Bluegrass Ensemble Director

Lecturer in Applied Music

Presser, Room 125

CPO 2194

Office Hours: By appointment

Phone: 1-859-985-3694
Fax: 1-859-985-3994

At Berea College since 1999


  • A.B., Berea College, 1981


  • MUA 105-400: Applied Lessons in Appalachian Instruments (banjo, folk guitar, fiddle)
  • MUS 130J: Country Dance Band
  • MUS 130F: Bluegrass Ensemble


Al was born in Texas but mostly raised in Southern New Mexico. His early musical influences were the singing and playing of his relatives at family reunions and listening to AM radio. He started mandolin at 11 years and guitar at 14. He was soon playing bluegrass music with his neighbors and trying to “make it” as a professional bluegrass musician. After pioneering bluegrass to amazed and confused audiences all over New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, he won a position in a full-time professional band from Louisville, KY called the Bluegrass Alliance. Al soon met and later married Alice McLain and joined her families’ band, the McLain Family Band. The McLains’ traveled extensively in the US and toured approximately 20 foreign countries while Al performed with them. With a nagging interest in academics and Philosophy, Al received a B.A. in Philosophy from Berea College in 1981. He began teaching stringed instruments (which now included banjo) in the early 80’s and added fiddle to the list in’89. Al began playing for the Berea College Country Dancers and the Berea Festival Dancers in 1992. Country’s visited traveling with those groups included Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Italy, Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Australia, and Fiji. Al began teaching “Appalachian Instruments” at Berea College in 1999, founding the Bluegrass Ensemble one year later. Having considerable experience in touring overseas, and wanting to pass that passion on to his students, Al has lead his group on six tours to Ireland, and three to Japan. He has hopes of touring Eastern Europe soon!