The Jon Bekoff Project for the Advancement of Georgia Old-Time Music


The Jon Bekoff (JB) Project was created in the memory of the musician Jon Bekoff (1959-2015) to promote Old-Time Georgia stringband music. The JB Project supports one-on-one and small group learning with mentors knowledgeable and skilled in Georgia old-time musical traditions.

jon GA

Jon was a gentle soul and loved to connect with people through informal learning and sharing of world music.  (For more details of Jon’s musical obituary written by Jon’s fiddle student, nicknamed “Moonshine,” see: )

Within the old-time tradition, Jon had a special fondness for Georgia Old-time music, and used to wear a t-shirt “In Gid We Trust.” In the last half year of his life, Jon made a pilgrimage from his home state of Massachusetts to Georgia, where he visited the home and burial site of the fiddler Gid Tanner, and made a video at Gid’s grave playing “a Gid tune” with Gid’s grandson, Phil.

(see ). After Jon’s death, “Moonshine” collaborated with the Center for Public History in Georgia to endow this humble project to spread a little bit of Jon’s karma, through informal learning initiatives.

For the first few years, The Center for Public History staff at the University of West Georgia administered the Jon Bekoff Project for Georgia Old-Time Music Project as part of its Regional Music Project. As of 2019, the project is looking for a new home. For the time being, the Cabbagetown-based The Patch Works Art and History Center will help host a new Georgia jam workshop series. 

Who can apply?

The program accepts applications from:

  1. Individuals who want to pursue one-on-one mentoring in Georgia Oldtime music, typically with Evan Kinney in Pine Lake, Ga. preference is given to Georgia based learners.
  2. Mentors versed in Georgia old-time music who want to organize music jam-workshops or study groups; or who want to develop open-access instructional videos. 

Applicants in the first category will:

  1. demonstrate an interest in the music of Georgia string band traditions
  2. possess a basic command of their instrument and ability to learn by ear. 

In most cases, the funds will go to the mentor, not the applicant. 

Who can be a mentor?

Musicians who are experienced in the Georgia oldtime music. 

Mentor applications will include a biography and evidence of their expertise in this field. The review committee will evaluate these applicants to determine if if they meet the program criteria as mentors.

All mentors must submit a vendor profile form and W-9 form to process payments.

What types of experiences are eligible?

Mentors set the course prospectus relative to the grant award and can teach in the following settings, including but not limited to the following formats.  All projects are expected to be completed over a four to six month period.

  • 1:1 learning.  Student travels to mentor although the duo can choose to meet at mutually agreed upon settings outside of the mentor’s home. Student may opt to learn on several instruments during this time (e.g., fiddle, banjo, banjolin, guitar) to master all parts of traditional string band ensemble.(For example, this might involve  10 sixty minute instructional sessions with a mentor for $500)
  • Small group intermediate workshop series.  An applicant organizes a small group workshop series with a specific mentor. The mentor and an applicant select a location to hold a workshop for at least six participants, selecting tunes to be covered in advance of each session, for learners to play together. For example, the workshop could be a “Skillet Lickers study group” to work through the repertoire of this or the group could focus on other famous Georgia old-time musicians like John Dilleshaw, A.A. Gray, Clayton McMichen, Riley Puckett, or others. The initial proposal will list the participants, but these could change during the course of the series with the mentor’s approval. Most of the tunes studied should be Georgia tunes (all should be Deep South tunes.)
  • Facilitated introductory Georgia music jam-workshop series– The mentor applies to the program to facilitate regional one-off 2-hour educational demonstrations followed by jams, featuring the mentor’s repertoire of Georgia music. 
  • Development of instructional materials for Georgia traditional music, such as YouTube videos. Mentors apply for funding to create instructional materials focused on Georgia old time stringband music traditions.
  • Intensive residencies. This category provides an opportunity for out-of-town learners to study with a mentor over several consecutive days.  For example, the residency could be three five-hour days, which would include time devoted to listening to and discussing source material together. The application should describe the residency. The grant budget may include a small stipend for the out-of-town mentee for room and board.
  • Other formats–We are open to other creative project ideas, provided they are in the spirit of informal group learning.  For example, if someone wants to organize a day of workshops and jams, to promote Georgia Oldtime and Blues music.

Application process

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed monthly. Awards will be distributed each year on a first-come, first-served basis, as funds allow.

Applicants should the following points in their application:

  1. A project narrative that includes the following:
  2. Name and contact information for the applicant
  3. Applicant’s musical background and experience
  4. Reasons for pursuing the apprenticeship, class, etc.
  5. Description of proposed type of apprenticeship, class, etc.
  6. Name and contact information for mentor or information about the class/camp
  7. Proposed project
  8. Proposed schedule
  9. Proposed budget
  1. Student applicants must also submit YouTube or other video recording that demonstrates their musical skills

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4 Responses to “The Jon Bekoff Project for the Advancement of Georgia Old-Time Music”

  1. Slippery Hill’s Jon Bekoff (RIP) Audio Archive | Old Time Party Says:

    […] post script: The Jon Bekoff Project  was set up by Moonshine to support informal Georgia oldtime music learning projects. The first […]

  2. Intermediate Georgia Oldtime Jam! - The Patch Works Says:

    […] remember: this group was learning the song on-the-fly and by ear).Programming was sponsored by the Jon Bekoff Project for the Advancement of Georgia Oldtime Music, administered by the UWG Center for Public History.This is a free event that — if all goes well […]

  3. Georgia Oldtime Jam Workshop with Max Godfrey - The Patch Works Says:

    […] The Jon Bekoff Project for the Advancement of Georgia Old-Time Music […]

  4. Sarah Adams – Georgia Pick and Bow Traditional Music School Says:

    […] as a fourth grader in the year that Pick & Bow was founded (2008). Through the support of the Jon Bekoff Project for the Advancement of Georgia Old-Time Music, Sarah is currently building a history curriculum for Pick & Bow. “History is key to […]

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