Brandon Green to ETSU

Back in July, we posted about the job being advertised for a Bluegrass Lecturer at East Tennessee State University. The full time (9 month) position has been filled, with the post going to Brandon Green of Sophia, WV.

Brandon has performed on banjo with Canada’s Abrams Brothers, and is an endorser for Prucha Banjos. He had been enrolled in the Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music program at ETSU for a year before transferring to Concord University in West Virginia. At Concord, Brandon earned an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Music and Business, focusing on a study of classical music on the five string banjo.

He has just finished his move to Johnson City with his wife and young son, and tells us that he will be teaching three courses, directing 2 bluegrass groups and carrying 15 private students this semester.

Dan Boner, Director of the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music program, is happy to have him on board.

“Brandon is an exceptional musician and teacher. With the new B.A. degree in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music, we need faculty members of his caliber. Many know him as a banjo virtuoso, and he plays nearly all of the bluegrass instruments exceptionally well. He is teaching a number of our courses: Intro to Bluegrass and Country Music Theory; Bluegrass and Country Music Theory II; Bluegrass Harmony Singing; a couple of bluegrass band classes; and a number of individual instruction guitar, bluegrass banjo, old-time banjo, and dobro students. We are all glad to have Brandon here as part of our team!”

Boner also shared that enrollment in the ETSU program is continuing to rise. They had 198 students enrolled in the Spring for individual instrumental and vocal instruction, and this semester it looks like that number has increased to 220. Dan says that lots of great things are happening for them.

“The new Bachelor of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music, which we began offering this past spring, has proven to be quite successful.  In our 2008 major proposal, we estimated that we would have approximately 18 declared majors at the end of year one. I am proud to say that we have been auditioning students for only four months, and already we have 31 declared majors!

Hunter Berry and Adam Steffey are back at ETSU this semester teaching individual instrumental instruction. In addition, Adam is directing one of our 25 band classes for the first time.

New hires include guitar instructor, Jeremy Fritts, from the Fritts Family Band. Roy Andrade, who is responsible for coordinating Old Time Music activities, is now an Assistant Professor. Founding member of the Steep Canyon Rangers, Lee Bidgood, has joined our faculty as Assistant Professor.  Colleen Trenwith, fiddler for the New Zealand bluegrass band, Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, is a full-time instructor. In January we hired multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer, Ben Bateson as our Recording Laboratory Manager.  Our most recent hire is our Lecturer and multi-instrumentalist, Brandon Green from West Virginia.

We have so many students who are getting their feet wet in the professional circuit. Bluegrass minor, Danny Stewart, is currently playing bass for the Larry Stephenson band. Kameron Keller, who was a bluegrass minor last year, just secured a job playing bass for Steve Gulley.  Jared Hensley and Seth Patton, both bluegrass minors, are working with Alecia Nugent. Chris Wade, banjo player and bluegrass minor, is performing with former ETSU Bluegrass student, Darrell Webb. I know many Bluegrass Blog readers have seen the Next Best Thing at bluegrass festivals all over the country and in Canada this year.  Sally Berry, Tensel Sandker, Haley Stiltner, and Brent Burke are all ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Program students.

There is a brand new group of young, energetic, musicians here at ETSU who have discovered bluegrass and want to learn more about the profession while, at the same time, earning a college degree. We are still proud to be the Home of Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music in Higher Education – 28 years and counting!”

You can find more details about the Bachelors Degree in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music online at

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.