Board of Directors

President:  Leo Pearson
Vice President:  Merdick Brown
Secretary:  Kathy Klein
Treasurer:  Willie Wells

Ken Baldwin
Larry Klein
Staci Jones
Patrick Russell
Nathan Speare

Ben Wooten
Tommy Thomas - Past President

Larry Turner - Membership Chairman

Some Past Association Accomplishments

Golden Leaves Bluegrass Festival at Oconee State Park

Month long exhibit of Bluegrass instruments at SC State Museum

 Redcliffe Plantation Festival

Givhans Ferry Festival

Redcliffe Plantation Festival

Givhans Ferry Festival

Golden Leaves Festival

Alison Krauss & Union Station Concert @ The Koger Center

Bluegrass Cardinals Concert @ Bill's Music Shop

J.D. Crowe & Del McCoury Concert @ Bill's Music Shop

Movie: High Lonesome shown at Bill's Music Shop

Alison Krauss & Union Station/The Cox Family Concert @ The Koger Center

Lauire Lewis & Grant Street Corner Concert @ Bishopville Opera House

Brief Bluegrass History and a Concert by Crossroads @ SC State Museum

Bluegrass History Presentation and band performance by Palmetto Blue @ SC State Museum

SC State Museum monthly acoustic jam

SC BTMA T-shirt fundraiser - shirt designed by Board Member Ken Baldwin

Sponsored book signing of Carolina Bluegrass: A High Lonesome History by Gail Giarratano @ SC State Museum

SCBTMA Concert Series - 4 concerts during the year featuring member bands.

Sponsored a  Bluegrass educational and historical series at the Lexington Main Library with Willie Wells & the Blue Ridge Mountain Grass.

Staffed an informational table at multiple events and festivals with membership and retail materials.

Offered a Youth Scholarship Program for young stringed instrument players.

Co sponsored the "Pickin' with the Pros" series at Bill's Pickin' Parlor welcoming professional musicians Mark Johnson and Emory Lester.

Sponsored monthly jam sessions at the SC State Museum in Columbia.

Sponsored a Bluegrass educational and historical series at the Lexington Library's South Congaree Branch.

Sponsored the Congaree Bluegrass Festival.

Awarded three youth scholarships to young stringed instrument players.

Co sponsored the "Pickin' With The Pros" series at Bill's Music Shop.
The SCBTMA's primary objectives are to preserve, promote, publicize, and support these unique musical styles through concerts, workshops, and public education programs. We invite you to join us in sharing the future of bluegrass and traditional music in South Carolina. Your membership and personal involvement can make a difference.


• Works with other nationally recognized organizations with the same objectives.
• Consciously provides a family setting in which experienced musicians can pass on this musical heritage to younger ones via the oral tradition.
• Strives for public recognition of outstanding SC musicians.

A Brief SCBTMA History
by Pat Ahrens

The SCBTMA was co-founded in 1991 by the late Bill Wells and Pat Ahrens. Two people who were instrumental in its organization were Frank Stover, who helped write the Association By-Laws, and Terry Murphy, who helped secure the 501 C-3 articles of incorporation. As required by law, public disclosure and the names of its officers appeared in local papers. The officers elected were: President: Bill Wells; Vice President: Pat Ahrens; Secretary: Susan Coleman; and Treasurer: Terry Murphy. The Board of Directors included Homer "Pappy" Sherrill, Claude Lucas, Dr. Larry Klein, Frank Stover, Lester Gantt, and State Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Liaison Joan Davis.

Membership goals included providing a "family setting" to allow experienced musicians to orally pass on this musical heritage to youngsters. The Association strives to publically recognize outstanding S.C. musicians and to work with other national organizations having the same goals. Its educational programs incude presenting concerts by both professional and local amateur bluegrass bands, holding workshops for teaching the acoustic stringed instruments played in the genre, and publically supporting the music.

For over a decade, the Association has presented a program at the SC State Museum which includes a brief history of the music and a performance from a live bluegrass band.

Early on, the Association had partnered with the Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) to produce day long bluegrass festivals throughout various SC Parks such as Oconee, Redcliffe Plantation, and Givhans Ferry. Bluegrass luminaries such as Alison Krauss, J.D. Crowe, Del McCoury, Laurie Lewis, and The Nashville Bluegrass Band were presented in concert by the Association. 

The attractive Association logo was designed by graphic artist Dee Lucas and Pat Ahrens.

A newsletter featuring current news of interest and a calendar of band appearance dates was mailed to members. At that time, the Association had 7 bands who were members.

Board member Larry Klein served as host of the NPR radio program "The Bluegrass Sound" and retired in 2015 after over 30 years of playing the best in contemporary and traditional bluegrass music.

The Association's "home address" has always been Bill's Music Shop & Pickin' Parlor located at 710 Meeting Street in West Columbia, South Carolina.

A purely social event and yearly highlight has been the traditional Christmas meeting where everybody brings their favorite dish and "Pot Luck" reins among the jamming by members.

 The Association has a proud history of past accomplishments. Some of these include sponsoring:
  • Alison Krauss & Union Station concerts at the Koger Center in 1994 and 1995.
  • A Bill Monroe Tribute concert at the State Museum in 1996.
  • A concert at the State Museum by former Blue Grass Boy Butch Robins, a master of the 5-string banjo, in 1999.
  • A concert with comments by renowned country music historian and author Bill C. Malone in 2002.
Although the Association became inactive in 2006, it was re-activated in 2014 by enthusiastic new officers and a Board of Directors that includes: President: Tommy Thomas; Vice President: Merdick Brown; Secretary: Kathy Klein; and Treasurer: Willie Wells.  The Board of Directors includes: Past President: Pat Ahrens; Dr. Larry Klein, Ben Wooten, Staci Jones, Ashley Carder, Ken Baldwin, and Leo Pearson. Frank Stover still serves in an advisory capacity, and Allison Caldwell helps with publicity.

Artist and board member Ken Baldwin desgined a beautiful T-shirt for the Association that has been a popular fundraising item for 2015. An afternoon of bluegrass documentary movies plus a bag of popcorn morphed into a pot-luck dinner, and a membership "jam" was another Association fun fundraiser. 

The Board has worked hard in 2015 to get the Association name into public notice by partnering with USC's McKissick Museum during their Folk Fabulous Festival; the SC State Museum's montlhy Tuesday night jam session in conjuction with their Carolina Makers exhibit, and the Congaree Bluegrass Festival by both being a sponsor and hosting a tent for "jamming" during the event.

     The Association can be reached through Bill's Pickin' Parlor at
(803) 796-6477.

Established in 1991 and reactivated in 2014, the SC BTMA is a non-profit organization chartered by the state of South Carolina.