Instructors

Gretchen Priest - Fiddle

Gretchen Priest divides her time between performing, teaching fiddle and running the Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee (also known as the Fiddle and Pick) that she founded in 2008 in Pegram, Tennessee, just west of Nashville. Her school teaches traditional acoustic instruments with a staff of 35, many of whom are among Nashville’s leading recording and performing professionals.

Gretchen, along with her husband Tim May, formed the band Plaidgrass by merging the traditions of Irish, old-Time and bluegrass music and the instrumentation of fiddle, bouzouki, bodhran, bass and banjo in a variety of configurations. Prior to opening the Fiddle and Pick, Gretchen toured with the bluegrass band Crucial Smith and the Celtic rock band, Ceili Rain. She is often a featured performer on the Grand Ole Opry, Mountain Stage, the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, and many festivals across the country.

Keith Yoder

Keith Yoder performs on and teaches guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, resophonic guitar, bass and drums. He has taught at music camps including Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp, British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop/NimbleFingers, and the Walker Creek Music Camp. He has performed with bluegrass legends from Bobby Hicks to Dan Crary, and has recorded several CDs, the most recent featuring him playing all the instruments and singing all the vocal parts.

Brad Davis - Flatpick Guitar

A talented guitar instructor and writer, Brad has been a columnist for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine since 1996 and is currently Takamines main guitar clinician, conducting dozens of music store clinics for Takamine each year. He has taught at Steve Kaufman’s Flatpick Camp, Nashcamp, Camp Bluegrass, the St. Louis Flatpick Weekend, the Roanoke Bluegrass Weekend, and more. He has also produced four instructional DVDs for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, “Flatpick Jam”, Volumes 1, 2, & 3 and a book/DVD/CD course called “Flatpicking the Blues”. Additionally, he has produced several instructional courses for Mel Bay Publications, including the “Blue Book of Speedpicking”, and a series of instructional Ear Training Cds.

After spending years on the road playing country with Marty Stuart, bluegrass with Earl Scruggs, newgrass with Sam Bush, Gypsy jazz with John Jorgenson, and rock with Billy Bob Thornton, Brad Davis steps out front to prove that he can hold his own as a solo artist, songwriter, and band leader.

Brad Davis spent ten years (1992-2002) performing on stage as a member of Marty Stuart’s road band. For the past six years he has played lead acoustic guitar with Earl Scruggs and Friends, and for the past five years he has played lead electric and acoustic guitar with movie actor Billy Bob Thorntons rock band. He spent two years (2003-2004) as the guitar player for the Sam Bush Band and also performed with John Jorgensons Gypsy jazz Quintet in 2005. He occasionally performs with an exciting new bluegrass band, calling themselves “Greenbroke,” consisting of Brad Davis, John Cowan, John Moore, and Dennis Caplinger.

Brad has worked for, or recorded with, Willie Nelson, Emmy Lou Harris, Pam Tillis, The Forester Sisters, Tommy Shaw (Styx), David Lee Roth (Van Halen), Sheryl Crow, Sam Bush, Warren Zevon, and The Sweethearts of the Rodeo. He is currently the host of Commerce County Line, a singer/songwriter television program on the iTelevision network (see www.myccl.tv). Additionally, Brad has recorded two album projects featuring Billy Bob Thornton on Mercury Records and has toured both Europe and the United States as the lead guitar player for Billy Bob Thorntons band. Brad’s two solo recordings on FGM Records “I’m Not Gonna Let My Blues Bring Me Down”, and “This World Ain’t No Child Anymore” were both released to rave reviews. He also appears on an FGM concert DVD video release “Live in Kansas City” with Cody Kilby and Tim May.

A prolific songwriter Brad has had his songs recorded by various country and bluegrass artists, including country star Tim McGraw (A’int No Angels). He has played on Marty Stuart’s gold selling album “This Ones Gonna Hurt You”, the Marty Stuart “Hit Pack”, and Marty’s last MCA recording “The Pilgrim”. He played on the soundtrack of Steven Seagals “Fire Down Below”, and performed music for Billy Bob Thorntons Miramax releases “Daddy And Them” and “Waking Up In Reno”. He also recorded with Sheryl Crow, and others, on the Johnny Cash tribute album “Kindred Spirits”, played guitar on Warren Zevons final Grammy-winning recording, “The Wind”, and was on Sam Bush’s Sugar Hill release “King of My World”.

For more information about Brad, visit: https://BradDavisMusic.com.

Sam Swank - Fingerstyle Guitar

Sam Swank is a life-long Dallasite who started playing guitar in 1968 when his father brought home a copy of “Are You Experienced” by Jimi Hendrix to supplement his record collection, which consisted of “The Monkees Greatest Hits” and “Revolver” by the Beatles.

Sam has made his living as a professional musician and guitar instructor for 25 years. He studied classical guitar with Rick Madriguera at Eastfield College and Tom Johnson at the University of North Texas. He has recorded and performed with such diverse talents as Johnny Reno, Olivia Newton-John, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Andy Timmons. (Sam believes Andy is really coming along!)

Sam’s approach to teaching is always tailored to individual needs. He specializes in acoustic fingerstyle and classical, as well as rock and blues styles. He enjoys corrupting strict classical and acoustic players with rock and blues music, and vice-versa. He even plays bluegrass well enough to fool undiscriminating listeners, but tries not to tell too many people. Sam really likes helping people improve their guitar skills.

 

Gerald Jones - Banjo / Mandolin

Gerald Jones, founder and director of Acoustic Music Camp, is a favorite instructor at many bluegrass and roots music camps around the nation, teaching banjo, mandolin, and many special topics such as “Jam Survival Skills.” He’s a skilled player in many different styles, including bluegrass, western swing, country, classical banjo and Polish war hymns. He’s played on stage or recorded with Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor, Vince Gill, Sam Bush, Hank Thompson, Red Steagall, Jethro Burns, Jerry Douglas, Tanya Tucker, Junior Brown and many more. He is the inventor of the Jones/AcousticPlus banjo pickup endorsed by Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Alan Munde and many others. As a banjoist, he’s been a two-time finalist in the National Bluegrass Banjo championship in Winfield, Kansas.

Gerald has taught music for almost 30 years, and counts among his students Marty and Emily Erwin of the Dixie Chicks, and Max Johnston of the Gourds. He was the editor of Mel Bay’s bimonthly webzine Banjo Sessions and a frequent contributor to Joe Carr’s Mandolin Sessions. As Joe said of Gerald, “Students love him because he jams a lot with them and teaches as much out of class as in!”

For more information about Gerald, visit: TheGeraldJones.com.

Alan Tompkins - Banjo

BLUEGRASS TODAY calls Alan Tompkins “a true Renaissance man,” and the title certainly fits.  A native of the farming and coal mining country of western Kentucky, Alan grew up steeped in the sounds of classic country, gospel, and bluegrass music.  He performed in several bands in his home town of Madisonville, Kentucky before moving to Texas in 1983, where he earned MBA and law degrees at SMU.

It was a thrill for Alan to produce and record his first album, No Part of Nothin’ , released in 2012.  The album features a lineup of incredibly talented musicians and singers, many of whom are Grammy® or IBMA award winners or nominees.  The list includes Sam Bush, Deryl Dodd, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Ron Stewart, Stephen Mougin, Gerald Jones, Greg Cahill, Ned Luberecki, Mike Bub, Randy Kohrs, Brad Davis, Nate Lee, Bobby Davis, and Steve Rhian.

Alan is the founder and President of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of bluegrass music in America.  The Foundation produced Fanning the Fire, an award-winning short film about bluegrass music that screened in more than 25 film festivals across the United States, in 2011.  He’s a 2009 graduate of the IBMA Leadership Bluegrass program and presently serves as the chair of the planning committee for the program.  Alan plays a Huber Banjo, some great, really old Gibson banjos, a 1961 Kay bass, a New Standard Cleveland bass, Beard dobros, and few other great instruments.

For more information about Alan, visit: AlanTompkins.com