Jack grew up in a musical family in rural Illinois and began
playing guitar at age 5. When Jack was about 12 years old,
he began playing bluegrass banjo (he learned from hearing
his father play) and a little later took up mandolin and then
fiddle. He began teaching full time at Gryphon
in 1979 and has worked very hard on developing a complete
lesson program on banjo, mandolin, fiddle and guitar. He has taught thousands of students over thirty years, many of whom have become top players in the Bay Area and beyond. He has been especially successful with children, some of whom
have grown into major talents on the local and national scene.
His current and past students heavily populate the jam scene
in the South Bay and on the Peninsula. He is
also the music editor of Fiddler
Magazine and has written twelve instructional books. Jack has
developed and taught special seminars in History of
Bluegrass, Critical Listening to Bluegrass, Bluegrass Improvisation and Music
Theory for Bluegrass and he is a known across the nation for his work in music education.
Jack also taught his own three children, Molly, Sullivan and Michael, who are all three nationally recognized bluegrass talents. Despite their young ages, they have performed throughout the US, Europe and Canada. Their YouTube videos have over two million views.
Jack has performed professionally in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan and has been a member of numerous bands, including the Gryphon Quintet and the Fog City Ramblers. He now plays with The Tuttles with AJ Lee, which features three of his own kids. Jack has performed at many notable events, such as: A Prairie Home Companion, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Strawberry Music Festival and Merlefest. He has been a mainstay
every year at the prestigious CBA Bluegrass Camp in Grass
Valley, one of the largest bluegrass camps in the country. He also has taught at the Walker Creek Music Camp, the California Coast Music Camp, the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and the Northern Bluegrass Circle Workshop (in Canada). In 2012, 2016 and 2017, Jack won the Northern California Bluegrass Society's Bluegrass Fiddler of the Year award. He has recorded various albums in his career, including a duet album with his daughter Molly and two with The Tuttles with AJ Lee. Jack has worked as album producer and sound engineer as well.
In 2007, Jack was presented with the California Bluegrass Association's distinguished Honorary Lifetime Membership Award and in 2014, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Northern California Bluegrass Society.