Bluegrass Week

Bluegrass Week

August 5 - 10, 2018

For 2018, Augusta brings together another spectacular lineup! The staff of well-known bluegrass figures will share their talents with participants in workshops, demonstrations, special presentations, concerts, and jam sessions throughout the week. Informal picking sessions at all levels go on ’til the wee hours all over campus as participants and staff get together with old friends and make new ones. Evening performances feature exciting combinations of master bluegrass artists with special guests. While workshops are geared for adults, young folks able to maintain an adult level of participation are welcome. All workshops (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.

Bluegrass Week runs concurrently with Vocal Week; Arts, Crafts, & Folklore Workshops; Folk Arts for Kids; and Evening Mini-Courses. This is the first year of our Bluegrass Week and Vocal Week pairing, and we have some exciting plans in store. Participants can take advantage of both weeks by attending special events, afternoon electives, swapping songs in jam sessions, and sharing in the fun!

Bluegrass Week 2017

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

Hello, bluegrass lovers! Team Bluegrass has been busy putting together a spectacular staff of bluegrass luminaries for Augusta Bluegrass Week 2017. We’ll be announcing more in the near future, so check back often for additions. This year promises to be the best ever, filled with classes, concerts, dances, special round-ups, demonstrations, artist spotlights, afternoon electives, directed slow jams, nightly picking sessions that go into the wee hours, student showcases, and much more. Mark your calendars for a week of total bluegrass immersion, and come pick among the stars in “Almost Heaven” West Virginia. We hope to see you there! –Ira Gitlin, Mary Burdette, and Neel Brown, Bluegrass Week Coordinators

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

(+ Room & Board or other available options.)

Registration will open on March 1, 2018.

2018 Week at a Glance | 2017 Events Schedule / 2018 Coming Soon! | Register Online

2018 Workshop Leaders and Classes. Click any name below to open more details. Click again to close.

Bluegrass Week Week Coordinator – Neel Brown

Neel Brown

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

Bluegrass Week Week Coordinator – Mary Burdette

Mary Burdette

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

Bluegrass Week Week Coordinator – Ira Gitlin

Ira Gitlin

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

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

Bass (All Levels) with Marshall Wilborn

Bass (All Levels)

Greetings bass players! Whether you have just acquired your first upright bass, or have been playing for some time, I look forward to having you in class. We’ll begin with some fundamentals – posture, right and left hand technique, tone, note choice, number/intervals, sustain/length of notes, slap, and all with an emphasis on timing. Bring your own (or borrowed) bass, a pen/pencil and notepad or iPad, and any specific issues and questions. Audio recording is welcomed and encouraged.

Marshall Wilborn

Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Marshall Wilborn grew up listening to and enjoying a variety of music, from Mozart to Motown, the Beatles to Buck Owens to Bob Dylan. The Kingston Trio and then Flatt & Scruggs led to him first to the banjo, and then to the bass. For four years he toured with the Pennsylvania-based Whetstone Run, Marshall went to work with Jimmy Martin, the Johnson Mountain Boys, Michael Cleveland, and Springfield Exit. With the Johnson Mountain Boys he recorded three albums, including the Grammy nominated “At The Old Schoolhouse”, which was actually IBMA’s first “Album of The Year” award winner, in 1990. He also performed in a 15 year stint with his wife Lynn in the award-winning Lynn Morris band, recording five CDs on the Rounder label. He played a number of shows and festival dates over the years with the late Hazel Dickens, and as a fill in bassist with Del McCoury and the Nashville Bluegrass Band, among many others.

He continues to work as a studio session bassist. He performs occasionally with clawhammer banjo virtuoso Adam Hurt, and appears on Adam’s latest recording “Artifacts”. In 1999, Marshall released his own recording, “Root 5”, a CD mainly of bass and banjo duets, featuring a number of the finest five string (and four string) players. The collection of tunes received an IBMA nomination for the “Instrumental Recording of the Year” award. Marshall has been a featured bass instructor at the UK’s Sore Fingers camp; Camp Bluegrass in Levelland, Texas; the Swannanoa Gathering; Common Ground on The Hill; and previously at Augusta Heritage Bluegrass Week. He was the 1998 recipient of Bluegrass Now magazine’s Fans’ Choice Award for Bass Player of the Year, and is a four time IBMA Bass Player of the Year award winner. After 36 years of active touring, performing, and recording, Marshall still has a love for the music and bass playing. He and Lynn, and their cats, live in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Banjo (Beginning) with Tom Adams

Banjo (Beginning)

Class description coming soon!

Tom Adams

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

Banjo (Intermediate) with Greg Liszt

Banjo (Intermediate)

Welcome to Intermediate Banjo! You already know some tunes and chords in the three finger style and you are ready to take it to the next level. We will expand your repertoire by studying classic banjo breaks and cool licks. We will also improve your knowledge of the fretboard by delving into scales, intervals, and improvisation. This course will emphasize Scruggs style, melodic style, and single string techniques. We will learn by reading tablature and playing by ear, so this will be a chance for you to improve in both of those areas. Be sure to bring a recording device! See you this summer.

Greg Liszt

Banjoist Greg Liszt has toured and recorded extensively with acclaimed folk bands Crooked Still and the Deadly Gentlemen, both of which he helped to found.  His innovative four-finger picking technique earned him a place in Bruce Springsteen’s live band for Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions Tour in 2006.  A prolific songwriter and producer, Liszt also holds a Ph.D. in Biology from MIT.  He currently lives in Boston where he is associate professor of banjo at the Berklee College of Music.

Banjo (Advanced) with Greg Cahill

Banjo (Advanced)

The primary focus of this workshop will be to offer an overview of Scruggs style, melodic style, and single string style playing, leading to thoughts about how to create licks, solos, and compositions. Suggestions about how to play backup behind vocals and other instrumental solos will also be included. The concepts of improvisation and integrating the use of various playing styles will be an important part of this presentation. The workshop will be hands-on with tablature handouts, and it is recommend that you bring a recording device to the sessions (to record concept segments of presentations – cell phone is fine). Our goal is to have fun playing the banjo while learning.

Workshop overview:

  • Presentation on how to find the melody and create a solo for vocal and instrumental selections; this will include an overview of Scruggs, melodic, and single string style licks and passages, and study of various intros and endings in different keys and positions.
  • Review of basic chordal theory, including Circle of Fifths, Nashville Numbers System and the “4-3-5” formula for connecting the three major chord positions over the fingerboard. Then play scales through closed positions and with open strings to learn how playing basic scales can lead to creating licks and tunes in different chord positions and keys.
  • Demonstration of how interchanging licks and passages from tunes/songs with similar chord progressions can lead to improvising and transposing solos to different keys and positions.
  • Suggestions for playing backup behind singers and other instruments using common down-the-neck and up-the-neck licks and patterns.

Greg Cahill

Greg Cahill has been playing bluegrass banjo since the early 1970s. He formed The Special Consensus in the Chicago area, and the band became a fulltime national and international touring and recording entity in 1975. Greg has appeared on all eighteen of The Special Consensus recordings (one received a GRAMMY nomination and two others received multiple International Bluegrass Music Association [IBMA] awards). He has also released three solo recordings, one European bluegrass music recording, and four banjo instructional videos/DVDs. He has also appeared on numerous recordings by other artists and on countless national television and radio commercials (jingles). Greg conducts workshops and master classes at bluegrass camps and festivals worldwide, has taught bluegrass banjo at The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago for over 40 years, and became the first adjunct professor teaching banjo as a member of the Columbia College Strings Department in Chicago in 2011. He released two banjo tablature books and is a regular contributor of banjo tablature and interviews with notable banjo players for Banjo Newsletter.

Greg’s workshop and camp teaching credits include Midwest Banjo Camp in Olivet, MI; Suwannee Banjo Camp in Live Oak, FL; Nashville Banjo Camp in Nashville, TN; Banjo Camp North in Groton, MA; Augusta Heritage Center Bluegrass Week in Elkins, WV; Kaufman Kamp Bluegrass Week in Maryville, TN; Walker Creek Music Camp in Petaluma, CA; SPBGMA Nashville Banjo Workshop; Nashcamp in Nashville, TN; Maryland Banjo Academy (sponsored by the internationally distributed Banjo Newsletter periodical); Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Music Workshop Camp; British Columbia Bluegrass Workshops (BCBW) in Sorrento, BC, Canada; Cabin Fever Bluegrass Workshops in Williams Lake, BC, Canada; Sore Fingers Summer School workshops in Oxfordshire, England; and Bluegrass Camp Germany in Fischbachau / Achatswies, Germany.

Dance / Solo Percussive Dance Intensive (Intermediate) with Nic Gareiss

Solo Percussive Dance Intensive (Intermediate

This course for intermediate and advanced percussive dancers will focus on the ethnology and performance of solo percussive dance. Daily exercises will build participants’ facility, improve improvisation skills, and expand repertoire, helping experienced dancers hone their choices of dance tone, timing, and timbre. We will also examine percussive dance repertoire from Ireland, England, Canada, and Appalachia, drawing upon traditional elements to develop dancers’ individual style through both embodying traditional material and viewing historic dance source films. Conceptual approaches such as melodic imitation, “dancing the tune,” ornaments, and variations will also be explored. Dance talks and dance film viewing sessions will facilitate discussions around solo percussive dance as a cultural practice expressing the way individuality “moves” in many geographies. In addition to group lessons, dancers will have a chance to dance solo or in small groups to receive feedback as we explore the ways that solo percussive dance can inspire, critique, and above all, tie communities together. This is a standalone workshop happening during the same week as Bluegrass Week and Vocal Week. To register, select “Miscellaneous Workshops – Week 3” and then select this workshop.

Photo by Michael Erlewine.

Nic Gareiss

Michigan-born dancer Nic Gareiss has been described by the Irish Times as “the human epitome of the unbearable lightness of being,” and “the most inventive and expressive step dancer on the scene” by the Boston Herald. His work re-imagines movement as a musical practice, recasting dance as medium that appeals to both eyes and ears. Gareiss draws from many percussive dance traditions, weaving together a dance technique facilitating his love of improvisation, traditional dance footwork vocabulary, and musical collaboration. He has concertized internationally for over ten years in fourteen countries with many of the luminaries of traditional music, including Frankie Gavin, Dervish, Bill Frisell, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Phil Wiggins, Buille, Solas, Liz Carroll, Martin Hayes, The Gloaming and The Chieftains. Nic holds a degree in Anthropology from Central Michigan University and a MA in Ethnochoreology from the University of Limerick. Gareiss’ essay, “An Buachaillín Bán: Reflections on One Queer’s Performance within Traditional Irish Music & Dance” appears in the book Meanings and Makings of Queer Dance edited by Clare Croft on Oxford University Press. www.nicgareiss.comBio coming soon!

Guitar (Beginning) with Tyler Grant

Guitar (Beginning)

Class description coming soon!

Tyler Grant

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

Guitar (Intermediate) with Jordan Tice

Guitar (Intermediate)

Class description coming soon!

Jordan Tice

Jordan Tice is a singular voice on the American roots music scene. Over the last ten years, he has developed a reputation as a unique and versatile guitarist and prolific composer of some of the most thoughtful and well-crafted tunes of his generation. He has released four solo records of original music to critical acclaim and has worked as a sideman to some of the biggest names in acoustic music such as Dave Rawlings, Tony Trischka, Michelle Shocked, the Duhks, and actor/comedian Steve Martin. His current release, “Horse County”, features his singing and songwriting in addition to his established tune writing and guitar picking skills with a sound that calls to mind the music of Roger Miller, John Hartford, and Norman Blake. In addition to his solo work and work as a sideman he is also a part of the instrumental group, Hawktail (Formerly Haas Kowert Tice), with fiddler Brittany Haas, bassist Paul Kowert and mandolinist Dominick Leslie.

Guitar (Advanced) with Russ Barenberg

Guitar (Advanced)

This workshop will cover a variety of topics, tunes, and exercises to help improve your playing and your musicianship. This will include…

  • Essential rhythmic skills, specially as applies to playing melodies
  • Bringing fiddle tunes to life with pulse, ornamentation, and well-chosen fingerings
  • Learning song melodies accurately and embellishing them in simple ways to build solos
  • Playing slow melodies beautifully
  • Learning to practice more effectively by paying closer attention to the right kinds of details in your playing and by common sense problem solving.

Russ Barenberg

Acoustic guitarist and GRAMMY nominee Russ Barenberg is known as one of the most melodic instrumentalists in contemporary acoustic music, and his compositions are among the finest the genre has to offer. Long at the creative forefront of the acoustic music scene, Russ has collaborated with many of its finest artists, including Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Tim O’Brien, Mark O’Connor, Jesse Winchester, Tony Trischka, Maura O’Connell, Andy Statman, and legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden. Skip, Hop & Wobble, the multiple award-winning 1993 release by his long-time trio with Dobro master Jerry Douglas and acoustic bass virtuoso Edgar Meyer, influenced an entire generation of musicians.

Russ’s albums largely feature his own compositions and arrangements. His most recent, When at Last, “adds to an exquisitely original body of work with more vibrant new melodies and rich ensemble interplay.” The CD earned him a GRAMMY nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance and was nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrumental Album of the Year.

Russ’s playing has graced numerous film soundtracks, most notably Ken Burns’ documentary, The Civil War, and the 2010 release, Get Low, starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray. Since 1995 Russ has been a member of the house band and a featured artist on the acclaimed BBC music programs, The Transatlantic Sessions, which include performances by artists from both sides of the Atlantic, including James Taylor, Alison Krauss, Emmy Lou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Rodney Crowell, Paul Brady, Darryl Scott, Joan Osborne, Aly Bain, Phil Cunningham, John McKusker, Michael McGoldrick, Eddi Reader, Julie Fowlis, Sharon Shannon, Cara Dillon, and many others. A live concert version of Transatlantic Sessions has for years toured annually in the British Isles and in 2017 did its first US tour.

Russ has authored several guitar instruction books as well as a series of audio and video lessons for Homespun Tapes and teaches regularly at music camps and workshops throughout the United States and Europe.

Fiddle (Beginning) with Bryan McDowell

Fiddle (Beginning)

Beginners of any age are welcome on this ground floor of bluegrass fiddling.

For all attendees, familiarity with and practical knowledge of their instrument is helpful but not required.

We’ll start with the basics – the “do”s and “don’t”s – and build up some good habits while finding our musical ear.
As we work our way through some old standby fiddle tunes,
you’ll get practice with the most important bow patterns, do simple backup, learn some cool left hand skills, and learn variations of the classic melody.
As a bonus, you’ll spend some time getting acquainted with a rhythm instrument accompanist(s).

Bring yourselves, your fiddle, a notepad, and a device for recording.

Bryan McDowell

Bryan McDowell is a person predictable only in his consistent excellence. Fiddler, vocalist, and master of stringed instruments, his reputation is solidifying as a musician of great interest on the Nashville scene. With his move to the area in 2013, Bryan grounded his career in a 4-year tenure with Claire Lynch. He has logged considerable time on the road with bluegrass notables Sierra Hull, Alison Brown, Ron Block, & Molly Tuttle, and shared the stage and studio with an ever-expanding list of legendary names from the realm of roots and acoustic music. The talents of the new master have made their way on to several recordings garnering IBMA awards and one project receiving a Grammy nomination. McDowell captured a triple win – a sweep of the fiddle, mandolin, and guitar categories – at the National Flatpicking Championship in 2009 and holds 21 other instrument contest titles from 2009 and 2010.

Fiddle (Intermediate) with Kimber Ludiker

Fiddle (Intermediate)

Class description coming soon!

Kimber Ludiker

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

Fiddle (Advanced) with Darol Anger

Fiddle (Advanced)

Class description coming soon!

Darol Anger

Bio coming soon!

Mandolin (Beginning) with Avril Smith

Mandolin (Beginning)

Class description coming soon!

Avril Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mandolin (Intermediate) with Alan Bibey

Mandolin (Intermediate) 

This workshop will cover building breaks to common bluegrass songs and instrumentals; finding the melody in different places on the fingerboard; position shifting; double stops; improving your slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs; as well as building speed. We will learn the melody to an instrumental and then work on the steps to improvising on the instrumental that will help your improvising in general as well as all aspects of your playing! We will also cover playing rhythm with a band as well as your role in other ensembles, adding rhythmic variation, and groove. We will also cover the how important it is to listen to music around you to find the groove and play tastefully. We will learn classic licks to make your bluegrass playing sound more authentic. Your questions are always appreciated, and I encourage you to bring recording gear. I will supply you with your own booklet to take home with you. We will have tablature for almost everything we do, but we will also learn some by ear. You will be playing your mandolin a lot in this workshop. Let’s have fun!

Alan Bibey

Since first hitting the scene in the early 1980’s, Alan Bibey has made a name for himself as one of the most creative and technically gifted mandolinist in bluegrass and acoustic music. In 1982 at the age of 17 Alan won first place on the mandolin at the World’s Fair in Knoxville, TN.  As an original member of great bands such as The New Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out, BlueRidge and the now GRASSTOWNE, Alan’s tasteful innovations and pristine execution has earned him inclusion in Mel Bay’s mandolin Book “The Greatest Mandolin Players Of The Twentieth Century” as well as various all-star projects including the Young Mando Monsters and the IBMA award winning Knee Deep In Bluegrass project, just to name a few.

Alan has been awarded “Mandolin Performer of the Year” for 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2018!  Grasstowne was awarded “Album of the Year” in 2008 for their project “The Road Headin’ Home” by SPBGMA (The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music Association) after their debut album went to #1 on the National Bluegrass Charts and remained there for three months. It remained in the top ten for a year. Alan has appeared on more than 100 recordings and stays busy recording and producing when not on the road with Grasstowne. He has instructional books and videos/dvd’s available through AcuTab and Mel Bay and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. The solo recording “In The Blue Room” was voted top instrumental Album by County Record Sales.   Alan was also nominated for a Grammy for the BlueRidge project “Side By Side”.  Last but not least, in early 2004 The Gibson Company put into production The Alan Bibey Signature Series line of mandolins, reaffirming his status as one of the most influential mandolinist in bluegrass and acoustic music! and

Mandolin (Advanced) with Matt Flinner

Mandolin (Advanced) 

This course will explore bluegrass and fiddle tunes with the intent of helping students become more effective in coming up with solos and improving their improvising skills. Double stops, chord tones, scales and arpeggios and will be explored to help students play more effectively in various keys and in various positions around he fretboard. We’ll use a couple of bluegrass standard songs as vehicles for studying these concepts. We’ll also look at ways of creating solos on a couple of fiddle tunes by changing octaves, connecting chord tones and incorporating various melodic ideas. The class will also touch on some theory concepts, but only with the intent of giving students some practical tools to help them play more efficiently and learn tunes more quickly.

Matt Flinner

Grammy-nominated mandolinist Matt Flinner has made a career out of playing acoustic music in new ways. Whether it’s with his own Matt Flinner Trio or Phillips, Grier, and Flinner, or with the Frank Vignola Quartet, Darrell Scott, Steve Martin, the Ying Quartet, Tim O’Brien, Leftover Salmon, or the Modern Mandolin Quartet, Flinner’s style and compositional ability have established him as one of the most accomplished and musically diverse mandolinists in the world.

Starting out as a banjo prodigy who was playing bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens, Flinner later took up the mandolin. He won the National Banjo Championship in Winfield, Kansas, in 1990, and won the mandolin competition there the following year. Matt nowtours regularly with the Matt Flinner Trio, which is known for its off-the-cuff compositional daring, writing music the same day it’s performed on most of their shows. He also tours regularly with the Modern Mandolin Quartet, which was nominated for three Grammy awards for their CD Americana in 2013.

Over the last several years, Flinner has become known as one of the leading writers of instrumental music in the acoustic world, and his background in classical composition has led him into new avenues in both classical and string band music. Some of Flinner’s longer form compositions have been performed by the Ying Quartet, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Chatterbird, the Expedition Quintet, and the Modern Mandolin Quartet. Flinner currently lives in Ripton, Vermont.

Resonator Guitar (All Levels) with Mark Panfil

Resonator Guitar (All Levels)

Class description coming soon!

Mark Panfil

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

Songwriting (All Levels) with Claire Lynch

Songwriting (All Levels)

“What a day for a dream! Have you ever heard a successful songwriter say they ‘downloaded a song from the universe?’ Relaxed, expansive, contemplative, humorous, playful – are these words that describe your songwriting process?  Come explore what that creative process can be like before you add the “elbow grease.” T.hen we’ll look at post-inspiration tools (i.e. ‘staying with the strand,’ ‘holes,’ ‘buttons & bells’) that are so effective in getting your message across.

“Prerequisite for Claire’s Songwriting Workshop: Claire’s songwriting workshop requires that a lyric sheet (preferably multiple copies) be provided if you intend to share a song with the group. Part of good songwriting practice is documentation – so go ahead and take the extra step, please!

“I’m hoping we can not only find a common ground for learning, but that each of you can have special, individual attention in order to meet your next level of songwriting proficiency. Here we will gather to learn, share, and enjoy!

“Getting to Know You and Your Songwriting Path: I will take time to get acquainted with each of you, your songwriting experience, and musical history.

“Characteristics of the “Creative Type”: We’ll do a study, somewhat cognitive, of the “creative type,” particularly as it relates to songwriting. As a bandmate of mine (Jim Hurst) once said, “If you had that in you, you’d want it out, too!” There will be handouts, examples, and exercises.

“The Creative Process: The creative process encompasses a lot! But first we’ll concentrate on “Open Mode and Closed Mode” – terminology learned from John Cleese of Monty Python fame. From there, we will look into the use of many tools for songwriting. I call this part of the course “Piecing Your Song Together”

“Melodies: In my other teaching life, I work with vocals. I have found that singing different types of scales sparks the melodic imagination. I’m hoping that touching on vocal awareness of scales and chords can help spark your creativity with melody.

“Song Choices – One-On-Ones (Shared with everyone): Choose a song from your repertoire – finished or not – to share, to be enjoyed, and to discuss. “The counsel of many” can often produce wisdom and progress. I require that a lyric sheet (preferably multiple copies) be provided if you intend to share your song! Part of good songwriting practice is documentation, so go ahead and take the extra step, please!

“Bluegrass (& Other) Songwriting Nuance: Let’s find out what type of songs you’re in the process of creating. Since this is “bluegrass” week, we’ll discuss what some particular characteristics of the ‘bluegrass’ song are – just for fun.

“Hand-Out ’til You Pass Out!: Tons of handouts are available and we’ll use as many as time permits.”

Claire Lynch

Long recognized and praised as a creative force in acoustic music, Claire Lynch is a pioneer who continually pushes the boundaries of the bluegrass genre. Her career has been decorated with many accolades including three GRAMMY nominations, six International Bluegrass Music Association awards, and the prestigious United States Artists Walker Fellowship.

Blazing her own trail in the mid ’70s when there were few role models for young women in the genre, Claire Lynch made history when she led the Front Porch String Band. For the next couple of decades, she pursued dual careers, spending seven years as a staff writer at two of the most prestigious publishing houses on Music Row in Nashville. Her songs have been recorded by The Seldom Scene, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, Cherryholmes, The Whites, and others.

At the same time, she became a much-sought-after session vocalist. By the year 2000 she had sung harmony on The Grass is Blue and Little Sparrow, which led to promotional touring as backup vocalist for Dolly Parton. She graced albums by other artists with her background vocals including Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Pam Tillis, Alison Brown, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, and Ralph Stanley. Today, the impressive list of other guest appearances continues including spots on albums by Donna the Buffalo, Sara Watkins, The Infamous Stringdusters, the Gibson Brothers, Jonathan Edwards, and Jesse Winchester.

She formed her own Claire Lynch Band in 2005 and has since consistently been a top pick of prestigious publications, critics, and audiences across the US, and beyond.

Ms. Lynch’s 2012 USA Walker Fellowship Award ($50,000.) was one of 50 salutes given from United States Artists (USA). The USA Fellows represent the most innovative and influential artists in their fields – including cutting-edge thinkers and traditional practitioners from the fields of architecture and design, crafts and traditional arts, dance, literature, media, music, theater arts, and visual arts.

In January 2013, after a long and successful stint with Rounder Records, Claire signed a recording agreement with esteemed Nashville roots label Compass Records, and released the ninth solo recording of her career titled Dear Sister. The title track – a tear-inducing masterpiece co-written by Claire with Southerner Louisa Branscomb were aptly awarded IBMA’s “Song of the Year” in 2014.

That same year, listed Claire as “One of the 10 Best Angelic Voices of Our Time”. She shared that honor with such luminaries as Judy Collins, Alison Krauss, Sarah McLachlan, Martina McBride, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. In September 2016, Claire released North By South – a tribute to America’s northern neighbor which resulted in her third GRAMMY nomination for Best Bluegrass Album.

As one observer writes, “Listening to Claire Lynch sing is not something to be undertaken casually. Her songs and stage presence demand the listener’s rapt attention. She’s an intensely soulful singer, whose distinctive voice resonates with power and strength, yet retains an engaging innocence and crystalline purity. She’s also a songwriter of extraordinary ability who can bring listeners to their feet with her buoyant rhythms or to their knees with her sometimes almost unbearably poignant and insightful lyrics.” (Dave Higgs-WPLN Nashville)

Vocals (All Levels) with Sally Love

Vocals (All Levels)

Class description coming soon!

Photo Credit Jennie Scott

Sally Love

Sally Love Connell is a current member the Blue Moon Cowgirls, a shimmering trio of female voices who blend front-porch directness with neon-lit sophistication as they sing about home and highways, heaven and honkytonks, heartbreak and hope. A WAMMIE award winner for best bluegrass vocalist, Sally is in demand as a lead and back-up vocalist, and has performed with various acoustic and bluegrass groups in the Washington DC area in such venues as The Ramshead Tavern, Kennedy Center, and The Barns at Wolf Trap. She and husband Dudley Connell have taught vocal and harmony classes at Augusta and Common Ground on the Hill.  They also perform with their own group, Seneca Rocks! 

Vocals (All Levels) with Dudley Connell

Vocals (All Levels)

Class description coming soon!

Dudley Connell

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

Staff Musician – John Seebach

John Seebach

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

Staff Musician – Grant Flick

Grant Flick

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


Click here to see the Dance workshops offered this week!


Click here to see Arts, Craft & Folklore workshops offered this week!


Click here to see the Folk Arts for Kids! workshops offered this week!


Click here to see all  mini courses offered this week!