Old-Time Week

Old-Time Week

August 6 – 11, 2017


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

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 GlancePreliminary Events Schedule | Register Online

2017 Old-Time Week Podcast:  


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Old-Time Week Coordinator – Joe ‘joebass’ Dejarnette

Joe “joebass” Dejarnette

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

Master Artist – Vesta Johnson

Vesta Johnson

Vesta Johnson describes fiddling as “excellent therapy.” A fourth-generation musician, Mrs. Johnson is a member and co-founder of the Missouri Fiddlers and Country Music Association. “I started playing fiddle at age seven. I learned from my mother at home, and I learned from my dad and other fiddlers from the area. My dad once handed me the fiddle when he was playing at a house party and told me to play a couple of tunes, which I did. I don’t remember ever being asked again.”

According to her many students and other fellow-fiddlers, Vesta Johnson’s fiddling is known for its infectious rhythm. Her sense of “good time” has helped to establish her deserved reputation as a talented dance tune player.

Although her mother, sister, and daughter also played the fiddle, women fiddlers of Mrs. Johnson’s generation are relatively rare. During her decades as an instructor in her home and at the Bethel Fiddle Camp, Mrs. Johnson has worked to provide opportunities for all young fiddlers to ensure the continuation of the tradition. “We just never had the opportunities the men had,” Mrs. Johnson told Missouri Folk Arts Program staff member Julie Youmans in 1988. “I wish I had had a fiddle camp like this to help me. Women didn’t just go up and play with strangers like they are all doing here, and I feel uncomfortable about breaking in on a jam session to play. Not a woman’s proper behavior.”

In 2006, Mrs. Johnson reminisced about her long career as a fiddler. “I even played fiddle contests—even then [1970s and 1980s] women did not play fiddle contests really—it was always men, the judges were men too. But I made myself get up and do it. There were some tongues wagging, and looks, too. It wasn’t always easy but I saw no reason why women couldn’t do it.”

Over the years, Mrs. Johnson has taught hundreds of fiddlers in both formal and informal lessons. During a site visit at Mrs. Johnson’s home in Kirkwood, Julie Youmans observed, “Vesta is remarkable in her seemingly never-ending pool of fiddle students that keep coming out of the woodwork to ask her for help. She repeats that she never felt she was a teacher, yet she obviously does it well. Last year at the Bethel Fiddle Camp, she was touted among the students as one of the better, if not the best, of the teachers there. She makes them play a lot, rather than taking too much time demonstrating, and she is very organized in how to go about it.”

Mrs. Johnson is known for her vast repertoire of Missouri fiddling tunes, particularly dances tunes, including hoe-downs, hornpipes, two steps, waltzes, and schottisches. Apprentice Megan Green wrote in 2006, “I’ve learned a lot of tunes from Vesta but I have much more to learn…She’s just a wonderful fiddler and person too. She knows so many tunes I want to learn and she also has the history and perspective of many years. She knew and played with a lot of the great fiddlers from Missouri and she tells me about them too and what she learned from them throughout the years.” Ms. Green added, “I’ll keep on learning from Vesta as long as she’ll have me.”

Now in her 90s, Mrs. Johnson regularly appears at local, regional, and national events. She continues to participate in an apprenticeship program with new apprentices, maintains an active teaching schedule, plays at monthly jam sessions and carries on her musical traditions both within her family and within the wider communities to which she belongs.

Guest Lecturer – Gerry Milnes

Gerry Milnes

Gerry Milnes has collected old-time music in West Virginia for the last 45 years and has played the music 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 string band, 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. As the 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 highest 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.

Gerry retired from Augusta after 25 years. During his time there, he established 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.

Gerry is an active musician who has 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 pursuit. 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.

Banjo (Beg.) – Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson grew up in a family of old-time musicians in southwestern Virginia, tagging along to fiddlers’ conventions and square dances throughout his childhood. After he began playing old-time music as a teenager, Ben was awarded a Watson Fellowship to spend a year immersed in traditional music communities in Ireland and West Africa, studying the historic heritage of the fiddle-banjo duet. A passionate educator, Ben works as a naturalist, elementary school science instructor, and traditional music teacher. He has taught at the John C. Campbell Folk School, the Swannanoa Gathering, Warren Wilson College, and the Junior Appalachian Musicians program. He also loves to dance and is a square dance caller and performer with the Green Grass Cloggers.

Banjo (Beg.)

This class for banjo beginners will build the foundations of clawhammer banjo layer by layer. The week will be devoted to securely laying the cornerstones of strong banjo playing: solid rhythm, clear tone, learning melodies by ear, and listening to other musicians. Though the main focus won’t be on learning repertoire, along the way participants will study a small set of common old-time tunes that each offer an important musical lesson. The class will take time to listen to recordings and watch archival videos that give context and story to the tunes participants are learning. Most importantly, the class will build a warm and welcoming musical community that offers an encouraging environment for learning, never forgetting that music is meant to be played! Each day, the class will play games and even do some dancing to unlock the rhythm that already resides in participants’ own bodies. A recording device, an electronic tuner, and an open mind are all useful tools to bring to this class.

Banjo (Int.) – Anna Roberts-Gevalt

Anna Roberts-Gevalt

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

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

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

Banjo (Int.)

The banjo is a delightfully joyful instrument to play! This class will put an emphasis on developing the skills and techniques needed to play banjo in jam sessions, string bands, and duets with fiddle-playing friends, including tuning skills, holding a steady rhythm for fiddlers, learning tunes by ear during jam sessions, starting with the basics of a tune and adding embelishment, accompanying different fiddlers differently, and being the glue that keeps a jam session together.
The class will also survey some specific tunings and tunes that Anna has enjoyed playing over the years as a way to expand participants’ knowledge of the instrument, both in the left hand, and exploring the clawhammer style with the right hand, beyond the basic “bum-ditty.”
Finally, participants will explore a bit into the world of the solo banjo tradition in the mountains, try an alternate tuning and a song or two, and listen to archival recordings of some of Anna’s favorite banjo players from Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The banjo is a beautifully intuitive instrument, with lots of possibilities for individual exploration and expression. Anna hopes to leave participants with many new tools to help them find their own voices on the banjo!

Banjo (Adv.) – Travis Stuart

Travis Stuart

Travis began playing the banjo as a young teen in Haywood County, North Carolina. A respected banjo player and multi-instrumentalists known for his rich style and accompaniment, Travis has toured the US and internationally with the Stuart Brothers, Riley Baugus, Dirk Powell Band, Martha Scanlon, Jim and Jenny and the Pinetops, Reeltime Travelers, and step dancer Ira Bernstein. Along with his brother Trevor, Travis learned from old-time masters, The Smathers family, Oscar “Red” Wilson, Snuff Jenkins, Byard Ray, and Tommy Hunter. Travis Currently teaches in the old-time music program at ETSU and has led the Haywood County JAM for 15 years. He has been featured on many recordings as well as several with the Stuart Brothers.

Banjo (Adv.)

This class will explore alternative tunings used in solo banjo playing from some of the late banjo masters of the Appalachians. Using clawhammer, up picking , 2 and 3 finger styles, the class will cover playing with a fiddler, regional styles within the Appalachians, chord structures for playing waltzes, and accompaniment for songs. The class will also cover jam sessions, general tips for getting good tone, and some basic music theory for exploring the banjo neck. Participants will find expression in the music with a focus on listening. They will explore possibilities in variations of tunes, maintaining rhythmic integrity rather than focusing on speed and technical display.

Bass (All Levels) – Nokosee Fields

Nokosee Fields

Nokosee Fields was born and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma. From a young age, Nokosee has been playing orchestral music. Throughout school, Nokosee attended a variety of camps, workshops, and master classes, as well as having a number of knowledgeable mentors to guide him through his musical development. His musical endeavors include Renaissance choral music, operatic solo repertoire, historical Baroque performance, honky-tonk, country, bluegrass, and old-time. Nokosee has toured nationally and internationally as well as on NPR’s Mountain Stage. He has worked at many youth camps and recently has been teaching fiddle music throughout Indigenous villages in the interior of Alaska through a youth and community program called Dancing with the Spirit. Nokosee’s diverse experience in music gives him a unique approach to listening and creating music. He loves dancing, cooking for friends and family, and playing music all night long.

Bass (All Levels)

Nokosee aims to create a relaxed and open learning environment in order to better understand participants’ musical strengths and weaknesses. He likes to work with different abstract and predictable exercises designed for participants to take away the musical tools necessary to continue teaching themselves outside of the learning environment. These exercises will cover the fundamentals needed to have a more comprehensive knowledge of timing, tone, technique, and phrasing. The class will focus on tunes, songs, and musical structures (waltzes, rags, crooked tunes). Participants will learn to read chord structures from the guitar and strengthen their aural skills. The class will work through as many keys as possible and explore walking bass lines. Participants should bring a pen or pencil, something to write on, a tuner, and an audio or recording device if possible.

Fiddle (Beg.) – A.J. Srubas

AJ Srubas

AJ Srubas is originally from Green Bay, WI, where he grew up playing Irish music in a family band. After graduating high school, he went to study fiddle in Ireland for a few months. Upon returning home, he was introduced to old-time music when his older brother started to learn claw hammer banjo. Before he knew it, he was completely hooked. AJ now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has been playing old-time music for the last decade. He plays old-time fiddle in the Bootlicker Stringband and Cajun fiddle and pedal steel guitar in the New Riverside Ramblers. When not playing music, he is an apprenticing violin bow maker and organizer for the Monday Night Square Dance and other Minnesota festivals. AJ teaches private lessons and has taught at the Central Rockies Old-Time Music Association’s summer workshops.

Fiddle (Beg.)

This class will focus on basic tone and technique, bowing ideas, and repertoire. There will be some visual aids, but the majority of the material will be taught by ear rather than notation or tab. Participants may use audio or video recording devices. Some basic experience (i.e. being able to tune the instrument, play one or two songs, and knowing the note names of the open strings) and some familiarity with old-time music is ideal.

CLASS CLOSED / FULL – Fiddle (Int.) – Rachel Eddy

Rachel Eddy

Rachel Eddy was born and raised in rural West Virginia near Morgantown, where her father got her started playing fiddle as a little girl. Pretty soon she realized that it was more fun making old-time string band music than just about anything else, which she has done pretty much full time since. Rachel performs on fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and bass, as well as singing and telling stories throughout the eastern US and Europe. She has recently relocated back to West Virginia after living the last 5 years in Stockholm, during which time she invigorated the Swedish old-time scene, inspiring dozens of people with Appalachian music and dance. Rachel has taught fiddle, banjo, and guitar at Augusta; Sore Fingers Summer school in the UK; and various weekend workshops from the hills of West Virginia to Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, London, and Wales. From the connection of working with a dedicated student or performing solo in front of small audiences to the collective charge of leading large jam sessions or tight ensembles in front of thousands of festival goers, Rachel’s love for traditional music comes from the heart! Over the years, she has had the honor of sharing stages, workshops, and recording sessions with the likes of Tim O’Brien, Erynn Marshall, Dirk Powell, Adam Hurt, Rayna Gellert, Russ Barenberg, Bruce Molsky, Mark Schatz, and a month-long tour in Germany with the g’earls from Uncle Earl. She has four full length albums: The Morgantown Rounders (2006), Hand on the Plow (2008 solo), Chilly Winds (2010 duo with Kristian Herner) and Nothin’ But Corn (2014 solo). Rachel’s most recent news is that she’s teaching Appalachian music and dance at West Virginia University and has just been picked up on their label.

Fiddle (Int.)

This fiddle workshop will focus primarily on how to help your fiddling sound better and more driving. It will be geared toward learning how to use bow pulses, bowing phrases, and note combinations to give fiddle tunes a shape. In learning these things, participants will also explore ways to be more consistent players, and how important that is in terms of leadership in jams. This will not be a repertoire heavy class. Instead, participants will work hard on a handful of tunes that utilize certain helpful techniques, learning them very well by the end of the week. There will be lots of playing time, as fingers on strings is the best way for participants to take home what they learn!

Fiddle (Adv.) – Betse Ellis

Betse Ellis

Betse Ellis is an Ozark fiddle scholar and celebrant. Her early music study was in classical violin, then later experimental music, rock, and finally the discovery of old-time music in the mid-1990s. With the help of great mentors, she found her true calling and attended Augusta Heritage Center Old-Time Week for three years in the late ’90s, studying with Suzy Thompson, Brad Leftwich, and Art Stamper. Betse followed up her study with Stamper by visiting him at his home, and on a few occasions has collaborated with Suzy Thompson. Her association with Brad Leftwich includes a shared friendship with “The Whittling Fiddler of Arkansas”, centenarian Violet Hensley. Betse has spent countless hours with Violet, learning much of her repertoire, and the two have performed together numerous times. Violet is an enduring inspiration and influence, and Betse teaches students about Violet’s style in her workshops.

Betse’s teaching experience includes single-session and residency camps all over the country and internationally for the past fifteen years: Fiddle Tunes at Centrum, Targhee Music Camp, Montana Fiddle Camp, Musique Acoustique (Belgium), Folk Alliance International Music Camp, Walnut Valley Music Festival (Winfield), The Old Town School of Folk Music, and more. She excels at helping students comprehend various bowing approaches and patterns, as well as deepening a player’s connection with the bow. Fingerboard knowledge, self-empowerment, and ergonomics, as well as practical theory and tone coloring are other aspects of her teaching ideology.

Besides her love of instruction, Betse has been a devoted performer and recording artist for more than 30 years. She was a founder of The Wilders, a band that toured internationally for many years. Her latest album is from her duo with Clarke Wyatt, Betse & Clarke, entitled River Still Rise. The two completed a tour of Ireland in the fall of 2016, performing at festivals, venues, and enjoying the sweet nectar of pure Guinness. http://fiddlebetse.com http://betseandclarke.com

Fiddle – (Adv.)

According to Betse Ellis, “Every fiddle tune is a lovely little puzzle that opens up into an expressive landscape for us to explore.” Participants in this class will learn wonderful tunes from the Ozarks and other old-time fiddle heroes in an advanced class geared to expand musicianship and technique. The class will explore how the elements of bowing are inherent to a tune’s structure and “melodic rhythm”. Participants will learn how these elements are iconic to old-time fiddle and how to recognize them in the tune learning process. Participants will also have fun with music theory and build skills with their fingerboard knowledge, and with incorporating the principles of the “tenets of practice”.
To get the most out of this class, participants should be able to learn tunes by ear. Printed music will not be used in the class. Participants should understand the common key signatures (G, D, A, C) as far as being able to play the associated scales and some double stops related to the chords. Hopefully, participants have played in cross-tuning… Betse hops to share at least a few cross-tuned tunes. Participants who have a fiddle better suited for this should bring it. Depending on the fiddles, the class may keep it simple and learn tunes in cross G (GDGD). There are some great tunes in DDAD to look at, too. And of course GDGB/AEAC#… Participants will play in standard tuning, too.
Things to bring: a recording device is strongly recommended. Many smart phones will work for this purpose. Betse will provide spoken bowings at a slow tempo for recording. Sometimes she may invite participants to video a specific technique. Other times, she will ask participants to record only sound to make sure they are not glued to only visual reminders. (Fiddlers without sight will not be hindered by the nature of this class, so please know that you are welcome here.)
Betse is very much looking forward to teaching this class at Augusta. She said, “I learned so much as a student here in the late 90s. It’s an honor to come back as an instructor. I’m excited to discover and learn with you all in a wonderful environment and community.”

Guitar (All Levels) – Rory Mullennex

Rory Mullennex

Rory Mullennex grew up in central Appalachia near the Virginia / West Virginia border. From birth, his father Ron Mullennex, a highly-respected old-time musician, surrounded Rory with old-time music and musicians. Rory grew up going to music festivals and visiting older generations of musicians with his father, primarily in West Virginia, but also in Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky. During this time, Rory learned to play guitar from his father, and began jamming with and learning from musicians both in his father’s generation and those of previous generations. During college in Virginia, Rory played in several old-time bands and began to learn more about the regional differences found in traditional music styles. Today, Rory plays with various regional musicians and bands for performances and square dances, and helps to lead learning jams in communities surrounding his home in Giles County, Virginia. He attends fiddlers’ conventions throughout the central Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, and is a sought-after rhythm guitarist for band and individual instrument competitions.

Guitar – (All Levels)

This class will focus on the fundamentals of old-time rhythm guitar, as well as help prepare students for playing along with musicians, tunes, and songs of various styles. The class will emphasize the importance of listening closely to what other musicians are playing, and will present techniques for playing along with unfamiliar tunes. We will begin by discussing strumming styles and the various time signatures used in old time music, including hard-driving reels or “breakdowns”, lilting reels once common in the central Appalachians, and waltzes. We’ll cover chord progressions that are common among multiple tunes and discuss chord preferences that can vary by region. In addition, the class will present some tunes that are common across Appalachia, as well as some tunes that are unique to a specific region or state. Several crooked tunes may also be on the itinerary! The class will be based on learning by ear, and no tabs or sheet music will be used. No melody/flatpicking will be covered. Helpful things to bring to this class include an electronic tuner, a recording/playback device, and a capo.

Mandolin (All Levels) – Don Rogers

Don Rogers

Don Rogers has deep roots in Kentucky old-time music. His grandfather and great uncles recorded on the Gennett label in the early 1930s as the Kentucky String Ticklers. Silas Rogers, the leader of that group, was well known throughout central Kentucky for his fiddling and step-dancing. Don is a multi-instrumentalist, playing mandolin, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar. He performs at regional festivals with Kentucky Wild Horse and several groups in the Lexington area playing old-time, rock and roll, country, blues, and bluegrass. Don is also a songwriter whose work can be heard on Spirits of the Lonesome Hills as well as the project he and his wife called Straight from the Bottom.

Mandolin – (All Levels)

This class is for students who have gotten started on mandolin and are at the early intermediate or intermediate skill level. The mandolin has a long history in old-time and early bluegrass music as both a rhythm and melody instrument. Kentucky fiddler Doc Roberts recorded several tunes featuring his self-composed blues tunes on the mandolin in the early 1930s, and several early string bands were known to include mandolin. Before Bill Monroe put together the musical elements now known as Bluegrass music, the Monroe brothers recorded songs featuring guitar and mandolin. Don will cover Kentucky dance tunes, blues tunes and songs, chording, and playing rhythm / backup as well as lead / melody.

Music of Kentucky (Int./Adv.) – John Harrod & Brett Ratliff

John Harrod

John Harrod has documented, recorded, and performed traditional music for more than 45 years. Born and raised in Shelby County, Kentucky, he has a B.A. from Centre College (1967) and an M.A. from Oxford University (1969), which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. Recently retired, he taught history and English at Owen County High School and Frankfort High School. In the 1970s and ’80s, he played with a number of bands including the Progress Red Hot String Band, the Bill Livers String Ensemble, and the Gray Eagle Band that re-introduced traditional musicians such as Bill Livers and Lily May Ledford to Kentucky audiences. During this time he also worked for three years as a Kentucky Arts Council folk artist-in-residence in Wolfe, Estill, and Trimble Counties. Along with Mark Wilson and Guthrie Meade, he produced a series of field recordings of Kentucky fiddle and banjo players that is still available on Rounder Records. In 2015 the Field Recorders’ Collective issued his recordings of Carlton Rawlings and Darley Fulks, two exceptional and heretofore unknown fiddlers who have had a great impact on his life. John’s field recordings are housed at both Berea College and the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead. He has taught fiddle and conducted workshops at the Augusta Heritage Center; the American Festival of Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington; the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music; and the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. He continues to perform with Kentucky Wild Horse, a band that draws on a wide variety of Kentucky music past and present. In 2004 John received the Folk Heritage Award of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts for his work in traditional music. John can be reached through the Kentucky Wild Horse Facebook page.

Brett Ratliff

Brett Ratliff’s homeplace is Van Lear, Kentucky, the historic coal camp that gave birth to Loretta Lynn. Having been mentored by the masters of the area — George Gibson, Rich Kirby, Paul David Smith, and Lee Sexton among them — Ratliff has toured with groups such as Clack Mountain String Band, Dirk Powell Band, Woody Pines, Giant Rooster Sideshow, and Rich & the Po’ Folk. He has played alongside the likes of Foghorn Stringband, Jean Ritchie, Mike Seeger, and Art Stamper. Ratliff has taught traditional Kentucky repertoire at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington; Swannanoa Gathering in Swannanoa, North Carolina; Sore Fingers Week in Oxfordshire, England; Augusta Heritage’s Early Country Music Week in Elkins, WV; Cowan Creek Mountain Music School in Letcher County, KY; and elsewhere. His first solo release was the 2008 June Appal recording Cold Icy Mountain. Gone Boy, scheduled for release in 2017, is his long awaited second solo project.

Music of Kentucky (Int./Adv.)

Even though Kentucky traditional music has received a lot of attention in recent years, many of its greatest performers and composers remain in obscurity. Native Kentucky musicians John Harrod (fiddle) and Brett Ratliff (banjo) have spent decades tracing the legacy of this music, recording elder musicians and studying with them, sharing the repertoire through concerts and workshops world-wide. In this class they will explore the Kentucky fiddle and banjo traditions that shaped its 21 st century sounds. On both fiddle and banjo, the tune is inseparable from the way in which it is played. Often a tune by itself, transcribed and analyzed, may seem boring to a quick observer, but that same tune in the hands of a master becomes a dynamic and compelling performance. This is the mystery of tradition when it is married to style. This mystery and the way it is achieved will be the subject of the week.

Legendary performers like Luther Strong, Doc Roberts, and Buddy Thomas enjoyed the influence and support of a landscape of unique masters like Snake Chapman, Amyx Stamper, Darley Fulks, Lella Todd, Andy Palmer, Kelly Gilbert, Tom Riley, and Carlton Rawlings—masters whose music did not enter the mainstream but inspired local traditions that still thrived in the 1970s and ’80s when John Harrod first began wandering the bluegrass. In addition to learning from and performing with John, Brett Ratliff has also traveled the mountains studying the county-by-county nuances of the tradition and has been mentored by such artists as Art Stamper, Lee Sexton, George Gibson, and Paul David Smith. Together, John and Brett will delve into these musical dialects, meeting under-appreciated performers and composers through field recordings, videos, and personal reminiscences, learning about the geographic diversities of the Kentucky repertoire.

Beginning with accessible tunes, the class will work its way into many of the styles John and Brett encountered in their travels, at times breaking into smaller groups to focus on the fiddle or banjo, and at others, joining together for ensemble playing. Intermediate to advanced players will benefit most from the conversation. At the intermediate level, attendees should be familiar with playing in the keys of G, D, A, and C. However, anyone who has an interest in the music, people, and cultural geographies of the Kentucky repertoire is welcome to come and engage.

Women and Community in Old-Time Music (Int./Adv.) – Alice Gerrard

Alice Gerrard

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

Women and Community in Old-Time Music (Int./Adv.)

Women and Community in Old-Time Music will explore some of the icons (better and lesser known) in old-time music through photographs, recordings, and videos. Some of the musicians we will “meet” will be Ola Belle Reed, Lily May Ledford, Wilma Lee Cooper, Roscoe and Leone Parish, the Carter Family, Elizabeth Cotten, Mabel Cawthorne, Luther Davis, Tommy Jarrell, Cousin Emmy, and others.

Liaison – Betty Druckenmiller

Betty Druckenmiller

Betty Druckenmiller began learning old-time fiddle tunes by ear about 15 years ago and has studied with Wilson Douglas, Bill Hicks, Jimmy Triplett, and Bruce Molsky.

Staff Musicians

Susie Goehring

Susie Goehring has been playing old-time fiddle and guitar, and singing Appalachian ballads and early country songs since the late 1970s when she first joined forces with musicians Jeff and Rick Goehring. This musical trio formed the core of the Red Mules, an old-time string band, that actively performed throughout the 1980s and ’90s. Since then she has performed and recorded old-time music with fiddler Rayna Gellert (Starch and Iron, 2007) and the string band, Big Foot (I’ve Got a Bulldog, 2012). She has been a member of four different bands who won first place in the Traditional String Band contest at the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV: the Red Mule Trio (1992), Breakin’ Winders (1998), Big Foot (2010), and the Buckin’ Mules (2012).

Over the years, Susie has taught classes on old-time backup guitar, Carter-style guitar, old-time fiddle, and string band music at various camps in the US, including the Swannanoa Gathering, Southern Week at Ashokan, Augusta Heritag Center, and Pinewoods.

With Jeff Goehring, Susie travelled throughout Ohio and the Appalachian region during the 1980s, visiting and recording traditional fiddlers. Some of these recordings resulted in the 1985 Ohio Art Council / Ohio Humanities Council / NEA project and LP, Seems Like Romance to Me: Traditional Fiddle Tunes from Ohio. Six albums based on the Ohio fiddle recordings have subsequently been released by the Field Recorders’ Collective.

Susie is a trustee and administrator of the Field Recorders’ Collective, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and distribution of non-commercial recordings of traditional American music.

Susie lives in Kent, Ohio, with her daughter Lila and four cats.

 

Hannah Johnson

Bio Coming Soon!

Tyler Hughes

Tyler Hughes hails from Big Stone Gap, Virginia, where he began learning the traditions of mountain music and dance at age 12. He performs regularly, but also dedicates time to teaching through private lessons and a variety of music programs as an adjunct professor at the Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap. Tyler is currently honing his skills in square dance calling, and he took the third place ribbon in clogging / flatfooting at the Morehead Old-Time Festival. As a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, he has performed all across the Southeast of the United States as a soloist and with several bands, including East Tennessee University’s Old-Time Pride Band, Fifthstring, and the Empty Bottle String Band. He has appeared on PBS’s Song of the Mountains, NPR’s Mountain Stage, and the world-renowned Carter Family Fold. He graduated from ETSU where he received a bachelor’s degree in bluegrass, old-time, and country music studies. He has studied traditional music at home in the Appalachians and across the Atlantic in Ireland and Scotland.
At age 19, Tyler made the move from student to teacher at Mountain Music School and is currently still teaching the week long course in string band music. His course centers on playing dance music as a band and a brief history of significant bands from the Appalachians. Tyler has also worked in Wise County with the after school music program Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) to incorporate the teaching of traditional music and dance to youth in the public school system. His earlier group, Fifthstring, worked to boost enrollment for the county’s first program in Coeburn, Virginia. Tyler Hughes released his first full length album at age 19, titled Wise County Jail. Hughes has also been featured on the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band’s album, Testing Tradition, and the Home Craft Days Festival 40th Anniversary album, Legend & Legacy.

Clarke Wyatt

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.”

Rina Rossi


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.

Arts, Crafts & Folklore Workshops

Felting: Traditional to Today (Beg./Int.) – Enrica McMillon

Enrica McMillon

Enrica McMillon grew up in the tiny Swiss village of Helvetia and has worked with many different forms of fiber arts since her childhood. As a felter and a spinner, Enrica has developed a deep knowledge of wool and other types of fiber. She is an active member of the Mountain Weavers’ Guild and other fiber arts organizations. Her three-dimensional felted sculptures have won awards at various art shows. A natural teacher, Enrica loves to share her knowledge and skills with anyone who is eager to learn.

Felting: Traditional to Today (Beg./Int.)

Wet felting was one of humankind’s earliest crafts. Its discovery allowed people to better clothe and shelter themselves, and through the ages it has been used to make items that were not only useful but beautiful. Needle felting is a dry method that came about in modern times. It is a wonderful medium for creating 3-dimensional sculptural works of art. With only a minimal investment in tools and materials you will learn the skills to create felted objects in a very short time. Bring scissors, a small pair of needle-nosed pliers, a 12″ x 12″ x 2″ (approximately) piece of foam, and join in the fun!

Ages 16 & up. Materials: $30 or more, depending on student projects, payable to workshop leader.

Letterpress Printing & Wood Engraving (All Levels) – Jim Horton, assisted by Sarah Brown

Jim Horton

Born in El Reno, Oklahoma, Jim Horton moved with his government family to the small town of Milan Michigan in the early 1950s. He attended Eastern Michigan University and studied studio art and earned a certificate in education. He worked for a sign company while in college, and was thus given vocational education certification as well as a BAE, and after military service, an MAE.

In the military, Jim was drafted and saved in Saigon, Vietnam, as an illustrator. He was also assigned to Nakom Phnom, Thailand, at the end of the Vietnam conflict. Upon returning to civilian life, he began teaching in the Wayne-Westland Schools. He taught at all levels, and in the last years of teaching, he taught vocational graphic design. He was selected as a WDIV Newsweek Magazine “Teacher of the Year” in 1994. He had dinner with Catherine Graham of Newsweek fame. Upon retirement, he began teaching in a private setting at Greenhills School of Ann Arbor. Altogether, Jim taught for 42 years.

During his regular teaching career, Jim continued his interest as an artist. He has always loved drawing, and this led to studying printmaking and particularly wood engraving and letterpress printing. To this day, Jim continues to teach workshops in this area of specialty. He also maintains a printing business, a private press, and a small activity as an antique dealer.

Jim regularly teaches at John C. Campbell Folk School. Most recently, he has taught classes at Signal-Return in Detroit; Wood Engravers’ Network workshops in Asheville, NC; College Station, TX; Frogman’s Print & Paper (USD, Vermilion); and at West Virginia University with the late Professor Clifford Harvey. He has taught too many workshops to list entirely, but the favorite workshop has been teaching for some 23 years at the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College, in Elkins, WV. Jim also has an interest in traditional music and many areas of folklife, and has attended Augusta as a participant as well.

Jim’s interest in wood engraving began by studying with David Sander, an author and artist in the Chicago area. The Sander Company was the last commercial wood engraving business in the US. Jim was able to work with David Sander, and in latter days, help him with teaching. Jim was also able to obtain many remnants of the engraving studios, and to this day he considers himself a working museum of this niche in the world of art.

Jim lives in rural Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is married to Rowena Villarias, a nurse practitioner in the field of women’s health care. They practice yoga and have one cat.

Sarah Brown

Questionable Press is printer and artist Sarah Brown, and a 1948 Heidelberg Windmill named Double D. Sarah saved D and another literal ton of letterpress equipment from the scrap yards of Phillipi, West Virginia. She was a real letterpress novice, but she combined the skills she had learned in printmaking classes at West Virginia University with hours of research and perseverance until she and D came to know each other well. With the right set up, D can pick up and print cardboard to tissue paper, and everything in between.

Sarah uses antiquated, classical methods of image production like wood engraving, wood cuts, and linoleum cuts. Basically, its like making big, very detailed stamps. She then combines these blocks with hand set letterpress type and prints them on D.

Letterpress Printing & Wood Engraving (All Levels)

Letterpress printing (using metal and wood hand-set type) has its roots in centuries-old traditions yet remains viable in contemporary art and graphic design. University programs and private presses are popping up everywhere. Perhaps people are seeking deeper experiences in art than the digital world has to offer. This class will cover the basics of letterpress typography and typesetting while offering wood engraving as an illustration medium. Letterpress is the use of hand-set type that essentially dates back to Gutenberg. Wood engraving is a highly detailed process using tools called gravers that cut into hard, end-grain wood. It is unmatched for clarity and offers a great way to make multiple copies of a drawing. Putting these learned skills to work, the class will design, set, illustrate and print a limited edition broadside using a vintage printing press. The broadside might be for personal expression of perhaps a song or a poem, or it might advertise an actual event. The creative process will result in a rewarding experience and a valued edition of hand-printed material. We will cover the basics of drawing, mocking-up, using a composing stick, engraving on end-grain wood and actual editioning and signing the prints. No previous experience is necessary.

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

White Oak Basketry (All Levels) – Alan Miller

Alan Miller

Alan Miller is a retired West Virginia state forester and forest entomologist. He was inducted into the WV Agriculture & Forestry Hall of Fame in 2000. Since his retirement, Miller has continued to go to the woods for his craft and has been making white oak baskets for fifteen years. He also repairs chairs, weaves chair bottoms with hickory bark splits and hand carves wooden cooking utensils (treenware). In addition to teaching basketry at Augusta, he demonstrates regularly at the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center.

He has taught plant identification, entomology and other classes for over 50 years, including classes for the WV Wildflower Pilgrimage each spring at Blackwater Falls State Park and the Webster Springs Garden Club at Camp Caesar. He teaches at and directs the Ted Harriman Forest Industries Camp at Camp Mahonegon. He is also President of the Treasure Mountain Festival Association, organizing an annual festival in Franklin, WV, that attracts over 30,000 people each September.

The class covers tree selection, log splitting and the making of stakes, splits and handles for white oak baskets. New students will learn to make a small Williamsburg and a shopper style basket. Returning or advanced students will have new projects. No previous basket making experience is necessary. The process requires some physical strength. All supplies will be provided.

Dance Workshop

Mountain Dance: Calling & Figures (All Levels & All Ages) – T-Claw

T-Claw

T-Claw grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, playing punk, jazz, and metal. Spurred by his hometown grizzle grazzlin’ fiddle friends, Tee moved to the Pacific Northwest and fell into a vibrant old-time music community, first banging up old banjos, scratchin’ down fiddle tunes, and dancin’ a fury. Calling came intuitively after years of playing and community organizing. T-Claw is frequently witnessed motivating all variety of folks to have a grand ol’ time where one may least expect it. Over the years, T.C. Law & Associates has steadfastly toured the United States to play and call dances, the goal being to stimulate interest in towns that no longer have old school community style square dancin’. It is an attempt to recreate rural community dances in an urban setting and salvage fading American folk traditions. Aside from calling at most of the country’s currently active dances, he’s called at festivals including Dare to Be Square, Morehead, Clifftop, Augusta, Urbana Folk Fest, Seattle Folklife, Portland Gathering, and The Black Fly Ball. T-Claw calls for beginners and well-seasoned dancers. His calling strives to keep the moves accessible for a mixed crowd and to entertain with a ferocious fervor. He focuses on traditional mountain styles but has many unorthodox tricks to employ.

Mountain Dance: Calling & Figures (All Levels & All Ages)

This workshop will focus on Appalachian dance traditions, working with master West Virginia callers to learn the basics of square dance calling. A major facet of community dance is inclusion, therefore no prior experience is necessary, and all ages 8 and above are welcome. This week-long immersion is well suited to dancers, musicians, callers, and especially future callers. T-Claw will be joined throughout the week by regional experts who will share dance figures unique to West Virginia. Through daily hands-on activities, participants will practice the basics of square dance calling, choreography, effective teaching methods, working with kids, rhythm, and rhyming patter. By the end of the week participants will have all the tools needed to organize and call dances in their own communities. Participants will also have the opportunity to take a flatfooting class in the afternoon along with other Old-Time Week offerings.

Folk Arts for Kids Workshop

Exploring Art Through Time (Grades k-5) – Kylie Proudfoot-Payne

Kylie Proudfoot-Payne

Kylie Proudfoot-Payne lives in Barbour County and graduated from Davis & Elkins College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology / human services and art education. She currently teaches with ArtsBank, an artist in residence program in the Randolph County schools with a focus on STEAM education. She is an award winning landscape painter and dabbles in a variety of different art mediums.

Exploring Art Through Time (K-5)

Folk Arts for Kids participants will explore visual art and heritage crafts through the creation of a variety of art projects. Students will delve deeper into their interests in the arts while creating a solid foundation for taking a project from start to finish. Students will get an opportunity to present their work and reflect on the progress through critiques. Students will paint, print, weave, bind, mold, sew, experiment, and more as they learn about how the heritage crafts are connected to the world today. They will have the opportunity to experience the wider Augusta program through coordination with other Augusta instructors.

Old-Time and Vocal Week Evening Mini-Courses

Flatfooting Basics (From Scratch) – Rina Rossi

Rina Rossi

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.

Flatfooting Basics (From Scratch)

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!

Fingerstyle Banjo (All Levels) – Clarke Wyatt

Clarke Wyatt

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.”

Fingerstyle Banjo (All Levels)

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.
Coming Soon

Folk Songs & Ballads of West Virginia (All Levels) – Gerry Milnes

Gerry Milnes

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.

Folk Songs & Ballads of West Virginia (All Levels)

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.

Yodeling for Everyone: An Introduction to the Lost Art of Yodeling (All levels) – John Lilly

John Lilly

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.

Yodeling was once an important part of American popular music. We will explore this lost art and introduce students to the basics of yodeling. Emphasis will be on early country music style – the so-called “blue yodel” – but we will also cover some simple Western-style yodeling and some harmony yodeling. There will be plenty of singing, as well as some listening and discussion. Open to all singers – no experience necessary.