Grandpa and Ramona Jones Banjo Workshop & Contest Weekend

By Ozark Folk Center State Park (other events)

Thu, Aug 29 2019 8:30 AM Sat, Aug 31 2019 9:00 PM

Celebrating the legacy of Grandpa and Ramona Jones, it's all about old time and clawhammer banjo this weeked. Weekend includes; two days of workshops, Old Time Banjo contests and performances from the Jones Family Band and Jerron Paxton

Scroll though this entire listing for information on the workshop, concerts and contest rules.


August 29th & 30th, 2019/ Orientation August 29th, 8:30am in Administration Building

 Extended Workshop
Our banjo workshop is now a two day event with classes from 9am-4pm on Thursday August 29th and Friday August, 30th.  Classes will be offered at 4 levels (new player, beginner, intermediate and advanced) with instructors for each level. Please see full schedule and class descriptions on our web-link for this event.

New Registration Format
All workshop registrations for 2019 will be handled through our online portal with Ticketleap. This will allow us track registration information, keep accurate student counts, process refunds and check in students with much more efficiency than in years past. You will need a credit card and a valid email address to register. Online registration for the Banjo Workshop is available online through Wednesday August 28th, 2019.

No registrations will be taken over the phone or by mail.
If you have specific questions about the workshop, class offerings or need to cancel an online registration, you can reach our Music Director, Daren Dortin at 870-269-3853 or by email, [email protected]

Workshop Format
Note that you will be able to move from different levels and take classes from different instructors, as you like. Your level selection when registering online does not lock you in to a specific class for the duration of the workshop.

Registration for the 2 event is $106.00 and is available online through Saturday August 28th, 2019. Your registration includes 2 days of workshop classes (Thursday and Friday) admission to the evening concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, participation in the banjo contest on Saturday and admission all other park events that weekend, including the Craft Village. All registration after the online deadline will be handled “on site” the day of the event. See pricing below.

Single Day and Walk Up Registration
Registration for single day classes and walk up students will be processed at the front desk in the Administration building once the workshop has started. Single day classes are $75.00. Walk Up registration for the 2-day workshop is $125.00.

New this year 3 day Non Participant Pass for $30.00.
Save over $40.00 off regular admission prices. This discounted pass is for spouses, friends, and family members of workshop attendees who want to take advantage of all the Ozark Folk Center State Park has to offer and are not attending the workshops. This pass allows admission-- for one person-- to the both the Craft village and all music shows, Thursday-Saturday, during the banjo workshop.

On Site Lodging
On site lodging at the Cabins at Dry Creek fills up quickly for workshop weekends. If you are wishing to stay at the Ozark Folk Center State Park, we suggest making reservations as soon as possible.

For Cabin Reservations:  870-269-3851

New Cancelation and Refund Policy
Please contact the park for refund requests.  In the event you are unable to attend after the refund deadline has passed, you will be offered the opportunity to “roll over” the registration fee for next year’s workshop or other OFCSP workshops, for up to one calendar year

For refunds please call (870-269 3853)  or email ([email protected]) our Music Director, Daren Dortin. Music Director’s office hours are:
Monday-Friday 9am-6pm Mid- November thru Mid-April
Wednesday-Saturday 10am-9pm Mid-April thru Mid-November

Click Here for a complete schedule of classes.

Banjo I – Beginner
This class is for students who have no experience on the banjo.  We will start from scratch learning how to tune your instrument, how to hold the banjo, basic “clawhammer” technique, and simple tunes.  Bring a working banjo and a recording device.  A limited number of loaner banjos are available, please call to confirm.
Banjo II - Advanced Beginner
This class is for students who have previous experience playing the banjo, but are still beginners.  We will learn a few tunes and practice using hammer-ons and pull-offs to make simple tunes start to sound like classic old-time tunes!
Banjo III – Intermediate “Grandpa Jones” Style
This class features instruction on the style and sound popularized by Grandpa Jones, taught by his son, Mark. Students should have previous experience in playing the banjo with a desire to learn the techniques and sounds that made Grandpa and Mark world renowned players.

 Banjo IV – Advanced
This class is for players who are ready to start including advanced techniques in their playing.  We will experiment with drop-thumb, double thumb, and more.  Students should be able to play quite a few tunes up to speed, know basic chord shapes, and have experience with hammer-ons and pull-offs.


Alanna Brewer: Former Arkansas State Banjo Finalist and the Ozark Folk Center State Park’s Female Musician of the Year for 2018, Alanna is a multi-instrumentalist and teaches banjo in Stone County’s Music Roots Program.

 Duane Porterfield: Former National Mountain Dulcimer Champion and multi-instrumentalist, Duane is a veteran OFCSP performer.

 Emily Elam: Former Arkansas State Banjo Champion and current Assistant Music Director at the Ozark Folk Center State Park, Emily has years of teaching experience on both banjo and fiddle

 Mark Jones:  Son of Grandpa and Ramona Jones and regular contributor to Ozark Highlands Radio, no one knows the Jones style better than Mark. He’s also got some great stories to share from his years living in Nashville and Mountain View.

 Banjo I, Alanna Brewer
Getting Started

Pick up the basics of holding your instrument and producing notes with good tone.  If you don’t own a banjo, a limited number will be available to borrow.
Caring for Your Banjo
No matter how well you play, nothing sounds good if the banjo is out of tune.  Learn to tune and care for your banjo to keep it in excellent condition.
Learning Tunes by Ear I
Tackling a tune armed with only a banjo and your ears can be intimidating – it’s a lot to learn.  We will break down how to learn a tune by ear, one note at a time.  Learn how to match pitches your hear and discuss strategies for remembering all the notes you find.
Learning Tunes by Ear II
Did you know that in many tunes, almost half of the phrases are repeated?  Once you’ve learned the first half, you’re nearly done!  Dissect a few tunes and learn how to use the tune structure to quickly learn each phrase by ear.
Building Technique I
Learn some tunes and exercises that will help you to build technique, so you can play more challenging tunes!  You can use these tools to play faster and produce a cleaner tone.
Making the Most of your Practice
Practicing is more than playing the same thing over and over.  Pick up tips for efficient practice methods that will help you learn more quickly.
Reading Banjo Tab
Learn to turn a sheet of numbers and lines in to a banjo tune!

Banjo II, Duane Porterfield/Emily Elam

Learning Tunes by Ear II

Did you know that in many tunes, almost half of the phrases are repeated?  Once you’ve learned the first half, you’re nearly done!  Dissect a few tunes and learn how to use the tune structure to quickly learn each phrase by ear.
Following Along in a Jam
Jamming can be one of the most rewarding ways to participate in the old-time community but can be intimidating.  Gain confidence in your ability to join in on tunes you don’t know and get some tips for learning tunes from jams.  Test your abilities in a jam following this session! 
Keeping the Beat: Metronomes, Tapping Your Foot, and More
Building good timing is essential to play with other musicians.  Even if you don’t have the greatest sense of rhythm, there are exercises and technology that can help you get a handle on your timing.  Join us to learn how to use a metronome, tapping your feet, and backup instruments to improve your timing playing solo or with a group.
Building Technique II
Learn some tunes and exercises that will help you to build technique, so you can play more challenging tunes!
Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs
Learn about Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs and where to include them in your playing.  A tune will be taught that includes lots of examples.
Tunes from Bookmiller Shannon
Learn tunes as played by the local legend Bookmiller Shannon, transcribed by Judy Klinkhammer.

 Banjo III, Mark Jones

Grandpa Jones Style Banjo

Mark’s father created a unique style of playing banjo that was built on other popular traditions and playing styles. This is a loosely structured class that covers the styles, techniques and song stylings of Grandpa Jones.

 Banjo IV, Duane Porterfield/Emily Elam

Learning Tunes from a Fiddle

Learn some techniques for picking up melodies and chords from listening to a fiddle player.
Adding Style to “Easy” Tunes
Do you avoid the tunes you learned as a beginner because of the “easy version” that you play?  Take your tunes to the next level by listening to other versions of these simple tunes and learning how to implement new ideas that you hear.
Tunes from Bookmiller Shannon
Learn tunes as played by the local legend Bookmiller Shannon, transcribed by Judy Klinkhammer.
Introduction to Drop-Thumb
Learn an exercise to practice drop-thumbing and discuss where to include drop-thumb in tunes you play.
Writing Banjo Tab
Learn to write down tab for tunes you already know how to play.
Learning Modern Tunes
Playing the banjo doesn’t limit you to old music – learn to give new songs a unique sound by mixing genres.
Learning from Field Recordings

Poor audio quality can make learning from field recordings tough, but with a little imagination, you can learn some great tunes from scratchy audio files. Learn how to get the most from old field recordings by building your listening skills and discovering easy-to-use technology to facilitate your learning.

Contest Rules & Overview
Judy Kent will present the contest rules and explain judging criteria for prospective contestants.  This is a great time to ask questions and evaluate your tune choices. 

Other Events
Thursday August 29th
7 PM Evening Show in Large Auditorium-Performers TBA
Admission included for workshop students

Friday August 30th 
7 PM Evening Show in Large Auditorium-The Jones Family Band  
$12.00. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at Ticket Leap.
Admission included for workshop students
Advance Tickets For Jones Family Band

Saturday August 31, 2019
7 PM Evening Show in Large Auditorium-Various Banjo Performers
$12.00. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at Ticket Leap.
Admission included for workshop students
Advance Tickets For Jerron Paxton

Saturday August 31, 2019
2019 Arkansas State Banjo Championship Schedule/Rules

Registration 9AM-10:20AM  for ALL Divisions in lobby of the Ozark Highlands Theatre  (Music Auditorium)

·        Drawing for placement is 10:30 AM, backstage, for ALL divisions.

·        Contest begins at 11AM and runs consecutively, through all divisions, until complete.

·        Winners in all divisions will be announced following the conclusion of the contest, with the Grand Champion contest to follow approx. 15 minutes after the winners are announced.

                                     Contest division order, starting at 11AM:

Junior (16 and Under)
Senior (60 and older)
Adult (17-59)
Grand Champion

Contest takes place in the Ozark Highlands Theater, Doors open at 9AM.
Contest registration is $10, at the door. No fee for accompanists.
Contestants must register (in person) no later than 10:20 AM
Audience Admission to the contest is FREE

Contest participants and spectators not registered for the workshop, much purchase a ticket for the evening show(s).

2019 Arkansas State Old-Time Banjo Championship

The purpose of the Arkansas State Old-Time Banjo Championship is:

to help perpetuate and promote pure, traditional old-time banjo, i.e., frailing, clawhammer, two-finger up-picking (thumb and one finger);
to help develop a more genuine audience appreciation, understanding, and participation;
to preserve the old-time banjo tunes;
 to develop and encourage old-time jam sessions and contests.


The contest rules and standards may be amended depending on the situation and events at hand during the contest. Anything not covered in the Rules and Standards will be decided by the judges. Before the contest starts, judges will be pleased to answer your questions.


Junior is for ages up to 16. Any contestant who has won first place in the Junior division in two different years will not be allowed to compete in the Junior division again, but will be allowed to play in the Adult division.

Adult is for ages 17 to 59. Any contestant who has won first place in the Adult division in three consecutive years will either sit out for one year or judge the following year. Children 16 and under who have won first place in the Junior division in two different years will be allowed to compete in the Adult division.

Senior is for ages 60 and up. Any contestant who has won first place in the Senior division in three consecutive years will either sit out for one year or judge the following year. No other age groups are allowed to play in the Senior division.

Grand Champion is for the three first place winners of the above divisions.

Contestants may compete in only one division during the championship contests.


1. Number of Tunes -- Each contestant will select two (2) tunes to play in the contest.

2. Tune Selections shall be a breakdown suitable for square dancing and a tune of choice, and will be played in that order in the competition.

3. Tune length -- Each of the selected tunes should be played through three or four times.

4. Tune of choice doesn't have to be (but can be) another dance tune.

5. Submitting the names of the tunes - The names of the selected tunes shall be written down on the card provided at registration, and will be presented with the registration card at the drawing for the contestants' numbers.

6. Changing Tune Selections - Contestants may not change their tune selections after turning them in at the drawing. Contestants who play a tune other than the announced tune will be marked down or awarded no points.

7. Tune Selections for Playoffs – In the event of a playoff, contestants shall play a breakdown and a tune of choice. These tunes cannot be the same tunes that were played in the earlier round.

8. Tunes for Grand Champion Competition – The first-place winner in each division should be prepared to play a breakdown and a tune of choice for the Grand Champion division.These tunes cannot be the same tunes that were played in earlier rounds.

9. Age of Tunes – In the first round of competition, one of the two tunes should originate from the period before 1941. The other tune can be newer than 1941, but must have the old-time style and sound of the earlier tunes. When registering, the contestant will indicate which of the two tunes is newer than 1941. The newer tune can be an original tune that was written by the contestant. In play-off and Grand Champion rounds, all tunes must be older than 1941.

10. Old-Time Only – Contestants who deliberately play a tune or style not classified as “old-time” (a traditional tune played by frailing, clawhammer, or two-finger up-picking) in the opinion of the judges will be disqualified from winning any of the places in the competition. This means no playing in Scruggs-style, Reno-style, melodic-style, Bluegrass, etc., nor modern, progressive arrangements of old-time tunes.


1. Contestants must be present and in proper, drawn position for entry onto the stage when number is called from the staging area. Late arrivals, or no-shows will be eliminated from the event. Allowances may be made for broken strings and other happenings judged to be beyond the control of the contestant(s).

2. Contestants must have instruments tuned and ready to play when called to stage. Instruments may require re-tuning due to the heat of the lighting in the auditorium.

3. Contestants may have only one accompanist. Accompanist may not play the melody or a harmony part that follows the melody line. Any acoustic instrument (other than another banjo) suitable for an old-time dance is welcome; for example: piano, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, cello, reed organ, tenor guitar, or bass. Accompanist must play only chords or rhythmic back-up, if used. Solo banjo is welcome.

4. Contestants may restart a tune in the event of a broken string or unavoidable problem. One false start is allowed, but false starts are discouraged. Please keep the Execution aspect of the judging criteria in mind. Faltering (stopping during the performance of a tune not due to equipment problems) will result in a loss of points.

5. All contestants/performers are urged to consider the placement of the microphones and the efforts of the people responsible for the sound system. They are there to help the contestants/performers be clearly heard by the judges and audience alike. The judges will judge exactly what they hear. An instrument too close or too far away, or pointed away from the microphone, could distort or drop out the sound, resulting in a loss of points. Please make sure the microphone is properly positioned near your instrument(s) prior to starting your performance.

6. No sheet music or music stand is allowed in the stage area.

7. No electrical instruments, nor drums will be allowed on stage.

8. Instruments may not be amplified by contact microphone, pick-up, etc.

9. Alternate tuning is allowed.

10. Contestants can bring more than one banjo on stage.

11. Five-string banjos only. Fretless finger-boards are allowed. Keith-style, or Scruggs-styles tuners may not be used in playing for the contest. Please keep in mind the Authentic Performance Style of the judging criteria.

12. Contestants are asked to conduct themselves with common courtesy and a spirit of fair play.Contestants exhibiting inappropriate behavior toward the audience, other contestants, officials, or sponsors may be excluded from future contests.


1. Judging will be done by three (3) qualified judges who are chosen by the Ozark Folk Center. Decisions of the judges will be final. Judges will be sequestered and no judge can see any contestant. The contestant is identified only by number.

2. The Judges are not permitted to enter, nor play in any contest division.

3. The Judges are not allowed to advise contestants in their selection of tunes to be played.

4. JUDGING CRITERIA for all tunes include Rhythm & Timing, Authentic Performance Style,

Execution, Expression/Feeling, and Difficulty.

• Rhythm & Timing (25 points). The rhythm and timing should be consistent. Any jerking, rushing, dragging or unevenness in tempo of the performance will result in a loss of points. For the breakdown, this correlates with dance ability and the judges will listen for the unique drive that makes a dance tune danceable.

• Authentic Performance Style (30 points). Judges will listen for authentic old-time styles of frailing, clawhammer, or two-finger up-picking. The judges will listen for minor variations and improvisations, commiserate with the uniqueness of a player’s style. However, any creativity should not be excessive so as to change, nor destroy the basic melody line of the tune, which will result in a loss of points.

• Execution (15 points) The judges will listen for the tonal quality and clarity of the performance together with the general command of the instrument.

• Expression/Feeling (15 points) The judges will listen for the “feeling” that the contestant puts into the performance. Flat, mechanical and unfeeling performances will result in lost points, as will excessive “showmanship.”

• Difficulty (15 points) A difficult tune will receive points in the overall score of the tune.


1. Registration and payment of any entry fee will be at the door on the day of the contest.

2. Registration is considered closed at 10:20, the day of the contest. NO exceptions will be made.

3. Drawing for contestants' numbers will be done at 10:30 AM prior to the start of the contest. Contestants should be in the backstage area, no later than 10:30 AM.  No exceptions we be made for being late for the drawing.

4. Badges are required for entering the rehearsal hall/practice rooms/staging area. Contestants and accompanists will be given badges at registration. Parents and teachers of JUNIORS will be given badges for assisting their registered children/students in the practice rooms only. Parents and teachers will not be allowed in the staging area. No other parents or musicians or guests will be allowed in the rehearsal hall/practice rooms/staging area.

Other Notes

Copies of the judges’ score sheets may be requested by the contestant by email after the day of competition.

Please send an email to the Music Director at the Ozark Folk Center State Park. Include your name, contest division and contestant number in your email to [email protected]