Concerts and Jams

MBC2016 Concert


The faculty concert is split into two parts; half the staff plays on Friday evening and the other half plays on Saturday evening.

Given that our staff contains a hefty percentage of the best banjo pickers in creation – not to mention world class bass players, fiddlers, guitarists, and mandolin pickers – our concerts come pretty close to achieving old-time and bluegrass heaven.

Here’s how some of our students have described our staff concerts: “The best banjo concerts in the world”, “As good as any bluegrass festival”, “None better! What a ride!” And finally, “Either half of the faculty concert was worth it coming to camp alone. But both!”

You can sample performances from Faculty Concerts held during previous years on our YouTube Channel.


Artist jam

 Staff-led Jams

Our jams are led by our stellar faculty, and we rotate them among the levels, so the odds are you’ll get to jam with your favorite players. To make your jamming experience more rewarding we bring in high caliber accompanists and also invite a team of guest musicians (we call them “musos”) to be on hand to assist our jam leaders. We also rely heavily on our non-banjo students to add to the texture of our jams by joining in on fiddle, guitar, bass, mandolin and other instruments.

Here’s the kind of jam sessions we offer:

Slow Jams: for those who like to jam, so long as we promise to keep the speed way down

How to Jam Workshops are for those who can play pretty well but just don’t know how to play with others. Issues covered in these workshops are jam etiquette, the roles of different instruments, how to find appropriate chords, how to play something effective when you don’t know the tune, etc.

Intermediate Jams: moderate tempos and common tunes.

MBC2016 Jam session

“Regular” Jams: Expect normal tempos for old-time and bluegrass tunes. That said, leaders have been asked to pitch the jam-levels to the skills of the players who attend.

Vocal Jams: For those who like to sing, play and even “harmonize” at the same time. These jams have been growing increasingly popular at MBC in recent years.

Pete Seeger Style “Hootenanny”: Folks gather in a circle, then each attendee in turn offers a song for others to join in, or a story.

Guitar & Song Circle: Kind of a hootenanny with more of a guitar focus

Tenor Banjo Jam: Last year we scheduled “classic jazz” jams, but we’ll consult with instructor Don Vappie to come up with the best possible options for 4-string players.

Specialty Jams: We like to offer jams from time to time that appeal to special interests, so check the schedule for this year’s options. Among the jams we may offer are minstrel, jazz and swing, and northern & Celtic.

Lists of Popular Jamming Tunes: Over the years many students have asked us for lists of tunes that are likely to come up at jam sessions, so they can learn them before Camp. Although it’s impossible to predict what songs might come up at any particular jam, we have come up with two lists: 25 popular bluegrass jam tunes, and 25 popular old-time jam tunes. It’s a pretty good bet that these tunes will come up at the slow and intermediate level jam sessions (in fact, you should feel free to request them yourself!).

Organize your own jams: You don’t have to wait for us to get you started! There are plenty of available spaces where people can pick — either during the scheduled jams, immediately afterwards or at any other suitable time. And if there are musos around when you get started there’s a good chance you can get them to join in.