About Jack Hatfield

Jack Hatfield has been picking banjo since he was seventeen years old. After a career teaching private lessons, writing Banjo Newsletter columns and Mel Bay instruction books, organizing several USTA tennis teams and running his banjo shop and annual Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy and performing around East Tennessee, he is currently retired from his banjo camp and day-to-day operations at Hatfield Music. He has left the business in the capable hands of favorite sister Jane. He is still available to answer customer questions and perform banjo setups.

Jack still appears at various banjo workshops and camps, directs the annual SPBGMA banjo workshop in Nashville, and performs with his bluegrass band True Blue, his Americana band Hatfield’s Heathens and his jam-grass band Acoustic Tone Zone. He viewed the 2016 wildfire total loss as an opportunity to divulge from anything not related to studying the banjo, so his current “job” is performing, practicing banjo forty hours per week and working on a solo banjo album. The project will showcase many recently-discovered approaches to banjo technique and include a few of the more than one hundred original tunes he has written since his 2016 .

Jack’s Books and Columns

Jack has written several highly acclaimed banjo instruction books, published by his own company Hatfield Music and for Mel Bay Publications, the largest publisher of stringed instrument instruction books in the world. Jack also started writing as a columnist for Banjo Newsletter magazine in 1976. He wrote the Scruggs Corner column for five years, analyzing the style of the father of bluegrass banjo. The sixty tablatures and analytical comments he wrote while authoring this column still today constitute the largest and most accurate collection of transcriptions of Earl’s recordings available anywhere. Jack then wrote the Beginner’s Corner column for seven years, and for twelve years authored a column called Concepts and Systems which attempted to de-mystify music theory, present alternative banjo techniques, discuss difficult and seldom-taught topics such as arranging and composition, and present other “big-picture” concepts relating to music applied to the five-string banjo.

Camps and Workshops

Jack was on the faculty of very first banjo camp, the Tennessee Banjo Institute in 1988. Since then he has been Bluegrass Director of all three of Banjo Newsletter’s Maryland Banjo Academys and the Nashville Academy of Traditional Music. He has also been director of the banjo workshop at the SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America) Bluegrass Convention in Nashville for twenty-five years.

In 2006, Jack established his own Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy (SMBA) near Gatlinburg, TN, which was held in conjunction with Five-String Fest in 2014. In 2015, Jack embarked on a big renovation project and moved his camps into the Hatfield Music Barn adjacent to his shop overlooking Pigeon Forge.

Jack’s music barn, banjo shop, rental homes and personal home were all destroyed by the 2016 wildfires. This allowed Jack to divest himself of all obligations not directly related to his music. He has since focused on performing with his three bands, composing and discovering new sounds and techniques on the banjo. Jack Hatfield books and products are still available through hatfieldmusic.com. “Favorite Sister Jane” runs the day-to-day operations of Hatfield Music.