Raised on a tobacco farm in the Piedmont of North Carolina, Beth Williams Hartness began singing and taught herself to play guitar at the age of twelve, developing her own unique finger-picking style. Beth was first introduced to old-time music in the 1980s while living in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she became a founding member of the Charlotte Folk Music Society, serving as vice president and festival organizer. Beth has been a vital part of numerous award-winning string bands, and she has won ribbons of her own in competitions for back-up guitar. Her playing is featured on many recordings including The Young Fogies II, Uncle Henry’s Favorites, In Good Company, A Tribute to the Appalachian String Band Music Festival, and several Adam Hurt projects including his most recent release, Artifacts.
Janie Rothfield is an award winning clawhammer banjo player and fiddler who has been playing old-time music “forever.” She has toured professionally for over 35 years, during which she has also been a composer, recording artist, band leader, teacher, and event organizer, with fans around the world. Her clawhammer banjo style borrows heavily from both the traditional and inventive aspects of her fiddle style, and is characterized by great power, drive and in-the-pocket rhythm. She has taught all levels of clawhammer banjo at Banjo Camp North, Janie’s Jumpstart, FOAOTMAD (UK old time group) Welsh Music Weekend, Portland Old Time Music Gathering, and weekends in Germany, Holland, and in Australia! Janie performs with numerous old time and dance bands, and currently tours with the innovative Old Time duo, Hen’s Teeth. Her latest solo CD, “Out of Thin Air,” features 15 of her own compositions.
Beginning his mandolin career in the Carolinas and making his way up to New England via Washington DC, Ben Pearce has played bluegrass mandolin all over the East Coast. Currently playing with multiple regional bands, Ben is also the sole proprietor of the Outlier Workshop (www.outlierworkshop.com), where he toils day and night to create some of the best mandolins and flattop guitars available today. Don’t let his youthful appearance fool you! He knows a huge variety of tunes, songs and mandolin styles as a result of his careful study of many contemporary players as well as first- and second-generation mandolin giants.
Rich Stillman has taught literally hundreds of students to play banjo, both face-to-face and worldwide through Internet lessons. He played and recorded with New England bands Southern Rail, Adam Dewey and Crazy Creek, The Bogus Family and WayStation, and has memorably (at least for him) played sets with Peter Rowan, James Monroe and even the Arlington High School orchestra. Rich wrote “Bluegrass Banjo from All Sides” for Mel Bay, and one of his BCN workshops was turned into a chapter in the book “Banjo Camp”. He is a two-time New England banjo champion, a one-time New Jersey banjo champion, and a six-time bluegrass banjo winner at the Lowell Banjo and Fiddle contest. Rich teaches banjo at Tufts University, Concord Conservatory of Music and Concord Academy and at The Music Emporium in Lexington.
Pete Kelly has played and taught bluegrass and acoustic music for three decades. As an alumnus of The Dale Ann Bradley Band and Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, his recording credits include the IBMA’s 2006 Instrumental Album of the Year, Michael Cleveland’s Let ‘Er Go, Boys! and Bluegrass Now magazine’s 2006 Album of the Year, Dale Ann Bradley’s Catch Tomorrow. His column for Banjo NewsLetter called “Jimmy Martin Banjo,” explored the playing of many of the great banjo pickers who have been part of Jimmy Martin’s band, the Sunny Mountain Boys. In addition to private lessons, Pete has led workshops at festivals throughout the U.S. and U.K.
Dave Kiphuth began playing banjo and guitar in 1962, deeply involved in the New Haven bluegrass and folk scene. By 1963, he was playing with Billy Hamilton’s New Haven based band The Ohio River Boys and later helped found the seminal CT group Apple Country. After moving to Saratoga Springs NY, he had a seven-year stretch with John Rossbach’s Chestnut Grove, and was a member of Bluegrass Union with Phil Rosenthal, Phil Zimmerman, Stacy Philips and Beth Sommers. Equally influenced by hard line Bluegrass pioneers like Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley, and the greats of Round Peak clawhammer style, he formed the bluegrass/old time fusion band Red Hen with Jane Rothfield, Alan Carr and his late wife Linda Schrade. Dave is currently a core member of Cecil Abel’s New England Bluegrass Band, and bluegrass-synthesis band Bolt Hill, both based in the Maine/New Hampshire seacoast region. He’s also a professional artist/illustrator, happy in the woods of Eliot ME with his cat family.
Tom Adams is a 3-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Banjo Player of the Year award. He’s toured and recorded with some of bluegrass music’s most influential artists these past 30 years including the Johnson Mountain Boys, the Lynn Morris Band, Michael Cleveland, Blue Highway, Rhonda Vincent, and Dale Ann Bradley. Gaining national recognition in 1983 for his work with the legendary Jimmy Martin, Tom is recognized as one of the best interpreters and innovators of Scruggs-style playing. Tom’s contribution to the Earl Scruggs Tribute Album earned him the 2013 IBMA award for Recorded Instrumental Performance of the Year.
The music scene in Allison de Groot’s hometown of Winnipeg, Canada, immersion in Appalachian old-time communities, a performance degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and touring extensively throughout North America and Europe have all had a great impact on her playing. She is dedicated to honoring old-time music, the community that music creates and exploring the clawhammer banjo style. Allison de Groot combines love for old-time music, technical skill and a creative approach to the banjo forming her own sound – unique and full of personality. Although firmly rooted in old-time and music, she has shown her ability to collaborate and create outside this genre, pushing the boundaries of the clawhammer banjo.
Cathy Fink is a multi-GRAMMY® Award winning artist continuing a 43 year love affair with the banjo. Her banjo music includes original compositions played on everything from fretless minstrel-style banjos to modern replicas of instruments from the 1920s. Cathy’s first solo banjo recording, “Banjo Haiku” has become an underground bible of the old-time clawhammer style. “Banjo Talkin’”, the 2007 release with special guest, Marcy Marxer, won a GRAMMY® nomination in the “Best Traditional Folk Album” category. Nat Hentoff of The Progressive and Village voice stated, ” Her sound, phrasing, and resilient time combine with a compelling presence.” Cathy teaches banjo online at www.truefire.com, www.homespun.com, and in person at numerous camps & workshops from Augusta to Puget Sound to Mid-West and others. She is the director of “The Old Time Banjo Festival”, an annual concert in tribute to Mike Seeger at the Birchmere Music Hall.
Deemed a “banjo virtuoso” by the Washington Post, Adam Hurt has fused several traditional old-time idioms to create his own elegantly innovative clawhammer banjo style, having been introduced to the instrument at age eleven in his native Minnesota. A respected performer and teacher of traditional music, Adam has played at the Kennedy Center and conducted banjo workshops around the country and abroad. Since moving south in 2002, Adam has placed in or won most of the major old-time banjo competitions, including three first-place finishes at Clifftop, and he has claimed several state banjo and fiddle championships. Adam’s music can be heard on multiple recordings.