American String Band Music

American String Band Music

July 12 - 17, 2020

Amidst the wealth of Blues and Vocal programming, the Augusta Heritage Center will be offering a new American String Band track. Headed up by Joseph “Joebass” Dejarnette, these classes will be a chance to take a deep dive into traditional string band songs and tunes while also exploring the shared history with blues, old-time and other Southern roots genres.

Students who register for this American String Band track can choose from ANY of the classes offered that week, including Blues and Vocal Week classes, to create their own, personalized daily schedules.

There are plenty of options for the whole family, including Art & Folklore classes, Folk Arts for Kids, and Evening Mini-Courses. Participants can take advantage of the wide range of music and culture on campus this week by attending the afternoon and evening special events and swapping music in jam sessions. 

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

(+ Room & Board or other available options.)

Register Here!


Joebass Dejarnette, Coordinator

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 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.

Afro-Carolinians & their music (Intermediate/Advanced) with Justin Robinson

Class info 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 Justin Robinson

Class info 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.

Appreciation vs. Appropriation: T’aint what you do. It’s the way that you do it. (All Levels) with Dena Jennings

Can you recognize cultural appropriation? How do you perform work that originated with a culture that is not your own with dignity and respect? Explore these and other question in this course on cultural sensitivity. Bring your songs and dances to the lab for a test. 

Dena Jennings

Dena Jennings, DO, 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).

From Dena:

“My name is Dena Jennings. I build gourd instruments. Gourd instruments are found in cultures around the world throughout history. In North America, gourd banjos and other instruments were made in the Appalachian mountains. That is the ancestral home of my mother and her family for more than seven generations of Black Americans and Scottish.

For as long as I can remember, I have taken things apart. My mother and father knew I liked to be honest. So when some things were brought home, I was asked to promise not to dissemble them. If my parents forgot to ask me, I would squirrel the new item away to my room, take it apart and put it together. Many times, no one knew what I had done. Using my imagination and carefully working with my hands is thrilling, challenging and rewarding. It is the reason I sculpt.

As a young child exploring in my backyard, I liked to watch the way things grow, move, change, merge and disintegrate. If I had not become a physician, I would have been a physicist. Natural laws, math, theories and scientific thought are a consideration in my daily life. I enjoy testing hypotheses and gathering data from the world around me. Using my mind to calculate, examine and overcome the improbable is exhilarating. It is the reason I create with sound waves and gourds.

Choosing the materials to sculpt and creating forms sensitive to the laws of nature are what meet me in the studio. At the workbench, in every hand tool, between the waveforms of the strings, is the opportunity to test the limits of the world. I can imagine the least likely scenario of expressing a natural property in the medium and materials. I can test those limits and observe the result— an instrument that embodies the hypothesis and method of study in its clear tone.

In addition to being an artist, singer, writer, and playing banjo, ukulele, guitar and percussion, I am a physician specializing in Internal Medicine. I have a small practice in central Virginia. My husband and I maintain an organic farm and nature preserve. We teach meditation and various other workshops including gourd instrument building.

Note: You can follow my work and see videos of the instruments being played on Facebook: Storygourd Workshop or at to book musical performances and talk”

Paul Brown

Class info coming soon!

Paul Brown

A musician since childhood, Paul Brown spent years collecting and documenting traditional music in southwestern Virginia and northwest North Carolina, particularly the stunningly rich traditions around Mount Airy in the region known as Round Peak. As a performer, a record producer, and a radio host—formerly of Mount Airy’s famous hometown station, WPAQ, and now reaching a national audience as a newscaster and reporter for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition—Paul Brown has introduced millions to the special world of Round Peak music, and helped to ensure its preservation and vitality for future generations.

Paul started picking banjo on a new Sears Silvertone when he was ten. He developed his own two- and three-finger styles, and also learned the clawhammer style. His interest, and his discovery of the Clawhammer Banjo albums, inspired him to make frequent trips to visit as many of the older players as he could. He has visited and played music with a number of the older artists in the Southern Appalachian region.

Paul spent years learning music directly from some of the last fiddle, banjo, and guitar players to emerge before the age of radio and recordings, including Tommy Jarrell, Gilmer Woodruff, Fields Ward, Robert Sykes, Luther Davis, Verlen Clifton, and Paul Sutphin. Paul studied banjo intensively with Tommy Jarrell, and he learned much from the playing of Wade Ward. He spent considerable time with Wade’s nephew, Fields, a fine guitarist, banjo player and singer. He also played in the Smokey Valley Boys with Benton Flippen, Verlen Clifton, and Paul Sutphin. When Paul Sutphin died, Paul Brown wrote about how Sutphin influenced the musicians: “More than anything else, he would infuse the performance with focused energy, intensity and happiness that drove the rest of us to play harder and better than we thought we could.”

Paul has recorded with many of his friends including Bruce Molsky, Mike Seeger, and Tara Nevins. His most recent recordings are Way Down In North Carolina with Mike Seeger, Benton Flippen: Old Time, New Times, and Blue Ridge Mountain Holiday: The Breaking Up Christmas Story. His most recent recording, Red Clay County, features Paul’s banjo playing, fiddling, and singing, and it has received a rave review from The Old-Time Herald magazine.

EVENING MINI-CLASS: Beginning Banjo with Brandi Pace

Class info coming soon!

Brandi Pace

Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, Brandi Pace is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator and activist based in Fort Worth, TX. Starting out as a jazz musician, she found old time through connecting with the banjo and its roots in Black American culture. She has performed throughout Texas as part of the Lone Star String Band and Pace & Barber, and as a solo artist in various musical styles. In addition to performing, Brandi is a general music educator, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization Decolonizing the Music Room, and is currently organizing the first Fort Worth African American Roots Music Festival, an October event celebrating the Black roots of early old time, jug band, early blues, and jazz.