Mandolin & Fiddle Camp North
April 17-19, 2015
Banjo Camp North
May 15-17, 2015
Banjo Camp North - Fall Edition

Click for BCN Photo Gallery


May 15, 16, & 17, 2015

Director: Mike Holmes
Music Director: Phil Zimmerman
BG Beginner Track Coordinator - Bob Altschuler
OT Beginner Track Coordinator - Lorraine Hammond

Click for BCN Photo Gallery

Again, Banjo Camp North was outstanding. The rain held up until just as we were packing to leave. Thanks to all the staff and campers for, what some have been calling "Even better than the previous Best BCN ever." Certainly, the evening concerts have never been better. Phil Zimmerman did an outstanding job and Marcia Goodman's Camp Photo is, once again, superb. Click here to download a large copy.

Description of Banjo Camp North

Staff Bios Contact Us Registration Directions to Hilltop Sponsors Accommodations Message Board Jams & Picking Around Boston Boston Info

Banjo Camp North is a weekend-long celebration of the 5-string banjo in both old time and bluegrass styles! World-class banjoists make up our full-time and "adjunct" faculties. We have invited several top flight fiddlers and guitarists to teach about playing with other instruments and jamming, and to be on hand to help make those all-night jams something special. Plus we will emphasize banjo and fiddle duet playing. Another area of study is singing, solo and group.

99 Class Sessions, 14 Coaching Sessions, 2 Faculty concerts, 10 to 12 Guided jams, plus Early-bird jams, Freestyle jams into the night, and all the dessert you can eat! Plus a room full of vendors. It's not too late to register, but hurry.

BCN 2014 Class Descriptions
BCN 2014 Class Schedule n
Video of a class taught by Lorraine Hammond along with Alan Kaufman
Various BCN videos on YouTube
Click here to read a discussion about Hand Held Recorders
What attendees said about past BCNs
Art Edelstein's Times-Argus article
Camp photos

Banjo Camp North takes place at Prindle Pond Conference Center, a beautiful wooded setting in Charlton, Massachusetts. Registration takes place at the Hilltop Campus. There are two campuses, we will be using both. Buildings are heated, so you don't have to worry about our unpredictable New England weather, but you must bring your own towel, pillow, blanket, and linens or a sleeping bag; Prindle Pond does not provide them. At the Hilltop campus, each building has several rooms, and each room has 2 to 4 bunk beds and a private bath. There is no smoking allowed in any of the buildings. Local accommodations are available in nearby Sturbridge for those who want to bring the family, or just prefer more privacy.

Driving Directions: Prindle Pond's Hilltop Campus address is 19 Harrington Road, Charlton, MA.

  1. From Auburn near the junctions of Route 12, I-290, I-90 (Mass Pike) or I-395: Take Route 20 West for approximately 10 miles. Turn left onto Route 169...
  2. From Sturbridge near the junctions of Route 131, I-84, I-90 (Mass Pike), take Route 20 East for approximately 7 miles. Turn right onto Route 169...
  3. From either direction: Take Route 169 3 1/4 miles to Brookside Road (the third left turn). Turn left onto Brookside Road and go to the end of the road. Turn left onto Harrington Road. After 1 mile, take a right into Prindle Pond Conference Center.
  4. For a photo of the layout of the Hilltop Campus, click here.

Meals: Meals are provided as part of the tuition package, and vegetarian meals are available. Dinner will be served promptly at 6 PM Friday. The meals schedule for the rest of the weekend will be announced in the program book at camp time.

Camp will open Friday at 12:30 PM for registration, jamming, and instruction. Registration will occur beneath the West Building in the Birch room -- look for the giant banjo. We'll have hands-on workshops, round robin demonstrations and guided jam sessions for three days, a Friday night "meet the new faculty concert," a formal concert Saturday night, and lots and lots of time for jamming and getting to know each other. Our resident instrument specialist will be there from 12 PM on Friday and all day Saturday. Lecture-demonstrations about banjo history and setup will be offered. Instrument vendors and makers, plus recordings, accessories and books will be on sale in our market area. Attendees are encouraged to bring banjos and other instruments for sale or trade. Camp ends at about 3:00 PM on Sunday.

Thursday night lodging is available for those traveling a long way, whether driving or flying to BCN. Since people arrive at widely different times, only housing, no food, is available. Jamming with students and faculty invariably breaks out, and just hanging out is a nice, relaxing time between the work-a-day world and the intensive training at BCN. Our goal is learning -- but having a good time doing so.

Off site residence: Click here for local accommodations. Electric hookups are available on site for RVs or campers, but there are no on site facilities for water or waste. Local accommodations can be found in Sturbridge and the surrounding area.

The Beginners' Track provides instruction for absolute beginners (those who haven't played before), and those who can play a little bit, but still can't play with other people or pick out tunes on their own. Click below for more information. We are not set up for novices under the age of 18.

Read the Beginners' Track Page for information about this exciting offering.

Advancing Beginners and Intermediates will find classes geared to their levels and needs. Advancing beginners may still only play a few phrases and chords, but they have some basic banjo experience. In general intermediates know some tunes but aren't able to play up to speed yet. They are still working on rhythm. They may already read tab or notation, but can use help playing by ear and learning to arrange a tune or song on their own.

Advancing Beginners/Intermediate level will include Learning To Play What You Hear, Playing Slow Tunes, Choosing Your Next Banjo, Introduction to Modern Bluegrass Style, Old Time Banjo, Translating Fiddle Tunes To The Banjo, What To Do When Another Instrument Has The Lead, Accompanying Singing, and many more. At Banjo Camp the emphasis is on using tab minimally - just to get you started playing.

Advanced Players, there will be added classes. In the past they have included Arranging Tunes or Songs For The Banjo, Playing In A Band, Backing Up Another Instrument or Singer, and more.

The weekend will include approximately 120 class hours, plus guided jams at all speeds and levels. After each evening program there will be plenty of time for free jams, again at various levels. Most of the classes are hands on, practical learning situations. A few are demonstrations or mini-concerts, but even in these classes the intention is for you to take something away that you may want to learn or speak with the instructors about later. You are encouraged to bring a recording device of some kind.

The "Coaching Sessions" for all campers has proved to be very popular. They are limited to 4 campers each. We'll have sign-up sheets at dinner where you will be able to pick the instructor of your choice, first come-first served. Each sheet will have room for only 4 campers. Each camper may sign up for one session only. Each camper will determine the topic and level for his or her time with that instructor, and work with the instructor individually but in the small group setting so that all can benefit from the attention given to each. All 4 students will be present for the whole period and the hour and fifteen minutes will be divided equally among those attending.

Several other workshops that have been popular in the past have included Maintaining and Optimizing Your Banjo, Playing With Others, Singing With The Banjo, Stagecraft,Getting The Most From Your Hand-Held Recorder, Sound Ststems, and Recording Techniques.

Payment Options

  • See Registration form for fees and payment arrangements.
  • Late charges added for registration after April 30.
  • Please fill in, print out, and mail the Registration Form
  • Attractive gift certificate available

Contact information:
    Mike Holmes
    (774) 207-0284

Camp office:
    Banjo Camp North
    PO Box 1755
    Orleans, MA 02653
Camp location:
    Banjo Camp North
    Prindle Pond Conf. Center
    Charlton, MA 01507

Visit this website often for latest information.

Staff Instructors BCN 2014

Click on the underlined instructors' names to jump to more information about each one.

Tom Adams, three-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, first gained national recognition thirty years ago as the banjo player with the legendary Jimmy Martin in the mid 1980s. Tom’s first solo album, Right Hand Man, a collection of bluegrass standards and fiddle & banjo duets released in 1990, was hailed as the "heir apparent" to Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Banjo.
Steve Arkin grew up in New York's legendary music scene, playing both old-time and bluegrass. In 1964 Steve played banjo with Bill Monroe, who was quoted in James Rooney's book, Bossmen, naming him "The best backup banjo player I ever heard" An early exponent of melodic bluegrass banjo, Steve introduced his mentor Bill Keith to Bobby Thompson and his account of that meeting has been widely published. Steve has won many banjo contests and played in many bands, most recently with the highly-praised old-time band, Troublesome Creek. Steve has taught both bluegrass and old-time banjo for five decades--his students have included Marty Cutler, Bob Dylan, Roger McGuinn and Tommy Makem. He was featured in a Feb. 2006 Banjo Newsletter cover story. Steve remains one of the few banjo players who is highly proficient in both bluegrass and old-time banjo styles.
Phil Zimmerman took up the guitar in high school during the folk scare of the sixties. A concert by the New Lost City Ramblers introduced him to old-time and early bluegrass music. With Mike Seeger as role model, he developed his multi-instrumentalist chops as a solo performer, and has won regional contests for bluegrass and clawhammer banjo, guitar and mandolin. He’s a founding member of Connecticut’s ground-breaking eclectic string band, Last Fair Deal. For ten years, Phil played mandolin and sang lead with Connecticut’s premier traditional bluegrass band, Traver Hollow. Phil also performs Old-Time music in Heroes of Tradition, a duo with Stacy Phillips. Phil is the Music Director of both Mandolin Camp North and Banjo Camp North, and has taught mandolin and banjo workshops at the Joe Val Festival since 2006.
Rich Stillman is a long-time veteran of the Boston bluegrass scene, 1983 New Jersey bluegrass banjo champion and six-time winner of the Lowell, Massachusetts banjo contest. He has been playing banjo for over 25 years and has performed and recorded with bluegrass bands Southern Rail, WayStation, The Jersey Travelers, and The Bogus Family. He currently performs with Boston-based Southern Rail. Rich has been on staff of BCN almost since the beginning and is one of the most respected, highly thought of, and best prepared teachers. He teaches privately in the Boston Area.
Mike Kropp is New England's premier 3 finger style banjoist. As a member of Northern Lights for 17 years, he has recorded CD's on Flying Fish, Red House and Prime CD. Since the 1960's, he has performed and recorded with artists ranging from Vassar Clements & Peter Rowan, to Don MacLean and Jonathan Edwards. Described as a "master banjoist", Mike is fluent in all styles of five string banjo, ranging from folk, old time, and classic style to traditional Scruggs and modern newgrass styles. Mike has taught banjo for over thirty years, and he has participated in workshops at festivals across the country.
David Kiphuth began playing banjo and guitar 40 years ago. Although his bluegrass roots run the deepest, his musical loves include many forms. Dave has a unique playing style that combines melodic lines with a driving rhythm in yet another approach to 3-finger banjo. When not playing, he is an artist and illustrator.
Paul Brown started singing old time songs he learned from his mother, as soon as he could talk. He took up banjo at age ten and fiddle sometime later. His powerful, unique banjo playing shows the influences of the outstanding North Carolina and Virginia masters he spent time with and performed with as a young adult. Among them: Fields Ward, Tommy Jarrell, Gilmer Woodruff, Kyle Creed, Benton Flippen, and Fred Cockerham. Paul has recorded and produced numerous highly acclaimed albums featuring old time musicians. His own recordings have also received great reviews (Red Clay Country is the latest). He’s appeared at festivals nationwide and taught at music camps since the 1970s. Paul became a journalist once he fully understood the financial possibilities of a life in old time music. He works at NPR, and plays banjo and fiddle to further brighten his days. Currently he plays with The Toast String Stretchers, The Smokey Valley Boys, and The Mostly Mountain Boys.
Terri McMurray studied banjo intensively with the late Tommy Jarrell of North Carolina. She’s played with many other great banjoists including Earnest East, Benton Flippen, Fields Ward, Dix Freeman and Kyle Creed. She co-founded the Old Hollow Sting Band (with Riley Baugus and Kirk Sutphin) and currently plays with the Mostly Mountain Boys. She excels as a string band banjo player, and has taught at camps from Pinewoods in Massachusetts to FOATMAD in England. Terri is a well-loved teacher known for her engaging manner.
Catherine (BB) Bowness has toured extensively throughout her native New Zealand and Australia. In 2010, she recorded her debut album, Village Green. Since re-locating to Boston, MA she has been busy teaching banjo and performing with Tony Watt and Southeast Expressway, the Reunion Bluegrass Band and most recently with Bluegrass/New Acoustic band Blue Hat, Yeah!
Bob Altschuler, BCN Beginner Bluegrass Track Coordinator since 2003, and is a performer, teacher and writer. He records and performs with the Dyer Switch Band; his playing has been heard on National Public Radio and on radio and TV commercials. An in-demand instructor for over 35 years, he teaches privately and at workshops. Bob's many articles and online instructionals have appeared in the webzines Mel Bay Banjo Sessions and Angie's Banjo Silver Strings. and in Banjo Newsletter, the May 2011 issue of which featured a profile article about him. Gene Senyak’s 2008 book, Banjo Camp!, has a workshop chapter by Bob and includes articles by other Banjo Camp North instructors. Tailored instruction, patience, humor and "going the extra mile" to help students learn are hallmarks of his very popular teaching style.
Michael J. Miles, Recording artist, writer, actor, educator, composer -- is a rare artist who combines talents from numerous disciplines. His highly acclaimed CD's, Counterpoint and American Bach have earned rave reviews firmly establishing him as a musician in a category all his own. Miles has taught music and songwriting to children in the Chicago Public Schools; has taught in the graduate music education divisions of Villanova University and Vander Cook College of Music; has taught banjo at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago; and has been a featured workshop artist at numerous events including the Tennessee Banjo Institute.
Lorraine Hammond, Old Time Banjo Track coordinator for BCN, is an internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter and folk instrumentalist. Perhaps best known for her Appalachian dulcimer playing and recordings she is also a gifted player and teacher of the 5 string banjo, Celtic harp, voice and most recently the mandolin. Lorraine teaches locally at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education where she also produces an annul spring dulcimer festival, and is also a featured teacher and performer around the country at venues including The John C Campbell Folk School, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Summer Acoustic Music Week, Augusta Heritage program and Kentucky Music Week. She performs and records with her husband, finger-style guitarist Bennett Hammond.
Bruce Stockwell has been playing bluegrass banjo since 1968 and began teaching in the 70's. By age 16 he had won banjo contests, recorded his first album and opened for Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, John Hartford and many others. In the late 70’s he worked with Phil Rosenthal and Mike Auldridge as Old Dog. Since the 80s Bruce has performed with brothers Barry and Al in various acoustic/electric formats. In 2005 he won the Merlefest Banjo Contest. And in 2008 a NH Arts Grant led to the formation of Hot Mustard, a double banjo bluegrass band with wife Kelly and NH couple Bill Jubett & April Hobart. Bruce teaches and does occasional session work in addition to his perforormance schedule.
Jane Rothfield is an award winning clawhammer banjo player, performer and recording artist whose teaching method combines an easy to learn technique from basic “boom chuck-a”, chords and drop thumb to more complicated and subtle phrasing and rhythms that bring the old time music to life. Jane has taught clawhammer banjo to all ages and abilities both privately and at camps and festivals such as Banjo Camp North, Old Songs Summer Camps, Folk College, Janie's Jumpstart and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. In addition to her superb clawhammer banjo playing, Jane is a powerhouse fiddler, recording artist, band leader and tune composer. Her original tunes have won the Best Non-Traditional Tune at Clifftop Appalachian Stringband Festival TWICE! Jane performs with numerous bands, including Coracree, Great Big Taters, Sugar Pie, with Allan Carr, and Panache Quartet and is the director of Janie's Jumpstart.
Mike Rivers has played old time music since 1960. He perfomed with the Greasy Run Toad Trompers, one of the first of the eclectic string bands who played a mixed bag of Southern, Northern, Western, swing, ragtime, and Celtic music on string band instruments. As a recording engineer and producer, Mike has recorded albums of various artists for Folkways, Folk Legacy, Rounder, Troubador, Flying Fish, among others. He has run concert sound for the Smithsonian, National, and Lowell Folklife Festivals. Mike will teach backup guitar and conduct seminars in sound production and recording.
Alan Kaufman has performed Old Time Music for more than 30 years. A fine player on mandolin and guitar, Alan is author of Beginning Old Time Fiddle published by Music Sales. He currently is responsible for starting and leading well-received Old TIme Music jams in the greater Boston area. At camp he will teach mandolin, primarily with the novice and beginner track, repertoire, and lead jamming sessions. Alan will also teach Old Time mandolin, using fiddle tunes and duet-style playing in the Monroe and Blue Sky Boys tradition, among others.
Mike Holmes (camp director) is best known as publisher of Mugwumps Magazine (now Mugwumps Online). He is the former chairman of the National Council for the Traditional Arts, a director of the National Folk Festival, and is widely regarded as an expert on the history of American stringed instruments. Mike has performed acoustic music on the North American and international circuit, he has performed on the recordings of several traditional musicians. Mike estimates that he has taught over 500 people to play old time banjo, privately & in adult education classes. He has taught mandolin at Common Ground on the Hill and won 2nd place in the Old Time Banjo competitions in both Clarksville, TN and at the Lowell Banjo & Fiddle Contest -- 25 years apart and he didn't improve a lick.
Glenn Nelson, resident instrument specialist, has been building, restoring and repairing instruments for 20 years. Glenn and his wife Barbara started Mockingbird Music in Berlin, Massachusetts, where they build custom stringed instruments and specialize in the repair and restoration of vintage instruments. Glenn currently teaches five string banjo and performs with "Wide Open Spaces" and "Acoustic Planet" encompassing world music, folk, jazz and bluegrass. At BCN he will be available to do minor setups & repairs on site, and to accept instruments for more extensive work. Charges will apply for materials and time spent. Glenn will also participate in some jazz and modern playing workshops.
Michael Nix, performs on guitar, Banjar, banjo, and mandolin, throughout the United States and Asia; has recorded for the PBS series "American Experience", independent documentaries, and numerous CD projects. His compositions are performed internationally. Nix designed the Banjar; a modern seven-string banjo combining elements of five-string banjo and classical guitar.
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