival-headlining, all-male band…. It’s a high profile gig, as Kristin takes the banjo where no woman has taken it before.” Larry Nager – “Kristin Scott Benson – Cutting the Grass Ceiling” Bluegrass Unlimited: Oct, 2010 She is featured on the four latest Grascals albums, including the most recent release, Life Finds a Way. Grascals and Friends, available exclusively at Cracker Barrel, includes collaborations with many of today’s top country artists, such as Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Charlie Daniels, and others. Her latest solo release, Second Season, features eight instrumentals (half of them originals) and four vocal performances. The album showcases her powerful banjo playing, while still appealing to fans that aren't motivated solely by instrumental prowess. The project received stellar reviews and features some of bluegrass’ brightest musicians. Copies can be purchased at Kristin plays a 2010 Sonny Osborne Chief banjo and a 1933 Gibson TB-3 banjo. She endorses GHS Strings, Takamine guitars, Doc Fossey Guitars, Fishman pickups and Robin Smith at Heartland Guitar and Banjo. After 13 years in Nashville, Kristin relocated back to the Carolinas in 2007, along with her husband, Wayne, and young son, Hogan.

    Kristin's teaching resume includes: Sonny Osborne NashCamp, Banjo Camp – Nashville, TN, Fiddle Star Band Camp – Nashville, TN, East Tennessee State University – Johnson City, TN - Adjunct Faculty, British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop – Sorrento, British Columbia, Wabash River Bluegrass Camp – Grayville, IL, Bear on the Square Music Camp – Dahlonega, GA, Fiddle Fest Music Camp – Roanoke, VA, International Bluegrass Music Association Mentor. Plus, Innumerable workshops at premier festivals and events, in the US, Canada and EuropePrivate. She also teaches private lessons in Banjo, Guitar, and Mandolin.

    Jason Burleson (Sunday only) 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."
    Butch Robins (Fri-Sat) What can be said? As far as banjo players are concerned, few are as innovative or stylistically diverse as is Joseph C. ("Butch") Robins. Butch's musical diversity is evidenced in the bluegrass world by his inclusion as one of the longest tenured banjoists for Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys and bassist for the New Grass Revival, earning him the distinction of being "the one and only New Grass/Blue Grass Boy". He has been one of the busiest of Nashville's freelance banjo players and has performed with big-band leader, Harry James, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, Leon Russell.

    Hailing from the Celtic-descended, southeastern United States, as a student of music and the banjo in the 1960's and 70's, Butch acquainted himself with and befriended many of the first generation bluegrass musicians at early festivals and fiddlers' conventions. As a teenager he won major banjo contests and participated in banjo workshops at both the 1969 Newport Folk Festival and also Carlton Haney's 1969 Camp Springs Bluegrass Festival in Reidsville, NC. While serving in the US Army in South Carolina, he was introduced to Snuffy Jenkins & Pappy Sherrill, and subsequently dedicated his album, "Forty Years Late", to Snuffy.

    The 70's found Butch playing in various bands, including Charlie Moore, Jim & Jesse, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper and the New Grass Revival. It was during these years that he explored different banjo playing techniques and helped lay the groundwork for the progressive, melodic, 5-string banjo playing of today. As a self-produced, solo recording artist with interest in and attention to ensemble sound, Butch contracted with Rounder Records and released three landmark albums - "Forty Years Late", "Fragments of My Imagicnation" and "The Fifth Child".

    In 1977, Butch became the banjoist for Bill Monroe and his "Blue Grass Boys". With Monroe, he traveled and performed throughout the United States, including the White House and Lincoln Center in New York City, until 1981. After the Monroe experience he founded the first incarnation of The Blue Grass Band.

    Recognizing mental/emotional issues which, in the beginning seemed to be assets to the lifestyle of a traveling musician, but later on became part of the madness in the world of talent sales, Butch sought professional counsel. After nearly a decade of trying to adjust to the "real" world other than that of a musical artist, in the early 90's Butch helped start the Hay Holler Record label with 2 recordings sold through means of telemarketing. In 1995 he produced a masterpiece banjo-oriented bluegrass recording, "Grounded-Centered-Focused", featuring, amongst a magnificently talented supporting cast, Bill Monroe himself.

    Since then, Butch has traveled to and performed in Japan, Australia and Europe. As a result of these travels, he assembled some of the world's finest bluegrass musicians into the World International Bluegrass Band in 2007 as "a musical statement of international cooperation and goodwill'. The band toured Virginia before performing at the IBMA Convention in Nashville, TN and taping a live TV performance for "Song of the Mountains".

    Also noteworthy is Butch's role in preserving the history of Blue Grass music and keeping alive the legend of Bill Monroe. His autobiography & memoirs, "What I Know 'Bout What I Know" earned strong reviews and a nomination for the IBMA's Printed Media Personality of the Year in 2004. Butch has also been an instructor at several camps, including the Tennessee Banjo Institute, Jack Hatfield's Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy, Midwest Banjo Camp, Augusta Heritage Center and Camp Ausgrass in Australia. 

    In 2013, Butch recorded a series of videos for Radford University entitledButch Robins Presents - Blue Grass Music, its Origin and Development as a Unique and Creative Art Form.  In this 5 part video series, Butch Robins explains the fascinating history of Blue Grass music. He uses both recorded and live music to set and illustrate the timeline, relates real life anecdotes of the musicians involved and tells personal stories of his life and relationship with Bill Monroe. Having had a working and friendly relationship with Monroe and many of the other musicians in this story, his insight and knowledge come together to form a unique perspective of this part of history.  This presentation has received  exceptional reviews.

    For the past decade, Butch has been in search of the quintessential banjo tune and recording with various artists. New projects in the planning and development stages include collaboration with Michael Cleveland, Yoshihiro Arita and Kathy Chiavola. Butch currently lives near Pulaski, Virginia and is an avid golfer attached to the Great Oaks Country Club near Floyd, Virginia.

    Tony Ellis Fri-Sat-Sun). Biography by Craig Harris

    Bluegrass and old-timey string band traditions are fused into the deeply personal solo banjo and fiddle style of Tony Ellis. A five-time recipient of composition awards from the ASCAP (American Society of Composers and Publishers), Ellis was featured during a national Masters of the Banjo tour, sponsored by the National Folk Council for the Traditional Arts, in 1997.

    Ellis was taught the two-finger style of playing banjo by his grandmother, an old-time fiddler. Upon hearing a radio broadcast by Flatt & Scruggs in the mid-'50s, Ellis sold his high-school trumpet and bought a resonator banjo. After studying with Swanson Walker and Don Reno, Ellis joined Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys in 1960, recording 22 tracks during the two and a half years that he played with the influential group. In 1962, Ellis performed with Mac Wiseman at Carnegie Hall in New York. Although he left full-time performing shortly afterwards, he continued to develop his unique sound. Temporarily living in the Bristol, TN, area, he performed old-timey music with Bruce Mongle, George Pegram, and Tommy Jarrell. After relocating to south central Ohio, he played with several bluegrass and old-timey bands.

    Ellis' two albums, produced by Stephen Wade, were critical successes. Dixie Banner, released in 1987, was named one of the five best albums of the year by National Public Radio. Farewell My Home, released in 1993, was included on the annual Top Ten list compiled by The Washington Post. Ellis was accompanied on both albums by his son, Bill Ellis, a graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with a degree in classical guitar. In 1993, Ellis played banjo and fiddle in the People's Light and Theater Company's production John Brown's Body in Malvern, PA. The album Quaker Girl followed in 1999, and in mid-2000 Ellis returned with Sounds Like Bluegrass to Me.

    Jack Hatfield (Fri-Sat-Sun) 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. He performs the conventions weddings, and special events throughout East Tennessee with his band True Blue.

    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 next year .He was Bluegrass Director for all three of Banjo Newsletter's Maryland Banjo academys and has directed the BNL/ SPBGMA workshop in Nashville for seventeen years which has featured the top names in the banjo world. Jack was on the faculty of the very FIRST banjo camp, the Tennessee Banjo Institute at Cedars of Lebanon near Nashville in 1988. He was Bluegrass Director for all three of BNL's Maryland Banjo Academys. The SMBA is now going into its eighth year and the merger with Five-String Fest promises to launch it to an all new level.

    Jack is owner/operator of Hatfield Music, providing everything the banjo player needs from instructional materials to banjos to accessories. Jack was featured on the cover of Banjo Newsletter, July 2001.

    Rex McGee (Fri-Sat)is known by three-finger style banjo players all over the world as a leading innovator for a humble instrument. His respected reputation amongst his musical peers extends to other instruments including fiddle and guitar. His performing acclaim is perhaps surpassed by his creative composing and sought after teaching skills. His non-musical career as a pharmacist spans back to 1993 and has contributed to concealing his public profile by limiting his touring and recorded output. He gathered musical friends together in early 2013 for a recording session and the release, Kripplekrunk, has stirred up a contingent of fans hoping to hear more. Thus a fledgling band named after the recording has been born.

    Rex's release in 2000, 24 Creations for Solo Banjo, showcased bluegrass, baroque, atonal, jazz, Irish, rock and other less easily labeled styles and won the affection of adventurous banjo music fans worldwide. His playing and composing were featured on mandolinist Tony Williamson's grammy nominated Sessions At McBane Mill and also the award-winning World Music release by Footloose, Trip to the Moon in 2005. His travels of the US and Canada with flatpicking guitar legend Larry Keel and renowned newgrass vocalist John Cowan produced collaborations with Vassar Clements, Tony Rice, Pat Flynn and many other acoustic musical greats. Rex McGee's roots in traditional music run deep. Born in Winston-Salem, NC and raised on the family farm near Sauratown Mountain, he had early formal training on the piano and fiddle. His father, Rex Sr., accompanied him on piano for weekly performances at the Pollirosa Opry. Grandfather Ralph McGee was a renowned fiddler and contemporary of Round Peak old-time icon Tommy Jarrell. Ralph learned to play from his father Will, a left-handed fiddler who in turn learned from his father on a fiddle made out of a gourd. Rex's grandfather Hamp Easter loaned him his first banjo at age 12 with the condition that he could keep it if he learned how to play it. Rex still has the banjo.

    In addition to performances with the band Kripplekrunk, Rex continues to play shows with his champion mandolinist brother Ralph, fiddles with Celtic rock stars Brynmor, makes occasional appearances with country vocalist and songwriter Lacy Green, plays traditional and original folk tunes with contra dance group Footloose, and jazz/folk with vocalist Martha Bassett. He also is deeply committed in his development the Fiddle Tune Video Archive, an online collection of traditional fiddle tune demonstrations from the Southern, New England, Canadian and British Isles traditions.

    Rex now lives on the family farm where he grew up. He still loves quiet time with his banjo, something a little harder to find as he and his wife raise 5 children in a very, very musical house..

    James McKinney (Fri-Sat-Sun) is an amazing banjo player, one of the most technically precise and advanced players anywhere. He will be performing at Five-String Fest with his band the Night Travelers, and he will be the head judge in the Bluegrass banjo competition on Sunday. James is a true Master of the 5-string banjo. One of the most advanced players anywhere and a Scruggs and Reno style expert, James is also considered a leading expert in jazz and theory in the banjo world, having been mentored by renowned jazz educator, David Baker, and Mr. Henry Ferrel (teacher of Chet Atkins and Jethro Burns). In his early days James played often with legends such as Bill Monroe, Vassar Clements, and John Hartford. James won the South U.S. Banjo Championship at age 15 and in 1982 he won the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas, as well as first-place in dozens of state and regional championships. He made the first of several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, The Porter Wagoner Show, and the stages of Opryland at age 19 as part "Smoky Mountain Sunshine" combining his talents as a banjoist with those of musical arranger. In the 1980's he lived in Dallas and recorded and toured with his band "Danger in the Air" and later moved to Nashville to do full-time touring and studio work. James spent many years as a popular studio musician in Nashville and performed/recorded with the likes of Porter Wagoner, Barbara Mandrell, John Hartford, and Johnny Cash in addition to a long and close friendship and professional relationship with legendary fiddler ,Vassar Clements, with whom he toured and performed as "The Vassar Clements Band". James has recorded on many projects and taught at many major banjo camps including SPGBMA workshops and other Master workshops all over the USA and in Australia. Today, James lives in Atlanta, GA and has launched a new acoustic group called, "The Night Travelers", together with bassist Niki Portmann. They currently tour and play in the southeast region and are soon to release their first CD project, "Campfire".
    Sonny Smith (Sat-Sun) 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.

    Dave Ball Saturday only) 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.
    Marc Smith (Fri-Sat-Sun) 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.
    Jason Bales (Fri-Sat-Sun) is a home grown banjo prodigy. He hails from Pittman Center, just a mile from Dolly Parton's home place. He has performed at Dollywood theme park and other theaters and taught banjo in Sevier County for over fifteen years. Jason has won the RenoFest contest and placed at the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas several times. He is fluent in Scruggs, melodic and single string style and has a ton of experience teaching beginners. His schedule of classes and performances at SMBA will depend on his Dollywood schedule which will not be posted until a week or two before SMBA. His dad is master banjo luthier Ronnie Bales who will also be on the faculty.
    LUTHIERS AND SETUP SPECIALISTS (these include Dave Ball and Marc Smith for open back banjos, and Jack Hatfield for resonator banjos
    Jim Allen (Fri-Sat-Sun) is a Kentucky native. His lifetime day job was flying airplanes, having retired from careers with the Kentucky Air National Guard and US Airways. Interwoven into his flying career has been his passion: BANJO. In fact, his company name is “Jammin Jimmy’s-- All Things Banjo”. Jim teaches bluegrass banjo, has performed in many bands, and has collected many banjos over the years. Currently, Jim is a certified Banjo Revolution Ambassador with Nechville Musical Products, and has worked several festivals doing banjo sales, setup, and customer relations.

    Jim will teach classes on banjo maintenance and setup, bridge selection, and the theory of banjo tone. He will also be the house doctor, repairing and setting up students banjos for free

    Ronnie Bales (Fri-Sat)is a luthier who has in a very short time built a great reputation for producing fine Gibson style reproduction banjos. 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 and/or private lessons.

    Favorite sister Jane Hatfield oversees check-in and registration, runs the office and camp store and keeps Jack on schedule for his classes, which he will teach 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 assists by community outreach, website /social media organizing the faculty concert and working behind the scenes dealing with the little problems that always come up. Many campers have commented on how smoothy things run in general. Jane and Betsy are primarily responsible for this, and can't be thanked enough.

    The full inventory of Hatfield Music banjos will be on display: Deering, Deering Goodtime, Nechville, Gold Star, Gold Tone, Recording King and several used banjos. (See website, click on "home" link below then "used instruments".) Nechville Musical instruments will have many banjos on display including the newest models.

    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!

    Contact SMBA Director Jack Hatfield at:

    Hatfield Productions
    325 Laurelwood Dr.
    Pigeon Forge, TN 37863


    rates subject to increase after April 1st, 2015.

    Help us promote the camp! Click here for a SMBA 2015 flyer to print and post at music stores, teaching studios, concerts, and jam sessions. Please put a couple in your banjo case and hand out to other banjo players!.

    Click here for photos.

    Click here for Yahoo driving directions to Hatfield Music Barn. or Enter in your GPS the address: 317 Laurelwood Dr,Pigeon Forge, TN 37863