At age six, when Jens (Yens) heard the banjo on one of his dad's American records, he yearned to play it. But having no access to one, Jens played their mother's accordion, accompanying Uwe, who played their father's guitar. When Jens turned ten he acquired a tenor banjo and started to play Dixieland jazz, hoping that one-day 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown' would somehow flow from the instrument. A year later, Jens and Uwe made their first public appearance, and two years later Uwe bought Jens his first five-string banjo. At age 16, Jens and Uwe left home and traveled throughout Europe calling themselves the Rocky Road Band, attempting a living as street musicians. Their adventure paid off in the form of a record contract with CBS. In 1982, at the age of 20, Jens crossed the Atlantic , heading for the Bean Blossom Festival and Bill Monroe. Monroe introduced Jens to the Grand Ole Opry, as the first known European banjo player. After living with Bill for the summer and following his advice, Jens returned to Switzerland to develop his own musical style and repertoire. For four years, Jens spent days and nights learning tunes from all the records he could find. In 1986, Jens and Uwe reunited to form the Appalachian Barn Orchestra, the forerunner of today's Kruger Brothers. Since MerleFest 1997, the event that launched the Kruger Brothers' career in America, Jens has performed with Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, John McEwen, Willie Nelson, and Ricky Skaggs, to name only a few. Like Uwe, Jens can play many stringed instruments with proficiency, and like the Kruger Brothers, Jens' style and virtuosity cannot be characterized with a word or phrase. But those who have heard Jens play banjo know that he is truly a master of his art. As a composer, Jens' comprehension of music in all of its forms is becoming well known among his peers, colleagues, and the Kruger Brothers' growing audience.
has, in a short period of time, gained recognition as one of the top innovators of the mountain dulcimer today. His musical journey began with playing bass in a punk band which continues to be a subtle but important influence on his composing and arranging. Having won numerous competitions on dulcimer he now focuses on teaching and bringing the instrument to an audience outside of the dulcimer community. Recently his musical interests have been broadened to pursuing Celtic fingerstyle guitar as well as banjola. He is currently working on his first dulcimer instructional book and has plans to release a new cd in the highly near future featuring some of his unique fingerstyle arrangements as well as original compositions for the banjola.
A Grammy Award winning recording artist and performer, Al Petteway has played nearly every type of popular, folk and classical music. Though his primary instrument has always been the guitar, he has also studied lute, string bass, percussion and music composition. His compositions for acoustic fingerstyle guitar are strongly influenced by his love of Celtic music and his own roots in folk, rock and blues. His recordings, music books, and instructional videos have helped to win him international acclaim and appearances on National Radio and Television Programs. Al has been awarded FORTY FIVE"Wammies" by the Washington Area Music Association including the top honors of " ARTIST OF THE YEAR " and " MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR ". He was the recipient of two Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards for Music Composition and has performed at the Vice President's House and The White House . His playing is featured on more than sixty recordings by some of the World's best known Folk and Celtic musicians . In 2005, he was voted one of the Top Fifty Acoustic Guitarists of all Time by the readers of Acoustic Guitar Magazine and in 2008 he won Silver and Bronze medals in the magazine's Player's Choice Awards . He performs exclusively with his wife, Amy White. In addition to his concerts and workshops, Al records and teaches private lessons in their home studio in Fairview, NC and is the Guitar Week coordinator for the world famous " Swannanoa Gathering" music camp at Warren Wilson College near Asheville, N.C.
For the past fifteen years, Ron Block has been the spiritual touchstone of Alison Krauss and Union Station, contributing sterling musicianship on banjo, guitar and vocals. Block’s first solo album, Faraway Land (Rounder, 2001), met with great critical acclaim and raised the bar for Block as an artist for his Rounder Records follow-up, DoorWay.
Alison Krauss and Union Station have recorded 10 of Block’s songs since 1992, including the beautiful “In the Palm of Your Hand” from the Alison Krauss and the Cox Family album (I Know Who Holds Tomorrow) and “A Living Prayer” from Lonely Runs Both Ways, which received a 2006 Gospel Music Association Dove award for the Bluegrass Song of the Year. Block has also recorded with Susan Ashton, Vince Gill, the Cox Family, Clint Black, Bill Frisell, Fernando Ortega, Billy Dean, Michael Johnson, Dolly Parton, and most recently Brad Paisley. In addition to his production of DoorWay, Block is currently producing a new recording for Rounder by young mandolin wizard, Sierra Hull. His songs have also been performed by Rhonda Vincent ("You’re In My Heart"), Randy Travis ("Which Way Will You Choose"), Dan Tyminski ("Be Assured"), Michael W. Smith, the Cox Family and the Forbes Family, whose Block-produced In the Shadow of Your Wings is a classic of contemporary bluegrass gospel.
Multi-intrumentalist Singer Songwriter Performer. Born in 1955, Douglas John Cameron grew up in Midland, Ontario where he studied piano and began composing songs at the age of nine. Through high school and University he styled himself after the folk-singers of the day and played bass and guitar in rock, country and quasi-jazz bands. In the late 70s and early 80s Douglas played in The CeeDees and The Maja Bannerman Band, part of the nascent ‘New Wave' scene in Toronto. In 1985 Douglas teamed up with composer and producer Jack Lenz to produce “Mona With The Children”, released on True North Records. The song and video told the story of a sixteen- year-old girl who had been imprisoned and executed in Iran because of her beliefs. “Mona” went top twenty in Canada and told Mona's story to a generation of young people, garnering a Juno nomination. As the whirlwind experience of rock stardom wound down, Douglas entered the Music Program at York University, earning an honours degree with a major in vocal studies. He also began to transform himself into a children's entertainer, aka Douglas John. Douglas John's first album for children Rainbows was produced by the legendary Ken Whiteley of Raffi fame. Douglas John has also written and recorded over 30 songs for Ants In Your Pants, Canada's top preschool music video program seen on Treehouse TV. He appears in a number of the videos aired daily on the popular program. Ants In Your Pants! Volume 1 – the album featuring songs from the TV show – was nominated for a Juno award in 2000. Fueled by the popularity of the TV series, Douglas John also performs live Ants In Your Pants shows regularly across Canada. He also conducts a fun-filled song writing seminar for kids, called The Rainbow Songwriting Workshop. His latest children's album Tickadeeboo! (2002) is entirely self-produced and performed. Douglas John also composes music for television. His credits include Discovery Channel's Go For It and The Body Inside, HBO's Dear America, HGTV's (Home & Garden Television's) Designer Guys, and Holmes On Homes and GlobalTelevision's Doc. Douglas John lives in Toronto and when not performing for children, plays regularly with Toronto Celtic group Joyce's Folly, country/blues/jazz combo The Louisiana Snowblowers, and blues-R n'B band Three-Chord Johnny. Learn more about Douglas HERE
has been a professional luthier for the past 34 years and has built everything from classical & steel string guitars to lyres & lutes to basses & banjos to harps & bouzoukis. All this just so he could finally create the Banjola. And, of course, then he had to learn how to play it.
Multi-instrumentalist, is perhaps best known for his fabulous flamenco guitar work. He teaches World Music at the University of Colorado in Boulder and is a columnist for Mandolin Magazine: http://www.mandolinmagazine.com/workshops/mullins/ He has also wrote the very first 6 string Banjola instruction book that can be purchased from this site.