BANJO NEWSLETTER/SPBGMA WORKSHOP February 4th, 2011
Directed by Jack Hatfield

Sheraton Music City, Nashville, Tennessee
Featuring

GREG CAHILL

The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrasss Music of America (SPBGMA) event is a four-day indoor bluegrass festival/show/awards ceremony in Nashville. The SPBGMA show features round-the-clock jamming, top name performers, the highest-paying and most respected bluegrass band contest in the world, plus the SPBGMA Bluegrass Awards show on Sunday (the bluegrass equivalent of the CMA awards). SPBGMA draws the top amateur and semi-pro bands from all over the country, with non-stop jamming, various workshops and promoters' meetings, and vendors with everything a bluegrass fan could ever want. In MUSIC CITY yet! In addition to the workshop, the students and their families were free to attend the Grand Ole Opry, see the famous shops and clubs such as Ernest Tubb's and Linebaughs' on Broadway, and go to the world famous Station Inn to see top bluegrass artists perform.

The Banjo Newsletter/SPBGMA workshops have featured names such as Eddie Adcock, Charlie Cushman, Bill Keith, Bela Fleck, J.D. Crowe, Terry Baucom, Sammy Shelor, Scott Vestal, Doug Dillard, Wayne Erbson, Ross Nickerson, Doug Dillard, Butch Robins, Bill Evans, Sonny Osborne, Scott Vestal, James McKinney, Alan Munde and Pete Wernick. Banjo luthiers and setup techs have included: Steve Huber, Mark Taylor, Frank Neat, Curtis McPeake, Geoff Stelling, Gary Price, Arthur Hatfield, Tony Wray, Bill Palmer, Snuffy Smith, Charlie Cushman, and Tom Nechville. BNL writers who have participated include: Janet Davis, Murphy Henry, Ross Nickerson, Pete Kelly, Ian Perry, Ira Gitlin, Andy Cushing, and Eddie Collins.

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At 9:00 AM Jim Pankey has been playing and teaching banjo since 1977. He has been a contributor to the premier banjo publication Banjo Newsletter. You will also find him listed among the faculty alumni at highly esteemed acoustic music and banjo camps such as Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Camp in Maryville, Tennessee and The Maryland Banjo Academy .  Jim has also recently taught classes at the Folk School of Chattanooga. As a master of several styles, Jim has found outlets for each of these in the musical community. He is the banjo player for the well known bluegrass group The Lone Mountain Band. He performs regularly in an old time fiddle & banjo duo playing for contra-dances and other functions. Jim also spends time offering online assistance to beginner banjo players via the internet through a site that he maintains for the sole purpose of promoting the instrument and encouraging other players. Jim is an active and well respected member of the banjo and musical communities and continues to pursue the banjo’s music and its marvelous history. Jim’s banjo prowess has earned him both Tennessee and Georgia State championships in bluegrass and clawhammer styles.is a long-time contributor to Banjo Newsletter magazine,and has been on the faculty of the Maryland Banjo Academy and Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamps. Jim will discuss beginner level topics for the bluegrass banjo player and spend a little time on clawhammer for the beginner.

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From 10:30 -12:00 AM. workshop director, Banjo Newsletterand Mel Bay author Jack Hatfield will take the podium. Jack is a 35- year contributor to Banjo Newsletter magazine. He published his first banjo instruction book in 1979, and has continued on that track with over a dozen Hatfield Music publications and five Mel Bay titles and an internet business Hatfield Music which caters to five-string banjoist. Jack was on the faculty of the very first banjo camp, the Tennessee Banjo Institute in 1988, and was bluegrass director for all three of Banjo Newsletter's Maryland Banjo Academys. He is currently director of his own banjo camp Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Jack recently published the third book of his Bluegrass Banjo Method series Backup Techniques on the Five-String Banjo, and is currently working on a new Mel Bay publication Best of Jack Hatfield, due for release in early spring.

Jack will address intermediate level topics and demonstrate examples from his recent book "Backup Techniques on the Five-String Banjo" and preview what will hopefully be considered some remarkable new techniques and arrangements from Best of Jack Hatfield. ( Jack says if anybody mentions them even once, even in a negative context, it is a "remark", so that would qualify them as "remarkable").

At 12:00 there will a one-hour break for lunch. Attendees can browse the vendor area or take in the stage show. Banjos can be left in the workshop room where they will be watched.

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Steve Huber will begin his session at 1:00. Steve is recognized worldwide as a luthier extrodinairre, president of Huber Banjo Company, and a respected prewar Gibson expert. He recently unveiled a new line of banjos called Truetone based on extensive research on pre-war Gibson tone ring analysis, and Gibson rim design/construction methods of the 1930's. Steve has published an instructional DVD on banjo setup called Killer Tone by Acutab Publications. Steve will give a detailed explanation of banjo construction and explain basic setup techniques, as well as sharing his insight and theories on banjo design as well as commenting on identifying and collecting pre-war Gibson banjos.

Steve has recently launched a new web site. Banjo Town is designed to facilitate Steve’s secondary passion, buying and selling vintage Gibson banjos. His Huber line has as part of its raison d’etre to build banjos that emulate the sound, look and playability of the classic banjos from the 1930s, a vision sparked by his fondness for collecting vintage banjos. Over the years, Steve has become one of the banjo world’s “go to guys” as a broker for the sale of valuable older banjos, and BanjoTown will allow him to take this aspect of his business online. Huber hopes that the site will not only allow buyers with a serious interest in obtaining a pre war banjo to find out what he has for sale – with multiple photos – but also assist sellers, especially those unfamiliar with the banjo collector’s world. “I think a lot of people generally understand that older instruments might be valuable, but if they have their grandfather’s old banjo, and are considering offering it for sale, they just don’t where to start. We want to build a site that makes that part of the process much easier, and allow them to get in touch with us to find out more about the process.” All instruments in the Gibson banjo line will be offered, including four and five string models, plus banjo mandolins and ukes – as available. As Steve has more time to devote to the new site, he plans to post some of the Gibson historical data and collectible ephemera he has amassed over the years.

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Greg Cahill is the featured artist for the 15th annual Banjo Newsletter/SPBGMA banjo workshop. Greg has been around the bluegrass business for 35 years and is undoubtedly the best -known banjo player in the Chicago region. Currently he is touring worldwide with his band Special Concensus and is president of the International Bluegrass Music Association. He was featured in the August 2010 issue of Banjo Newsletter Magazine.

From recent Bluegrass Unlimited article by Chris Stuart:

Greg grew up in the Chicago area in a musical family. His grandfather gave him a harmonica early and taught him his first tunes. His mother was a honkytonk piano player and his father was a tenor in the church choir. In true Midwest tradition, Greg took up the accordion at eight years old. But, it was in high school that he first saw someone play banjo in the style of Dave Guard of the Kingston Trio. Greg was soon deep into the folk boom, playing a 12-string guitar and long-neck Silvertone and Vega banjos. He was also listening to a lot of blues players in Chicago, as well as other folk artists such as Steve Goodman. After graduating high school in 1964, Greg attended St. Mary’s College in Winona, Minn, and played in a folk trio. In his junior year, his friend Pat Frawley played Greg an LP that changed the course of his life—Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Banjo. Greg recalls, “I tried to figure this out on my longneck banjo. First, I put my fingerpicks on backwards.” He soon figured it out, though, and began learning the intricacies of bluegrass banjo. And then, world interrupted in the form of the Vietnam War. In 1968, Greg enlisted in the Army. “I was basically not in favor of the war, but I didn’t want to go to Canada, so I went in.” He was in basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., when a simulated hand grenade blew up next to him and he suffered significant hearing loss—enough to end his career as an infantryman and put him behind a desk. It’s still difficult for Greg to talk about the rest of his platoon, many of whom were killed in Vietnam. His hearing remains impaired today, in the form of tinnitis, a constant ringing in the ears. In 1970, Greg went back to civilian life and graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago. While there, he started going to festivals and took a few banjo lessons from Richard Hood who played in the Greater Chicago Bluegrass Band. By this time, Greg had bought a Sears Silvertone banjo and then a Gibson Mastertone. He started hanging out in Hyde Park jamming and meeting others interested in bluegrass. Greg’s teaching of kids began early in his career. After earning a master’s in social work in 1974, he became director of a nonprofit organization working with youth programs in the Chicago area. He was also giving free banjo lessons to kids. Taking bluegrass in to the schools would later become a huge part of Special Consensus’s identity as a band. In 1975, Greg and bass player Mark Edelstei started Special Consensus. The name seems odd, even for the early ’70s. It comes from two sources. The people Greg was playing music with came from different walks of life so they described it as there being a “special consensus” for playing music together. But more specifically, the phrase comes from the Don Juan books of Carlos Castaneda. Greg says, “The Yaqui Indians believed ‘special consensus’ was the place where the good in the spiritual world comes together with the good stuff in the physical world.” - Chris Stuart, Bluegrass unlimited Magazine.

Greg will be teaching the advanced segment from 2:30-4:00 PM.

The workshop admission allows access to all areas of the huge SPBGMA convention all day Friday the 4th 2011 including the stage show, which would normally require full paid SPBGMA admission.

Suggested hotel if you are not staying at the Sheraton: Alesis Inn, a few blocks away. About 60 bucks per night with full breakfast bar included. 615-889-4466. You can catch a shuttle to the Sheraton.

to download a registration form which you can print, fill out and return by mail, click here:

BNL/SPBGMA 2011 Registration Form

Driving directions to workshop:

from I-40, just East of downtown Nashville, take Briley Parkway North (towards Opryland Hotel/Opry Mills).

Immediately take Elm Hill Pike exit, Merge right onto Elm Hill pike.

Go approximately two tenths of a mile, turn right on McGavok Pk.

Go approximately a quarter mile to Music City Sheraton on left.

Once inside, bear left through vendor area to the Two Rivers Room. There will be someone at the Hatfield Music booth to assist you and take walk-in registrations.

Questions? Send email to jack@hatfieldmusic.com or call toll-free: 800-426-8744

Call toll-free 1-800-426-8744 or email jack@hatfieldmusic.com for registration information.