Old-Time Week

Old-Time Week

July 22 - 27, 2018

This year we are excited to introduce another team of outstanding workshop leaders that have both a deep connection to old-time music and a passion for sharing it. Participants will begin each day with a single morning workshop from 9 a.m. – noon with their primary workshop leader. These in-depth sessions create an intimate learning environment to develop new skills, awareness and repertoire. Each afternoon will feature a presentation from workshop leaders and elder master musicians and an array of elective workshops. Evenings are packed with lively jams, slow jams, song swaps, square dances and performances. This week is a nurturing, friendly environment that encourages new musicians as well as seasoned players. Wherever you start, you can be sure that by the end of the week your musicianship will have new life and depth, and you will have new friends from around the globe.

Old-Time Week runs concurrently with Blues & Swing Week; Arts, Crafts, & Folklore Workshops; Folk Arts for Kids; and Evening Mini-Courses. This is the first year Old-Time Week has been paired with Blues & Swing Week, and we are excited for the new possibilities with this pairing. Participants can take advantage of both weeks by attending special events, swapping tunes and songs in jam sessions, and sharing in the fun!

“We are so excited to be paired with Blues and Swing week this year and are delighted to offer programming that looks at the deeper wider picture of forces that shape american traditional music.  In addition to our regular instrumental courses, we are especially excited about afew new classes we are offering. “Traditions & Transformation: the genres speak” co taught by Greg Adams (Smithsonian Institute) and Dena Jennings (Storyguard) which will offer students a chance to explore tradition from a holistic standpoint, having frank and honest conversations about the history, and learning about ways of presenting the complexities of the music and culture’s history through dialogue versus conversation or debate.  Anna Roberts Gevalt is getting rave reviews for the new Anna and Elizabeth record just released on Folkways and we’re excited that Anna is returning to teach a class about those hard-to-pin-down factors that make music magical.  In this class, students will earn tunes, do exercises, and go through some thoughts and music from a wide spectrum of great musicians and listeners — from Kentucky fiddler Paul David Smith, to composer Pauline Oliveros’ deep listening technique.   Lastly, we’re very pleased to announce that ALice Gerrard will be returning this year as guest master.  Her class on women and community in oldtime music last year was a smash hit and we’re looking forward to continuing to tell those stories!  She’ll be teaming up with Kim Johnson in the middle of the week.:  – Joe “Joebass” Dejarnette, Old-Time Week Coordinator

Tuition Guide:
$490/week if paid before June 1. $5
30/week if paid after June 1. 

(+ Room & Board or other available options.)

Registration will open on March 1, 2018.

Week at a Glance2017 Schedule of Events / 2018 Coming Soon!Old-Time Week 2018 Flyer Register Here!

2018 Workshop Leaders and Classes. Click any name below to open more details. Click again to close.

Joe “Joebass” Dejarnette, Coordinator

Joe “Joebass” Dejarnette

Originally from Madison, Virginia, Joebass discovered old-time music through 78 rpm records which he began collecting at age 6. Eventually he traveled to Brooklyn, NY, and spent a decade playing music fulltime throughout the US and internationally, concluding with over two dozen shows on the 2009 Bob Dylan/Willie Nelson tour. He now lives back in Virginia where he runs Studio 808A, a “band and breakfast” recording studio that specializes in traditional music. He has taught in the JAM program (Junior Appalachian Musicians), Music Lab, the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood concert series as well as festivals around the world. He currently plays with the Bucking Mules, who won first prize in the string band competition at Clifftop in 2012 and 2014.

Alice Gerrard, Master Artist

Alice Gerrard

Alice Gerrard is a singer and songwriter who has performed and advocated for old-time and bluegrass music for over 50 years. She plays old-time fiddle, banjo, and guitar. Her recordings with Hazel Dickens during the 1960s and ’70s influenced a generation of women musicians from Laurie Lewis to the Judds. Alice’s song, “Agate Hill,” was an inspiration for Lee Smith’s latest novel, On Agate Hill. Her most recent recording, Follow the Music, was a finalist for a 2015 Grammy in the Folk category. She is founder of the Old-Time Herald magazine and makes her home in Durham, NC. http://www.alicegerrard.com/

Banjo (Beginning) with Doug Sharkey

Banjo (Beginning)

Welcome to the wonderful world of old-time banjo! This introductory class will focus on clawhammer technique with an emphasis on developing solid rhythm for those new to the instrument. Class participants will then move onto learning simple melodies and licks to get both hands working in tandem. We will also discuss chords, tunings, and introduce some simple tunes to get students playing. No experience necessary; just a desire to learn and to have fun while doing it!

Doug Sharkey

Doug Sharkey was born in central Illinois into a musical family. His grandfather was a self-taught fiddler, guitar player and piano player and his mother was an active member of the church choir. Doug studied classical guitar under Dr. Angelo Favis at Illinois State University and earned a Bachelor’s in Music Performance before becoming a full-time music instructor and professional musician. He continued to hone his craft, performing in a variety of groups based in the rock and jazz traditions.

His musical journey eventually led him to old-time music, and he fell in love with the banjo-playing and songs of the Appalachian mountains. He relocated to Boone, North Carolina to study with the masters of the region and became immersed in the old-time scene. He performed for a variety of dances and concerts and eventually taught banjo and guitar for the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program, an afterschool program that teaches traditional mountain music to young adults.

Doug has always been interested in the relationship between culture and the environment. He earned a Master’s degree in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State with a concentration in Sustainable Development. As part of his studies he traveled to the central highlands of Honduras to study the Lenca musical and cultural traditions as well as evaluating potential renewable energy resources for the local villagers. In 2014, he traveled to Haiti to perform and record with Degaje, a collaborative musical project blending traditional Haitian Creole spirituals and Appalachian mountain music. He also spent seven years teaching green jobs skills to individuals in low-income neighborhoods in Asheville, North Carolina.

In addition to the Blue Ridge Broadcasters, he is a member of The Spring Chickens (house-band for the legendary Green Grass Cloggers) and founding member of The Barsters, an acoustic act that blends traditional mountain music with blues, early country and southern rock. He has been featured on recordings by Nathan Taylor and Degaje and is known for his driving banjo and guitar playing and powerful, dynamic vocal style.

Banjo (Intermediate) with Gordy Hinners

Banjo (Intermediate)

Goal one of playing the banjo is to have fun, and hopefully we’ll have some of that in this workshop! We’ll explore some tools (techniques, licks, etc.) that will expand your repertoire of clawhammer tools to help you develop your own playing style. We’ll learn some tunes and tunings along the way with some variations that will help us adapt to different playing styles, tunes, and versions of tunes and work some on learning new tunes on your own. As an intermediate workshop, participants should have some facility with basic clawhammer rhythm(s) and know a few tunes.

Gordy Hinners

Gordy Hinners, known for his driving fretless banjo style and his masterful, rhythmic flatfooting, has been performing traditional Appalachian music and dance for over 40 years. He spent many years touring with the well-known and influential dance company, the Green Grass Cloggers, and over 20 years with the New Southern Ramblers with master fiddler Ralph Blizard, a National Heritage Fellow. Gordy has won top prizes in banjo and dance at fiddlers’ conventions throughout the South and has taught banjo and flatfoot dance at many workshops across the country and around the world, including the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes (WA), Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Workshops (NY), the Swannanoa Gathering (NC), and several times at Augusta. He has performed at many venues, large and small, in the US and abroad, from the Kennedy Center to the Carter Fold. He has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, the Kennedy Center Honors, an Emmy-award-winning CBS TV program with Julie Andrews and Rudolph Nureyev, on national television broadcasts from Singapore to Sweden, and at most of the major folk festivals in the US and Canada. He can be heard on several recordings with Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers and on several compilation banjo recordings, including “Banjo Gathering” and “Old Time Banjo Festival.” Gordy lives with his family in the mountains of Western North Carolina and teaches Spanish at Mars Hill University.

Banjo (Advanced) with with Molly Tenenbaum

Banjo (Advanced)

In this workshop we’ll focus on clawhammer style and how to use it for the powers of good: for the textures of ringing open strings, the syncopations of the thumb, the rhythm of the dance, the soul of the song, the muscle-feel of a tune and its history, and for the beyond-words connection a banjoist may find among the dips and scrapes, lilts and drives of fiddlers and bands. Each day will focus on a few tunes or songs, exploring how right- and left-hand techniques can bring different sounds out of the banjo and shape the music. From this range, we’ll encourage deliberate choice in note and phrase so that each piece has integrity and style—and also the flexibility for solo, band, or duet versions. Guest fiddlers will inspire our notes, textures, and phrases into brilliant conversations. We will learn some tunings and perhaps even experiment with inventing our own. As a representative of the West Coast, I would also like to introduce repertoire from some of the West’s treasured sources—Hank Bradley and Armin Barnett. Learn by ear: please bring recorders! A pen and paper could also be handy, if you’d like to write down tunings or words or other notes. I hope to see you in this workshop!

Molly Tenenbaum

Molly Tenenbaum has been playing old-time banjo since she was a teenager, inspired by the musicians living in and passing through as she was growing up in Los Angeles, her travels around the Southeastern US, field recordings, and revival artists. She has played for dances and festivals around the Pacific Northwest with The Queen City Bulldogs (Clifftop 1st place in 1993) and Dram County, and frequently duets with her brother, Dan Tenenbaum. An experienced teacher, she has taught at camps including American Banjo Camp, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, the Rocky Mountain Old-Time Music Festival, and The Puget Sound Guitar Workshop. Her solo recordings are Instead of a Pony and Goose and Gander, and she’s featured on Mark Simos’s Race the River Jordan. She loves the intertwine of the banjo and fiddle more than just about anything, and is at her happiest when her banjo is guessing what the fiddle will do at the same time or just before the fiddle does it.

She is also a poet whose books include Mytheria (Two Sylvias Press 2017), The Cupboard Artist, Now, By a Thread, and the artist book/chapbook collaboration with artist Ellen Zeigler, Exercises to Free the Tongue, with poems, archival photographs, and ephemera from Molly’s grandparents’ history as ventriloquists in vaudeville. She lives in Seattle and currently teaches at North Seattle College and Dusty Strings Music School.

Fiddle (Beginning) with Justin Robinson

Fiddle (Beginning)

Class description coming soon!

Justin Robinson

Justin Robinson is a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. He has played on numerous stages around the world. While violin/fiddle is his main instrument, he also plays banjo, autoharp, and harp. He is a North Carolina native and spends most of his time thinking about the intersections of music, food, and plants.

Fiddle (Intermediate) with Nokosee Fields

Fiddle (Intermediate)

Nokosee Fields aims to create a relaxed and open learning environment in order to better understand participants’ musical strengths and weaknesses. This workshop will work with different abstract and predictable exercises designed for participants to take away the musical tools necessary to continue teaching themselves outside of the learning environment. These exercises will cover the fundamentals needed for a more comprehensive knowledge of timing, tone, technique, and phrasing. This workshop will emphasize ear training and source material as a way of developing and strengthening our listening skills. This will not be a repertoire heavy workshop, but instead will make use of various exercises to foster a more confident approach to being a well-rounded musician and fiddler! Don’t worry, there will be plenty of tunes. Participants should bring a pen or pencil, something to write on, a tuner, and an audio or recording device if possible. Please come prepared to explore our limits and work hard!

Nokosee Fields

Born and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Nokossee Fields began studying orchestral violin at a young age. After years of learning and performing classical and early music, Nokosee has recently turned his attention to various forms of traditional American music, performing, teaching, and touring professionally. As a bassist, he tours with the country band Western Centuries. As a teacher, he has taught at the Augusta Heritage Center and has been involved with Dancing with the Spirit—an Alaska-based youth and community music program that aims to re-inspire fiddle and dance traditions in indigenous communities throughout the interior of Alaska.

Fiddle (Advanced) with Emily Schaad

Fiddle (Advanced)

Class description coming soon!

Emily Schaad

Emily Schaad has been playing and teaching music for nearly her whole life. With a background in classical music and public school music education, she went to North Carolina to earn an MA in Appalachian studies, learning from well-known fiddle masters. She is known for a complex and powerful fiddling style and has taken first place in numerous stringband and fiddle contests, including the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV. Emily currently performs with old-time stringband Old Buck, conducts youth orchestras, teaches fiddle and violin, and is working toward a doctorate in music education. www.oldbuckmusic.com

Guitar (Intermediate) with Jesse Milnes

Guitar (Intermediate)

Class description coming soon!

Jesse Milnes

Jesse Milnes grew up in the world of West Virginia old-time music (his father is fiddler and folklorist Gerry Milnes). Although he is widely known as a fiddle player, Jesse’s first instrument was a guitar, and he has developed a personal style of finger-picking, drawing on influences from blues to bluegrass to country. He has played fiddle and guitar with many country, old-time, and bluegrass bands over the years, including the Sweetback Sisters, a country band for which he was also a main songwriter. Jesse has won many local and regional fiddle contests, including the WV State Folk Festival in Glenville, WV, and the Ed Haley Fiddle Contest in Ashland, KY. Jesse and his wife, Emily Miller, recently toured in Australia and California and recorded their first album as a duo. They live in Valley Bend, WV.

Guitar & Mandolin (Beginning) with Rachel Eddy

Guitar & Mandolin (Beginning)

Class description coming soon!

Rachel Eddy

Rachel Eddy was born and raised in rural West Virginia near Morgantown, where her father got her started playing fiddle as a little girl. Pretty soon she realized that it was more fun making old-time string band music than just about anything else, which she has done pretty much full time since. Rachel performs on fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and bass, as well as singing and telling stories throughout the eastern US and Europe. She has recently relocated back to West Virginia after living the last 5 years in Stockholm, during which time she invigorated the Swedish old-time scene, inspiring dozens of people with Appalachian music and dance.

Rachel has taught fiddle, banjo, and guitar at Augusta; Sore Fingers Summer school in the UK; and various weekend workshops from the hills of West Virginia to Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, London, and Wales. From the connection of working with a dedicated student or performing solo in front of small audiences to the collective charge of leading large jam sessions or tight ensembles in front of thousands of festival goers, Rachel’s love for traditional music comes from the heart! Over the years, she has had the honor of sharing stages, workshops, and recording sessions with the likes of Tim O’Brien, Erynn Marshall, Dirk Powell, Adam Hurt, Rayna Gellert, Russ Barenberg, Bruce Molsky, Mark Schatz, and a month-long tour in Germany with the g’earls from Uncle Earl. She has four full length albums: The Morgantown Rounders (2006), Hand on the Plow (2008 solo), Chilly Winds (2010 duo with Kristian Herner) and Nothin’ But Corn (2014 solo).

Mandolin (Intermediate / Advanced) with Adam Tanner

Mandolin (Intermediate / Advanced)

This workshop is designed for those who can already play a few fiddle tunes on the mandolin in the keys of A,D,G, and C. In the old-time string band, the role of the mandolin has the potential to express both melody and rhythm. For this reason it is one of the most creative and satisfying instruments to play. Over the course of the week we will cover techniques for embellishment and ornamentation of several fiddle tunes in the keys of A, G, D, C, F, and B-flat, combining aspects of both melody and rhythm.

Other topics included in this course are chord accompaniment for both songs and tunes and using the flatpick to approximate the sound and feel of fiddle bowing. The workshop will also include an overview and dissection of the playing of several important mandolin players from the 1920s and 1930s, including Doc Roberts and Ted Hawkins.

Adam Tanner

Adam grew up in northern California, and first heard old-time bluegrass and country blues music in his early teens. Proficient on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, Adam has spent countless years slowing down recordings trying to pick out every detail of the traditional music he loves. Adam’s approach to playing reflects the diversity of styles heard on the early 78 rpm discs and field recordings from which he draws his greatest inspiration. Over the last twenty years, Adam has toured in both the US and Europe and made recordings with The Crooked Jades, The Hunger Mountain Boys, and The Twilite Broadcasters. Adam has been on the teaching staff of the Swannanoa Gathering at Old-Time Week, Fiddle Week, and Mandolin/ Banjo Week as well as Mike Compton’s Monroe Style Mandolin Camp. Adam makes his home in NC, where he teaches private lessons in old-time and country blues fiddle, mandolin, and guitar. He is currently on staff at East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music program.

Traditions & Transformation: the genres speak (All Levels) with Dena Jennings & Greg Adams

Traditions & Transformation: the genres speak (All Levels)

Overview: Musicians of any skill level or background—whether attending Blues & Swing Week or Old-Time Week—are invited to explore tradition from a holistic standpoint. Within every tradition that Augusta presents in a welcoming environment of learning, are the stories and documentary evidence that illustrate how those traditions are intertwined with America’s history of slavery, racism, appropriation, and exploitation. Traditions and Transformation holds that practitioners within any genre of American music can use the history of that tradition as a tool for conflict transformation and dialogue.

Purpose: The purpose of this course is to invite participants to expand the way they present their knowledge of American music, art forms, techniques, and associated repertoire from various genres. By the end of the week, each person will take home multiple strategies for representing what they do as musicians, dancers, or singers and place it into a larger framework of history, community, and critical engagement. Adams and Jennings will begin the week using their knowledge of the banjo as a starting point for the ways in which our understanding of any genre of music, dance, and song is shaped by archival documentation, history, and personal experience. Participants will be encouraged to explore the flexibility in their art and discover the capacity for interpersonal dialogue as part of performance and community presentations.

What to expect: Throughout the week, Traditions and Transformation participants will work collaboratively by responding to presentations, participating in group discussions, and sharing their artistry through performance. We will have frank and honest conversations about the history of the genres each participant represents and learn about ways of presenting the complexities of those genres through dialogue versus conversation or debate.

What to bring: Participants should bring their enthusiasm, any instruments or performance accessories to represent the traditions they explore, plus any other items that will support their learning process, such as an audio recording device or pens, pencils, and paper.

Dena Jennings

Dena Jenning, D.O. is an Osteopathic physician of Internal Medicine who has 20 years experience in counseling patients and community members through conflict transformation. She established a nonprofit human rights organization in 1997 that is an active NGO with the United Nations. She works with patients and communities, companies and individuals who choose to practice mediation, facilitation and conflict transformation. In addition to a solo medical practice, Dr. Jennings builds banjos and Appalachian instruments in her studio, Storygourd Workshop located in central Virginia. Her instruments have been distributed in Canada, the UK and USA. She is the descendant of Black Appalachian and Scottish farmers from the mountains of Kentucky’s Cumberland Gap. Read more about Jennings work with the banjo in the Orange County Review (May 26, 2014).

Greg Adams

Greg C. Adams is an archivist (MLS), ethnomusicologist (MA), and musician who currently serves as Assistant Archivist at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in Washington, D.C. His work focuses on the preservation processing of archival collections and providing records management support for Center staff. Greg’s ethnomusicological work is grounded in critical heritage research and programming focused on the multicultural history of the banjo. Highlights of his efforts include fieldwork in West Africa (2006, 2008), developing a work plan for maintaining data about banjo-related material culture through an NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant (2009), and working with banjo scholars Bob Winans and Pete Ross as guest curators for the 2014 Baltimore Museum of Industry exhibit Making Music: The Banjo in Baltimore and Beyond. Read more about Greg’s work with the banjo in the November 2014 issue of Banjo Newsletter.

West Virginia Folks and Alice (All Levels) with Kim Johnson

West Virginia Folks and Alice (All Levels)

West Virginia Folks & Alice (All Levels): West Virginia Folks & Alice will explore some of the iconic women (better and lesser known) of old-time music through photographs, recordings, and videos. Some of the musicians we will “meet” will be Hazel Dickens, Wilma Lee Cooper, Linda McCumbers, Aunt Jennie Wilson, Phoebe Parsons, Sylvia O’Brien, Molly O’Day, and others. Special guests this week include Alice Gerrard, Ginny Hawker, Elaine Purkey, and Tessa Dillon.


Kim Johnson

Kim Johnson is from Clendenin, West Virginia, and has been playing banjo since about 1978. During that time, she has played at countless music festivals throughout the Appalachian region and has performed and recorded with several of West Virginia’s older generation of master fiddlers.

Kim performed extensively with renowned Clay County, West Virginia, fiddler Wilson Douglas from 1981 until his death in 1999. She recorded a CD and three cassettes with Wilson, whose soulful, mountain style of fiddling is still sought after today. Kim was also fortunate to be able to play with Calhoun County fiddler Lester McCumbers. In 2002, Kim and Lester recorded a CD with Lester’s wife Linda, a lifelong traditional West Virginia mountain singer. In 2004, she accompanied Lester when he entered the fiddle contest at the Appalachian String Band Festival at Clifftop. Lester won the blue ribbon that year, taking first place among 95 fiddlers of all ages.

Since Lester’s passing, Kim has been playing music with a younger generation of musicians, and was invited by Jesse Pearson and Cody Jordan to join their band, the Modock Rounders. The band has performed at several festivals and events during the last few years, including the Vandalia Gathering, Clifftop, the WV Folk Festival, the Jewel City Jamboree, and Augusta’s Fiddlers’ Reunion. The Modock Rounders released Old Tunes & New Blood: Legacy of Wilson Douglas in 2015 and Home Music in 2016.

Musicality, Expression, & Deep Listening (Intermediate / Advanced) with Anna Roberts-Gevalt

Musicality, Expression, & Deep Listening (Intermediate / Advanced)

This is a workshop for advanced intermediate and advanced musicians who play any instrument. So, you have some tunes under your belt, know your way more or less around your instrument, and can join in at a jam with some tunes you know, but how do you take it to the next level? How do you really lock into the rhythm of a jam? How do you contribute to a group ? How can you learn tunes more quickly by ear? This is a workshop about those hard-to-pin-down factors that make music magical. We won’t find answers, exactly, but we will l at how great musicians have tackled some of these conundrums. We will learn tunes, do exercises, and go through some thoughts and music from a wide spectrum of great musicians and listeners — from Kentucky fiddler Paul David Smith, to composer Pauline Oliveros’ deep listening technique, to our favorite modern old-time music records and players.

Anna Roberts-Gevalt

Anna Roberts-Gevalt, 29, is a performer and multi-instrumentalist. Classically trained on the violin in Vermont, she fell in love with the sound of banjo in college, moved to the mountains, and learned with master musicians in Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina, among them Paul David Smith, John Harrod, Lee Sexton, and Bruce Greene. She is a blue-ribbon fiddler and banjo player (WV State Folk Festival, Kentucky Fiddle Contest), was awarded the Berea Archive Fellowship for a series of biographies of female fiddlers, served three years as artistic director of Kentucky’s Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, and was a 2014 fellow in the State Department sponsored international music residency OneBeat.

She collaborates primarily with ballad singer Elizabeth LaPrelle, developing music and multimedia shows based in their archival research about ballads and old songs. They have released two albums and toured extensively for the past five years — including the Newport and Cambridge folk festivals — and have received fellowships to develop their work at Centrum in Port Townsend, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. They illustrate ballads together on long scrolls called “crankies,” and for four years hosted an annual festival of the form in Baltimore. For the last five years they were the hosts of a live monthly variety show in Floyd, Virginia, called The Floyd Radio Show.

Anna is currently inspired finding connections between experimental and traditional musics through compositions, collaborations, and multi-media

Jake Blount, Musician

Jake Blount

Jake Blount is a fiddler, banjo player and scholar based in Ithaca, New York. He has studied with modern masters of old-time music, including Bruce Molsky, Judy Hyman (of the Horse Flies), and Rhiannon Giddens and Hubby Jenkins (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops). He centers and venerates his racial and ethnic heritage through his approach to music and its history. In 2016, Blount became the first Black person to make the finals at the prestigious Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, WV, and the first to win in the traditional band category. In the following year, he received his B.A. in Ethnomusicology from Hamilton College and released his debut EP, “Reparations,” with award-winning fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves. He has since shared his music and research at the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA and numerous other museums, colleges and universities. He recently released a CD and toured internationally with the Moose Whisperers, a decorated old-time string band. Learn more about Jake at http://www.jakeblount.com.

Rich Hartness, Musician

Rich Hartness

Rich Hartness grew up in a musical family in Rocky Mount, NC, began acoustic guitar and trumpet early, and fancied black and white traditional music in his teens. Infectious and irresistible banjo and fiddle sounds at folk festivals and fiddlers’ conventions in the ’70s inspired him to play. He draws his bluesy country rag fingerstyle guitar from Piedmont blues players, and his distinctive old-time fiddling style directly from visits with elder North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia fiddlers. Rich enjoys fiddling today with the able banjo pickin’ of his daughter, Joanna.

In the mid ’70s and ’80s, Rich learned from Mount Airy North Carolina and soutwest Virginia area musicians Tommy Jarrell, Ernest East, Luther Davis, fretless banjo picker Dix Freeman, and guitar finger picker Chester McMillian. Visits to Glenville and Pocahontas County, WV, in the ’80s facilitated formative relationships with old masters Wilson Douglas, Melvin Wine, and the Hammons Family. He has drawn from Piedmont, NC, elders – two-finger banjo picker and fiddler Marvin Gaster and fiddler Lauchlin Shaw. Rich has devoted much energy collecting and absorbing recordings of traditional music of the Southeast. Playing tunes with contemporaries has always figured prominently in his routine, particularly with mandolinist Brian Schmiel.

Rich’s fiddling style represents a synthesis of many old-time fiddlers. He gains much power and emphasis by upping his bow on the down beat, which he largely attributes the drive and personality of his fiddling.

Rich’s fingerstyle guitar comes from a core thumb bass rhythm, with filler fingered fine strings, punctuated by connecting thumb and index bass runs. His style works as accompaniment to fiddle tunes, “Carterish” lead melody for duets, and treble melody over thumb bass rhythm for a complete solo sound.

Rich loves applying his fingerstyle guitar to the quirky progressions and rhythms of fiddled rags. Living in Greensboro, NC, he spent much of the last 20 years fine tuning his guitar style to Tolly Tollefson’s fiddled rags and waltzes. Formative and inspiring relationships with Curly Miller and Carole Anne Rose of the old 78s helped him make the connection between old string band rags and early jazz, setting him up for a fun guitar role today in the Swampies, an early jazz quartet rooted in the Swamp Cats.

Playing fiddle and guitar are important avocations that gives life melody and color for Rich, offsetting the toils of his information technology profession. He treasures the fellowship, necessary discipline, and resulting joy of making music, and the new friendships it spawns.

Aaron Jonah Lewis, Musician

Aaron Jonah Lewis

Champion fiddler Aaron Jonah Lewis has been elbow-deep in old time music since his first fiddle lessons at the age of five with Kentucky native Robert Oppelt. He has won awards at Clifftop and at Galax and is also noted for his mastery of multiple banjo styles. Aaron spends most of his time on the road, touring with the Corn Potato String Band, Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Kings, and other projects. He teaches fiddle and banjo styles in group and individual lessons in person and online. www.aaronjonahlewis.com

Lindsey McCaw, Musician

Aaron Lewis and Lindsay McCaw

Lindsey McCaw

Lindsay McCaw lives in Detroit, MI. She is one third of the Corn Potato String Band with and part of a 5-piece band called “Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepard Kings” who play music from the wax cylinder era. She is also a puppeteer and works with In the Heart of the Beast Theatre in Minneapolis, MN, and Bread and Puppet Theatre in VT. She plays fiddle, guitar, and calls dances.

Ben Nelson, Musician

Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson grew up in a family of old-time musicians from the Virginia mountains, tagging along to fiddlers’ conventions across the southern Appalachians throughout his childhood. After he began playing traditional music as a teenager, Ben was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study the trans-Atlantic roots of the fiddle and banjo in Ireland and West Africa. A passionate educator, Ben works in his home community of Asheville, NC, as an environmental education instructor and traditional music teacher. He shares his love of old-time music and dance with students at Warren Wilson College and young players in the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program and has taught at the Swannanoa Gathering and the John C. Campbell Folk School.


Click here to see the Dance workshops offered this week!


Click here to see Arts, Craft & Folklore workshops offered this week!


Click here to see the Folk Arts for Kids! workshops offered this week!


Click here to see all  mini courses offered this week!


Old-Time Harmony Singing (From Scratch) with Val Mindel / Evening Mini-Course

Old-Time Harmony Singing (From Scratch) / Evening Mini-Course

We’ll tackle the basics of singing American old-time country harmony, in the process looking at some of the strategies that make this music so compelling – the parallel buzz, crossing harmonies, crunchy notes and more. In the process we’ll learn some great songs in the old-time genre, good for jams. Expect to sing a lot!

Val Mindel

Val Mindel is a longtime musician, teacher, and workshop leader, known for bringing out the best in singers, whatever their level. Her specialty is the close, buzzy harmony that makes American old-time, bluegrass, and country harmony so compelling. She has taught at numerous music camps – here in the US at Augusta Vocal Week, Ashokan Southern Week, Voice Works, Allegheny Echoes, and others; and in the UK at Sore Fingers fall and spring camps. In addition to her solo work, Val teaches and performs in various combinations, including with California-based Any Old Time, with singer/multi-instrumentalist Joe Newberry and with daughter and old-time country musician Emily Miller and her husband Jesse Milnes (they have two CDs together: In the Valley and Close to Home), and has just published a book, So You Want to Sing Folk Music, part of the “So You Want To Sing” series for Rowman & Littlefield and the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Val teaches classes across the country and abroad as well as regular workshops at Brooklyn’s growing old-time music school, Jalopy. She lives in Elkins, West Virginia.