Bluegrass Week

Bluegrass Week

July 19—24, 2020


Due to the current public health crisis, Augusta will not be holding any in-person programming until Summer 2021. We are committed to keeping our community engaged and connected during this time. Read on to see how you can experience Augusta at home in the coming months.

Digital learning at Augusta! We are offering a winter season of lessons on our new digital learning platform. Go to to see all of the lessons from our incredible artists. Registration will open November 30 and classes will be available from November 30, 2020 through April 1, 2021

Visit the Augusta Arts & Culture Page

Augusta Online 2020: Bluegrass Week Staff

Neel Brown, Bluegrass Week Coordinator

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, capital 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.

Mary Burdette, Bluegrass Week Coordinator

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.

Ira Gitlin, Bluegrass Week Coordinator

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 papers at the 2005 and 2017 Bluegrass Music Symposia.

In 1993 Ira was a one-day winner on Jeopardy.

Tray Wellington

Tray Wellington is a musician based out of Johnson City, Tennessee. He first fell in love with the banjo after hearing Flatt and Scruggs’ The Complete Mercury Sessions.

Since then he has gone on to explore a variety of other genres including jazz, progressive bluegrass, blues, rock, and more. In 2019 Tray received two Momentum Awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA): one as Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year, and one as a member of Cane Mill Road, the 2019 IBMA Momentum Band of the Year. (The Momentum Awards are bestowed on promising musicians and industry professionals who are in the early phases of their careers. )

Tray loves touring, and has played at some of the biggest festivals in the United States. He has gotten to play on stage with some of his heroes including Béla Fleck, Tony Trischka, Jens Kruger, Noam Pikelny, Kristin Scott Benson, and Bryan Sutton.  In 2019 he was an assistant instructor at Béla Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Camp. Tray’s EP solo recording, Uncaged Thoughts, was released in February of this year.

Joe Mullins

Joe Mullins is a classic character who could slip through a time machine to about 1961 and move around comfortably. And he’d be among the coolest cats there in his Ohio home, fronting a bluegrass band and owning radio stations. And that voice! Whether speaking or singing, it’s arresting and comforting at the same time. This is the true sound of bluegrass renown.” So says Craig Havighurst, noted author, critic, and producer of Music City Roots in Nashville.

Joe Mullins is a southwestern Ohio native who has been a recognizable banjo player, vocalist, and radio broadcaster for nearly 35 years. Mullins toured and recorded as a founding member of the band the Traditional Grass until 1995, when he purchased WBZI Radio in Xenia, Ohio. He recorded and performed with the supergroup Longview, earning Song of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in the late 1990s. He won IBMA’s Instrumental Recording of the Year award in 2001 from the for his banjo work on Rebel Records’ Knee Deep In Bluegrass. Joe was also one of many artists in 2006 sharing Album of the Year honors for Celebration of Life on Skaggs Family Records.

More recently, Joe and his band, The Radio Ramblers, were named IBMA 2019 Entertainers of the Year and also won the Collaborative Recording of the Year award for “The Guitar Song” which features a duo between Joe and Del McCoury. Mullins now owns an Ohio network of radio stations, Real Roots Radio, and can be found on the air most weekdays from 1:00 until 3:00 PM featuring bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music, and webcasting at, and also hosts Front Porch Fellowship, a weekly syndicated radio show that airs on over 200 radio stations. The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) named him their 2011 Bluegrass DJ of the Year, and Joe received the IBMA Broadcaster of the Year award in 2016. Joe lives near Cedarville, Ohio, with his wife Tammy, their son Daniel, and their daughter Sarah.

Missy Raines

Grammy-nominated bassist Missy Raines is the reigning 2019 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bass Player of the Year. This was the eighth time she received that award—more than anyone else in bluegrass history. Missy’s latest album, Royal Traveller, produced by Alison Brown, has received several IBMA awards, including the 2019 Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year award for “Darlin’ Pal(s) of Mine.”

In 2018 she won the IBMA Recorded Event of the Year award for “Swept Away” which featured a new collaboration of the five women who were first to win the IBMA instrumental awards in their categories. The group consists of Sierra Hull, Molly Tuttle, Alison Brown, Becky Buller, and Missy, now known as the First Ladies of Bluegrass. Missy and the First Ladies were featured as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2019 “American Currents” exhibit.

Missy also heads up the ArtistWorks Academy of Bluegrass School of Bass, a revolutionary interactive online music school.

Barbara Lamb

Bluegrass fiddler Barbara Lamb has had an illustrious career as a performer, composer, teacher, producer, and musical diplomat for the US State Department. While a teenager she won state and regional fiddling contests and placed in the top ten at the National Old-Time Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Idaho. When she was fourteen years old she was famed fiddler Mark O’Connor’s first fiddle teacher. At age fifteen she joined her first live bluegrass band. She has recorded eleven solo and band albums for Sugar Hill Records and her own label, Lots of Coffee Records. She has toured in numerous bluegrass bands including the John Cowan Band, Peter Rowan and the Rowan Brothers, and with many not-quite-so-bluegrass artists such as Asleep at the Wheel and Trisha Yearwood. Bluegrass continues to be Barbara’s favorite kind of fiddling.

George Jackson

George Jackson is a Nashville-based fiddle player who has toured as a band leader and fiddler for hire, having worked with artists such as Front Country, Peter Rowan, Missy Raines, and many more. Born in New Zealand, George grew up in a musical family and heard bluegrass around the age of 14, immediately falling in love with the style he started trying to work out how to play it from recordings and from the few mentors he could find in New Zealand. Moving to Australia as a 16-year-old, he won the Australian National Bluegrass Championship on fiddle three times and toured the country with his bluegrass band The Company, playing many major folk festivals on the Australian circuit.

As a resident of Nashville and the USA from 2016, George released an acclaimed album of original fiddle tunes, Time and Place, in 2019. His tune “Chapel Hill Deer Stalk” won the DC Bluegrass Union’s 2019 Mike Auldridge Instrumental Composition Contest, and his composition “Dorrigo,” went viral when hundreds of musicians learned the tune and posted videos of themselves playing it online in what became known as “the Dorrigo Challenge.”

Each track on Time and Place was written by George and named for its time and place of composition, tracing his journey from New Zealand to his new life in the United States, exploring ideas of authenticity and identity through fiddle music. In his free time, George brews his own beer and cooks Cajun food. He loves Swedish fiddle music and—fun fact—he was a competitive Highland dancer until the age of 21.

Greg Blake

Growing up in West Virginia, Greg Blake was immersed in the sounds of old country, mountain bluegrass, and gospel harmonies from a young age. Moving to Kansas City, he started playing in more and more bands, eventually recording on twelve albums for the Bluegrass Missourians, Mountain Holler, The Harvest Quartet and more. He’s twice been nominated for the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America’s (SPBGMA) Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year award, and five times won the SPBGMA’s Guitarist of the Year award, not to mention the Kansas State Flat-Pick Guitar Championship. After moving to Conifer, Colorado, a bedroom community nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front Range just a few miles southwest of Denver, Greg joined all-star progressive bluegrass band Jeff Scroggins & Colorado as the lead vocalist. With both Jeff and his son Tristan breaking new ground instrumentally on the banjo and mandolin, Greg stepped up to the plate as a guitarist, and crafted the band’s sound around his signature high tenor vocals. They’ve recorded four albums and were nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Emerging Artist of the Year award.

No Depression magazine said, “You’ll hear it in his voice immediately…the original strain of Appalachian mountain music that lies at the heart of all great modern bluegrass and country. Greg Blake grew up in the mountains of southern West Virginia, and when he sings, you can hear a voice that connects to the great old generations of mountain singers, invested with a rich twang and rumbling drawl, and the kind of eerily powerful high tenor cry that first inspired the ‘high, lonesome sound.’”

On his debut album, Songs of Heart and Home, he’s joined by some of the best bluegrass talents today, including members of Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, plus guests like three-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Claire Lynch, K.C. Groves (Uncle Earl), bluegrass icon Laurie Lewis, mandolinist John Reischman, fiddler Blaine Sprouse, bassist Mark Schatz, and dobro master Sally Van Meter (who also produced the album). But it’s his voice that rings out above them all, earnestly delivering songs of family, love and life in the hills.

Now after raising a family and touring around the world, he’s poised to come into his own as one of the true Appalachian stars of modern bluegrass. It’s no small thing that Greg Blake was able to gather some of the best musicians and vocalists in bluegrass to join him on his debut solo album, and in his public appearances as well. A big man with an even bigger heart, he brings an uplifting joy to the music he knows and loves. Unfettered by genre divisions and unconstrained by tradition, he just follows his heart to find the deep mountain roots of the music, infusing everything he sings with a powerful, soaring spirit.

Tyler Grant

National Flatpicking Champion Tyler Grant is an internationally recognized guitar virtuoso, songwriter, vocalist, and leader of the band Grant Farm. Tyler has appeared at most major US festivals and performed thousands of concerts and guitar workshops worldwide. He was an original member of the Emmitt-Nershi Band and was a sideman for Abigail Washburn, April Verch, and Adrienne Young.

He has produced five solo albums and six releases by Grant Farm on his own Grant Central Records. His 2018 collaborative release, Kanawha County Flatpicking, reached #14 on the US Folk DJ Chart. The latest Grant Farm album, Broke In Two, released June 2019, is an ambitious concept album which furthers the stories of characters and archetypes introduced on the previous release, Kiss The Ground. Tyler was also host of the Meeting on the Mountain LIVE broadcast, a radio-style musical program based in Fort Collins, Colorado, from 2015 to 2018.

In addition to the National Flatpicking Championship at Winfield in 2008 and MerleFest Doc Watson Guitar Championship in 2009, Tyler has also won the RockyGrass, Wayne Henderson, and New England Flatpicking championships. He has been featured in Acoustic Guitar, Flatpicking Guitar, Fretboard Journal and Bluegrass Unlimited magazines.

Tyler has been an instructor at CalArts, the RockyGrass Academy, Sore Fingers (UK), Kaufman Kamp, Augusta Heritage Center Bluegrass Week, the Targhee Music Camp, the Julian Family Fiddle Camp, NimbleFingers, St. Louis Flatpick, and, among others. Tyler performs over 200 shows per year and lives in Denver, Colorado, when he is not on the road. This will be Tyler’s fifteenth year as an instructor at Bluegrass Week.

Grant Gordy

“An exciting young player who, despite a plethora of influences, now sounds like nobody but himself.” So proclaims the Fretboard Journal about Brooklyn guitarist Grant Gordy, who in recent years has emerged as one of the most highly regarded young instrumentalists of his generation. Having spent six years in the guitar chair with the legendary David Grisman Quintet/Sextet, he’s also worked alongside such musical luminaries as Darol Anger, Tony Trischka, and Edgar Meyer. In myriad collaborative capacities he’s performed all over North America and Europe, and in India. Gordy has received attention from international music periodicals such as Just Jazz Guitar, Acoustic Guitar magazine and No Depression, which described Grant as “a special musician and a strikingly singular voice on the guitar; one that is worth giving your attention.”

Chris Brashear

Chris Brashear brings over twenty-five years of professional music experience as a performer, producer, teacher, and recording artist. A versatile singer and multi-instrumentalist on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, Chris has performed with a variety of artists including the Piedmont Melody Makers, Robin and Linda Williams, the Colton House Trio, Perfect Strangers, Kentucky Rose, and the Maurizio Geri Swingtet.

Chris divides his time between Amherst, Massachussetts, and Tucson, Arizona, and he has an active artist residency at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Finally, Chris (a.k.a. “Fiddlin’ Doc”) also hosts the New City Opry every third Wednesday of the month in Easthampton, Massachussetts.

Chris has taught at numerous camps and festival workshops across the country, including the Augusta Heritage Center’s Bluegrass Week, the Joe Val Memorial Bluegrass Festival, Banjo and Mandolin Camps North, the Walker Creek Music Camp, the Roots and Boots Music Camp, the Celebration of Traditional Music at Berea College, the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention, and the Mars Hill University Roots Music Week.


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 now tours 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.

Mike Compton

For anyone who loves listening to bluegrass mandolin or acoustic blues, or watching a musician express himself with incredible mastery of his instrument, Mike Compton is riveting. Many know Mike from the Nashville Bluegrass Band, the John Hartford Stringband, or the kick-off mandolin voice to “Man of Constant Sorrow” from the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. A mandolin master able to channel Monroe-style playing better than anyone (according to Sam Bush), Compton is a preservationist who continues teaching the music that Bill Monroe innovated, and that set the standard for generations of bluegrass mandolin players to come. A true bluegrass icon and one of the best players in acoustic music today, Mike Compton is as passionate an advocate for the mandolin as you’re ever likely to find.

Ivan Rosenberg

Now living in Toronto, Ontario, Ivan Rosenberg was a university instructor before becoming a full-time musician, and he’s well known for his enjoyable, efficient, and systematic Dobro instruction. Ivan has taught a combined 80+ weeks at music camps such as ResoSummit, Nashville Dobro Camp, Sore Fingers Week (England), the Walker Creek Music Camp, the Old School Bluegrass Camp, the California Bluegrass Association Music Camp, the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop, the Mountain Fever Bluegrass Camp, Camp Bluegrass, Acoustic Music Camp, the Targhee Music Camp, and many more. Ivan was program director of the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop for five years and is currently the program director of the Walker Creek Music Camp in California and Old School Bluegrass Camp in Ontario.

Ivan has released seven solo albums along with many other collaborative projects, and his original Dobro music has appeared in the background of over 450 television programs and films including The Daily Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Call of the Wildman, History Detectives, and the Hollywood blockbuster Kangaroo Jack. Ivan earned an award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) for co-writing the 2009 Song of the Year; played Dobro on the CD Southern Filibuster: A Tribute to Tut Taylor (produced by Grammy winner and Dobro legend Jerry Douglas); and performed with Chris Coole, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, the April Verch Bigger Band, Chris Stuart & Backcountry, John Reischman and the Jaybirds, and many more.

Donna Ulisse

Donna Ulisse is a key figure in the bluegrass, folk, and acoustic music scene as a singer and songwriter. Her single “It Could Have Been The Mandolin,” from the album Hard Cry Moon, topped the Bluegrass Unlimited chart for two months in a row in 2016, and the album topped the Roots Music Report chart.   In 2019 she signed with the new record label Billy Blue Records, which is home to some of bluegrass music’s brightest stars.  Her twelfth career album, Time for Love, released in November 2019, is her second album produced by bluegrass legend Doyle Lawson. It debuted at number 3 on the Billboard bluegrass chart.

As a songwriter, Donna has had her songs recorded by bluegrass artists Claire Lynch, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, Doyle Lawson, Ralph Stanley II, the Larry Stephenson Band, and Volume Five, to name a few, and co-wrote (with Jerry Salley) “Butler Brothers,” which appears on the Del McCoury Band’s 2014 Grammy-winning album The Streets of Baltimore. In 2016 Donna received the Songwriter of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), and she went on to win the IBMA Song of the Year award for “I Am A Drifter,” recorded by Volume Five. The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) named her their Songwriter of the Year for 2018.

She authored the book The Songwriter in Me: Snapshots of My Creative Process, and is the founder of the Lil House Songwriting Workshops, which offer aspiring songwriters the opportunity to improve their skills by writing with her and other professional writers. She also keeps a busy touring schedule playing festivals and concerts with her band.

Joe Newberry

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

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

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

Jen Larson

Jen Larson is a Nashville-based vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist who draws deeply from the early country and bluegrass catalogs. She has garnered critical praise and national airplay for her work with the former bluegrass band Straight Drive, and she’s performed widely, with appearances at New York’s Town Hall for several live broadcasts of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, and at the Wheeling Jamboree, Carnegie Hall, and many regional and national festivals and concerts.

In 2014 Jen released her first solo EP recording, Burning House, produced by the Grammy-nominated New York City bluegrass powerhouse Michael Daves. She thoroughly enjoys working with students and has led festival workshops on bluegrass vocals and co-taught country and bluegrass music harmony singing with Daves, as well as having contributed harmony vocal tracks to his ArtistWorks “Bluegrass Vocals” study materials. Aside from her performance and teaching activities, Jen is also the Archivist for the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

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, and he has recorded a highly successful Murphy Method instructional DVD.

Grant Flick has been playing and performing for the past nine years on many instruments including violin, mandolin, tenor guitar, tenor banjo, and nyckelharpa. Primarily, his interests are new acoustic music, gypsy jazz, jazz/swing, and bluegrass. His current original music projects, Westbound Situation and Warren & Flick, explore the fusion of chamber music with the influences listed above. Grant has received numerous music awards including the 2013 Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin, and he was a 2015 finalist in the Walnut Valley Festival Fiddle Competition in Winfield, Kansas, as well as a 2017 finalist at the Freshgrass Fiddle Competition in North Adams, Massachusetts. Additionally, several competitive collegiate awards and grants for improvisation, acoustic chamber music inventiveness, and music education have been presented to his original groups in the past two years. Grant has been selected as a two-time participant (2015 and 2016) of the Acoustic Music Seminar held at the Savannah Music Festival in Savannah, Georgia. He has taught workshops at the Tenor Guitar Gathering (Astoria, Oregon), Falling Waters Music Camp (Ithaca, New York), and Augusta Bluegrass Week (Elkins, West Virginia). Grant also tours and performs regularly and has played at many music festivals including Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Red Wing Roots Festival, and Indiana Fiddler’s Gathering. Frank Vignola, Mike Marshall, Julian Lage, and Darol Anger are just some of the notable musicians with whom Grant has appeared on stage. Grant is attending University of Michigan majoring in jazz studies.

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.