Buffalo Grove, IL
Aaron Dorfman is a full-time freelance musician in Chicago, proud to make music education the primary focus of his career. Aaron played guitar for the well-known Chicago-based bluegrass band, Henhouse Prowlers for 3 years, touring the US, Europe, and with the US State Department in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Uganda, Kenya, Pakistan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan! Aaron offers private and group lessons on multiple instruments, with the goal that all his students have as much fun as possible through their exploration of their instrument.
Andy Lentz started on fiddle with the Suzuki technique, and has been jamming and performing bluegrass and other roots styles for over twenty years. Before recently relocating to Oakland CA, Andy performed in and around Austin TX with Silas Lowe, High Plains Jamboree, and various other groups. In addition to gigging on fiddle, Andy teaches private lessons, presents fiddle workshops, and plays guitar and mandolin.
N. Liberty, IA
Annie Savage is an enthusiastic instructor and performer of bluegrass, as well as old-time and classical music. She believes that the art of music is most thoroughly enjoyed when shared with others.
A prize-winning contest fiddler from the age of 8, Annie has performed with Aretha Franklin, Ricky Skaggs, and as a member of Jeff Scroggins and Colorado. She holds degrees from the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Boston Conservatory/Berklee College of Music, as well as serving on the teaching staff of bluegrass camps from Tennessee to Canada!
Austin Scelzo has played music since age 11 in a variety of styles, first in a folk/singer songwriter band and currently in bluegrass bands the Angry O’Haras and On the Trail, performing traditional and cutting-edge bluegrass including original music, on fiddle, mandolin, bass, and guitar.
A full-time public school music teacher in Darien, Austin has a Bachelor of Science in Music Education and is certified in the American Music System and the Mark O’Connor Method. He is passionate about empowering others and inspiring lifelong participation and love of music.
Scotch Plains, NJ
Barry Mitterhoff has played bluegrass mandolin professionally for over 40 years, appearing in 49 states and 18 countries. He has toured with Peter Rowan, Jorma Kaukonen, Tony Trischka, Hazel Dickens, and many bluegrass bands, and performed from the White House to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and in Moscow and Brazil.
Barry has taught privately since the 1970s and at many leading camps and workshops throughout the U.S., in Canada, and England.
Elk Rapids, MI
Billy Lee Farmer has been playing Bluegrass and traditional music for over 30 years, and performing with several bands including “Raisin Pickers” (Michigan) and “WhoYaSay” (Colorado), as well as cajun/zydeco bands.
Bill’s passion for Bluegrass jamming was ignited at his first Bluegrass festival in 1992, where he studied with Pete Wernick and others, leading him deep into the wonderful kinship of Bluegrass jamming. As an experienced Bluegrasser, Bill’s objective now is to share the joy and knowledge he has gained and, through the Wernick Method, to welcome new members into our growing, jamming Bluegrass community.
Billy Lee’s Camps
Boca Raton, FL
Bob Altschuler has performed and recorded on banjo with multiple bluegrass bands, presently with Cadence Hollow. His picking has been heard on National Public Radio and on radio and TV commercials. An in-demand private lesson and workshop instructor since the 70s, he has been on the Banjo Camp North faculty since 2002. Bob is also a popular Wernick Method jam instructor. Before moving to Florida he taught many jam classes in upstate NY, helping students on all instruments expand their jamming skills. Bob has also led many ongoing jams.
St Johnsbury, VT
Bob Amos was the lead singer, guitarist and principal songwriter of the IBMA award-winning Front Range band from 1988-2003. The Colorado-based band toured America and Europe, and their 5 Sugar Hill records received airplay on Bluegrass and Americana radio. Sing Out! magazine called Bob “one of the most consistently interesting and intelligent songwriters in American music.” Bob now lives in northeastern Vermont and is enthused to start teaching jam classes.
Buck Thrailkill was born in Meridian, MS and started playing banjo at age 12. Mentored by his big brother and Lee Jackson (Carl Jackson’s Dad), he grew up playing all over the south, touring on the Magnolia State Bluegrass Circuit at age 15. He played and taught banjo and guitar till joining the Army in 1981.
After his service Buck settled in North Carolina where he performs and records with several bands ranging from hardcore Bluegrass to Country, Blues, and Folk. Buck owns Fifth String Studio in Fayetteville, NC where he teaches and creates customized “Made in Carolina” leather instrument straps.
Chris Armstrong is a multi-instrumentalist who has performed and taught private and group lessons for over fifteen years, and is now teaching at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky. He can be seen playing guitar, banjo, mandolin or bass on the KET television program, The Lanham Brothers Jamboree and has played bass on the Kentucky Opry. Chris currently performs in the local production of the Steve Martin musical ”Bright Star.”
Chris Brashear plays fiddle, mandolin and guitar and sings lead and harmony parts. With over 25 years of professional experience as a performer, producer, teacher, recording artist and songwriter, he also maintains a veterinary practice! Chris has performed in numerous bands including Robin and Linda Williams, Kentucky Rose and the Maurizio Geri Swingtet.
He is a popular instructor at camps and festivals nationwide, including Augusta Heritage, the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, Banjo and Mandolin Camps North, Berea College Music Festival, and the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention.
Chris Roszell is a recent arrival in Denver from North Carolina. He has played bluegrass banjo professionally for over 15 years with many bands including Colorado’s Blue Canyon Boys, Scott Slay and The Rail, and Big Fat Gap. He spends a lot of time thinking about teaching and about music. Since picking up the banjo he has taught a wide variety of students, hoping to instill in them the confidence and ability to play with others and to foster a love for bluegrass music. During that time, he also spent 7 years as a middle school math teacher.
Dan Whitener is from Washington, DC, and is currently performing on banjo in the New York / New Jersey / Pennsylvania scene. He has hit the Billboard Bluegrass charts with both the Emmy-nominated bluegrass-hiphop band Gangstagrass and Philadelphia’s own Newgrass Americana band Man About A Horse. Dan has taught banjo, guitar, mandolin, piano, and voice since 2008 up and down the East Coast and enjoys teaching bluegrass fundamentals.
Dave Howard has enjoyed years of singing and playing mandolin throughout the U.S. with The 23 String Band – winners of the Louisville Music Awards Bluegrass Artist of the Year – and with the Louisville-based Relic Bluegrass band. He has played and sung on numerous television, radio, and feature film programs.
He recently apprenticed as a fiddler, supported by the Kentucky Arts Council. Dave directs the Louisville Folk School, a traditional music education community he founded in 2015, and sits on the board of Bluegrass Anonymous – Louisville’s Bluegrass Music Association.
Dave Kiphuth became well-known for his banjo work with the respected Connecticut band Apple Country, performing throughout the Northeast and South in the 1970s and 80s. He went on to work with Lonesome Dave and the North Dixie Road Kings, Chestnut Grove, Walt Michael & Company, and the Red Hen String Band.
Dave has taught banjo and guitar extensively since the 1960s and ran a popular bluegrass jam in Ballston Spa, NY before moving to Maine.
David Benway started picking rhythm guitar and singing on tailgates, fields, and around campfires some 15 years ago. Bluegrass festivals throughout New England became a passionate summertime experience, with jamming always a highlight. In 2010 David formed the VT-based band “Chasing 440” from fellow parking-lot pickers who stepped out of the field and onto the stage, performing locally.
The transition to Wernick Method jam teaching is a natural evolution of his musical direction. David makes no pretense about his instrumental skills: he will tell you that he makes the most of the gifts he has.
Debbie Wagner was introduced to guitar in grade school and quickly developed a love for the instrument. She has led jams for over 10 years, teaches guitar to beginning adults, and performs in a duo in her local community for charity events.
Debbie enjoys many different music styles, and bluegrass became a favorite in 2013 at her first bluegrass camp, which she attends each year. She has recently taken up mandolin, learning by Skype from another Wernick Method teacher in Tennessee. Debbie is thrilled to introduce the Wernick Method to the Green Bay area.
Derwin Hinson grew up in North Carolina playing and singing in his family’s gospel band. In his early 20s he joined Charlie Louvin’s band and the next week played his first time on the Grand Ole Opry. For years he worked as a sideman in Nashville and hosted a weekly bluegrass night at the Bell Cove Club, where Bill Monroe was a frequent guest.
A multi-instrumentalist, Derwin has taught lessons since 1977. For years he has toured as the “One-Man Gospel Band”, hosted a weekly bluegrass jam, and makes merry as a premier Santa Claus.
Duck Adkins has performed throughout the United States and around the world, including Lincoln Center in New York, the San Francisco Wharf, and the International House of Music in Moscow. Jim has taught banjo and led jams since 1975. He is also a world-class duck impressionist–thus his nickname ‘Duck’. Jim makes his home in Marietta, GA and performs with two bands, Cedar Hill and Atlanta BlueGrace.
Fort Collins, CO
Ed Harvey has been playing, writing, performing and recording music since the 1990s, mostly on acoustic guitar and upright bass. He also plays banjo, mandolin, mountain dulcimer, autoharp, and fiddle at the beginner level. Ed is a geologist, water scientist, and former university professor, and now also plays upright bass with the Nebraska Bluegrass Boys band.
He’s released a CD, Stories Seldom Told, featuring his original folk and bluegrass music. Ed jams regularly, attends several bluegrass camps each year, and hosts a weekly bluegrass jam in Fort Collins for beginner and intermediate players.
With a Master’s in Education and 15 years of teaching math, Ellen Carlson knows what it means to be accountable for students learning what she teaches. Having started fiddle at a young age, she is a versatile and in-demand performer as well as a sought-after teacher. She has taught bluegrass at Fiddle Hell, festivals including Grey Fox and Pemi Valley, and with Pete and Joan Wernick at their Jam Camps. She runs her own camp as well and leads the NH Fiddle Ensemble, a 100+ member “orchestra”. Ellen performs bluegrass with High Range, Rock Spring, and EC & The Darrellicks.
Ellen Carlson and Melissa Bragdon Caron co-direct the New Hampshire Fiddle Ensemble. Ellen has been performing for 35 years, currently with High Range. She teaches fiddle, guitar and mandolin, privately and at major festivals.
Melissa, a versatile fiddler and music teacher, helped develop the 317 Main Community Music Center in Yarmouth. She teaches at her home studio, and plays with the Jerks of Bluegrass.
Erik Yates has been singing and playing the banjo for the past twenty years as a means of self-expression, a way of connecting with tradition, and surprisingly, as a way of making a living.
He tours nationally with California-based Hot Buttered Rum (a group he started in college), plays around Colorado with both his own quartet and the Lyons Bluegrass Collective, and has appeared with touring acts such as Rapidgrass, Railroad Earth and Peter Rowan. He also maintains an active schedule teaching banjo, rhythm guitar, dobro and vocals.
Fred Staunton was first taken by bluegrass in 1980 while attending the Skyline Bluegrass Festival in WV, seeing and hearing John Hartford and the Osborne Brothers. Twenty years later he was playing electric and acoustic guitar in a worship band at church.
Fred took up banjo in the early 2010s, playing in a group from his church playing Bluegrass arrangements of gospel hymns at nursing homes and various church events. He’s looking forward to sharing the Wernick Method for bluegrass jamming with like-minded pickers in the Columbus OH area.
Gabe Hirshfeld grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. At fifteen, listening to Car Talk on the radio he heard Earl Scruggs. The sound of the banjo spoke to him as no other and it changed his life. After obsessing over the banjo for several years and attending three Pete Wernick camps, Gabe started to play in bluegrass bands around Boston and studied at the Berklee College of Music.
While at Berklee he co-founded The Lonely Heartstring Band, which made successful records and toured nationally for several years. Gabe now lives in a house full of musicians in Brighton, Massachusetts.
Boiling Springs, SC
Gilbert Nelson has been a regular on the jam scene for 30 years, with a passion for jamming, performing and teaching a variety of instruments. Gilbert’s teaching is action packed and always encouraging, emphasizing fun and success, providing a safe and supportive learning environment while still finding ways to stretch comfort zones and bring students to a higher level of musical maturity. Gilbert leads his own band “The Jam Town Grass” as well as coaching other groups in musicianship and stagecraft.
Gilles Rézard discovered bluegrass music at 16. He started learning guitar, then fell in love with the banjo. His two solo albums and recent cover feature in Banjo Newsletter magazine have brought him international acclaim. Based in Ige, Burgundy, music is his full-time activity, performing with Saga Trio as well as teaching. Gilles has taught hundreds of students (on banjo, guitar and mandolin) in more than 80 music camps since 2005. To improve connections between French bluegrass musicians, he has created a map locating all who register by emailing him.
Graham Sones is a more than forty-year veteran of the banjo, a Scruggs-style picker who enjoys his craft and helping students learn to play. Born in Rochester, MN with strong family ties in Des Moines and the Arkansas hills, he grew up with bluegrass music and festivals. His picking, singing, and recording experience includes three years with Monroe Crossing all over the Midwest at festivals, concerts, and fairs, as well as with bands such as DriveTime and No Grass Limit, and currently the Tony Rook Band.
Gray Toney is a well-respected guitar and banjo instructor in South Mississippi. He has over 25 years’ experience teaching, and has students ranging from age 7 to 72. He currently teaches from his home studio, and via Skype, with students in Australia, England, California, Virginia, and Illinois. Gray has played in numerous groups and is currently playing with the bluegrass/gospel group Cross Creek. Gray’s friendly nature and ability to make students feel comfortable in a group situation make him an ideal
Mooloolah Valley, QLD, Australia
Greg McGrath has been a bluegrass musician and teacher since 1990, teaching banjo and guitar during that time.
Since attending Pete Wernick’s 2007 jam camp in North Carolina, he has hosted numerous jam classes and camps in Australia for beginner musicians. Greg excels at giving students the skills and confidence needed to be a part of—and to feel welcome at—any jam session.
Ridley Park, PA
Harry Gambrill was bit by the bluegrass bug early and began playing the banjo at age twelve. He plays banjo with regional bluegrass band The Jersey Corn Pickers. Harry also plays the bass, dobro, and guitar, and has been giving lessons for over 20 years.
Heidi Olsen has long been involved in the bluegrass scene in the Central New Jersey area, playing banjo with her band Heidi Olsen and The Night, and hosting the Bluegrass Jam radio program for 12 years. Heidi’s mission in life is to pass on her love of bluegrass by encouraging others to sing and play together.
To that end she started a workshop ten years ago which has introduced many students to the joys of jamming. Students praise Heidi’s patient teaching style and her ability to get everyone jamming in a non-threatening environment.
Ira Gitlin is widely known and respected in Washington-Baltimore music circles as a versatile multi-instrumentalist, teacher, and writer. A winner of the National Bluegrass Banjo Championship at Winfield, he has also performed with such nationally known performers as the Johnson Mountain Boys, Laurie Lewis, and Peter Rowan. Ira has taught at many camps and workshops, helping students master the basic skills that will make them a welcome presence at any jam session.
Jeanette Curry began teaching 5-string banjo and guitar in the 1980s and now also teaches beginning mandolin. She has performed at bluegrass festivals and state fairs in the Midwest, and at Silver Dollar City in Branson, has played with bluegrass bands including Flint Hill Flash, Subject to Change, and currently plays with Gloryband, Stained Glass Bluegrass, and The Good Shepherd Pickers as part of an outreach ministry.
Jeanette studied music at the Hutchinson Community Junior College in Kansas and currently teaches at the Arkansas Music Conservatory in Bentonville.
Jeff Burke has been performing on mandolin, guitar, and banjo since 1999–a sought-after sideman who’s toured the U.S. and Europe with a variety of acoustic and bluegrass acts. A certified Wernick Method teacher, he has hosted bluegrass jamming classes in several states, including at the John Hartford Festival in Bean Blossom, IN and the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN.
His down-to-earth teaching style and positive approach to learning music have endeared him to students far and wide. Jeff splits his time between Nashville and Chicago where he currently offers jamming classes as well as private instruction.
Kansas City, MO
Jeff Elsloo has played and taught music most of his life, specializing in banjo, guitar, and steel guitar. Winning or placing in instrument contests from a young age, he progressed in many styles with bands including 3 Trails West, Hula Girl, and Salty Dog. He has run workshops on banjo and the history of bluegrass, and run jams at bluegrass music clubs in the Kansas City area.
Jeff Harding sings and plays the guitar and dobro and has been playing and teaching bluegrass all over the world for the last 30 years. He’s performed, recorded, toured and taught in the USA, Guatemala, Egypt, India and Mexico where he played with the bluegrass band Chilangrass. “No matter where people come from or what language they speak, they quickly learn to love bluegrass music.”
PensonStringWorks is the home of Jim Penson, long-time bluegrass musician, teacher, and luthier. He specializes in bluegrass banjo, having played since the 1970s, with The Bee Creek Boys, The Front Porch Boys, Whitehouse Harmony, Eazy Pickinz, and DeAnn Spence and Full House. He also plays rhythm guitar, lead and flatpick guitar, dobro, and a little mandolin. Born in Illinois, not exactly a hotbed of bluegrass activity, he moved south to Texas in the early 1980s.
Haddon Heights, NJ
Jimmy Heffernan is a multi-instrumentalist, specializing in resonator “dobro” guitar. In bluegrass and country music for over 40 years, he has performed and recorded with top names such as Larry Sparks, Red Allen, Brad Paisley, Charlie Louvin, and many more at venues including the Tonight show and the Grand Ole Opry. These days with the tour bus parked Jimmy focuses on teaching, sharing his music experience with pickers of all levels through workshops and videos.
Jodi Harbin is a career musician who teaches mandolin, guitar, banjo and bass. She was the founder of the Colorado bluegrass band, Lonesome Traveler, and has continued her involvement in the bluegrass community after moving to the Knoxville area. She now performs with several groups including The Savage Hearts, and with her husband Tim Harbin.
Working with Steve Kaufman at his camp every summer has exposed her to a wide range of teachers and teaching materials on all the bluegrass instruments.
Joel Denman has been a music teacher in the in the Denver area public schools since 1990. He fell in love with bluegrass as a teenager and now specializes in fiddle, guitar and baritone vocals as a longtime member of Kantankerous and Lannie Garrett’s Patsy DeCline show. With a degree from Berklee College of Music, he also plays professionally in bluegrass, blues, rock, jazz, and country bands.
As a jam coach, Joel mixes his easy-going personality with a drive to inspire life-long musicians. Joel is currently on the board of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society.
John David is a master on banjo, mandolin, dobro, guitar, and harmonica. He also plays fiddle and bass. He toured with music luminaries the Limeliters, performed with Leon Redbone, and has recorded for many television shows, commercials, and movie soundtracks.
John created two instructional videos, on banjo and mandolin, for the Warner Brothers “Ultimate Beginner” series. While the Denver Post describes him as a “guitarist’s guitarist”, John is also eager to help everyday people with the challenges of learning to jam.
John Holenko runs Charleston, SC’s popular folk music school Hungry Monk Music — a place to gather with friends and be encouraged to explore a lifelong love of music. He has published several instruction books with Mel Bay and teaches Bluegrass, Irish music, singing, songwriting, guitar, mandolin and folk dance forms at camps in Charleston, Boston and Maine. John plays in numerous bands and performs and records with The Hungry Monks.
John Treacy of Olympia, Washington plays mandolin and guitar and sings lead and harmony vocals. Since the ‘90s he has performed in numerous bands, playing a mix of old time, bluegrass, and other acoustic string music.
John teaches mandolin and has offered workshops on jamming and bluegrass repertoire at Walker Creek Music Camp, California Bl