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Bluegrass Banjo Workshops for all levels in Berkeley, CA, Saturday, February 18th

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hi again friends,

A quick shout out that I'll be teaching 2 two-hour bluegrass banjo workshops on Saturday, February 18th in Berkeley. Here's all that you need to know:

Bill Evans / Bluegrass Banjo Workshops
Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison Street
Saturday, February 18, 2017, 1 – 5:30 p.m.
Register online or phone 510-644-2020 or

Bluegrass Banjo Jam Survival Skills, 1 – 3:00 p.m. (all levels): Unlock the mysteries of knowing what to play in a jam session! This workshop is designed for students who are totally new to playing with others and also for those who are already jamming but want to gain more confidence and have more fun playing in both slow and regular speed jams. Topics include the role of the banjo in a jam, how jamming is different from playing memorized songs learned from tab, using your ear to hear chord changes, following the guitar and using listening skills to find your way through a new song, vamping, roll patterns, up-the-neck backup, using fill-in licks, negotiating kick-offs and endings, how to lead others in a song and using the capo to play in all keys. This is a practical, hands-on-and-let’s play kind of workshop that will help both new and experienced jammers. Tab included but we’ll mostly play without reading tab.

Working Up Scruggs-Style Banjo Solos, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (high beginners to advanced): One of the greatest challenges for bluegrass banjo players at all levels is finding the melody on the fingerboard and choosing just the right rolls and licks to create legitimate sounding, driving bluegrass solos. In this “hands on, let’s pick” style of workshop designed for players of all ability levels, Bill will show you how to choose a key for your solo, how to find those pesky melody notes, and how melodies are related to chord progressions. He’ll then move on to show how roll choices can enhance the effectiveness of solos as well as teach many basic licks that come up again and again in Scruggs’ greatest solos, taking you through a step-by-step process unlocking the secrets of great soloing and improvising. Bill will also present an analysis of several classic Earl Scruggs solos, showing how the master himself used roll patterns and licks to create his signature sound.

Who’s Bill Evans? 

The author of Banjo For Dummies and Bluegrass Banjo For Dummies, Bill Evans has taught thousands of players over a 35-year teaching and performing career. His instruction is practical, hands-on and designed for the adult learner. Bill’s students who are now professional players include Chris Pandolfi (The Infamous Stringdusters), Greg Liszt (Deadly Gentlemen), Jayme Stone and Erik Yates (Hot Buttered Rum). He has taught at virtually every banjo camp in the world and hosts the California Banjo Extravaganza and Mini-Camp each November.. He has produced nine instructional DVDs and teaches banjo online at Peghead Nation ( Learn more at or

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Playing Since: 1970
Experience Level: Expert/Professional

[Teaching] [Helping]

Occupation: professional musician

Gender: Male
Age: 62

My Instruments:
1930 TB flathead Gibson Granada, converted to a five-string with a Frank Neat neck; the new Kel Kroyden Bill Evans signature model banjo; a Ronnie Bales maple/gold plated banjo in his "Stella" series; a Prucha Diamond Point; a Gold Tone cello banjo; a 1967 Rickenbacker Bantar; a 2009 Allan Beardsell electric banjo; a 1908 Cole Eclipse, a 1908 Whyte Ladie #7, two Jim Hartel minstrel replicas, a George Wunderlich minstrel replica, a Bart Reiter Whyte Ladie replica. Hey, they're all related to my job!

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
The Beatles, The Osborne Brothers, Earl Scruggs, Jim Hall, Bob Dylan, Tony Trischka, The Weepies, Alan Munde, Charlie Haden, J. S. Bach, Ornette Coleman and many, many others! Currently listening to Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan, The Bee Eaters, Chris Pandolfi and, always, Earl Scruggs!

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Visible to: Public
Created 1/31/2004
Last Visit 9/23/2018

I've been playing banjo professionally since 1976 and am thankful for the many great experiences I've had playing bluegrass and the many folks that I've met along the way. I am lucky to count among my mentors and teachers such great players as Tony Trischka, Bill Keith, Alan Munde, J. D. Crowe and Sonny Osborne.<br><br> I teach private lessons to students at all levels out of my home in Albany, CA and present workshops literally all across the world. I have two solo CDs available, "Native and Fine" (1995) on Rounder and "Bill Evans Plays Banjo" (2001) on my own Native and Fine Records label. I also appear on CDs by Dry Branch Fire Squad, Suzanne Thomas, the Bluegrass Intentions and Due West. My latest CD is with fiddler Megan Lynch, titled "let's do something.." (2009).<br><br> I spend a lot of time touring and teaching workshops with Megan these days. I usually post schedule updates via my BHO blog but my complete tour schedule can also be accessed at under the "Schedule" link.<br><br> I love teaching, whether it's groups or individual folks. Chris Pandolfi (Infamous String Dusters), Greg Liszt (Bruce Springsteen, Crooked Still), Eric Yates (Hot Buttered Rum Band) and Jayme Stone are among some of the professional players that I've helped over the years. I've produced three instructional DVDs for AcuTab Publications. "Power Picking Vol. 1: Up The Neck Backup for Bluegrass Banjo" and "Power Picknig Vol. 3: Playing Banjo Backup in a Bluegrass Band" focus on backup skills while "Bluegrass Banjo Master Class: Power Pickin' Vol. 4" discusses right and left hand technique, playing licks and presents exercises that explore the fingerboard. Each project is around two to two and one half hours in length with an accompanying tab booklet.<br><br> I've also just finished "Absolute Beginners: Banjo" for Music Sales Corporation and "Parking Lot PIckers Songbook, Banjo Edition" for Mel Bay Publications. The first volume is a complete beginners guide, taking folks from when they first purchase a banjo through to playing roll patterns against several different chord progressions. The Mel Bay songbook features words and music (melody in notation as well as banjo tab) for over 225 bluegrass and old-time favorites. This set has two CDs that accompany the book, where you can hear me play a typical backup for every tune in the Songbook!<br><br> My latest book "Banjo for Dummies" from Wiley Publications - the yellow and black book publishers - was published in the summer of 2007. I'm extremely excited about this project. This book offers instruction in clawhammer, minstrel & classic styles as well as bluegrass, with sections on Scruggs, melodic and single-string banjo. There is also a buyer's guide, a guide to camps and festivals and much, much more -there's also a 94 track CD that comes with the book.<br><br> In addition to all of this, I co-direct the NashCamp Fall Banjo Retreat, an annual banjo camp each October in the Nashville, TN area. Featuring none other than the Chief, Sonny Osborne himself, this camp offers three days of great accommodations, wonderful gourmet food and great instruction from year to year from such players as Tony Trischka, Alan Munde, Ned Luberecki, Ron Block, Rob McCoury, J. D. Crowe, Charlie Cushman, and many others. The 2009 is scheduled for October 16-18.<br><br> I live in Albany, California (near Berkeley) with my wife Kathy, who is a public school teacher, and my daughter Corey, who is an oustanding drummer. My son Jesse attends Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. We have a very precocious Australian Shepherd named Julie and a very mellow cat named Gizmo.<br><br> Thanks to everyone for their continued support of banjo music. Keep on picking!<br><br> Sincerely,<br><br> Bill Evans

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