Augusta Mini-Courses add to students’ daily learning experiences and allow busy local residents to be part of the Augusta experience. You DO NOT need to be enrolled as a full-time Augusta student to sign up for Mini-Courses. (You DO need to be a full-time student to stay on-campus.) Check out the wide array of subjects, listed by week, from which to choose! A real bargain, Mini-Courses cost only $60 for four evenings of instruction by world-class artists. Some Mini-Courses may require a small materials fee (which is paid to the instructor in the first class).
All summer Evening Mini-Courses meet Monday–Thursday evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:15 pm unless otherwise noted.
Firefighters have a reputation for being good cooks and Johnny Navarre is no exception. He started to learn to cook from “the old folks” and has finely tuned his skills at the fire station. His impromptu cooking sessions at Augusta inevitably led to this class.
As in many South Louisiana households, Patrick learned to cook at an early age by observing his parents and grandparents at family get-togethers, which always seemed to congregate in or around the kitchen. Patrick enjoys cooking for family and friends, curing homemade bacon and sausages, and smoking a variety of meats in his smokehouse. He is looking forward to teaming up and creating some tasty dishes with Johnny Navarre during this year’s Cajun & Creole Week and Classic Country Week.
Jambalaya? Red beans and rice? These are just a sampling of what will be on the menu when Johnny Navarre & Patrick Fuselier show their class how Cajun men cook. Anyone is welcome to participate, not just men!
Jesse Lége is the real deal. Growing up in a rural, pre-electricity home in Gueydan, Louisiana, Jesse spoke Cajun French and learned music from relatives, neighbors, and the family’s much-loved battery-powered radio. Today he is one of the most admired Cajun accordionists and vocalists in the world. He has won numerous CFMA (Cajun French Music Association) awards: Traditional Band of the Year, Accordion Player of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Band of the Year, and Song of the Year. In 1998 he was inducted into the Cajun Music Hall of Fame.
Class Description Coming Soon
Christy Leichty and Jim Phillips are artists and educators who love to dance to Cajun and Creole music. They loved it so much that even before they moved to Louisiana to help rebuild and work in education after the 2005 hurricanes, they bought an old Texaco distribution center, moved it to a secret location, and created the South’s premiere underground dancehall and honky-tonk called The Whirlybird. There, legendary dance parties and music events erupt spontaneously. They have thrown dance parties and showcased Lousiana dance joie de vivre at Augusta, Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp, Louisiana Folk Roots Dewey Balfa Camp, and Festivals Acadians et Creole.
Look’n for some fun? Come to the dance party mini-course with Christy Leichty and Jim Phillips, who have come all the way from Opelousas, LA, to dance on one of their favorite dance floors – the Augusta dance pavilion. Their approach to getting you to feel comfortable with Cajun and Creole two-stepping and waltzing is to create a social context for dance fun.
Debbi Kauffmann was lucky to be born into a musical family outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She began singing and playing guitar as a teen and was introduced to both Irish and country music in her early adult years. After moving to the Baltimore area, Debbi had the opportunity to sing and play with great bluegrass musicians at the Sandpiper Inn and Arcadia Bluegrass festival. Later, she began singing with old-time musicians in York County, Pennsylvania, and at many festivals in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Debbi has attended Irish, Old-Time, Vocal, and Classic Country weeks at Augusta. She has studied harmony singing with Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz, and has attended several other harmony workshops. Debbi has also greatly benefited from individual vocal instruction with Dede Wyland. In 2001 she began singing professionally with mandolinist Henry Koretzky in the duo Rootbound, recording in 2004. Debbi has also had the honor of joining Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz for several performances. She has been a member of two all-female string bands and two bluegrass bands, singing lead and harmony, playing guitar and bass. Debbi has been singing lead and harmony with teaching partner Tom Cook for the past few years. Southern harmony is what drew Debbi to this music and has always been at the heart of her love for the music.
Participants who can can carry a tune and would like to learn Southern harmony singing will enjoy this mini-course. No knowledge of music theory is needed. The instructors will demonstrate the basics and guide participants in learning, by ear, to sing both two-part and three-part harmony. The class will find the close harmonies of great early country, classic bluegrass, and gospel songs, creating the sound that touches hearts and souls.
Courtney Granger was born in Eunice, Louisiana. A master fiddler and extraordinarily strong singer, Courtney hails from the Balfa family lineage, which is evident in his powerful vocals and heavily Balfa-influenced fiddling. Courtney produced his own solo CD in the mid-’90s, which brought him praise from the Cajun music scene and several CFMA awards. In 1999, he joined Balfa Toujours on bass and fiddle, playing alongside the great Kevin Wimmer. Courtney’s endless repertoire of both Cajun and classic country tunes, as well his impeccable, thoughtful fiddling and soulful singing, has made him one of the most sought-after Cajun fiddlers in the world, playing with legends Jason Frey, Dirk Powell, and Horace Trahan. Courtney has been a member of The Pine Leaf Boys since 2008. He released a solo country album in 2016, entitled Beneath Still Waters.
Throughout his years of teaching Cajun fiddle, Courtney Granger has learned that everyone wants to learn tunes, which is wonderful, but without the knowledge of chords and the basic rhythm and groove of the songs, all they have are notes. This mini-course will take its time to cover the basic chords on the fiddle, easy transitions between chords, and most importantly, the rhythm. All of this can be incorporated in every tune participants play, and they will be able to sit in on any jam session and back up any accordion or fiddle player. Courtney will teach participants what the backbone of Cajun music is.
Born in Scott, Louisiana, Zachary Fuselier was brought up surrounded by Cajun French when visiting with his great-grandparents after school and listening to Cajun music as much as he could. He attended the Lafayette Parish French Immersion Program from kindergarten through eighth grade, and continued taking French courses at Lafayette High School until graduation. Zach is currently taking French courses at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he is majoring in biology and plans to apply for a dual degree in French. Learning how to play fiddle with numerous legends in Cajun music including Mitch Reed, Milton Vanicor, Don Montoucet, D. L. Menard, and Freddie Hanks exposed Zach to the Cajun French dialect of South Louisiana and gave him countless opportunities to learn and practice it. He is a founding member of the Huval-Fuselier Cajun Band as well as Kegan Navarre and Louisiana Traditions.
Want to increase your ability to speak French? Want a better understanding of the songs that you are singing or hearing? Need help with pronunciation? This class is for those who want to expand their knowledge of the French language and the variations that are found in Cajun French. Participants should have some basic comprehension of French.
Mary Battiata is a performing songwriter and bandleader whose lyrics have been praised for their interest in the natural world. She tours solo and with her band, Little Pink, from New York to Texas, and has taught creative writing to graduate students of photojournalism at the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, DC. She currently teaches visual art and creative writing to children with learning differences at the Lab School of Washington and works as a teaching naturalist in Arlington County, VA. Her latest CD of original songs, The Heart, Regardless, was released earlier this year.
From Hank Williams to Harlan Howard, from Dolly Parton to Johnny Cash, country music’s greatest songwriters and performers gave us songs that drew on their experiences of country life and the natural world. You can, too! This course uses those songs and the spectacular beauty of the Augusta campus to help participants access their own songwriting imaginations. Each night, the class will meet in a scenic spot on the Augusta campus to learn and sing classic country songs with memorable lyrics drawn from nature. After we sing, students will have a chance to do a short but illuminating (and relaxing) writing exercise – one that they will be able to use later in their own songwriting or journaling. (For example: Close your eyes and make a list of five things – smells, sounds, tastes, sensations or words – that you remember about a favorite family road-trip as a child.) This class is a great chance to learn some new old songs, and do some fly-fishing in your songwriting mind.
Chef Derrick Helzer has been in Elkins since 2004, but his love and passion for cooking started as a young boy who was always in the kitchen with his mother. After working at numerous resorts and restaurants, his skills were polished as a Chef at The Greenbrier, working and studying under CMC Peter Timmons. He has been catering, teaching culinary classes as an adjunct faculty member at Davis and Elkins College, and promoting his barbecue business for the past several years. He was honored to be included in the Top Chefs of West Virginia cookbook, and is always excited to teach culinary classes from any genre or region.
This barbecue class will prepare participants for summer and fall cookouts and parties. Chef Derrick will teach participants how to plan for an event, how to purchase the food, knife skills, dressing up the table, and numerous barbecue cooking techniques ranging from the charcoal grill to the gas grill. Throughout the week participants will be cooking and tasting grilled items ranging from appetizers to desserts, all from the barbecue. Some previous cooking skills experiences is recommended but not required. Chef Derrick will be happy to teach to all levels.
Ages 12 & up. Materials: $35, payable to Augusta at time of registration.
Revered as a master player, teacher, custom harmonica pioneer, researcher, and historian, Joe Filisko is arguably the world’s foremost authority on many aspects of the diatonic harmonica and a key figure in today’s harmonica scene. Over the past 20 years he has had a tremendous influence on developments in the culture of the instrument. His much sought after custom harps are used by a remarkable roster of players and are prized for their superb response and tonal qualities by a client list that includes a large proportion of the world’s diatonic harmonica elite. Since the early 1990s, his groundbreaking work in improving the playability of the instrument has directly affected the production of all major harmonica manufacturers. In 2011 Joe Filisko entered into a close cooperation with Hohner as Head of Certification Process for the company’s new Affiliated Customizer Program, a bold move to guarantee standards for purchasers of custom harmonicas which is without precedent in the harmonica industry. He also made important design contributions to the latest model of Hohner’s Marine Band range, the Thunderbird, which bears his signature and has been cited as the finest low key harmonica available on the market today.
Fueled by his desire to preserve historical harmonica styles from extinction, Joe Filisko has amassed not only an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire gamut of traditional harmonica techniques, but has mastered them to an extent unrivaled among contemporary players. His passion for both the well-known and the unsung heroes of the 10-hole diatonic has made him a riveting performer in his own right, with a fluid command of a wide range of styles and possibly the most powerful hand effects ever heard. A master of tone and complex, nuanced tongue block rhythms, he has for many years shared his knowledge with students on five continents and so contributed enormously to the widespread understanding of traditional harmonica styles among a new generation of players.
In recent years, Joe’s reputation as a performer and recording artist has been catching up with his legendary status as a customizer and teacher. Since he first hooked up with guitarist/vocalist Eric Noden in 2003, the duo has released three highly regarded CDs, and has performed at concerts and festivals around the globe. Reflecting their deep affinity with the tradition, their exciting explorations of seminal pre-war styles have won them an enthusiastic international audience and cemented their reputation as one of today’s premier acoustic country blues acts. Joe Filisko was awarded “Harmonica Player of the Year 2001? by the SPAH organization in the US and performed at the induction of Grand Ol’ Opry star Deford Bailey into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Documentaries that feature Mr. Filisko include Harmonica Summit, Imagination is Limitless, In the Reeds, Tin Sandwich, and Pocketful of Soul. A native of Joliet, Illinois, Joe lives in the shadow of Chicago, the Windy City, and performs there regularly as well as teaching popular weekly classes at the city’s Old Town School of Folk Music.
Though his work as a scholar and a craftsman has rightly earned him a place in the harmonica pantheon, it is as a player that he truly shines. Joe Filisko coaxes sounds from the harmonica which few before him have ever created and which open up new perspectives for countless players and lovers of this remarkable little instrument.
Class description coming soon!
Amy and David discovered their passion for swing dancing in Southern California in the early 2000s, Amy under the tutelage of Erin Stevens of Pasadena, and David under the Bobbysox Brigade of Fullerton. Now based in Morgantown, WV, they teach community classes in Lindy Hop, Charleston, Collegiate Shag, Balboa, and Blues through the WVU Swing Dance Club and Morgantown Swing. Their teaching style emphasizes connecting with the music, developing comfortable partnerships, and communicating clearly as the foundation for every good social dance.
Amy and David will walk and dance participants through the fundamentals of partnered Lindy Hop, a joyful swing era dance that emerged from American dance halls during the Great Depression. Lindy Hop is a testament to the high-spirited enthusiasm of swing and blues music lovers; the dance form comes from the music, and if you’re not smiling while you do it, you may just be doing it wrong. In this mini-series, Amy and David will help participants connect with the music and their partners, and show them how to invent new moves just as the jazz musician invents new riffs. This series will be accessible to beginner dancers as well as the experienced, and will focus on drawing inspiration from the music and from each other. Courses similar to these have received high praise from dancers from Amy and David’s home scene, so be prepared to have a good time!
Thomas Bryan Eaton is the most fun, patient, organized yet relaxed teacher you will ever come across. He currently lives in the Nashville area where he is in demand as a studio musician. He writes and performs his own songs in solo performances and tours with Miss Tess and The Talkbacks. You may have heard the old saying that someone is “eat up with music”? Well, that is Thomas. He can stay up all night playing steel guitar, slide guitar, and singing whatever the jam or performance calls for. He knows all the old classic country songs and sings them with feeling that belies his young years. A young student wrote last year, “This man is a phenomenal musician, teacher, and human. He made the hardest instrument there seem not so daunting.” Believe it.
This class will seek to bridge blues and swing music using the 12-bar blues form as a vehicle. The class will be mostly dealing with chords and will start with some basic theory to help participants through. Beginning with the simplest 12-bar blues, participants will then start adding / changing chords to the progression and discussing why these different chords work. Listening to and playing examples along the way, participants will discover jazz and swing chord progressions popping up in the 12-bar blues all over the place! If time permits, the class will get into more advanced concepts of reharmonization. There’s so much that can be done!
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.
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.
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.
Materials: $15, payable to workshop leader.
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.”
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.
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 www.mashitmusic.com.
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.
Rina Rossi grew up playing bass in orchestra and meanwhile listening to traditional music on Michigan public radio with her parents who met folk dancing in the 1970s. She left Michigan to attend college in Minnesota, met some members of the St. Paul-based Wild Goose Chase Cloggers, and started dancing with the group shortly after graduating in 2005. Rina broke her shoes in dancing with the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers, a precision clogging team founded in 1979 when a midwest tour by the Green Grass Cloggers inspired some dancers in St. Paul, Minnesota, to get their own clogging group going. About the same time, she started learning fiddle from a local old-time fiddler, took up the bass again, and learned to call square dances from great callers coming through Minnesota such as Phil Jamison, Dot Kent, Bob Dalsemer, Sue Hulsether, and many more. Currently Rina fiddles with the Cloggers, calls regularly at the Monday Night Square Dance in Minneapolis, and plays bass with the Bootlicker Stringband.
Tired of simply tapping your toes? Ready to take it to the next level? Join Rina for an introduction to basic flatfooting steps and get some tips on how to put them together into interesting rhythms that compliment your favorite old-time tunes. Participants will learn steps like the Tennessee walking step, practice dancing on and off of the beat, and practice putting rhythms together in their own way. Next time you hear a hot band, you’ll be ready to bust down!
Clarke Wyatt plays two- and three-finger old-time banjo. His deep musical knowledge helps empower students with fretboard comprehension and melodic expression. Clarke says, “Music is a fundamental path to understanding – through practice, contemplation, and play, sharing music with everyone is the thing that makes life fun and easy.”
This course will focus on two and three finger up-stroke techniques. Participants will learn thumb lead and index lead two finger styles, and then practice switching fluidly between the two. After learning some tunes in two finger, participants will begin using the third finger and discover what a wonderful rhythmic ‘get out of jail card’ it can be. This is a melody-centric workshop for anybody that plays the banjo in any style. It would be great if participants already know a few fiddle tunes, but all levels are welcome.
Gerry Milnes has collected old-time music in West Virginia for the last 45 years. He also plays old-time music, and has for the last sixty years. He accompanied and presented some of West Virginia’s best known old-time musicians, like Melvin Wine and Ernie Carpenter, to music events throughout the country. He performed with the old-time stringband, Gandydancer, and recorded two CDs with the group. His most recent recording, Cherry River Line, is with his son Jesse and daughter-in-law, Emily Miller. While folk arts coordinator at the Augusta Heritage Center he produced 20 recordings of old-time music on the Augusta label. As a filmmaker, he produced 16 films concerning West Virginia folklife, including Signs, Cures and Witchery, which earned him the title of West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year in 2007. Other more recent music awards include the Robert C. Byrd Fiddling Award, The Footbridge Award, the Worley Gardner Award, the West Virginia Governor’s Arts Award and the Vandalia Award (West Virginia’s top folklife honor). His musicianship has brought him top honors on fiddle and banjo at the West Virginia State Folk Festival, the Ed Haley Festival, the Vandalia Gathering, Mountaineer Week at West Virginia University, and at the Appalachian Stringband Music Festival at Clifftop.
Before retiring from Augusta after 25 years, Gerry instigated the Mountain Dance Trail which is still coordinated by the Augusta Heritage Center. He oversaw the West Virginia Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program for 22 years. His roughly 12,000 still images, 700 audio field recordings, and 400 digital video tapes are housed in the Augusta Collection, the Center’s archive that Gerry set up in 1995. He currently serves on the Board of the West Virginia Humanities Council and helped with the formation of the Mountain Music Trail of which Augusta is a member. Gerry’s writing about West Virginia music and folklife has appeared in Goldenseal magazine, the Old-Time Herald, West Virginia History, and Appalachian Journal. His books are published by Alfred Knopf, August House, University Press of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee Press.
Still an active musician, having performed widely across the country, he currently fiddles for square dances throughout the state. His repertoire of regional fiddle and banjo tunes is extensive, and West Virginia folksongs and ballads have been a long-standing interest. Other current interests are in regional folk architecture, obscure railroad songs and tunes, and another writing project dealing with the folk music, folk artists and folk culture of the state.
This class will present numerous old-time songs from Gerry Milnes, gathered from traditional singers in West Virginia. To give the songs context and meaning, Gerry will exhibit photographs and field recordings of singers from whom he has learned. From children’s ditties to Child ballads, railroad songs to humorous folksongs, the class will be an overview of traditional song in the Mountain State with many examples made available to participants to learn and sing.
John Lilly is an award-winning songwriter and performer from Charleston, West Virginia. Formerly a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, a member of the Green Grass Cloggers dance team, and a member of the band Ralph Blizard and the New Southern Ramblers, John served as editor of West Virginia’s GOLDENSEAL magazine for 18 years. He recently retired in order to pursue music fulltime. John plays across the country with the acclaimed Blue Yonder band and also performs solo. He recently completed an ambitious recording of original state songs.