Pete Wernick Announces Banjo Camp Scholarship Winners

Pete Wernick has announced the Banjo Camp scholarship winners. They are Jim Gabehart of Hinton, West Virginia, and Jordan Alleman, 18, of Portland, Oregon. Each will participate in Wernick’s Advanced Banjo Camp taking place from January 16 through to 21, 2012.

Gabehart will attend thanks to the generosity of Stelling Banjo Works and Alleman is the recipient of donations received at last January’s annual Banjo Camp concert.

Wernick says of the two winners,

“Jim and Jordan’s skills and motivation will help spark all the participants in their quest to excel on banjo and to help their bands sound their best. We are very grateful to Geoff Stelling and to the other contributors for making these scholarships possible.”

Jim Gabehart was ecstatic on receiving the news of his scholarship award.

“It was a thrill when my wife handed me the phone and said ‘It’s Pete Wernick’; at that point I figured he wasn’t calling to tell me I wasn’t getting the scholarship. We had an hour long conversation and that alone was a thrill.

I learned to play largely through the Earl Scruggs book and accompanying album, but one of the other secondary tools I had was a Music Minus One album and tab book that Pete and the other Country Cooking members had recorded, and I learned a lot from it.

I was a huge Hot Rize fan and have all (I believe) of their recordings. Because I learned to play largely from tablature and albums, and observation ‘from afar,’ and I believe I could benefit from an ‘up close and personal’ experience with someone of his stature. I also said although most of what I play was learned in the time before my wife and I decided to settle down and raise our family (pre-1990), I’m out to prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

We have a busy year planned and have shows in seven states already booked, and plan to do a new recording (following a successful re-launch with It’s My Turn last year) with our new bass player and vocalist John ‘Buckwheat’ Green (former Lonesome River Band member). Somewhere between booking, promoting, arranging new material, I am trying to elevate my own instrumental ability. I’m really looking forward to devoting the entire week to nothing but learning and improving my instrumental ability.

I want to thank Stelling Banjos for the scholarship, without which my attendance wouldn’t be possible, and Pete Wernick for giving me this opportunity. I think a lot of older, part-time players can identify with me when I say, I know I’ll never be the player I could have been if I had devoted my life to music, but I know I can be better than I am, and I’m looking forward to this step in my further growth as a musician.”

Regular Bluegrass Today correspondent Gabeheart will be reporting on the activities and his camp experience for us next month.

Jim and his wife, Valerie, lead a band (Jim and Valerie Gabehart) that plays throughout the east, and Jordan Alleman will start studies at Berklee College of Music in the fall.

Wernick’s winter camps, the “original” Banjo Camps, have been held annually in Colorado since 1980.

There is still room for some students for the classes for the Basic Skills week (January 2-7) and for the Intermediate week (January 9-14).

Visit the Dr Banjo website for information and registration details.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.