Ken Perlman

Superb instrumentalist, acclaimed teacher of instrumental skills, gifted performer, award-winning folklorist, Ken Perlman is surely a welcome addition to any festival or concert-series lineup. Ken is both a pioneer of the 5-string banjo style known as “melodic clawhammer” and a master of fingerstyle guitar. He is considered one of the top clawhammer players in the world, known in particular for his skillful adaptations of Celtic tunes to the style. On guitar, Ken’s sparkling finger-picked renditions of traditional Celtic and Southern fiddle tunes are simply not to be missed.

Click for more about Ken.

Ken directs or co-directs three annual banjo camps. Join us for classes, jams, concerts, and smiles!

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Suwannee Banjo Camp
March 12-15, 2020

Click here for more details

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MidWest Banjo Camp
June 4-7, 2020

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American Banjo Camp
September 10-13, 2020

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Announcements

Now Offering Online Banjo Clinics

Ken now offers online banjo clinics. Here are the clinics for November (click on the links to learn more)

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Ken’s Newest Banjo Instruction Book Just Published!!

Ken’s newest tab/instruction book, Appalachian Fiddle Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo, has just been published by Mel Bay Publications. Ken draws on several decades of experience as a player and arranger to create authentic note-for-note settings for over 100 exquisite tunes. Click here for book details, complete tune list, and to order a copy.

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New Students Welcome!!

If you’re looking to expand your clawhammer skills during this pandemic, I’m happy to take on a few new students. For details contact me at ken@kenperlman.com and we’ll go from there.

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Concerto for Banjo & Orchestra Now Available on CD

Ken reprised his performance of “Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra” by Harold Schiffman in January 2016 with the North/South Chamber Orchestra under conductor Max Lifchitz in Manhattan. The entire ensemble went into the studio soon afterwards and the entire three movements appears as the first three tracks on the CD Vintage Soundscapes & More (N/S read more…

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Alan Jabbour’s Legacy Celebrated at the Library of Congress

The life and musical legacy of renowned Appalachian-style fiddler and folklorist Alan Jabbour (1942-2017) was celebrated at the Library of Congress on Thursday, January 18, 2018. The event featured a reception, brief presentations that featured Alan’s accomplishments and legacy by Carl Fleishhauer, Stephen Wade, and me, followed by a jam session (led by Bertram Levy read more…

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Latest News on the East Tennessee Banjo Academy

Plans for the East Tennessee Banjo Academy have unfortunately been suspended indefinitely (too many events in the region with a similar focus).

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Milestones

New Interview in “Making Music Magazine”

Ken was just interviewed for Making Music Magazine. The piece is accompanied by a 15-minute video in which Ken demonstrates how to master the arts of drop-and-double-thumbing. View the interview here.

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Ken Just Interviewed in “Clawhammer Rules”

Ken was just interviewed by moderator Martha Yakovleff Stone for the Facebook group, “Clawhammer Rules.”  Read it here. . .

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Ken Interviewed on CBC Charlottetown, PEI on “Frails & Frolics” CD

Ken was recently interviewed on the afternoon-drive Mainstreet Show by host Angela Walker on March 5, 2018. In a 15-minute segment, Ken talks about the background of his interest in Prince Edward Island fiddling and describes some of the challenges of putting the Frails and Frolics project together. Angela also play a couple of cuts from the recording. Listen to the Mainstreet Show interview.

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Read This Great Review of Frails & Frolics from Bluegrass Unlimited

Ken Recently Featured on the Cover of the British Mag BMG (BanjoMandolinGuitar)

In the Summer 2018 issue of BMG; Ken is featured in a biographical cover story and there’s a very nice review indeed of Frails & Frolics:

Ken Perlman plays an astonishing selection of tunes which any self-respecting clawhammer player knows are impossible to play on the banjo. That is to say, Perlman is obviously a wizard, using spells and incantations to conjure up these tunes which are too difficult for the average player to contemplate and yet he dashes them off with verve, joie de vivre and above all, great musicality.

About BMG: BanjoMandolinGuitar is the world’s oldest fretted instrument magazine, founded in 1903 by British banjo builder Clifford Essex; it has subscribers all over the world.

Ken Judged for Second Time at “Clifftop”

Ken judged the old-time banjo contest and “neo-traditional” band contest for the second time this past August at the Appalachian String Band Festival, popularly known as “Clifftop.” In 2017, Ken was asked to give a Masters’ Showcase at Clifftop. According to organizer Bobby Taylor, these Masters’ events are set up to “showcase the legends who have dedicated their lives to the preservation and presentation of old-time music.”

Ken Toured with Fiddler Bobby Taylor in Kentucky & Tennessee: March 2017

Ken and renowned West Virginia fiddler Bobby Taylor toured together as a duo in March 2017 in Kentucky & Tennessee. Bobby “apprenticed” with roots legend Clark Kessinger, is considered one of the finest old-time fiddlers around, and is a founder of the Appalachian String Band Festival (commonly known as “Clifftop”). On the itinerary were East Tennessee State University, Union College, Middle Tennessee State and a music school called Fiddle & Pick.

The PEI Traditional Fiddling Website, Bowing Down Home Now Online

The PEI Traditional Fiddling Website (known as Bowing Down Home), based on the field recordings Ken collected in 1991-92 and 2006 is now on line. There are well over 1500 musical selections and 400 oral history selections available on the site, hundreds of photographs and video clips, and a host of expository materials. Bowing Down Home is hosted by the Robertson Library at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown and was constructed by Rosie Lefaive and a team at Robertson under the leadership of Mark Leggott using a state of the art program called Islandora, which was pioneered at UPEI under Mark’s direction. Check it out at bowingdownhome.ca.

New Honors For Ken

  • Ken was awarded a Masters’ Showcase at the 2017 Appalachian String Band Festival, popularly known as “Clifftop”.  According to organizer Bobby Taylor, these Masters’ events are set up to “showcase the legends who have dedicated their lives to the preservation and presentation of old-time music.”
  • Ken has a selection featured on a new anthology called Classic Banjo from Smithsonian Folkways. Since the CD also features the likes of Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, Hobart Smith, Wade Ward, Dock Boggs, Rufus Crisp, and Roscoe Holcomb (not to mention such contemporary bluegrass wizards as Bill Keith and Tony Trischka), this is quite an honor.
  • Ken’s book, Advanced Fingerstyle Guitar, was included in a book by Shawn Persinger called The 50 Greatest Guitar Books (Quixotic Music Co.).

Tribute To Pete Seeger

The acoustic music world lost a giant a few years ago with the passing of Pete Seeger. Read Ken’s eulogy and his two-part interview of Pete from September and October 2000 on the Banjo Newsletter website.