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Bill Giles (co-founder)

     I began playing bluegrass banjo in 1986. Later that year, I met (co-host) Dave at a jam. We were each 5 years old at the time...
 
     It was a great era to be learning the banjo in NYC- lessons with Tony Trischka, lots of bluegrass concerts in the city, and there was even an annual fair at Floyd Bennett Field which featured bluegrass music and a banjo contest!
 
     In 1988 and 1990, I attended (along with Dave) the Tennessee Banjo Institute, where I was able to explore clawhammer, ragtime, and Irish styles on the banjo, and attend workshops with Ralph Stanley, Grandpa Jones, Art Rosenbaum, Wade Mainer, Ronni Stoneman, Mike Seeger, Eddie Adcock, Mick Maloney and many more.
 
     Over the years, I also had the chance to travel down to Georgia and stay with Art Rosenbaum to learn more about traditional banjo styles, and I got involved with the American Banjo Fraternity to study the "classic" banjo style from the 1890s.
 
     My current focus is co-hosting this jam with Dave at Paddy's.

     The result of all of these diverse influences is a less-restrictive, more exploratory approach to the banjo, and I've enjoyed expanding my repertoire beyond bluegrass and old-time to include Bach, Scott Joplin, and the occasional Christmas carol and rock song.

     I've also played the guitar for years, and in March of 2008 I added the mandolin. The mandolin has definitely been a lot of fun...I usually leave it at work, and bring it over to Union Square to play at lunchtime, which has been a great way to work on fiddle tunes.

     Although I certainly love the bluegrass songs, I gravitate a little more toward the instrumentals, so you'll see plenty of instrumentals in my set list. In jams that I lead, I always try to balance songs and instrumentals to achieve an interesting mix of pieces over the course of the jam.

     Hear Bill on "Whistling Rufus" (1899):
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