JACK HATFIELD

BANJO

Jack Hatfield is best known as a teacher and author, writing monthly for Banjo Newsletter magazine for thirty years and publishing dozens of banjo books via his own company Hatfield Music which also markets several banjo accessories Jack designed. He also authored several books for Mel Bay Publications. He began his teaching career in 1973 and left private teaching in 1990 to perform at Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, TN. He was band leader for Dolly’s Parton’s sister Freida until she left Dollywood and True Blue became the Dollywood staff bluegrass band. He also performed regularly with mandolin great Red Rector and did a stint with Lawrence Welk cast members Ava Barber and Dick Dale at their Pigeon Forge theater.

Concurrently, Jack broadened his teaching to large groups. He has taught banjo workshops all over the USA and in four other countries. He has directed the annual SPBGMA banjo workshop in Nashville for thirty-two years. He founded his own Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy banjo camp in 2004 but retired from SMBA and the day-to-day operations of Hatfield Music in 2016 when his banjo shop and music barn was destroyed by wildfires. At that point Jack turned most Hatfield Music responsibilities over to favorite sister Jane and re-dedicated himself to being the best banjo player he could be. Since re-locating back in Knoxville after the disaster he has averaged eight hours per day behind his banjo. He has written over three hundred tunes in that time.

In his younger days Jack placed in several regional banjo competitions and was a finalist in the National Banjo Competition in Winfield. Kansas in 1989. He has performed at festivals, concert venues and conventions around East Tennessee with True Blue and performs occasionally with an eclectic instrumental group Acoustic Tone Zone he organized featuring cello virtuoso and multi-Grammy-nominated Dave Eggar. He recently focused his attention to making True Blue a more well-known band, adding original material and making plans for more prestigious concerts, recording and touring.

Visit Jack's Hatfield Music website.


GARRETT GREGG

BANJO / GUITAR

Garrett Gregg is from Maryville, Tennessee. He started playing bluegrass guitar and banjo at the age of ten under the tutelage of Chip Chipman and later bluegrass legend Alan Bibey when he lived in South Carolina. He was a music camp junkie of sorts, attending every camp he could. This exposed him to bluegrass, jazz, swing, and Celtic styles taught by top pros from all over the world. 

He won the banjo contest at Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy at the age of fifteen as well as placing second at ROMP festival in Owensboro, KY. He also competed in the National Flatpicking Championship. He has performed around East Tennessee in various bands. He opened for Charlie Daniels with Six Mile Express at a young age. His first meeting with Jack was when he won that banjo contest at Jack’s Smoky Mountain Banjo Academy music camp. They ended meeting up at jam sessions fifteen years later and he joined True Blue in 2021. 

Garrett’s style is very mature for a musician the age of thirty-two. Although he has studied the great bluegrass flat pickers and can play dozens of their recorded solos note-for-note if had to, his style is totally original and refreshing. When you hear Garrett’s guitar solos it does not remind you of anybody. He has a deep respect for the melody and a keen sense of dynamics with his guitar as well as his voice. His solos are tasteful, never placing hot licks over the melody or vocal antics over the story the song tells. His banjo playing is equally unique and personal, like nobody else.


JAY LLOYD

MANDOLIN / FIDDLE

Jay Lloyd plays mandolin and fiddle and sings lead and harmony parts for True Blue. Jay is from Knoxville, Tennessee. He had classical violin training at a very young age, then discovered bluegrass in his early teens. His early musical heroes were Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers. Later on, David Grisman became a major influence. 

Although already very busy as a family man and helping manage a family business started by his father, he made time in his late thirties to pursue a college degree. In addition to still working toward his Major degree in philosophy/sociology, he is soon to earn an associate degree in ethnomusicology specializing in bluegrass music. He also extensively studied music theory, enriching his understanding of jazz  and classical music. Playing in the Pellissippi State Community College bluegrass ensemble he toured Ireland and Scotland and South America. 

Already an accomplished songwriter, the music theory helped him broaden his creative horizons. This is evidenced by his more recent compositions, many of which defy categorization and may push the boundaries for those used to listening to bluegrass and country and popular music. His original compositions have sparked excitement among the other band members and added considerably to the repertoire of the band.

His vocal and instrumental style is evidence of his broad and eclectic interests. He can sing and play (and yodel!) a Bill Monroe classic or a soulful Stanley Brothers ballad faithfully rendering and honoring the style of these seminal bluegrass artists, and then change gears in a flash to play authentic jazz, swing and Celtic selections.


GAVIN GREGG