For 2014, Augusta brings together a spectacular lineup. The staff of well known bluegrass figures share their talents with students in classes, workshops, demonstrations, special presentations, concerts and picking sessions throughout the week. Informal picking sessions at all levels go on into 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. On Friday afternoon, an optional student showcase gives students the special opportunity to perform for each other and the staff. Don’t miss this special week of music-making where you can pick among the stars in “Almost Heaven” West Virginia.
Young people who are able to maintain an adult level of participation are welcome. There will be opportunities to form bands, dance, and socialize with other teenagers at Augusta that week.
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. Daily slow jams give beginners a taste of playing with others, and give more-experienced students a chance to practice their new licks. Evenings provide many opportunities for jamming, lively dancing at night in the Pavilion, and two fantastic bluegrass concerts featuring the instructors, staff musicians, and special guests.
Murphy Hicks Henry, from Winchester, Virginia, has been playing and teaching bluegrass banjo for almost forty years. She is the developer of the Murphy Method, a line of “by ear” instructional DVDs for bluegrass music, and is one of three women featured in the book Masters of the 5-String Banjo. For over twenty years she wrote the monthly column “On The Road” for Banjo NewsLetter before turning it over to her daughter, Casey, and she published her own quarterly newsletter, Women in Bluegrass, for eight years. She has been writing the monthly “General Store” column for Bluegrass Unlimited since 1987. She is the author of the recently published Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass (University of Illinois Press), which she spent ten years researching and writing.
Murphy served on the International Bluegrass Music Association Board of Directors for four years and received the IBMA Print Media Personality of the Year award in 1997. She earned her Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from George Mason University in 1999.
Murphy has been married for 39 years to mandolin player Red Henry. For years she and Red made their living playing music in the band Red and Murphy and Company. When their two children, Casey and Chris, joined them the band became Red and Murphy and Their Excellent Children. The group recorded six LPs and numerous CDs and cassettes which feature many of Murphy’s original songs, including the feminist bluegrass anthem “I Ain’t Domesticated Yet.”
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. He is a board member of the Capital Area Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association (CABOMA).
Mary Burdette is an acoustic bass player from Hammondsport, New York. Having toured the United States, Canada and Europe with Skip Gorman, Tom Sauber, Patrick Sauber, and Ruthie Dornfeld, she has performed at festivals from Grass Valley to Gettysburg, from IBMA to the European World of Bluegrass, and at major cowboy poetry gatherings around the country. Her bass playing and harmony singing be heard on Rounder and Music of the Old West recordings as well as on the original soundtrack of Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, Lewis and Clark: Journey of the Corps of Discovery.
By “day” 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. She also owns and shows a pair of very energetic Berger Picards.
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.
Casey Henry grew up playing bluegrass in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her family band, Red and Murphy and Their Excellent Children. After college she spent a decade in Nashville playing with artists such as Uncle Earl, The Dixie Bee-Liners, June Carter Cash, and Michael Martin Murphey. She now teaches banjo, in person and online, in Winchester, Virginia. She is a regular contributor to Banjo NewsLetter magazine.
Welcome to all you beginning banjo pickers! I love teaching beginners and we are going to have a great time and make a lot of progress this week.
Even in a beginning banjo class there can be a wide range of abilities, but we will definitely cover the basics of bluegrass banjo—rolls and chords—and get you started with a tune or two. We will talk about playing with other people and about hearing chord changes. I will address any and all questions that you have and we will do some listening to classic bluegrass as well.
I teach by ear, so there is nothing written down—no tab, no written music. Most of what we cover is available for purchase on DVD, but I highly recommend that you bring a recorder (these days people usually use a digital recorder, or just their phone) to capture what we do in class. Listening back to what we do is essential when you are practicing!
You don’t need to do anything particular to prepare for class. When you come just make sure you bring:
A strap for your banjo
An extra set of strings (we will cover string changing)
No need to bring anything to write with as you won’t be writing anything down.
See you in July!!
Richard Bailey, a four-time Grammy nominee, has been playing professionally for over 35 years. His ability to adapt to a wide variety of musical situations has led to a broad range of recording session work. In the bluegrass world he has performed with Bill Monroe, Vassar Clements, Roland White, Harley Allen, Curly Seckler, Jim Lauderdale, Jim Rooney, and countless others. Outside the bluegrass world, he has appeared on albums with artists such as Al Green, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Michael Martin Murphey, and Kenny Rodgers.
Richard lives in Nashville, where he plays in recording sessions and performs with the Roland White Band and the SteelDrivers.
I try to make sure everyone’s needs are addressed. I want the class to be fun and interactive. We’ll cover how to work a melody into a roll, backup, and dealing with keys other than open G. We’ll also work on tune requests throughout the week.
A 25-year professional who’s noted for his dazzling technique, originality, and broad sense of humor, Ned Luberecki has served for over a decade with Chris Jones and The Night Drivers. His resume includes stints with Paul Adkins and The Borderline Band; Gary Ferguson; Radio Flyer; and the Rarely Herd, frequent winners of SPBGMA’s Entertaining Band Of The Year award. He’s a popular banjo instructor at some of the most renowned instructional camps in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and gives private lessons at his studio in Nashville and online via webcam. Ned is also a broadcaster on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction, where he hosts the regular newgrass show, Derailed, and the popular Sunday Banjo Lesson.
Since joining The Night Drivers, Ned has continued to make a name for himself as a guest on a variety of recordings and appearances, including tours with Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time and as the “other” banjo player with Tony Trischka’s Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular. In 2007, he released a popular solo project, Nedski, which included duets with friends like The Infamous Stringdusters’ Chris Pandolfi and Punch Brothers’ Noam Pikelny, along with comic favorites like “Cabin Of Death.” In 2010, Ned teamed up with the Sam Bush Band’s Stephen Mougin as Nedski and Mojo, releasing an acclaimed project Nothing More.
Hey fellow banjoists,
Welcome to the Advanced Banjo Class at the Augusta Heritage Center! I know there are those who would claim “Advanced Banjo” is an oxymoron, but let’s face it, they’re just jealous. Yeah, I said it. The rest of the world only wishes that they could do what we already can. Speaking of which, here’s what I expect that you can already do as a prerequisite to joining the Advanced Banjo class:
—Hold your own in a bluegrass jam and make up solos to typical 3 or 4 chord songs whether you already know them or not.
—Have a working knowledge of Scruggs-style banjo playing and at least a familiarity with melodic and single string style.
—Know how to make major and minor chords in the three basic chord shapes.
—Read banjo tablature. You don’t have to be super fast at it, but there will be some handouts.
—Learn by ear. If you’re not good at this yet, don’t worry, it’s one of the things we’re gonna work on.
—Have a desire to become an all-knowing master of space, time, and dimension as it pertains to the five-string banjo!
Now here are some of the things we’re going to cover in class:
—Doing better than just holding your own in a jam: working out better solos that still keep the melody in mind.
—Advanced knowledge of Scruggs style and how to blend it with melodic and single string styles without losing that Bluegrass drive.
—Connecting the fingerboard through knowledge of scale and chord positions to help find melodies and solos all over the neck.
—Back-up and fills: what to play and when.
— Sounding better: getting better tone without changing your tone ring.
—Ear training: breaking the addiction to tab.
—Playing in keys other than G without a capo—C, D, E, F and even Bb.
—All-knowing mastery of space, time, and dimension as it pertains to the five-string banjo.
What to bring to class:
—Your banjo (duh!) and some extra strings, capo, etc. You know, the stuff you’ll need for a week of jamming.
—Audio recorder. Audio recording is permitted in class. Please no video.
—Blank tab paper. I will have handouts, but there’s always a few things that end up on the chalkboard that you may want to copy down.
—An open mind and a willingness to learn.
We may learn one or two tunes this week (or at least revisit tunes that you already know) but instead of focusing on learning songs all week (you can get tabs for tunes anywhere) I want to work on making you a better banjo player. If there are other topics or special requests that you’d like to cover, let me know and I’ll make sure that we get those into the program too. I can be contacted electronically at the following:
A versatile veteran, Mike Fleming lays down the firm foundation and sings the baritone harmony that round out The SteelDrivers’ sound. He spent the better part of the 1990s performing with country and Americana artists such as Holly Dunn, Joy Lynn White, Kevin Welch, and David Olney.
In 2005 Mike and four other songwriter/musicians formed The SteelDrivers. The group has released three albums to date, which have garnered Grammy, IBMA, and Americana award nominations. The SteelDrivers won the IBMA Emerging Artist award in 2009.
Mike lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife Lois Ann. He has two daughters and supports the St. Louis Cardinals and Missouri Tigers.
I am truly looking forward to our week of bluegrass bass exploration. This course is open to all levels and we will start with songs and instrumentals that are the foundation of bluegrass. Although I began as a guitar and banjo player, I learned to play basic upright bass holed up in my room for a few months in 1975. I had three records that I played along with: Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys, Flatt & Scruggs at Carnegie Hall, and Strictly Instrumental with Doc Watson and Flatt & Scruggs. Whether you have been playing or not, these are three wonderful recordings to cue up and play along with.
Before coming into class I would like you to know how to tune your bass, the names of the open strings, what a guitar chord is, and what it means when someone yells, “It’s in the key of G.”
I will primarily be teaching by ear and the Nashville numbers. We will be covering the role of the bass in bluegrass, timing, time signatures, song structure, recognizing common chord progressions, and dynamics. Did I mention timing?
For those of you interested in how this music began and evolved, check out the book Bluegrass: A History by Neil V. Rosenberg.
What to bring with you: pencil, paper, tuner, a recording device if you can (most cell phones work well now), and a sense of humor. We bass players are the offensive linemen of the bluegrass band. If you’re looking for glory, you picked the wrong instrument. But there is no other bluegrass instrument that is welcomed into a jam session more than a solid bass player with great timing.
Please feel free to contact me by email with any concerns or questions.
Born and raised in Lackawanna, NY, a steel mill town south of Buffalo, Mark began playing five-string banjo at age 15. When high school finished, he decided to make music his career by pursuing a degree in music education, with piano as his primary instrument. While in college he supported himself by teaching private lessons, recording jingles, performing in schools, and transcribing songs for local songwriters. It was during this time that he began playing dobro. His first lessons came from Mike Auldridge’s instructional book. Soon after finishing a master’s degree in music, he joined the Buffalo-based bluegrass band Creek Bend, eventually recording five projects with them including two CDs released nationally on the Copper Creek label. Mark plays dobro and sings lead and harmonies with the group and contributes original compositions for their recordings.
Mark has been teaching dobro at the Augusta Heritage Workshops at every level since the early 1990s, sometimes by himself and sometimes with some of the best-known players in the world of resonator guitars, including Phil Leadbetter, Rob Ickes and Jerry Douglas. He has performed on stage as a side man with such players as Bobby Hicks, Mac Wiseman, Chubby Wise, and Vassar Clements. He has also played in workshop concerts with many of today’s top bluegrass players, including Jerry Douglas, Bryan Sutton 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 DVD. In thirty years as a public school music teacher in Hamburg, NY, Mark has taught music theory, guitar, and voice and has run the fiddle clubs. He has been an instructor in bluegrass “kids’ academies” in New York and Pennsylvania for over ten years. His dobro tab has appeared in resoguit.com and bluegrasscollege.org. Mark currently teaches dobro in western New York State.
I am very excited to be returning to Augusta this year as the multi-level dobro instructor. From beginner to advanced, I have ideas and songs that offer everyone room for growth. I will cover areas on getting started, learning good habits, creating solos, getting ideas, and proper mechanics and the right tools for those who are new to the instrument. For those who are intermediate or advanced players, I will help you add new licks to your playing, show you new tricks, help you break bad habits, help you to play better in band situations, how to play behind a vocalist, etc. There will be enough good information offered that players of all levels will be able to benefit. I will provide some tablature, but my goal will be to help you think through a solo by yourself from your own ideas. Besides helping you find the essence of the melody in a song, I will also help you draw ideas from other instruments and styles as well. We will work as a class but I will also make every effort to work with each student with their questions or goals. The main thing is that I will try to keep it fun and interesting. My plan is to keep it where no one gets behind, but everyone comes away happy with lots of new ideas, a few new tunes and motivation. It is OK (and recommended) that you bring recording devices to class. Video and audio are both OK. Bring a notebook and pen/pencil. Also your guitar with bar, picks, etc. Come with a “wish list” of techniques, licks or songs. Feel free to email me in advance with these ideas. I look forward to working with each one of you. It’s gonna be a fun!
Patrick McAvinue’s fresh, inspiring, and diverse fiddle playing has graced the sound of Audie Blaylock and Redline since 2005. With Audie, Patrick has traveled around the world from Melbourne to Prague, and he is featured on all of the group’s highly acclaimed albums. He has been a candidate for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Fiddle Player of Year award (2009-2013), and was nominated for the Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year award in 2013. Patrick has also performed and recorded with such master artists as Marty Stuart, J.D. Crowe, Paul Williams, Bobby Osborne, Del and Ronnie McCoury, Michael Cleveland, Ellery Eskelin, and Gerald Cleaver.
Patrick holds a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance from Towson University, where he studied under the direction of pianist Tim Murphy, trumpeter David Ballou, and violinist Dr. Jeffrey Howard. He currently resides in Baltimore and teaches privately at Mike’s Music in Ellicott City, Maryland. He has released two solo recordings on the Patuxent Music label, Grave Run and Rutland’s Reel.
Hello, Beginner Fiddlers!
I am thrilled for my first year teaching at Augusta Bluegrass Week. You all might be wondering what constitutes a “beginner” and what I have in store for the class.
First, I have a few prerequisites for you
-Have a decent fiddle, a bow, some rosin and a tuner.
-Rudimentary abilities like:
-How to hold the fiddle and bow
-How to tune the instrument
-And hopefully, how to play a handful of tunes (for example, Bile ’Em Cabbage Down, Cripple Creek, Red Haired Boy, Soldier’s Joy, Angeline the Baker, etc.)
Total beginners are welcome to attend the class. And to help the class move steadily throughout the week, I only ask for patience and the willingness to learn.
The more you are prepared, the more you will take away from the class.
What we will cover in class:
-Basic music theory (and how it pertains to us)
-Active listening and learning music by ear
-Sound (tone) and rhythm (timing) development
-Common bluegrass repertoire
-Basic scale studies (and how to practice them)
-Basic I-IV-V-I improvising
-Common phrases (or licks) used in Improvising
-How to develop and connect your ideas
What to bring:
-An eager and open mind
-Your fiddle (and everything else you need to play)
-A pencil or pen
-A binder (for handouts) and a notebook (or blank paper)
-Staff paper (if you’re a reader)
-An audio recorder (most smartphones and cell phones work). Video recording is fine as well, but please don’t post it online.
I plan on teaching a bunch of tunes during the week, but instead of focusing on learning songs (since you can learn tunes anywhere) I want to concentrate on making you a better fiddler. If there are any other topics or special requests you’d like to cover, please let me know. I can be contacted electronically through firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to meeting you all and having a blast! Fiddles are the BEST!
John Mailander is a California-based musician and graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Playing in a variety of styles on the fiddle, mandolin, and various other stringed instruments, he has become known for his soulful voice as a soloist, improviser, and writer. John has shared the stage with acclaimed artists including the Alison Brown Quartet, Victor Wooten, Tim O’Brien, and Christopher Guest. He was one of sixteen musicians selected to participate in the Savannah Music Festival’s prestigious Acoustic Music Seminar in both 2012 and 2013. John played fiddle in Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s musical Bright Star for its premier run in New York.
He has performed at events including the San Diego Symphony Summer Pops, FreshGrass Music Festival, and Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. John currently maintains a busy performance schedule with artists including Tony Trischka & Territory, Molly Tuttle, Chris Stuart & Backcountry, and Darol Anger. At Berklee, John studied under John McGann, Darol Anger, and Julian Lage.
Welcome to my intermediate bluegrass fiddle class! I’m so excited to get to know you all and work together to make some great music this week.
This class will be geared toward those of you who already know most of the basics of playing the violin, such as tuning, rosining the bow, scales in common keys like G, D, A, etc. You should all be comfortable with learning by ear. I’ll have some sheet music and handouts for you, but since bluegrass and old-time music is an aural tradition, a large portion of the class will involve playing by ear.
In this class, we’ll talk about the essential skills of playing in a bluegrass band: Extracting/embellishing the melody of a song to construct solos, stylistic double stops, playing fills behind singers, and backing up other players with the infamous “chop.” You’ll also be able to take home a new fiddle tune or two!
Please bring a recording device, paper/pencils for notes, and of course your fiddle, bow, and rosin. I’m really looking forward to spending the week with you guys!
Growing up in a family bluegrass band that also included banjo great Scott Vestal, Tammy Rogers brings a lifetime of instrumental and vocal experience to The SteelDrivers. She was also in the legendary pre-Union Station bluegrass band Dusty Miller with Barry Bales, Tim Stafford, Adam Steffey, and Brian Fesler. No stranger to the studio, she has recorded with Neil Diamond, Wynonna, Rodney Crowell, Radney Foster, Bill Anderson, Iris Dement, Randy Scruggs, Patty Loveless, Buddy and Julie Miller, Jim Lauderdale, and many more. She has toured the world with Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Patty Loveless, Maria McKee, and the Dead Reckoners. Her songs have been recorded by Terri Clarke and Frances Black.
I am so looking forward to returning to Augusta this summer to teach the Advanced Fiddle class. I know we will have a great time! I plan on teaching some classic bluegrass tunes, discussing backup and playing in a band, and also introducing some theory by way of chord structure/progressions. We will talk about and work on some improv ideas as well. You can start preparing now by listening to as much bluegrass as you can. It will be helpful to you if you have some type of recording device to bring to class every day. You may want to also brush up on your reading skills although it’s not mandatory to be able to read music for this class. I usually will hand out printed music to those that find that beneficial.
See you this summer!
Muscle Shoals has always been a hotbed of talent. Gary Nichols is the next in line of the great Muscle Shoals songwriting performers. Even though he is only 35 years old Gary has been playing professionally for twenty years. The hotshot instrumentalist, singing wonder, and songwriting champ fits the classic definition of a “guitar slinger,” but he’s no novice. This is a role he was born to play. Gary has been playing guitar and singing since the age of 6. In 2003 he crossed paths with the Nashville music machine, signed with Mercury Records, and watched the label be reconstructed, reorganized and increasingly commercialized. He returned to the fertile southern sanctuary of northern Alabama Muscle Shoals, signed a songwriting deal with Fame Music, and resumed his busy session schedule. When the SteelDrivers came calling Gary threw his hat in the ring (and hasn’t looked back). And for this, the bluegrass world is thrilled!
Gary Nichols’ touring and recording schedules are mighty busy, but he still finds time to teach guitar and songwriting at Muscle Shoals High School, where he helps young people find their voices through words and music. Now for the first time at Augusta Heritage Center, Gary brings his stellar guitar playing, soulful voice, and original songs to Bluegrass Week.
Class Description Coming Soon
National Flatpicking Champion Tyler Grant is a versatile guitarist and multi-instrumentalist with a wide range of musical expertise. He is an internationally recognized guitar virtuoso with three solo albums and an impressive resume as a session musician, bandleader, and sideman. He has shared the stage with such luminaries as Tony Rice, Sam Bush, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Chris Thile, John Oates, Steve Kaufman, Roland White, David Grier, Leftover Salmon, the Yonder Mountain String Band, and the String Cheese Incident. Tyler’s powerful and original style of flatpicking is showcased on his CD release Up the Neck, and he calms things down with his latest solo release, Desert Songs-Toneful Guitar Music for Relaxation and Massage. His current band project, Grant Farm, is taking root and growing fast. Grant Farm released their self-titled debut CD in April of 2012 on Grant Central Records.
Tyler has performed at most major U.S. festivals, and at thousands of concerts worldwide. In addition to the National Flatpicking Championship at Winfield in 2008 and the Merlefest Doc Watson Guitar Championship in 2009, Tyler has also won the Rockygrass, Wayne Henderson, and New England flatpicking championships. He has been featured in Acoustic Guitar, Flatpicking Guitar, and Bluegrass Unlimited. Tyler has been a featured instructor at Sore Fingers (U.K.), the Julian Family Fiddle Camp, Kaufman Kamp, NimbleFingers (British Columbia), the Rockygrass Academy, the Grand Targhee Music Camp, the Peaceful Bend Flatpicking Guitar Camp, JamPlay.com, and St. Louis Flatpick. This is his eighth year as an instructor at Augusta’s Bluegrass Week.
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 intermediate class is intended to organize your approach to flatpicking and give you the tools to take your playing to the next level. We will review some of the basics and move right along into some new tunes and lead breaks. 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 take a close look at guitar technique and work on a few exercises to help your skills and improve tone, timing, speed, and dexterity. We will also have lots of FUN playing music together!
Coming into this class I expect you to have some experience playing in a group setting, such as a band or a jam, and to know at least a few standard flatpicking tunes and bluegrass songs. Please at least know “Old Joe Clark” in the key of G (capo 2) or A, as we will use that tune for my “Speed Training” workout. 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. 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.
Russ Barenberg is known for his melodic playing, beautiful tone, and memorable instrumental compositions. Long at the creative forefront of the acoustic music scene, Russ has collaborated with many of its finest artists, including Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Béla Fleck, Alison Krauss, Tony Trischka, Mark O’Connor, Jesse Winchester, and legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden. His playing has graced numerous film soundtracks, most notably Ken Burns’ documentary The Civil War and also the 2010 release Get Low starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray. Television audiences have gotten to know Russ over the past 19 years for his work on the acclaimed BBC music programs The Transatlantic Sessions. His most recent album, When At Last, adds to an “exquisitely original” body of work with more vibrant new melodies and rich ensemble interplay. The CD earned Russ a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance and was nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrumental Album of the Year award.
“This is new acoustic music of the highest order.” – Music Row
“Tremendously coherent and exquisitely original.” – Bluegrass Now
“A modern classic.” – listen!nashville.com
“Russ is a musician’s musician. For many years he made every film he played on for us
better. His talent and his heart always announce his presence.” – Ken Burns
“Acoustic guitar maestro.” – USA Today
Students taking this class should have a fair amount of experience using a flat pick to play bluegrass or related forms of string band music, including fiddle tunes, song solos, and back-up.
We’ll learn some great new tunes and solos, and we’ll focus on how to practice so that everything you play really starts to sound better. Perhaps you have learned a lot of tunes and techniques on the guitar but have reached a plateau in terms of making it all sound so good that people would drive miles out of their way to hear you play it. This workshop will give you the tools to break through those barriers and to improve not only your guitar playing, but also your overall musicianship.
We’ll work on improving tone and timing, getting rid of “choppiness” and playing with more sustain and fluidity, understanding pick direction, playing with pulse and dynamics, and learning melodies accurately and using them to generate strong solos.
I’d also like to give you opportunities in class to play tunes with each other and to give you some coaching on playing with other people.
Feel free to bring an audio recording device, though I prefer you use it only to capture specific tunes, passages and exercises rather than leave it running throughout the class. I can also email you mp3s after the workshop. Taking notes is another good way to remember things, so you might want to bring a notebook and pen.
Look forward to working with you!
Sharon Gilchrist has long made her home in the American acoustic music scene. You may have seen her playing mandolin or upright bass, singing a traditional ballad, or performing an original piece. Sharon has performed with Darol Anger, the Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet, Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, Scott Nygaard, the Kathy Kallick Band, and Uncle Earl. She earned a degree in Mandolin Performance from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, and has taught mandolin for nearly 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.
Dear Beginning Mandolin Players,
I am very excited to return to Augusta Bluegrass Week for my fifth year of mandolin instruction there. There’s nothing like being in the beautiful, rolling hills of West Virginia playing bluegrass music. This music just sounds and feels perfect there among all the trees and wide views of the mountains.
You may be wondering what’s in store for you if you sign up for Beginning Mandolin. You may also be wondering what constitutes “Beginning Mandolin.”
This class is for those who are in a category that might be considered “advanced beginner.” Now don’t let that scare you off! Here’s what this means. Hopefully by the time one invests in coming to a music camp, they have already purchased a decent mandolin, pick, strap, and tuner and are off and running with some of the basics. This includes being able to tune the instrument, having an idea of how to hold the instrument, and hopefully already being able to play a handful of tunes, and the chords and rhythm that accompany those tunes. If that’s the case, 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 we will cover in class:
Basic right and left hand posture and technique
Basic rhythm/accompaniment patterns
How to make a good sounding chop
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)
How and what to practice in the first year or two of playing to help you be able to play music confidently with other people as soon as possible.
Here are some songs and their accompaniment that would be great for you to know before you come to camp:
Cripple Creek – key of A
Old Joe Clark – key of A
Angeline the Baker – key of D
Mike Compton was born in Meridian, Mississippi (hometown to the legendary Jimmie Rodgers) in 1956. Inspired by Bill Monroe’s power and creativity, he took up the mandolin as a teenager and moved to Nashville in 1977. In the mid-1980s he helped found the Nashville Bluegrass Band, which quickly became one of the leading groups in bluegrass. Mike covered the globe with the NBB until a bus accident prompted him to leave the road for a year of introspection in New York’s Catskill Mountains.
Returning to Nashville, Compton joined with the legendary John Hartford, recording and touring with the Hartford String Band until Hartford’s death in 2001. Mike rejoined the Nashville Bluegrass Band in 2000. At the same time, he began recording, performing, and teaching with guitarist David Grier; with renowned mandolinists David Grisman and Mike Marshall; and with up-and-coming mandolinist David Long. Producer T-Bone Burnette used Mike as a Soggy Bottom Boy on the Grammy-winning soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? and on the follow-up Down From The Mountain soundtrack and concert tours, and also on the Cold Mountain soundtrack and tours.
Today Mike stays very busy with solo tours, duet performances with Grier and others, and appearances with the Nashville Bluegrass Band; instructional programs like the Mandolin Symposium in Santa Cruz, California, and the International Bluegrass Music Museum’s Monroe Mandolin Camp; and recording sessions with bluegrass legends such as Ralph Stanley and country stars like Faith Hill. In the words of Mandolin Magazine, Mike Compton is “one of the modern masters of bluegrass mandolin…one of the most recognizable and respected mandolin voices anywhere…a certified mandolin icon.”
This mandolin class is geared towards the intermediate skill level. Students must:
1) Be able to 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 some fiddle music from the southeastern states of the US.
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 stops
5) Some techniques demonstrated in material introduced, including downstrokes, slides, and tremolo
6) Simple hemiolas
7) 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.
Jesse Cobb is a sought-after mandolinist known for his strong rhythmic presence and lyrical leads. Jesse has toured extensively in the US and Europe, taught at major festivals and camps, and as a member of The Infamous Stringdusters has won awards and accolades from the bluegrass and Americana communities, including a Grammy nomination for the band in 2011. Jesse also performs in The Cobb Brothers Duo with fiddler Shad Cobb, and works as a freelance musician as well. You can read more on his website below.
This year’s advanced mandolin class at Augusta is going to focus on my approach to the mandolin. Topics covered will be basic music theory, rhythm and chord voicings, improvising and embellishing fiddle tunes, the importance of melody, and ear training to pick out simple melodies.
All students should have the ability to play full “chop chords,” basic knowledge of scales, a good base of songs and tunes, and a desire to learn and apply what is taught. I highly encourage students to bring a recording device, paper and pen, a variety of picks, and a mandolin! (Duh.) I do a lot of teaching by ear and memory but will have some handouts as well.
Remember, this is your chance to ask whatever you want to know. I will try my best to help answer all questions as well as give as much one-on-one instruction as possible. I look forward to seeing you all up in the hills.
Kathy Kallick has been leading bluegrass bands since 1975. She continues to evolve as one of the music’s most highly regarded composers, vocalists, and guitar players, with 18 albums to her credit (which include over 100 of her original songs). Kathy earned a Grammy and two IBMA awards for her part on True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe, and was awarded a Lifetime Membership by the California Bluegrass Association. She has taught songwriting in many music programs, including the Rockygrass Academy, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, the California Bluegrass Association Music Camp, the California Coast Music Camp, British Columbia’s NimbleFingers, and England’s Sore Fingers, as well as Augusta in the past.
In this class, we’ll share songs we’ve already written, explore ways to access “the muse,” and come away with the start of a few new songs, or a finished song, or many new songs! Please bring your song scraps and bits, half-baked attempts, and an open mind. The class will include songwriting “prompts” to jump-start new songs, lots of handouts and examples, and an ongoing dialogue about the ways to make songs universal while writing from your heart. Recording devices are welcome.
Laurie Lewis has been singing and playing bluegrass, old-time, country, and traditional jazz for a really long time. A dedicated teacher as well as a performer, she ran Augusta’s Bluegrass Week for ten years, and was the coordinator of Bluegrass On The Beach for over a dozen years. She has taught at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, California Bluegrass Association Music Camp, British Columbia Bluegrass Week, Summer Acoustic Music Week, Telluride Academy, Rocky Grass Academy, Wintergrass Vocal Intensive and many other programs. When not touring, she teaches and produces recordings. Recently, she produced the critically acclaimed Bittersweet, by traditional music legend Alice Gerrard. Laurie was voted Female Vocalist of the Year twice by the International Bluegrass Music Association, has been nominated for numerous Grammys, and won one for her singing on True Life Blues: the Songs of Bill Monroe.
Tom Rozum has been playing bluegrass, country, and swing music professionally for nearly four decades. Since 1986, he has performed with Laurie Lewis in over 20 countries, with multiple appearances on A Prairie Home Companion and on the Grand Ole Opry. Tom has recorded three duet CDs with Laurie (one was nominated for a Grammy) and has played and sung on just about all of her other recordings.
Tom’s also a veteran teacher, having been on the teaching staff of Bluegrass at the Beach, the Rockygrass Academy, the Augusta Heritage Workshops, the Telluride Bluegrass Academy, the California Coast Music Camp, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, the California Bluegrass Association Music Camp, Summer Acoustic Music Week, the Swannanoa Gathering, the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop, and others.
Singing harmony is probably one of the most rewarding things one can do, and it takes no other prop than one’s voice. In this class we’ll examine what makes bluegrass singing so special and what differentiates it from other singing styles. We’ll be explaining and practicing the basic skills that make a good harmony singer—breathing, tone production, phrasing, blending, and finding the right key for your voice. We will explore duet, trio, and quartet harmony singing using the greats of bluegrass as examples and inspiration: the Stanley Brothers, the Osborne Brothers with Red Allen, Flatt and Scruggs, and, of course, Bill Monroe. What IS it that makes that chill run down your spine when the Stanleys sing? We will listen to and deconstruct the various harmony parts, and put them back together as a group. We’ll also break up into smaller groups so that everyone gets the chance to hear themselves blend and phrase together in a small ensemble. Come with plenty of water to drink, a recording device, ears ready to listen, and a voice ready to sing.
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.