Will Kimble

Kimble mandolins are custom made tools for acoustic musicians. Each mandolin is carefully crafted by hand based on input regarding tone, feeling, aesthetics. There are no standard models or trim levels. Excellent workmanship is key to great sounding mandolins.  Will started building mandolins in 2000.  Taught by his father, Fred Kimble, they still work side by side building instruments.

Mark Royal

Mark RoyalHailing from Ohio County, Kentucky, birthplace of Bill Monroe, Mark stays true to his roots as an avid follower of the Bill Monroe mandolin performance style. A fixture on the western Kentucky regional bluegrass scene, he has attended mando camps in the past and has provided sought-after individual advice to mando pickers at these camps. Mark will be teaching classes as well as being available for one-on-one tutorials throughout the day.

John Keith

John Keith was born in Parkersburg, WV and raised just up and across the Ohio River in Newport, OH. He and his wife, Tina, now live near Cambridge, OH. where John is a full-time minister for the Church of Christ.

He began playing guitar when he was nine, and ached for an electric guitar so he could become the next big rock star. One evening in 1981, his dad and mom dragged him to Eureka, WV, to hear his older cousin and some of his buddies play something called “Bluegrass.” He was hooked!

Soon he was buying any Bluegrass record he could find. It wasn’t long until the banjo became a fascination, so his dad bought him an Epiphone to start with. There were several banjo players in the area, and it seemed he always ended up with the guitar. One day a few years later he was listening to the Bill Monroe record, Bluegrass Time, and decided he wanted—needed—a mandolin. After an ordeal he can tell you about himself, his dad bought him one in the fall of 1986.

So then, in his senior year of high school he began listening and studying Bill Monroe, and others who played like him, and in July of 1990 he was hired by Melvin Goins to fill a recent vacancy. It was during this time that he met Mike Compton and became even more determined to play those old sounds. He dabbled with other styles as well but always came home to Monroe.

After the passing of Ray Goins, John took over the tenor vocals with Melvin, and did his best to do what was needed for the show. He recorded three CD’s and a live video while with Melvin. It was during this time that he was afforded the opportunity to hang around with Mr. Monroe, and among his treasured possessions is a personal video of a couple duets he sang with him at Bean Blossom. Also, a precious memory of an impromptu set with Mr. Monroe at the Long Hollow Jamboree—Bill sang and insisted that John play the mandolin.

Perhaps, the last live music that Bill Monroe ever heard was the Goins Brothers Band standing outside his window at the rehabilitation facility where he spent his last days, playing his songs with John’s Monroe-style mandolin punctuating every line.

After leaving the road early in 1998 he went to work as a millwright, but continued to play locally. However, it was not long until he decided he couldn’t do without it. So with renewed interest, he began pickin’ and studying the master again. John has done studio work for several of the local and regional groups in his area, and people know they can always count on John for some “straight old Monroe style mandolin” when he’s around. He plays mostly for enjoyment, but when Monroe sounds are heard in the Mid-Ohio Valley, it’s usually John Keith behind them.

Paul Duff

Paul DuffAfter building his first mandolin in 1982, Paul became fascinated with the array and diversity of skills, many from a bygone era, required to successfully build a mandolin. In the almost three decades since, he has been focused on refining, developing and applying these skills to his one true passion; the mandolin family of instruments produced by Gibson in the 1920s.

Paul’s love of bluegrass music drew him automatically to the F5 mandolin of Bill Monroe both musically and from a luthier’s perspective. The first mandolin he ever built was an F5 model like Monroe’s, a difficult undertaking as any builder will tell you. His attention has since broadened to other instruments from this ‘Golden Era’, also known as the ‘Loar Period’. Paul now includes mandolas, mandocellos and archtop guitars in his inventory of models offered to customers.

The inspiration derived from the truly successful, spectacular instruments of this ‘Loar Period’ is what drives Paul to spend each day ‘at the bench.’ He is a hands-on kind of builder. He doesn’t use a CNC carving machine but does have a hand operated pantograph router. This allows him to save himself for the important hand carving of the top and back plate. Paul would rather master the art of the various skill sets rather than outsource them. Consequently, his instruments are adorned with hand cut pearl and abalone inlays, colored sunbursts are applied by hand and of course, they are french polished. You can find out more information about Paul on his website at duffmandolins.com. Better yet, stop by and order a custom made mandolin!

Raymond Huffmaster

Raymond HuffmasterA guitar rhythm hoss who played with the Osborne Brothers, Raymond Huffmaster also was friends with Monroe, Baker and the Blue Grass Boys. A man with a heart the size of the sun, Raymond will sit and pick a tune with you, tell you stories lived at Bean Blossom with Monroe, Baker and the Boys, and back you up like nobody’s business. We are proud to have Raymond with us.

Mike Compton, Director

Befriended and mentored by Bill Monroe, the acknowledged Father of Bluegrass Music, Mike Compton is one of today’s foremost interpreters of Monroe’s genre-creating mandolin style. Compton’s mastery of mandolin is at once effortless and exceptional. A compelling entertainer either alone or with a group, his skills as a singer, arranger, instrumentalist, composer and accompanist also make him in-demand as a band member and ensemble player at festivals, clubs and concert halls, recording sessions, music workshops and as a private instructor.

Compton’s decades of touring and recording with musical luminaries ranging from rockstars Sting, Gregg Allman and Elvis Costello, to straight-fro-the-still acoustic legends like John Hartford, Doc Watson, Peter Rowan, Ralph Stanley and David Grisman, have established him as a true master of the modern American mandolin and a premier interpreter of roots and Americana musical styles. With over 140 CDS in his discography, Compton has helped keep mandolin a cool, relevant sound as the modern musical styles ebb and evolve to reach an every-broadening audience.

A native of Meridian, Mississippi, Compton picked up the mandolin in his teens and absorbed the area’s native blues, old-time country and bluegrass sounds. He soon gravitate to Nashville, where he helped found one of the 20th Century’s most admired and influential bluegrass groups, the iconic Nashville Bluegrass Band. He’s also been a part of the Hubert Davis Band, John Hartford Stringband, 1942, Compton & Newberry, and other seminal groups.

When A-list Americana producer T-Bone Burnett needed experts in authentic rural musical styles to anchor the landmark ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ movie project and subsequent tour, he called upon Compton’s unique knowledge and signature mandolin style to authenticate the Soggy Bottom Boys’ rootsy sound. That Grammy Award Album of the Year-winning album went on to sell seven million copies and sparked a global revival in old-time and bluegrass musical styles.

Connoisseur of hand-painted vintage silk ties, popularizer of the denim overall urban fashion statement, lover of iconic men’s hats and curator of oddball official days (ask him about National Lost Sock Memorial Day or National root Canal Appreciation Day), Mike Compton thrives at the intersection of traditional funk and modern authenticity.

Equally skilled in bluegrass, old-time string band music, country blues, roots Americana styles, and much more, Compton soars beyond easy categorization as n acoustic mandolin player and singer. Gifted at tastefully incorporating rural, roots-based learn and rhythm mandolin styles into modern Americana music, Compton’s unique musical skill set allows him to entertain audiences ranging from racers and urban hipsters to die-hard country, folk and bluegrass fans.

A mandolin master able to channel the Monroe-style playing better than anyone, Compton is a preservationist who continues teaching the music that Bill Monroe innovated, and which set the standard for generations of bluegrass mandolin players to come. For more information about Mike, visit his website at mikecompton.net