Brett Ratliff ((Beginning Banjo) grew up in the historic coal camps of Van Lear, Kentucky. Brett has toured extensively with groups such as the Clack Mountain String Band, the Dirk Powell Band, and Rich & the Po’ Folk, and as a solo artist released Cold Icy Mountain in 2008 and Gone Boy in 2017. He has also taught mountain music at numerous workshops and music camps including the Swannanoa Gathering in North Carolina, Augusta Heritage’s Early Country Music Week, Sore Fingers Week in Oxfordshire, England and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington.
Montana Hobbs (Early Intermediate Banjo) grew up in Lee County, Kentucky amid a community which instilled an early love of music and storytelling. She studied string music and songwriting at Morehead State University’s Center for Traditional Music, and graduated with a BA in traditional music in 2015. During 2016 she was a Kentucky Folklife apprentice to John Haywood and focused on Southeast Kentucky banjo styles. Montana performs widely with Linda Jean Stokley as the Local Honeys. Their 2016 release of mountain classics and original songs is Little Girls Actin’ Like Men.
Carla Gover (Intermediate Banjo) is a Letcher County native who first learned banjo from Lee Sexton and mountain singing from her grandmother. Since earning a degree in Appalachian Studies from UK, she has pursued a career as a dancer, songwriter and musician. She performs with the band Zoe Speaks, and her original music has been featured in documentaries, film, and television. She has won numerous songwriting awards, including Merle Fest’s Chris Austin Contest. Through her music and teaching, Carla seeks to change stereotypes about Appalachia and celebrate the strengths of mountain culture.
John Haywood (Advanced Banjo) is an award winning artist and banjo player from Floyd County, Kentucky. He attended the Old Regular Baptist Church with his papaw, where he heard him sing the old unaccompanied songs of Zion. He was a Kentucky Folklife apprentice to George Gibson, a banjo player from Knott County and this year’s master in residence. John performs with Rich & the Po’ Folk and can be heard on their recording When the Whistle Blew. He is also a visual artist whose work represents the history and music of east Kentucky.