MARK JOHNSON is an American Master of the 5-string banjo. He has revolutionized the art of playing clawhammer style banjo and advanced the five-string banjo well into uncharted territory by incorporating complex, rhythmic runs and beautiful melodies into his original banjo compositions and variations on traditional music. He calls his banjo style "Clawgrass" and his style has shattered and expanded preconceived notions about clawhammer banjo playing.
Mark has performed and recorded with many bluegrass and acoustic luminaries and is a gifted teacher and songwriter as well. His CD releases with Emory Lester have been widely acclaimed in the bluegrass and acoustic music print and radio media, and have earned him the respect of the music industry both nationally and internationally.
Mark has performed with some of the best acoustic musicians in the world, including Performed with Emory Lester, Jimmy Gaudreau, Bill Emerson, Steve Martin, Tony Rice, JD Crowe, Little Roy Lewis, John Hartford, Tony Trischka, Allen Munde, The Steep Canyon Rangers, Allison Brown, Chris Thile, Sam Bush, Byron Berline, Mark Schatz, Todd Phillips, Jim Hurst, Carl Jackson, Mark Newton andSteve Thomas. In 2012 he received the third annual Steve Martin Award for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Music.
EMORY LESTER is an American Master of the acoustic mandolin and a multi-instrumentalist. His mandolin style has caught the attention of many other mandolin masters and he has performed and recorded with some of today’s hottest acts. He is also a gifted teacher and songwriter. The power of his playing is unmatched, and his sound is infectious. Together, these two music masters, performing as a duet, deliver a powerful performance that will excite audiences, touch every listener, and create a memorable experience leaving audiences asking for more and more.
In addition to live performances Mark and Emory also provide masters workshops on clawhammer banjo (in Mark’s distinctive “clawgrass” style) and Emory’s distinctive mandolin style and guitar respectively. They teach their respective instrument styles to all levels of players, and have taught throughout the United States at various festivals and acoustic music schools, including: Steve Kaufman Acoustic Music Camps (Knoxville), Maryland Banjo Camp (Fredrick, MD) and Banjo Camp North (Groton, MA). They have hosted Masters Clawhammer & Mandolin Workshops at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in Louisville, the Winterhawk BG Festival in Hillsdale, NY and the Wintergrass BG festival in Tacoma, WA.