Bluegrass Week

Bluegrass Week

July 30 – August 4, 2017

For 2017, Augusta brings together another spectacular lineup! The staff of well-known bluegrass figures will share their talents with students in classes, workshops, demonstrations, special presentations, concerts and sessions throughout the week. Informal picking sessions at all levels go on ’til the wee hours all over campus as students get together with old friends and make new ones. Evening concerts feature exciting combinations of master bluegrass artists with special guests. While classes are geared for adults, young folks able to maintain an adult level of participation are welcome. All classes (except Vocals) are intended for those who can already play their instrument to some extent and are ready to start learning bluegrass style, technique and repertoire.

Students register for one class for the week. Each class builds upon information presented the previous day.

Hello, bluegrass lovers! Team Bluegrass has been busy putting together a spectacular staff of bluegrass luminaries for Augusta Bluegrass Week 2016. We’ll be announcing more in the near future, so check back often for additions. This year promises to be the best ever, filled with classes, concerts, dances, special round-ups, demonstrations, artist spotlights, afternoon electives, directed slow jams, nightly picking sessions that go into the wee hours, student showcases, and much more. Mark your calendars for a week of total bluegrass immersion, and come pick among the stars in “Almost Heaven” West Virginia. We hope to see you there! –Ira Gitlin, Mary Burdette, and Neel Brown, Bluegrass Week Coordinators

Tuition Guide:
$475/week if paid before June 1. $515/week if paid after June 1.

(+ Room & Board or other available options.)

Week at a Glance | Preliminary Events Schedule | Register Online

Click any name/class below to open more details. Click again to close.

Bluegrass Week Week Coordinator – Neel Brown

Neel Brown

Neel Brown, an accomplished singer and multi-instrumentalist, has played the Bluebird Café in Nashville, the Olympics in Atlanta, and countless places in the Washington, DC, capitol region. He now enjoys picking and singing in living rooms and the occasional local bluegrass gig with the band Only Lonesome. Neel makes his home in Arlington, Virginia, where he runs an advocacy communications company.

Bluegrass Week Week Coordinator – Mary Burdette

Mary Burdette

Mary Burdette has performed at bluegrass festivals throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe with Skip Gorman, Tom Sauber, Patrick Sauber, and Ruthie Dornfeld, and at cowboy poetry gatherings around the country. Her bass playing can be heard on several recordings, and on the soundtrack of Ken Burns’ PBS documentary Lewis and Clark: Journey of the Corps of Discovery.
Mary is Assistant Director of the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, and an active member of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and Leadership Bluegrass Alumni Association.

Bluegrass Week Week Coordinator – Ira Gitlin

Ira Gitlin

Ira Gitlin is widely known and respected in Washington-Baltimore music circles as a versatile multi-instrumentalist, teacher, and writer. A former National Bluegrass Banjo Champion, he has backed up such nationally known performers as Bill Harrell, the Johnson Mountain Boys, Laurie Lewis, Peter Rowan, and Peter “P.D.Q. Bach” Schickele.

Ira has taught at numerous music camps and festival workshops. A frequent contributor to Bluegrass Unlimited and Banjo NewsLetter, he has lectured on bluegrass for the Smithsonian Associates, and also delivered a paper at the 2005 Bluegrass Music Symposium.
In 1993 Ira was a one-day winner on Jeopardy.

Master Artist – Dudley Connell

Dudley Connell

Dudley Connell came to national attention in the 1980s as the powerhouse singer-guitarist of the Johnson Mountain Boys. He has been a member of the Seldom Scene since 1995. Dudley has contributed his distinctive voice and guitar to the work of numerous artists, including Hazel Dickens, Seneca Rocks, and the supergroup Longview. In 2000 he received the International Bluegrass Music Association’s award for Male Vocalist of the Year.

Banjo (Beg.) – Gina Clowes

Gina Clowes

Gina Clowes spent her teen years touring with her siblings in what Bluegrass Today has dubbed “the absurdly talented Furtado family.” She later gigged with Blue Light Special, Nash Street, New Girls Night Out, Bud’s Collective, and other bands. A featured artist on the Patuxent Banjo Project compilation, Gina has recorded on over half a dozen albums to date. She has taught in Murphy Method banjo camps, festival workshops, and private lessons for over 12 years. Gina now plays full-time with Chris Jones and the Night Drivers. Her own solo project is due to be released in 2017.

Banjo (Beg.)

The main objective of this workshop is for novice banjo players to solidify the basics of playing and understanding bluegrass banjo. Participants will spend lots of time learning and practicing down-the-neck chord shapes and basic rolls, and incorporating them into a level-appropriate tune that they will be able to play together slowly by the end of the week. The workshop will cover the use of the capo, spikes, common bluegrass keys, and jam lingo. Participants will also practice tuning the banjo and changing strings. An emphasis will be put on developing skills during the workshop so that when participants leave on Friday they have something tangible to take with them and a reliable foundation to build off of from there. This workshop is ideal for beginning banjo players who have played no more than a few months, or who have learned no more than a few tunes. For participants who are brand new to the instrument, Gina encourages taking some time before the camp to experiment with the picks and make sure they fit comfortably. Participants should plan to bring their banjo, picks, a spare set of strings, something to record with (a phone usually works great), and a notebook to take notes. An electronic tuner is also helpful.

Banjo (Int.) – Mark Delaney

Mark Delaney

Mark Delaney started playing the banjo at the age of 10 and has been performing and recording since the age of 14. Has toured nationally and internationally with artists and groups such as the Country Gentlemen, Frank Wakefield, and the Legends of the Potomac, and currently holds down the banjo spot with Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass.

Mark has taught at Common Ground on the Hill, Banjo Camp North, and various workshops over the years. He released a solo project, Sidecar, in 2009, and co-produced 2014’s Patuxent Banjo Project.

Banjo (Int.)

You’ve learned the basics. You’ve participated in bluegrass jam sessions. You’ve taken solos (breaks). You have the basic concept of backup playing. This class is geared toward folks like you who have progressed along the bluegrass banjo path enough that you’re ready to explore these skills further, and broaden your ability when playing with other people. Or you’ve been here before and want to explore/strengthen what you’ve been working on.
Our goal for Intermediate Banjo will be to improve the following:
1) Timing (both left- and right-hand). We’ll discuss the advantages of playing along with a metronome vs. recordings vs. live jam sessions.
2) Tone and finger dexterity. We’ll look at hand placement and hand exercises.
3) Transitioning from backup to solo during a song without interrupting the timing of the song, and without getting nervous and “choking.”
4) Chord positions, selection, and execution.
5) Finding the melody with your right and left hand, and utilizing your capo. (For example, if the song is in D, should you play in D without a capo, or capo to the second fret and play out of C position?)
6) Jam etiquette—issues like “Am I complementing the song with what I’m doing at this moment?” “Can I hear everyone?” And most importantly, “Am I listening?”

I will provide handouts, including links to videos of me demonstrating what we will cover. You are welcome to bring any recording equipment with you for the class. I am here for you. You can contact me at for any questions leading up to camp.

Banjo (Adv.) – Alan Munde

Alan Munde

Alan Munde began playing banjo as a teenager in Oklahoma in the 1960s. After a stint as one of Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys, he helped found the influential and popular band Country Gazette in 1972. Alan’s clean and inventive playing continues to inspire banjo players today. His 1975 album Banjo Sandwich remains a melodic-style banjo classic.

Alan taught full-time in the Bluegrass and Country Music program at South Plains College from 1986 to 2007. His current band is the Alan Munde Gazette, and he teaches frequently at bluegrass and banjo camps throughout the United States and abroad.

Banjo (Adv.)

This class will cover fretboard organization, or “How Do I Know Where To Put My Fingers?,” the diatonic system; intervals; the magical, interesting chromatic tones that are in between; and much more. This will lead to creating beautiful chord melody solos for slow songs and then to back them up. Alan will speak to his “Geographic Point and Play Method” of playing. Participants will delve into the melodic, Bill Keith style of playing that requires a different organizational look at the fingerboard. Alan will offer an in-depth look at some classic Scruggs solos using the “Mund-Tone Method of Musical Analysis.” He will discuss and comment on tunes that he has written over the years — “Molly Bloom,” “Peaches and Cream,” “Munde’s Child,” “Uncle Clooney Played the Banjo (but Mostly Out of Time)” — and share some more recent compositions. Alan will offer suggestions on playing in other keys out of a G tuning without the use of a capo. Audio recording is encouraged, although video recording is not recommended. Be sure to bring your banjo, picks, capo, a music stand (if you wish), tab and note paper, and lots of questions. Alan is looking forward to seeing you all.

Bass (All Levels) – Missy Raines

Missy Raines

Seven-time IBMA Bass Player of the Year Missy Raines is one of the most respected figures within the bluegrass community. Her bluegrass roots include work with first-generation legends such as Eddie Adcock, Mac Wiseman, Jesse McReynolds, Josh Graves, and Kenny Baker. She’s a former member of the Claire Lynch Band, the Brother Boys, and the duo Jim Hurst and Missy Raines.

Currently, Missy leads Missy Raines & the New Hip, a jazz-tinged ensemble. She is also a member of the bluegrass supergroup Helen Highwater Stringband, and she heads up the online ArtistWorks Academy of Bluegrass School of Bass.

Bass (All Levels)

This workshop will cover the nuances of proper left hand technique and why it’s so important to “open up” the left hand. Participants will also discuss the importance of the right hand, including dexterity and finding good tone. Using numbers instead of letters to follow songs opens up a whole new world, and participants will spend some time learning how to utilize this powerful technique. Ear training and how to listen differently to intervals and anticipate chord changes will be explored. And most of all, participants will learn a few tunes together and just PLAY!

Electric players are welcome. Please be advised that the class is generally geared for upright players, although there will be a lot of content that will transfer easily to the electric. Please, no video recorders; audio recorders are permitted.

Fiddle (Beg.) – Kimber Ludiker

Kimber Ludiker

Born of fiddle playing parents in Spokane, WA, Kimber Ludiker is a 5th generation fiddle player who finally picked one up at the age of 3. With 11 combined family National Fiddle Championships, Kimber holds 3 herself. She is a multi-instrumentalist, playing the cello, mandolin, and guitar at an early age as well. In 2009, Kimber founded all-female bluegrass/Americana super group “Della Mae”. They were IBMA’s Emerging Artists of the Year in 2013, GRAMMY Nominees in 2014 for their first album on Rounder Records, and named by Rolling Stone as 10 bands to watch for in 2015. Della Mae has traveled to 15 countries with the US Department of State, spreading peace and understanding through music. Besides working and recording with Della Mae, Kimber has performed on stage with many artists including the Black Lillies, Asleep at the Wheel, Dierks Bentley, Ed Helms, Peter Rowan, Mark O’Connor, Alison Krauss, Jim Lauderdale, Laurie Lewis, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, the Travelin’ McCourys, the Del McCoury Band, and more

Fiddle (Beg.)


Hello beginning fiddlers! First, I’m so excited to have you in this class! I requested to teach beginning fiddlers because it is my VERY favorite skill level to teach. I love seeing lightbulbs go off, and I love to instill my obsession of the instrument into musically developing minds. In this class we’ll focus on developing technique, learn easy and very applicable music theory concepts that will help you leap to the next level, work on jamming skills to get you playing with others, and much much more. If after the first class you feel like you might be ahead of the others, you will have the opportunity to jump up a class. If you feel like you can’t keep up, let me know and I’ll try my best to get you caught up.

Please make sure you have a fiddle in playing condition, rosin, paper and a pencil, coffee for yourself and me, and a recording device. Coffee for me was a joke, but there is truth in every joke, and I do love coffee. All other materials will be provided. If you think of it, bring a kazoo. There is no joke in that.

If you are recording on your phone, that’s fine (I do it), but please expect for me to ask you to put phones in airplane mode when class is in session. Video is also fine, and highly recommended. At the end of each session we will take the last few minutes for everyone to record what we’ve learned so we can fully focus during class. As a courtesy, please keep all recorded material private and don’t post to YouTube, Facebook, etc.

If you have ANY questions before camp begins, or simply want to introduce yourself, please email me at with the subject “Augusta Bluegrass Week”. Please know that you can approach me at any moment during the week as well to ask questions or even receive a bit of extra help if needed. Heads up, I’ll have a series of fiddle repertoire books with me for sale that were written by my mom that will be fantastic for learning after this week! See you at camp! I’m very excited to teach my first Augusta Bluegrass Week.

Fiddle (Int.) – Alex Hargreaves

Alex Hargreaves

Alex Hargreaves is a genre-crossing fiddler who has earned the highest praise from his peers. David Grisman has said Alex is “destined to be one of the fiddle giants of the 21st century.” Alex has performed with leading bluegrass and jazz artists around the world. He won the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Idaho, in 2007 and the Grand Master Fiddler Championship in Nashville in 2009. Alex’s skills as an improviser and composer can be heard on his 2010 debut album, Prelude, and on the 2014 EP The Brotet. He joined the Turtle Island Quartet in 2016.

Fiddle (Int.)

In this workshop, we will address some important aspects of bluegrass fiddling including repertoire, playing with vocalists, improvisation, rhythm/groove, harmony, and technique. We’ll also check out recordings and analyze the playing styles of some bluegrass fiddle giants. This is an intermediate level class, meaning that participants should have a basic comfort level with the instrument, as well as some experience learning by ear and playing with others. There will be no sheet music, so please bring a recorder and notebook.

Fiddle (Adv.) – John Mailander

John Mailander

John Mailander, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, has become known for his soulful voice as a soloist, improviser, and writer. John maintains a busy performance schedule with artists including Tony Trischka & Territory, Molly Tuttle, Chris Stuart & Backcountry, and Darol Anger, and has shared the stage the Alison Brown Quartet, Victor Wooten, Tim O’Brien, and Christopher Guest. John played fiddle in the New York production of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s musical Bright Star.

Fiddle (Adv.)

From John, “Hello Augusta Bluegrass Week Advanced Fiddle participants! I’m so excited to get to know you all and play a lot of music together this week. In this workshop, we will be working on techniques, music theory, and ear training that will expand your skills and musical vocabulary as a bluegrass fiddler. We’ll talk about different approaches to creating a good practice routine. We’ll also learn to analyze melodies and build improvised solos around them. Specific topics covered will include closed-position double stops, tone, dynamics/projection, and risk-taking.

“While this workshop will be paced on the more advanced side, there will be time during the week for one-on-one playing time and addressing individual questions/concerns. Bring along a recording device or notebook, extra strings/rosin, and an open mind!”

Guitar (Beg.) – Tom Adams

Tom Adams

Tom Adams is best known as one of the great banjo stylists of his generation, but he started out as a guitar player, and has played guitar with Bill Emerson and Michael Cleveland. He first hit the national scene in the 1980s with first-generation bluegrass artist Jimmy Martin, then went on to tour and record with the Johnson Mountain Boys, Lynn Morris, Blue Highway, Rhonda Vincent, and many others. Tom is a three-time recipient of the IBMA Banjo Player of the Year award. He brings to his guitar teaching a deep understanding of the instrument’s role in bluegrass.

Guitar (Beg.)

Hi everyone!

I’m looking forward to our week together in the Beginning Guitar class this summer at Augusta. Bring your passion for improving your bluegrass guitar skills to this class and you’ll head home from the experience with many months’ worth of inspiration.

We’ll cover the basics of bluegrass rhythm guitar – the strumming patterns and runs that give a bluegrass band its distinctive rhythmic pulse. We’ll cover the vitally important topic of getting in tune, staying in tune, and getting good at using a capo while staying in tune! The sound of your guitar is at the very heart of the pitch center of the group you’re jamming with – and other pickers LOVE to play with a guitarist who cares enough to always be in tune.

Speaking of other pickers, your week at Augusta offers you numerous hours to be making music with all of the other instruments commonly found in bluegrass bands. You’ll get to join in, play along, and hear how your guitar part fits in with the rest of the music. A substantial portion of our class time will be spent making you comfortable to try new songs and play with new people.

In addition to covering particular skills such as proper picking technique and introducing you to playing some simple lead lines, and playing some basic chords within the first three frets, one of my main goals for the week is to encourage you to be curious and fearless in your approach to jumping in and playing music with others at this very early and important stage in your development as a bluegrass guitar player.

Between now and the end of July, spend as much time as you can listening to bluegrass music. Listen to the first generation bands like Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and Bill Monroe. Listen to the whole spectrum of bands labeled “bluegrass” who’ve made recordings over the past 70 years. Do you have some favorites?

Bring to class a guitar, a flatpick, tuner, capo, a portable recorder – you’ll reap enormous rewards from reviewing what we covered during class by using your ears to recall the sounds rather than reading music from a paper.

Send me an email and I’ll be happy to answer your questions about the class.

Guitar (Int.) – Avril Smith

Avril Smith

Avril Smith, a founding member of the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band Della Mae, is a teacher and award-winning multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. She started playing guitar at a young age and is widely recognized as a highly accomplished electric and acoustic guitarist and mandolin player.

Avril plays with mandolinist Joe K. Walsh; with award-winning songwriter Becky Warren, with whom she is touring a string of dates opening for the Indigo Girls in 2017; with legendary fiddler Rickie Simpkins; and with a trio featuring Vickie Vaughn (Patti Loveless) and Kimber Ludiker (Della Mae).

Avril’s mastery of a wide range of styles makes her a sought-after on-stage and studio performer.  Her musical palette draws from country, jazz, bluegrass, rock and roll, and old-time music. Her innovative take on the fiddle tune “Lincoln’s Retreat” was featured in Flatpicking Guitar Magazine.  She has also reviewed guitars for Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Avril has performed at top venues and festivals including the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage (Washington, DC), Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival (Oak Hill, NY), the Birchmere (Alexandria, VA), the Knitting Factory (New York, NY), Freight & Salvage (Berkeley, CA), the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland, Ohio), and the south lawn of the White House.

Avril has played with Emmylou Harris, Pete Seeger, Hazel Dickens, Tom Morello, Jill Sobule, Darol Anger, Frank Solivan, Lester Chambers, Boots Riley, Dar Williams, and John Kadlecik, among others.

Avril is a guitar instructor at Ossipee Valley Music Festival and String Camp.  She has guitar and mandolin students in the Washington, DC, area and teaches students in far-flung places over Skype.

Guitar (Level Int.)

We will work together to improve your bluegrass guitar skills and repertoire, as both a rhythm and lead player. We will learn standard songs and tunes, with a focus on strengthening your ability to play melodies, back up a singer, and craft an improvised solo. Topics will include finding melodies by ear, approaches for building melodic solos, and exercises to improve tone, timing, and technique. We will also work on rhythm playing, focusing on ideas to vary strumming patterns, bass runs, and chord voicings in ways that best support the song or soloist.

Students should already be able to play a handful of fiddle tunes and bluegrass songs and have some experience playing in a group setting. Please bring a capo, tuner, pick, and a music stand. You may also want to have a notebook, a folder for handouts and a portable audio recording device so you have an easy way to reference new tunes, songs, and practice exercises.

Guitar (Level Adv.) – Tyler Grant

Tyler Grant

National Flatpicking Champion Tyler Grant is an internationally recognized guitar virtuoso with an impressive resume as a session musician, bandleader, and sideman. He has shared the stage with Tony Rice, Sam Bush, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Chris Thile, and many other luminaries. He performs regularly with his band Grant Farm. Tyler has won flatpicking contests across the U.S., and has taught at camps and workshops here, in Canada, and in England. This is his eleventh year as an instructor at Augusta’s Bluegrass Week.

Guitar (Level Adv.)

Tyler Grant says, “I am looking forward to meeting you and helping you improve your bluegrass guitar skills! I intend to strengthen your bluegrass lead and rhythm playing, teach you a few new licks and tunes, and provide an intuitive, well-organized approach to practicing and making the most of your time with the guitar.
“This advanced workshop is intended to refine your approach to flatpicking and take your playing to the next level. We will explore the finer points of lead guitar playing and help you find your path to guitar mastery. My approach to music is simple and practical, and incorporates basic scales, theory, and ear training as well as common licks, tunes, songs, and flatpicking vocabulary. We will check out the styles of some of our favorite legendary players to help you move ahead with your own style. We will also take a close look at guitar technique and work on a few exercises to help your skills and improve tone, timing, speed, and dexterity.

“Coming into this workshop I expect you to have some experience playing in a group setting, such as a band or a jam, and to know several standard flatpicking tunes and bluegrass songs. Listen to and learn as much great bluegrass and flatpicking music as you can to immerse yourself in the style.

“Bring a guitar, flatpick, capo, tuner, paper and pencil for notes, and a folder for handouts. If you have a portable folding music stand, that will prove helpful for following written handouts, but is not required. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU BRING A PORTABLE AUDIO RECORDING DEVICE to record examples to take home and work on. I do not expect you to master and remember every idea right there on the spot. I want you to take home and retain as much information as possible, and a hand-held recorder is the best way to do that. Augusta Bluegrass Week should be FUN! Get the ideas flowing and take the specifics home to work on throughout the year. I will provide some handouts, a smile, and some inspiration. Feel free to contact me with ANY questions: “

Mandolin (Beg.) – Sharon Gilchrist

Sharon Gilchrist

Sharon Gilchrist—singer, mandolinist, and upright bass player—has performed with Darol Anger, Peter Rowan and Tony Rice, Laurie Lewis, Scott Nygaard, Kathy Kallick, and Uncle Earl. She earned a degree in Mandolin Performance from Belmont University in Nashville, and has taught mandolin for more than 15 years both privately and at some of the nation’s finest music camps. From 2004 to 2012 she served on staff at the College of Santa Fe teaching mandolin. Sharon currently resides in the Bay Area of northern California.

Mandolin (Beg.)

This workshop is for those who are in a category that might be considered “advanced beginner.”  This includes being able to tune the instrument, having an idea of how to hold the instrument, and being able play 5-10 tunes, as well as the chords and rhythm that accompany those tunes. Once these basics are in place, the advanced beginner may be looking for some tips on how to learn tunes a little easier, how to improve tone, timing, and technique, and how to start improvising.


If you are truly a beginner, you are welcome to attend the class. Just know that we might be a little ahead of you and it might require a little patience and willingness on your part to pick up whatever tips you can while the class keeps moving forward.


Here are some topics the workshop will cover:

  • Basic right- and left-hand posture and technique
  • Basic rhythm/accompaniment patterns
  • How to make a good sounding chop
  • Pick direction
  • Learning tunes by ear
  • Basic music theory made easy
  • Basic 1-4-5 patterns on the neck for both rhythm playing and lead playing
  • Beginning to improvise over 1-4-5 chord progressions
  • Playing melodies in first position with open strings and up the neck in closed position (no open strings)
  • Single-string leads
  • Double-string leads
  • Double stops
  • How and what to practice in the first year or two of playing to help you play music confidently with other people as soon as possible.


Here are some songs and their accompaniment that would be great for participants to know before they come to camp:

  • “Bile ’Em Cabbage Down” – key of A
  • “Cripple Creek” – key of A
  • “Cluck Old Hen” – key of A
  • “Old Joe Clark” – key of A
  • “Angeline the Baker” – key of D
  • “Soldier’s Joy” – key of D
  • “June Apple” – key of A


Participants should bring something to write with, something to write on, a folder or notebook to organize handouts and notes, and an audio recorder and/or video recorder. We will take time out in class for everyone to record various musical examples. Also bring whatever food, drink, or energy-booster you need to help keep you awake and healthy after late-night jamming and dancing at the Dance Pavilion.


Bio: Sharon Gilchrist—singer, mandolinist, and upright bass player—has performed with Darol Anger, Peter Rowan and Tony Rice, Laurie Lewis, Scott Nygaard, Kathy Kallick, and Uncle Earl. She earned a degree in Mandolin Performance from Belmont University in Nashville, and has taught mandolin for more than 15 years both privately and at some of the nation’s finest music camps. From 2004 to 2012 she served on staff at the College of Santa Fe teaching mandolin. Sharon currently resides in the Bay Area of northern California.

Mandolin (Int.) – Mike Compton

Mike Compton

Mike Compton is the leading living exponent of Bill Monroe’s mandolin style. A native of Meridian Mississippi, he helped found the Nashville Bluegrass Band in the mid-1980s. Also known for his work with John Hartford, David Grier, and Joe Newberry, Mike played in the Grammy-winning soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? In the words of Mandolin Magazine, he is “one of the modern masters of bluegrass mandolin…a certi?ed mandolin icon.”

Mandolin (Int.) Class Description

This mandolin class is geared primarily towards the intermediate skill level. Students must be able to:
1) Tune their mandolins
2) Know chord positions in all major keys
3) Have a working knowledge of right and left hand technique
4) Have a repertoire of songs/tunes that they can play from memory
5) Be able to play at various tempos

It will also be helpful if students have some skill in reading standard notation or tablature. I will give handouts of material from Bill Monroe, country blues artists and fiddle music from the repertoire of the Mississippi duo Narmour & Smith.

We will cover:
1) Basic right and left hand technique (because there’s never enough…)
2) Rhythm in Melody
3) Playing out of chord positions
4) Double stop shifts and voicings
5) Some techniques demonstrated in material introduced are downstrokes, slides, and tremolo
6) And more…

While there is an agenda for this class, it is not closed to other topics desired by the students. Individual instruction will be provided where needed. Students will receive “homework” every day. It is advisable to bring a personal music stand. Recording devices are acceptable. Please come prepared to play A LOT. Points discussed will be learned by use in material presented in class. The class is NOT intended as a lecture. Come prepared to ask questions and fully participate.

Mandolin (Adv) – Alan Bibey

Alan Bibey

Alan Bibey has been known as one of the most creative and technically gifted mandolinists in bluegrass since the early 1980s. He was an original member of the the New Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out, and BlueRidge. For the last 10 years he has led Alan Bibey & Grasstowne. Alan is winner of multiple SPBGMA and IBMA awards, and in 2004 Gibson began producing an Alan Bibey signature model mandolin. Alan runs Maggie’s Crib, a recording studio in Surfside Beach, South Carolina. His latest CD is Alan Bibey & Grasstowne 4.

Mandolin (Adv.)

This workshop will focus on some advanced techniques in bluegrass mandolin and mandolin in general. Participants will look at some standard bluegrass vocal tunes and instrumentals and start by playing them using chord positions and double stops, and then branch out into many other more modern approaches. Participants will discuss rhythm playing and variations and explore how to “play around the melody” tastefully. The workshop will explore the journey to true improvisation as well as discussing how to alter some of participants’ favorite licks to get much more out of them. The overall focus will be on giving participants various options when they take solos and helping them improvise more effectively. Bring all recording devices and plenty of questions. There will also be plenty of handouts in this workshop as well as a bit of learning by ear. Big fun!!

Resonator Guitar (All Levels) – Jimmy Heffernan

Jimmy Heffernan

Jimmy Heffernan, one of America’s leading teachers of the resonator guitar, has a deep bluegrass resumé that includes work with Larry Sparks, Red Allen, and the duo of Bill Grant and Delia Bell. During a stint in Nashville in the 1980s and ’90s he performed on guitar, resonator guitar, and pedal steel with Joe Diffie, Doug Kershaw, Brad Paisley, and other top country stars. Since his return to the Philadelphia area, Jimmy has concentrated his efforts on instruction, releasing a full range of DVDs and video lessons, and teaching at music camps in the United States, England, and Germany.

Resonator Guitar (All Levels)

Jimmy Heffernan focuses his teaching on skill sets participants will need to move forward playing Dobro. He likes to involve the entire class, not just stand up front and preach. His workshops are fun, and participants will definitely leave as better players with a very clear idea of what to focus on to become even better.

Songwriting (All Levels) – Joe Newberry

Joe Newberry

Known around the world for his exquisite clawhammer banjo playing, Joe Newberry is also a powerful guitarist, singer, and songwriter. The Gibson Brothers’ version of his song “Singing As We Rise,” featuring guest vocalist Ricky Skaggs, won the 2012 IBMA “Gospel Recorded Performance” Award. With Eric Gibson, he shared the 2013 IBMA “Song of the Year” Award for “They Called It Music.”

A frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, he was recently featured on the Transatlantic Sessions tour in the United Kingdom with fiddler Aly Bain and Dobro master Jerry Douglas. In addition to performing solo, Joe plays in a duo with mandolin icon Mike Compton, sits in the banjo chair with old-time music legends Mike Craver, Bill Hicks, and Jim Watson, and also performs with the dynamic fiddler and step-dancer April Verch.

A noted teacher of traditional music and song, Joe has taught banjo, guitar, and singing at numerous camps and festivals, including Ashokan; Midwest Banjo Camp; American Banjo Camp; the Swannanoa Gathering; the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes; Pinewoods Camp; Vocal Week, Bluegrass Week, and Old-Time Week at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV; the Australia National Folk Festival; the Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week; and the Bluff Country Gathering. He was for many years the coordinator of Old-Time Week at the Augusta Heritage Center.

Songwriting (All Levels)

Award-winning songwriter Joe Newberry will help participants focus on making their good songs even better, or get them started if they only have a trunk full of ideas. The workshop will use examples of different types of songs—narrative, chorus/verse, free-form—with an eye and ear toward simplifying the words to uncover the heart of the song. Through word play and writing, writing, and more writing, the songs in participants’ heads can become the songs on their lips!

Vocals (All Levels) – Chris Jones & Dede Wyland

Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a quadruple threat as a singer, a songwriter, a guitarist—and, thanks to his role hosting SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction, as the most widely heard broadcasting voice in bluegrass. Following apprenticeships with bluegrass legend Dave Evans and Chicago’s durable Special Consensus, Chris moved to Nashville at the end of the 1980s. He has been the front man for Chris Jones and the Night Drivers since the mid-1990s, and his original songs also been recorded by many other artists.
In 2007 Chris earned an IBMA Song of the Year award, and also that organization’s Broadcaster of the Year trophy.

Dede Wyland

Best known for her work in the 1980s with the groundbreaking progressive bluegrass group Tony Trischka and Skyline, Dede Wyland is known as “a singer’s singer” and a role model for a generation of female bluegrass musicians who followed her.

Since moving to the Washington-Baltimore area in 1990, Dede has continued to perform, while concentrating on her work as a vocal coach. She is the subject of a chapter in Murphy Henry’s 2013 book Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass, and recently unveiled Dede Wyland’s Online Video School of Voice.

Vocals (All Levels)

Singing is central to the heart and soul of bluegrass music. This workshop will get to the bottom of good vocal technique, cover the basics of bluegrass harmony singing, and explore the stylistic qualities that create the bluegrass vocal sound including timing, phrasing, tonal quality, projection, vocal embellishment, and more. Join us for lots of singing, learning and fun!

What to bring: recording devices and your voices!

Staff Musicians – Grant Flick, Mark Panfil, & John Seebach

Grant Flick

Grant Flick of Bowling Green, Ohio, has been playing bluegrass, jazz, and new acoustic music on violin, mandolin, tenor guitar and other instruments for seven years. He has received numerous awards, and his many performances include appearances at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and the Red Wing Roots Festival, on the WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour, and online at the Fretboard Journal. Grant has taught at the Tenor Guitar Gathering in Astoria, Oregon, and is excited to be making the jump from Bluegrass Week student to staff musician this year.

Mark Panfil

Born and raised in Lackawanna, NY, Mark began playing five-string banjo at age 15, and took up dobro while in college. After graduating, he began teaching music in public schools, and playing in the Buffalo-based bluegrass band Creek Bend. Mark has shared the stage and classroom with bluegrass heroes including Vassar Clements, Jerry Douglas, Bobby Hicks, Rob Ickes, Phil Leadbetter, Bryan Sutton, Chubby Wise, Mac Wiseman, and Sally Van Meter. Mark’s instructional book A Dobro Player’s Guide to Jamming is available from Mel Bay publishing, and he and has recorded a highly successful Murphy Method instructional DVD.

John Seebach

John Seebach was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. He lives in the Washington, DC, area. An accomplished tenor and lead vocalist, John also performs on mandolin and guitar with the Rickie Simpkins Quartet, Only Lonesome, and Big Chimney. Along with fellow staff musicians, John will assist in classes, give short ad hoc lessons, and participate in slow jams.

Arts, Crafts, & Folklore Workshops

Blacksmithing: Sculpture Studio and Metal Finishes (Int./Adv.) – Lucas Warner


Lucas Warner’s first experience working with forged metal was eighteen years ago. His family had just met Jeff Fetty, and while he and Lucas’s parents talked and shared stories in Jeff’s studio, Lucas was at Jeff’s coal forge with one hand on the blower and one hand on a hammer. The white-hot steel Lucas pulled out of the forge fascinated him. He began by pounding on the metal with no particular direction in mind. Soon, Jeff showed him how to form a taper and how to use the horn of the anvil to bend the taper into a coat hook. As a nine-year-old, Lucas did not have much control with a hammer, but all around him in Jeff’s blacksmith shop, he saw examples of the possibilities hidden in the nuances of hammer blows, precise selection of chisels and hardy tools, and in the careful application of protective and artistic finishes. This articulation in words only came years later because to his nine-year-old eyes, all those feelings were drowned out by total awe.

His whole life, Lucas has been a maker and a doer with strong tendencies toward making creations that are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional. He spent his childhood surrounded by artistic expression. He remembers spending late nights in the dim red light of his dad’s darkroom, watching as he moved photographic paper from the enlarger into the developer bath where the images emerged from blank paper. His dad taught him how to use his eye to see the beauty we all search for. His whole life he has used his eye to isolate and distill the beauty in what surrounds him and to recognize as beautiful things that his eyes would have otherwise glanced over. Although he hated lugging his dad’s tripod around, Lucas loved accompanying him on his expeditions into nature and other cultures where they would see things no one else had ever seen.

Lucas is drawn to blacksmithing because of the manner in which form flows from the cold, hard steel starting material. The vision required to imagine a solid chunk of metal into a graceful, sometimes lighter-than-air piece of sculpture is as much a challenge as using hammers and fire to elevate that rigid form to that higher level. He is pleased to find that his sense of aesthetic has been shaped by the people around whom he grew up, including a lifetime of Augusta experiences.

Blacksmithing: Sculpture Studio and Metal Finishes (Int./Adv.)

This class will allow participants to explore some of the more technical and advanced possibilities of metal design through a look at aesthetic and form, as well as the effect the final finish can have on the end product. While the scope of the class is inherently constrained by the week-long nature of the course, the goal of the class will be to broaden concepts of what is possible while using a variety of hand tools and hand forging techniques that can be expanded upon, scaled up, scaled down, and adapted. With a focus on sculpture, participants will learn the importance of striking a balance between executing a plan, such as from a drawing, and allowing the hot steel and hammer to speak for themselves in their own unique language.

In addition to the time spent forging and creating sculpture, a significant portion of the class will be devoted to metal finishes. The way a piece of metal art is finished can mean the difference between success and failure of that piece of art. The class will discuss the merits of paints, patinas, and natural finishes, and the technical details of achieving a desired finish.

Participants should come into this class with some forge time under their belts. As with most art forms, physical strength is less important than good technique and control and a willingness to learn and adapt to new skills and environments. Participants are free to bring their favorite hammers, tongs, gloves, etc. Hammers and tools appropriate to the class will also be provided. Participants are asked to bring their own ear and eye protection – these are required. Steel toe shoes are not absolutely required, but leather boots are strongly suggested to protect against sparks.

Ages 16 & up. Materials: $50, payable to Augusta at time of registration.

Green Wood Utensil Carving (Beg./Int.) – Stan Jennings


Stan Jennings is a tenth generation West Virginia native. He lives in Evansville with his wife Sue, where they own and operate a successful wood working business, Allegheny Treenware. Started in 1990, they are self taught wood workers. They begin the creative process with purchasing the logs. Using their saw mill, Stan custom saws four thicknesses of wood and air dries the wood before taking it into their shop. Over 180 different types of hardwood kitchen utensils are created by hand at Allegheny Treenware. They currently have eight employees who join them daily to create and market their extensive line.

Stan has a BS in biology from Fairmont State University. He has worked as a laborer, carpenter, and coal miner before taking on the role of woodworker. He has studied the history of the craft and created his own custom shaving horse which transports easily to shows and demonstrations. He has won several best demonstrator awards at fairs and festivals in the eastern United States. His style of carving is very traditional, sometimes compared to Scandinavian style. He has taken a number of young apprentices under his wing at shows and taught them how to carve spoons. His patience and good humor make him a natural at this role of teacher.

Green Wood Utensil Carving (Beg./Int.)

Anyone who enjoys using their hands and working with wood can make a wooden spoon. No prior experience is necessary. It’s a simple process using mostly simple hand tools on a shaving horse, a process which dates back 2000 years. This class will use different species of West Virginia native hardwoods for freshly harvested spoon stock. The higher moisture content of the green wood can be carved easier than seasoned or dried wood. Participants will still need a little arm and hand strength. Working on a shaving horse can be tiring, and the seat can be hard, so participants are encouraged to bring some padding to sit on. Once participants get the hang of it, working on the shaving horse can be a relaxing, stress relieving therapy. After participants learn the basics and make a couple spoons, they will be free to design their own spoon or copy examples provided by the instructor. Everyone will work at her / his own pace. Hopefully participants will make two or three spoons per day. After the spoons have dried for at least 24 hours, participants will learn how to finish them.

Here is a brief outline of the spoon making process, including tools that will be used.

Starting with a section of hardwood log
Halving and quartering log. Tools: 8lb sledge hammer, wedges, ax
Riving out billots. Tools: Fro, dogwood mallet
Marking and cutting spoon blanks out of billots. Tools: A bandsaw is safer and faster than a hatchet, but the instructor will demonstrate how to use the hatchet for those who are interested.
Working on the shaving horse
Rough shaping spoon blank. Tools: 4″ draw knife
Laying out the cup of the spoon. Tools: dividers
Carving the spoon cup out. Tools: Bent gouges, spoon gouges
Finishing back of spoon and handle. Tools: Flat and concave spokeshaves, draw knife
Let dry for 24 hours
Sand out inside of cup with foredom sander
Drum sander
Wood burn

The instructor will provide shaving horses and basic tools for participants to share. It’s not necessary to buy any of the tools for this class, but participants are encouraged tools they may already have at home. Quality tools are becoming very expensive, so it would be best to take the class first before deciding to invest in a set.

For participants who are considering purchasing tools, here is a helpful list compiled by Stan, with current pricing from Woodcraft:

Gouges for beginning carvers:
# 7 Sweep 25mm Bent Gouge ($64.99)
#8 Sweep 25mm Bent Gouge ($57.50)
#8 Sweep 25mm Spoon Gouge ($46.99)
Gouges for experienced carvers:
# 7 Sweep 35mm Bent Gouge ($72.99)
#8 Sweep 35mm Bent Gouge ($89.99)
#7 Sweep 30mm Spoon Gouge ($64.99)
The 25mm gouges take less strength to use, but it takes longer to gouge out a spoon. Stan recommends the Swiss made Pfeil gouges from Woodcraft. (Make sure to get bent gouges, not straight gouges.)

4” Drawknife: Pfeil makes a 4 ½” carvers’ drawknife. The handles must come off at a 45 degree angle to the plane of the cutter. ($81.99)
Adjustable Flat Spoke Shave: The old Stanley #151 spoke shave one sees in antique shops work great. It’s best to get the one with two adjusting screws on top of the blade. ($20-40)
Concave Spoke Shave: Stan uses a Clifton #550 with a 2 ½” diameter curve. It is great for rounding handles and the back of the spoon cup. It is also very expensive, so one can get by reasonably well with a flat spoke shave. ($130-140)
Dividers: These are used to lay out the design. They are available for $5-10 at antique shops.
Safety Glasses
First Aid Kit (especially adhesive bandages)

Ages 16 & up. Materials: $25, payable to workshop leader.

Into to Working with Local Clay Using Traditional Techniques (Beg./Int.) – Michael Ray


Michael Ray’s business, West Fork Pottery, began in one sense like many other good entrepreneurial stories. It was a dream, a spark in the brown eyes of a 10-year-old boy. On a chilly October day in 1995 at a street festival in Cambridge, Ohio, Mike Ray peered out from behind the hood of his coat, mesmerized by a spinning slab of clay being molded patiently in the hands of Walt Taylor–the movement, the textures, the seemingly effortless rhythm of this dance between the potter and the clay.

In another sense, West Fork Pottery began many years before. Figurines of animals and people were made from clay as early as 24,000 B.C., and between approximately 9,000-10,000 B.C., functional pottery for food and water storage was created. Pottery as both art and necessity has been passed down through generations from one potter to the next ever since.

Likewise, pottery masters like Vernon Allen and Jeff Greenham passed the gift of pottery on to Mike. Much of Mike’s exploration of pottery was on his own, though, as a living history interpreter at Pricketts Fort State Park, where he learned to build and fire kilns, mix clays from local materials, and explore glaze chemistry. Thus, West Fork Pottery was born from Mike’s love for history, the perfect slab of clay, and the desire to make art that’s part of everyday life.

He believes a mug should comfortably wrap itself around your hand, a soup bowl should make you feel as warm as the chicken noodle soup that’s in it, and the planters on your front porch should make you smile when you come home. But, it’s more than this. West Fork Pottery is both a celebration of the little pieces of art that are part of our everyday lives, and a reflection of the history upon which our society has been built.

Into to Working with Local Clay Using Traditional Techniques (Beg./Int.)

Throughout Earth’s history, weathering has caused the breakdown and deposit of silicates such as clay. This resource can be hunted, extracted, and processed by the potter for use in clay bodies for pots, clay glazes for making pots impermeable, and clay slips for making pots beautiful.

In this class, participants will learn how to locate and distinguish clays from other earthy materials, techniques used to collect and process clay, specific uses of various native clays and their roles in the production process, how to determine uses and design pots to a specific function, production techniques for functional pottery, and historical uses of pottery and materials.

Ages 16 & up. Materials: $25-35, payable to workshop leader.

Woven Shibori (Int.) – Wendy Clark


Wendy Clark grew up in a house built in 1812. Old things, tradition and working with one’s hands were strong influences in her life and later, in her creative practice as an interdisciplinary artist. After receiving a degree in art from WV Wesleyan, she bought her first loom and began playing casually with weaving. Wendy has always had a love for fabrics and how the threads interlace.

After completion of a Masters of Fine Arts , the focus of Wendy’s work ranged from small pieces to large-scale installation work. In May 2012, she left behind a 29 year career of teaching art to focus entirely on weaving and is now a full-time studio artist/weaver.

Wendy and her husband purchased land near Belington, WV, and in 2010 moved into their log cabin to be full-time residents of West Virginia. Her studio is located in the bottom floor of their home where she dyes and paints the yarn, and weaves it into shawls, scarves, table linens and structural forms.

She works in fine rayon, silk, cotton, bamboo and linen. Wendy purchases natural colored yarns and dyes the yarn using fiber reactive dyes. All of her work is hand dyed. She uses both vat and ikat style dyeing techniques and designs new ways of working the colors into the yarns. Wendy weaves on two, four and sixteen harness looms in her log cabin studio.

Wendy is the recipient of the 2012 WV Culture Grant which enabled her to complete the building of her studio. Additionally, she is sponsored by the Tamarack Foundation, which has enabled her to participate in The Buyers Market of American Craft Show in Philadelphia, PA. Wendy’s work can be seen in the West Virginia galleries of Tamarack, Mountain Made, and Artists At Work, and throughout fine galleries and museum shops nationally.

Woven Shibori (Int.)

Woven Shibori is a process of weaving and resist dyeing developed by Catherine Ellis. Based on traditional Shibori, its historical roots lie in stitching into woven cloth to form a pattern known as “mokume” or wood grain. The stitching is gathered and then the piece is dyed. The resulting pattern often resembles wood grain and patterns found in the natural world. Woven shibori enables the weaver to produce the gathering threads during the weaving process. In this class, we will weave with two shuttles to form the body of our work, as well as the gathering stitches that form the resist patterns. We will set up various experiments with vat dyes and surface treatment dyes. You will leave with a couple if not several woven shibori pieces.

Prepared warps and dyes will be provided. Participants should come to class knowing how to independently weave on a four harness floor loom. Advanced beginners and beyond will find this class exciting.

Participants should bring the following items: scissors, a pencil, a notebook, a good pair of rubber or kitchen gloves, measuring tape, a bucket, three gallon-sized zip top bags, an old bath towel, and their favorite shuttles and bobbins if they prefer to use their own.

Ages 16 & up. Materials: $45-65 or more, depending on student projects, payable to workshop leader.


Folk Arts For Kids Workshop

Folk Arts for Kids: Augusta Explorers (Grades K-5) – Emily Prentice

Emily Prentice

Emily Prentice was raised in Elkins. She attended Davis & Elkins College, graduating in 2015 with degrees in English and Fine Arts, and has worked on Augusta summer staff for the past three years. Her primary focus is using art as a way to unify her community. She spends most of her free time facilitating creativity through craft nights, collaborative zine projects, and public art. Emily’s own creative practice centers around illustration, fiber arts, collage, and anything DIY. Emily teaches children and teen classes and camps at the Elkins Sewing Center, as well as Color Theory for quilters, and leads open studio sessions there. She is super excited to teach at Augusta! It’s been her lifelong dream to design merit badges. You can find Emily’s work at the Buxton and Landstreet Gallery in Thomas, or at her website:

FAFK: Augusta Explorers (k-5)

Prepare for adventure! Augusta Explorers will earn merit badges as they take in all that Augusta has to offer. Participants will be spending lots of time outside, lots of time making stuff, and lots of time learning about Appalachian culture. Expect to be messy, curious, and creative. Class activities will include nature walks, plant identification, weaving, party games, ghost stories, square dancing, printmaking, singing, and much more. The class also take advantage of the amazing events happening around campus. At the end of class, Explorers will have assorted merit badges designed and embroidered by Emily, a banner for displaying badges, and a zine field guide that Explorers will fill with a week’s worth of Augusta memories. Participants should bring snacks, a shirt/smock/apron for messy activities, and an adventurous attitude!

Dance Workshop

Ensemble Choreography for Percussive Dance (Int.) – Sharon Leahy & Rick Good

Sharon Leahy

Sharon Leahy has spent a lifetime creating dance and theater for the stage, working with traditional forms to express contemporary themes. As a choreographer, she has been commissioned to create work by Jacob’s Pillow, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project, and many others. She was artist-in-residence at the University of Dayton for six years and has taught master classes at colleges across the country. As Artistic Director of Rhythm in Shoes, Sharon led an ensemble of dancers and musicians for twenty-four years, touring nationally and internationally, presenting original performance art recognized as both surprising and familiar. Carry it on… Sharon’s first dance for camera has been seen at numerous dance film festivals including Dance on Camera at Lincoln Center, The International ScreenDance Festival at the American Dance Festival and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. She has won the blue ribbon for clogging at both the National Folk Festival at Wolftrap in Virginia, and the Appalachian String Band Festival in West Virginia. Sharon also plays string bass and guitar with two fine bands: Good & Young, and The Elements.

Sharon says, “Collaboration is at the heart of my work. The rhythm of breath, the power of intention, practicing and teaching, seeking strength, flexibility, balance, the joy of connection, the authority of truth, these things fuel each day of discovery and challenge me to reach for the heavens. I am thankful for the many teachers who have shared their knowledge and wisdom and the students who have challenged me to keep pressing forward. I am grateful, especially, to all the generous laughers I have known, for they remind me not to take life too seriously.”

Rick Good

Rick Good is a musician and a composer. A founding member of The Hotmud Family, a twenty-four-year veteran of Rhythm in Shoes, and a 2010 Ohio Heritage Fellow, Rick is recognized and respected for his driving banjo, swinging guitar, heartfelt singing, and crafty songwriting. With his wife and long-time collaborator, Sharon Leahy, Rick has made a life of creating critically acclaimed performance art, rooted in American traditions. He also worked as an actor and has written for the stage. Rick currently plays with two fine bands: Good & Young, and The Elements, and has been a member of The Fabulous Rugcutters, The Uncles, The Red Clay Ramblers, and ShoeFly. For most of his forty-five-year career as a professional creative artist, he has been a dancer’s musician, making music for dance performance and accompanying dance classes. Rick also has an extensive discography including six albums with the Hotmud Family, two CDs with Rhythm in Shoes, two CDs with the Red Clay Ramblers, a CD with ShoeFly, two solo recordings (Nova Town and The Human Banjo Player), and a collection of swing standards (TrueBlue) with Sharon Leahy.

This class is open to dancers with a facility for footwork in any percussive dance style, a keen sense of body awareness, and a desire to create form in both sound and movement. Class participants will be given the tools to create and the encouragement to engage in the free spirit of exploration to develop dance works-in-progress. Through this workshop, participants will understand choreographic principles, processes, and structures; see dance as a way to create and communicate meaning; explore dance’s connection to music; evaluate and edit compositions; and apply critical and creative thinking skills.

Sharon Leahy says, “I believe creativity is fostered when we are inspired to exhibit spontaneity and individuality, encouraged to come up with unconventional solutions and answers, urged to be observant and alert, expected to concentrate readily and shift appropriately and, most importantly, taught to maintain openness to experience. Setting up an environment in which creative choices can be made nourishes our abilities to scan our thoughts and focus on those that serve in problem solving. We develop skill in analyzing possibilities and art in making the right choice.”

Daily Schedule:
9am: Warmup (yoga and step drills)
10am-noon: Choreographic Process
3-4:15pm: Learn choreography from Leahy Good Repertoire

Ages 12 & up.


Bluegrass Week Evening Mini-Courses

Clawhammer Banjo (From Scratch) – Kevin Chesser

Kevin Chesser

Kevin Chesser is a musician and writer living in Elkins, WV. He performs regularly on banjo & guitar at square dances and community events around the state. In 2016, he took first place in old-time banjo at the WV Open Fiddle & Banjo championship, and has also won prizes for his playing at the Vandalia Gathering & the WV State Folk Festival. In 2016, he recorded an EP with Jesse Milnes & Becky Hill. It is set for release in 2017.

Clawhammer Banjo (From Scratch)

Historically known as drop-thumb, or overhand, clawhammer style banjo is an integral part of the traditional music of southern Appalachia and beyond. Participants need not have ever picked up a banjo to take this class. The class will go over tuning, chords, and how to play a simple melody. Then participants will take apart, piece by piece, the down-picking pattern that gives clawhammer its distinctive sound. Participants should bring their own banjo, electronic tuner, and personal recording device.

Introduction to Herbal Medicines (All Levels) – Maureen Farrell

Maureen Farrell

Maureen Farrell is a West Virginia transplant living in the mountains outside Beverly. She has been putting down roots and expanding her knowledge of the local ecosystem while growing food and making herbal preparations that can be found at the Elkins Farmer’s Market. Maureen is always continuing her education while simultaneously passing on her knowledge through frequent classes given at her mountain home with her partner, Ivan Farrell. She has been and will continue to study herbalism with Herbal Medics University and through a horizontal passing of knowledge from other herbalists in her life.

Join Maureen Farrell for an introduction to herbal medicine! In this mini-course, participants will learn how to identify, harvest, and use 5 basic herbs that are either native or gregarious in our ecosystem. Participants will learn some basics of wild crafting and plant structure as part of getting to know our medicinal allies. The instructor can also help identify some herbs growing right in participants’ front yards for use at home. This will involve at least one field day on a very easy trail on campus. Then participants will take what they have learned and use it to explore the basics of herbal medicine making. Participants will make tinctures, infusions, and more to take home!

Materials: $15, payable to workshop leader.

Roots & Branches of Bluegrass: From Ancient Ballands to WV Songs of Work & Freedom (All Levels) – Michael & Carrie Kline

Michael & Carrie Kline

Michael and Carrie Kline weave West Virginia stories and folklore with spine tingling harmonies on voice and guitar. They live and breathe Appalachian music and culture. Their voices carry the songs with truth and authenticity. The Klines present their music both as entertainment and social history, with engaging ease and hard-hitting passion. They have spent years recording music and spoken narratives from Cherokee, North Carolina, coalfields and mountainside farms of Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia, and Pennsylvania’s anthracite country.

The Klines’ high mountain harmonies meld with their intertwining bass lines on two guitars, with Michael’s melodic flat-picking and Carrie’s rhythmic backup. They have performed in Italy, Germany, and across the United States in living rooms, and concert halls, prisons to picket lines from Maine to Ohio, New York City, and Washington, DC, Wisconsin, and California. To hear them and join in on a chorus is to be transported to a country church, a primeval forest, a coal miner’s picket line, or grandma’s kitchen. From songs such as “Walk with Granny One More Time”, to “The Coal Tattoo”, the Klines evoke emotions that touch the soul. Kitchen songs. When they sing, you can smell the biscuits baking. The Klines’ have 15 CDs featuring Appalachian history, music and folklife.

Michael and Carrie Kline have been studying and chronicling the history and culture of Appalachia for thirty years, Michael, with a Ph.D. in Public Folklore from Boston University, and Carrie, with a Master’s Degree in American Studies from SUNY/Buffalo. Michael was employed during most of the 1980s as Folklife Specialist for the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis and Elkins College in Elkins. His experience in creating public programs extends to Cullowhee, North Carolina, and later with new American cultures of Western Massachusetts.

Carrie joined the research shortly before the duo contracted to complete an ethnographic survey of the City of Wheeling from 1994 – ’96. Carrie received the Spring 2001 Rockefeller Fellowship at Marshall University to document Appalachian Resiliency in LGBTQ people. Michael’s recent article on coal camp life in West Virginia, published in Appalachian Heritage, won the Plattner Award in 2011 published in the magazine. He is a recipient of the Tamarack Foundation Fellowship and the 2015 winner of the international Stetson Kennedy Vox Populi Award granted by the Oral History Association for, in the words of the award letter, his “sizable contributions to oral history for social change in … Appalachia.”

Roots & Branches of Bluegrass: From Ancient Ballands to WV Songs of Work & Freedom (All Levels)

Prepare to immerse in rich imagery and melodically haunting songs, making deep connections with the culture, landscapes, and history of Appalachia, and connecting with singers from generations past. Who were these singers, and how did these songs come to dwell in them? What are the hidden powers of the oral tradition in these Allegheny Highlands? How and why does it persist into our own times?

Participants will finish this course with a new tote sack full of Appalachian songs learned by heart. The Klines are known for teaching songs so that the singers come to own them. From passionate coal mining laments to ancient ballads Michael learned from local singers over the past four or five decades, the class will learn to sing with precision and gusto.

Monroe Style Mandolin (Int./Adv.) Jeremy Wanless

Jeremy Wanless

Jeremy Wanless began playing the mandolin at the age of 10 after being inspired by a Bill Monroe television appearance. A founding member of Hardly Ever and a veteran of multiple bluegrass bands including Everready and Jumpin’ Tyme, Jeremy has also performed as a full-time cast member at the American Mountain Theater and Gandy Dancer Theatre, two of West Virginia’s major tourist destinations. Jeremy is wildly hailed as the originator of PHRAWG music. A patient teacher with a refined musical manner, Jeremy currently performs in Hardly Ever and plays mandolin with Pat Schoonover Living Water Worship. For more information, visit

Monroe Style Mandolin (Int./Adv.)

Learn the fundamentals of traditional Monroe style bluegrass mandolin! Delve into essential techniques including downstrokes, tremelo, slides, double-stops, and more. The class will discuss the role of the mandolin in a bluegrass band setting and learn some great tunes along the way.