Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy back to Pigeon Forge

Smoky Mountain Banjo AcademyJack Hatfield reminded us yesterday that his Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy has moved back to Pigeon Forge, TN, and will be held in the barn adjacent to his business.

The Academy grew out of the remnants of the Maryland Banjo Academy, which was run by the staff of Banjo NewsLetter in the 1990s. When they ended their camp, Jack agreed to keep the concept going at another location. And that concept is what makes SMBA unique.

The idea is to host a whirlwind of workshops over three days, covering a wide range of topics, for both old time and three finger banjoists at a variety of skill levels. Each of these classes runs for about an hour, and then everybody switches up. Just like high school!

In case there isn’t a class scheduled that captures your interest at any time, there are also mini-concerts and opportunities for private lessons provided throughout the day.

The camp was held last year in concert with the Five String Fest in North Carolina, but it is now back in Tennessee where it had been held since leaving Maryland. For many years it was hosted by a retreat facility near Gatlinburg, but Jack has brought it home to a barn he purchased several years ago for this purpose.

The staff this year for the May 3-5 event includes standouts in both bluegrass and old time playing.


  • Kristin Scott-Benson
  • Tony Ellis
  • Jason Burleson
  • Butch Robins
  • Wayne Erbsen
  • Rex McGee
  • James McKinney
  • Sonny Smith
  • Jason Bales

Old time:

  • Dave Ball
  • Marc Smith
  • Tony Ellis

There will also be banjo set up available from Nechville, Ronnie Bales, and Dave Ball.

Full details and registration information can be found online.

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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.