Classic Country Week

Classic Country Week

July 29 - August 3, 2018

Augusta Week 1 Day 2-049Country music borrows from folk, pop, blues, swing, and religious sources, and yet it is distinctly different. It is easily remembered, loves to tell a story, and invites you to dance. The music we focus on is not from the current Nashville scene. This is classic country music from its roots, from Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family, through folks like Kitty Wells, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton, to the soulful singing of George Jones and Vern Gosdin. During this week, we explore this treasure trove of American music with some of the most dedicated workshop leaders doing country music today.

Classic Country Week runs concurrently with Cajun & Creole Week; Arts, Crafts, & Folklore Workshops; Folk Arts for Kids; and Evening Mini-Courses. The two weeks have been paired together since Classic Country Week began in 2010, and the pairing creates wonderful opportunities for participants to interact through combined cultural sessions, special evening events, swapping tunes and songs in jam sessions, and sharing in the fun!

“Hello again to all our old friends and friends we haven’t met yet! The staff of Classic Country Music Week is set to help you have maximum fun while learning more than you ever dreamed you would. This is what’s known as The Augusta Experience. The Augusta Experience does not, cannot, happen just anywhere. It’s something about eating together with new friends, staying up late dancing or talking, striving to pick up new skills in a nonjudgmental classroom, being cheered on when you finally ‘get it’ by your new buddy from another country, and watching an 85-year-old and an 18-year-old laugh and sit down and play together. Or maybe it’s just the closeness of the mountains that surround you all day. We welcome you to join us July 29, 2018. Some new workshop leaders and some familiar faces with new songs are getting fired up to meet you and pass on to you the good ol’ country songs we all love.” –-Ginny Hawker, Coordinator

Tuition Guide:
$490/week if paid before June 1. $5
30/week if paid after June 1. 

(+ Room & Board or other available options.)

Registration will open on March 1, 2018.

2018 Week at a Glance | 2018 Class Schedule |  2017 Schedule of Events / 2018 Coming Soon!Registration Opens on March 1

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

Ginny Hawker, Coordinator and Life & Songs of Merle Haggard (All Levels)

Ginny Hawker

Ginny Hawker is a mainstay at Augusta and has been the coordinator of Classic Country Week since it began in 2009, then known as Early Country Music Week. Emmylou Harris said Ginny Hawker is “real as dirt – she sings from the heart” when she chose Ginny’s CD, Letters From My Father as a favorite in Oprah magazine. That’s the only way Ginny knows how to sing – the way she learned to sing from her father, Ben Hawker. She and her dad taught at Augusta Vocal Week for 10 years and traveled to the Smithsonian, Vancouver, and Chicago to perform at festivals and teach workshops. Whenever Ginny sings, she makes the song sound like a classic you had forgotten about, while at the same time, making it sound so effortless that anyone could do the same. That’s what makes her a good teacher. Ginny will touch your heart and draw you into her world with her singing. She has taught at music camps for 25 years, as well as singing workshops in her home for the past 9 years. Ginny has recorded with Kay Justice and with her husband, Tracy Schwarz. She has two solo CD’s on the Rounder Label. Ginny and Tracy live in Tanner, WV.

Life & Songs of Merle Haggard (All Levels)

Everyone who loves any kind of music knows Merle Haggard – or they think they do. They may know that he’s been around a long time, died recently, was in prison one time. They may know a couple of his songs that get played on Sirius radio. But there was a lot more to the man – a lot that informs the songs he wrote and the way he sang. In this workshop, we will focus on 6-8 songs written and recorded by Merle Haggard. We will listen to him sing and try to discover how his distinctive phrasing puts you in the room with him. Drew Simon, whom we know from Cajun Week, will be joining us for this class. Drew has been a longtime devotee of Merle’s songs. I’m sure he knows some of the more obscure songs among this rich repertoire. Participants will sing every day and would benefit greatly from having a recording device with them to refresh their memory when they get back home. Please check out “If I Could Only Fly” done by Merle Haggard on YouTube before coming to class.

Linda Lay, Master Artist

Photo credit: Susie Neel

Linda Lay

Linda Lay grew up in a family band playing with her dad since the early age of eight. She spent countless hours at the Carter Fold in Hiltons, VA dancing and listening to the bands.  She was a founding member of the group Appalachian Trail which performed for over 20 years.  During that time they were winners of the SPBGMA band contest in 1994.  She has been a featured vocalist and bass player for The Masters of the Steel String Guitar Tour in 1999 and 2000. She was an artist on four recording projects for Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores Heritage Series which featured two releases for Stony Point Quartet, a Linda’s Mercantile recording and a group project for Springfield Exit. She has recorded with Sammy Shelor for the Crooked Road Series and was a artist on the IBMA Recorded Event of the Year with the Daughters of Bluegrass.  She is listed as a Master Artist in traditional singing for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  Linda and her husband, David Lay, have been instructors for VoiceWorks for the Centrum Center for the Arts in Port Townsend, Washington multiple times.

Linda has preformed at the Lowell Folk Festival, Great American Folk Festival, Great Lakes Folk Festival, National Folk Festivals across the US, The Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, 4th of July Celebration at the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, countless bluegrass festivals all over the US and festivals in Ireland and Scotland.  Along with performing at some of the greatest venues she has been fortunate to share the stage with some great artists such as Vern Gosdin, Tom T. Hall, Jeannie Pruitt, Carl Jackson, Bill Kirchen, Dale Watson, Dudley Connell, Bruce Hornsby, Mickey Hart, John Cephas, John Jackson and has filled in with notable bands such as Lonesome River Band and Blue Highway. She has been a featured artist with The Crooked Road All Stars and the Stony Point Quartet.

She is currently performing with her husband, David Lay, David McLaughlin, Marshall Wilborn and Tom Adams as Linda Lay and Springfield Exit.  Linda’s day job is vegetable farming with her husband. She enjoys spending time with her four children and six grandchildren.

Early Days of Country Music on TV Mini-Course (All Levels) with Mary Battiata

Early Days of Country Music on TV Mini-Course (All Levels)

Long before CMT and cable, there was early country music television, beaming from carved wood TV consoles into the living rooms of mid-century America. This four-night mini-course will survey the history of country music on network television using iconic and obscure film clips from the shows that defined an era. After dinner each night, participants will settle into their virtual armchairs to watch performances chosen from classic early country TV, starting with the earliest shows such as Wanda Jackson and Webb Pierce on the Ozark Jubilee, through the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s. Shows will include Norma Jean and Dolly Parton on the Porter Wagoner show, The Buck Owens Ranch Show, Ralph Emery’s Pop! Goes the Country and Nashville Now shows. Others will include The Johnny Cash Show, Hee Haw, the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, and even the Jimmy Dean Show, which originated in Washington, DC. And finally, we will consider The George Jones Show, which aired on cable in the late 1990s. As we watch, we will share our own recollections and reactions to these broadcasts, as well as learn about backstage lore and legend. The course will consider the ways in which, according to country music historians, these shows shaped the music, and Americans’ perceptions of it. At the end of the course, participants will be provided with a list of links to the clips shown in the class, as well as a playlist of the shows, songs, and artists discussed.

Mary Battiata

Mary Battiata is a songwriter and bandleader. Her new record, The Heart, Regardless, debuted at #7 on the Freeform American Roots Chart and has won high praise from music critics in the US and Europe. “Nothing less than a jewel of modern Country” – ROOTSTIME.BE. “She has made an unabashed Country album, and a great one at that” – The Hill Rag (Washington, DC). Mary tours nationally from her home base in Arlington, VA, outside of Washington, DC, and regularly plays from New York City to Austin, TX, to Oklahoma City (at the iconic Blue Door), and the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, AL. This summer, she will make her first appearance at Woody Fest in Okemah, OK. When she is not playing music, Mary teaches visual art and creative writing to children with learning differences in Washington, DC. This will be her fourth summer at Augusta. For more information about Mary and her band Little Pink, visit her website at www.littlepinktheband.com, or say hello on Facebook (marybattiata.littlepink), Twitter (marybattiata1) or Instagram (mary_battiata_so_noted).

Dig a Little Deeper in God’s Love / Country Gospel (All Levels) with Karen Collins

Dig a Little Deeper in God’s Love / Country Gospel (All Levels)

Country Gospel songs have always been an important part of Classic Country music and they are often a big part of singing sessions and jams. With catchy choruses, gospel songs encourage that close harmony sound that singers love.

Country Gospel music is emotional and intense and you can hear that influence in the singing of the great country singers like Hank Williams, George Jones, Kitty Wells and others who sing from their heart.

Today gospel songs are an important part of American roots music which unites us in spite of our different backgrounds and paths.  In this class we’ll be doing group singing and searching for that perfect Country Gospel harmony sound. We’ll be learning songs like “Dig a Little Deep in God’s Love” (Davis Sisters) , “I’d Rather Live by the Side of the Road ” and “I know What You’re Talking About” (Louvin Brothers).  Students will receive lyric sheets and should bring an audio recorder and an open heart.  All singers welcome.

Karen Collins

Karen Collins is a coal miner’s daughter who grew up listening to the radio in the mountains of southwest Virginia. The echoes of those early country sounds resonate in her singing and her song writing.  Her songs are written and delivered in that classic country style on topics ranging from love and heartbreak to being stuck in traffic. Karen is lead singer in her honky-tonk country band, The Backroads Band, and her Cajun/zydeco band, Squeeze Bayou. She also sings in the acoustic country quartet, The Blue Moon Cowgirls, plays solo shows, and teaches harmony singing workshops. Karen has won multiple WAMMIE (Washington Area Music Association) awards for Best Country Vocalist, Best Country Band, and Best Country Recording. Most of her performances are in the DC/Baltimore area, but she often performs at Not-SXSW showcases in Austin, TX, and at the Hank Williams Museum in  Montgomery, AL.

Country Stars of the Big D Jamboree (All Levels) with Karen Collins

Country Stars of the Big D Jamboree (All Levels) 

From 1948 into the 1960s The Big D Jamboree broadcast on KRLD from the stage of the Dallas Sportorium was one of the biggest and most important of the Saturday night radio show barn dances.  Many of the best country and early rock’n’roll acts performed there.   We’ll be listening to and learning songs from some of the better known country stars and also some of the lesser known local Dallas singers who were featured.

The class will focus on the music of : Hank LocklinWanda Jackson, Webb Pierce, Leon Payne,  Charlene Arthur, Janet McBride and Sunshine Ruby. We’ll cover one or two different artists each day and will be doing lots of singing.  This is sure to be a fun class, so join us for the music of the Big D Jamboree.

Karen Collins

Karen Collins grew up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia in a coal mining community. She spent a lot of time listening to country music on the radio and singing in the local Baptist Church. The echoes of those early country sounds stand out in her singing and in her songwriting today. Karen is lead singer with the honky-tonk band Backroads Band, and with the Cajun/Zydeco band Squeeze Bayou. She also sings with the acoustic country quartet The Blue Moon Cowgirls, plays solo shows, and teaches harmony singing workshops in the Washington, DC, and Baltimore area. Karen has won Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards) for “Country Vocalist” and also “Country Duo/Group” for her band, Karen Collins & The Backroads Band.

Electric Guitar in Country Music: History & Licks (All Levels) with Thomas Bryan Eaton

Electric Guitar in Country Music: History & Licks (All Levels)

From the dawn of electrified guitars, country musicians have made use of their unparalleled sound and capabilities. In this class we will explore the rich history of Electric Guitar’s in Country Music, learning about the key players and how they influenced the genre (and guitarists of every genre!), as well as learning phrases and techniques that typified their personal styles. We’ll start at the beginning, looking at some of the earliest electric guitar players and work our way through such luminaries as Jimmy Bryant, Grady Martin, Roy Nichols, James Burton and more. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about Bill Kirchen too!

This will mostly be a beginner/intermediate level class, a basic understanding of the guitar and the ability to pick out single note melodies will be important. However, there will be much to gain from all levels of pickers.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with me at thomas.bryan.eaton@gmail.com.

Thomas Bryan Eaton

Thomas Bryan Eaton is the most fun, patient, organized yet relaxed teacher you will ever come across. He currently lives in the Nashville area where he is in demand as a studio musician. He writes and performs his own songs in solo performances and tours with Miss Tess and The Talkbacks. You may have heard the old saying that someone is “eat up with music”? Well, that is Thomas. He can stay up all night playing steel guitar, slide guitar, and singing whatever the jam or performance calls for. He knows all the old classic country songs and sings them with feeling that belies his young years. A young student wrote last year, “This man is a phenomenal musician, teacher, and human. He made the hardest instrument there seem not so daunting.” Believe it.

Melodic Improvisation in Country Music (All Levels) with Thomas Bryan Eaton

Melodic Improvisation in Country Music

Melodic Improvisation in Country Music (All Levels): This workshop will deal with the nuts and bolts of playing an instrumental lead in a country song. Some call them “solos,” but the whole band is still playing! Participants will learn how to break apart the vocal melody into basic building blocks and then interpret them in a tasteful and interesting manner. This is an intermediate workshop, so participants should be able to at least pick out a melody on their instrument. Some knowledge of scales and basic chords will also be helpful. This wprkshop is open to various instruments (acoustic guitar, fiddle, piano, steel guitar, Telecaster). In fact, some diversity would be welcome as different instruments have different ways to interpret melodies. If you have any questions, please get in touch with me at thomas.bryan.eaton@gmail.com.

Thomas Bryan Eaton

Thomas Bryan Eaton is the most fun, patient, organized yet relaxed teacher you will ever come across. He currently lives in the Nashville area where he is in demand as a studio musician. He writes and performs his own songs in solo performances and tours with Miss Tess and The Talkbacks. You may have heard the old saying that someone is “eat up with music”? Well, that is Thomas. He can stay up all night playing steel guitar, slide guitar, and singing whatever the jam or performance calls for. He knows all the old classic country songs and sings them with feeling that belies his young years. A young student wrote last year, “This man is a phenomenal musician, teacher, and human. He made the hardest instrument there seem not so daunting.” Believe it.

The Basic Country Right Hand (All Levels) with Kelli Jones

The Basic Country Right Hand (All Levels)

The Basic Country Right Hand (All Levels): In this workshop we’ll talk about just how much of a difference your right hand can make when playing rhythm guitar. Please be familiar with basic guitar chords and be comfortable changing between chords. We’ll work on a few different rhythms for some basic country songs in both 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures. We’ll all be rhythm machines by the end of the week!

Kelli Jones

Kelli Jones is a Louisiana transplant hailing originally from Raleigh, NC. During her eleven years in the Lafayette area she has quickly become a veritable force in the local music scene and today she is an internationally acclaimed fiddler, singer and songwriter. Performing regularly with the Cajun trio T’Monde, as a duo with her longtime musical accomplice Joel Savoy, and also as the fiddle player and songwriting force in the genre-bending, yet Cajun-rooted band, Feufollet. She has appeared on countless Louisiana recordings, including the 2016 Grammy-nominated I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax in the Evangeline Country, a collection of new versions of songs from the 1934 Alan Lomax recordings in Louisiana. Most recently Kelli has been touring as a a singer and fiddle player with the Alabama-based singer songwriter John Paul White (formerly of The Civil Wars).

Why Lefty Frizzell? (All Levels) with Kelli Jones

Why Lefty Frizzell? (All Levels)

Why Lefty Frizzell? (All Levels): Lefty Frizzell is revered by so many of our country heroes for both his unique singing style and songwriting. His songs have been recorded countless times, and his vocal influence can be heard in so many stars that came after him. What is it about him that’s so easy to love yet so hard to duplicate? We’ll talk a bit about his life as well as listen to and learn some of his well-known songs, and a few that are not so well-known. Bring a guitar if you want to, but most of all bring your ears, your voice, and a notebook to write lyrics in if you’d like.

Kelli Jones

Kelli Jones is a Louisiana transplant hailing originally from Raleigh, NC. During her eleven years in the Lafayette area she has quickly become a veritable force in the local music scene and today she is an internationally acclaimed fiddler, singer and songwriter. Performing regularly with the Cajun trio T’Monde, as a duo with her longtime musical accomplice Joel Savoy, and also as the fiddle player and songwriting force in the genre-bending, yet Cajun-rooted band, Feufollet. She has appeared on countless Louisiana recordings, including the 2016 Grammy-nominated I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax in the Evangeline Country, a collection of new versions of songs from the 1934 Alan Lomax recordings in Louisiana. Most recently Kelli has been touring as a a singer and fiddle player with the Alabama-based singer songwriter John Paul White (formerly of The Civil Wars).

Pedal Steel in Country Music (All Levels) with Leon Kasdorf

Pedal Steel in Country Music (All Levels)

From Leon, “This wonderful instrument can seem daunting, but I’ll cut through the complexity and get you started on the fundamental things needed to get you playing with a band. I’ll tailor the workshop to the experience level of the participants.”

Topics covered:

  • Picks and right hand technique
  • Major triad grips
  • Three places to find major chords
  • The three common minor chords and how to find them
  • Seventh and Ninth chords
  • Common intros and endings
  • Simple licks, scales, and patterns

Leon Kasdorf

Lynn “Leon” Kasdorf lives, eats, and breathes country music. Good country music. The old kind of country music. Through years of attentive listening to the Eddie Stubbs radio show, Lynn knows just about every honky-tonk song there is, and if there’s a pedal steel part, he’s learned it. Lynn is committed to recreating the perfection that is old country music, be it crooked, quirky, or timeless. His mission is to help others appreciate the elements that make early country music so great, and to perform this music with soul and conviction on any instrument.

Lynn is one of the busiest pedal steel players in the Washington DC/Baltimore region. He started off in high school fingerpicking guitar and banjo, and he got his first pedal steel in 1974 after falling in love with the sound. He currently plays with Arty Hill, Human Country Jukebox, the Hula Monsters, the Oklahoma Twisters, Karen Collins’ bands Backroads Band and Squeeze Bayou, and several others.

Things Musicians Need to Know (All Levels, All Instruments & Vocals) with Leon Kasdorf

Things Musicians Need to Know (All levels –  Vocals/All Instruments)

This will be a fun and very useful class for singers and players of any instrument, especially if you play with other people. There will be class participation, and a number of songs will be learned/played. Don’t let some of terms scare you off- this will be painless, and you don’t have to read music.

Topics covered:

  • The Nashville Number system – how to chart a song for any key with numbers
  • Typical intros and how to convey them (“give me a 5511”)
  • What is a turn around?
  • The magic of 3625 (aka circle of fifths made simple)
  • Walking bass or 2 beat bass?
  • How do key changes (modulations) work?
  • Songs that are in 2 keys (not modulation)
  • Songs in minor keys vs songs that use the 6 minor a lot
  • How to count off a song
  • Stagecraft and tips for running a band

Leon Kasdorf

Lynn “Leon” Kasdorf lives, eats, and breathes country music. Good country music. The old kind of country music. Through years of attentive listening to the Eddie Stubbs radio show, Lynn knows just about every honky-tonk song there is, and if there’s a pedal steel part, he’s learned it. Lynn is committed to recreating the perfection that is old country music, be it crooked, quirky, or timeless. His mission is to help others appreciate the elements that make early country music so great, and to perform this music with soul and conviction on any instrument.

Lynn is one of the busiest pedal steel players in the Washington DC/Baltimore region. He started off in high school fingerpicking guitar and banjo, and he got his first pedal steel in 1974 after falling in love with the sound. He currently plays with Arty Hill, Human Country Jukebox, the Hula Monsters, the Oklahoma Twisters, Karen Collins’ bands Backroads Band and Squeeze Bayou, and several others.

Harmony Singing 101 (From Scratch) Mini-Course with Debbi Kauffmann and Arty Hill

Harmony Singing 101 (From ScratchMini-Course

If you can carry a tune and would like to learn Southern harmony singing, this mini-class is for you. No knowledge of music theory is needed. We’ll discuss basic harmony theory and guide you in learning, by ear, to sing both two-part and three-part harmony. We’ll be finding the close harmonies of great early country, classic bluegrass, and gospel songs, creating the sound that touches our hearts and souls.

Debbi Kauffmann

Arty Hill

Debbi Kauffmann

Debbi Kauffmann was lucky to be born into a musical family outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She began singing and playing guitar as a teen and was introduced to both Irish and country music in her early adult years. After moving to the Baltimore area, Debbi had the opportunity to sing and play with great bluegrass musicians at the Sandpiper Inn and Arcadia Bluegrass festival. Later, she began singing with old-time musicians in York County, Pennsylvania, and at many festivals in West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Debbi has attended Irish, Old-Time, Vocal, and Classic Country weeks at Augusta. She has studied harmony singing with Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz, and has attended several other harmony workshops. Debbi has also greatly benefited from individual vocal instruction with Dede Wyland. In 2001 she began singing professionally with mandolinist Henry Koretzky in the duo Rootbound, recording in 2004. Debbi has also had the honor of joining Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz for several performances. She has been a member of two all-female string bands and two bluegrass bands, singing lead and harmony, playing guitar and bass. Southern harmony is what drew Debbi to this music and has always been at the heart of her love for the music.

Arty Hill

“One of the best country singers going right now is not from Texas or from Tennessee — he’s from Baltimore and his name is Arty Hill. He’s also is a first-class songwriter…” San Antonio Express.

Arty Hill has been a bandleader since he was 13 years old, and currently leads The Long Gone Daddys (bandmember Lynn Kasdorf is teaching pedal steel guitar at Augusta this year). Arty has recorded 7 CDs in the last 15 years, his songs have been in television shows and movies, and he is a co-founder and instructor at the Hank Williams Songwriting Workshop at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, AL, now in its fifth year.

Classic Country Essentials (All Levels) with John Lilly

Classic Country Essentials (All Levels)

This repertoire workshop for all levels will discover – or rediscover – the classic songs and artists who defined country music. Participants will listen to, discuss, and learn songs from artists including George Jones, Connie Smith, Merle Haggard, Kitty Wells, Hank Williams, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton, Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family, and others. This workshop is open to all singers who seek a firm foundation in classic country music or wish to reconnect on a deeper level with its core sound. Participants should bring their voices – no instruments needed.

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 full-time. 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.

Songwriting: Keeping It Real (All Levels) with John Lilly

Songwriting: Keeping It Real (All Levels)

Creating new songs in the style of classic country music is a high calling and a nearly lost art. This workshop will deconstruct a few unforgettable songs from the past to see what makes them still tick today. Then participants will craft a new song or two of their own. The participants will discuss song structure, tempo and “groove”, writing memorable melodies, finding solid hooks, balancing tradition and innovation, and above all, keeping it real. Copyrighting, publishing, collaboration, and song pitching will also be briefly discussed. Time will be made each day for song critiques and feedback – one song per participant (optional). Participants should bring a pen and pad of paper, a mobile recording device, and a guitar (optional).

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 full-time. 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.

Classic Country Duets (All Levels) with Emily Miller and Jesse Milnes

Classic Country Duets (All Levels)

Singing harmony, especially country harmony, can give pleasure like no other art form. This class is geared toward participants who already have a grasp of basic harmony singing, and will teach them how to bring their duet singing to the next level by fine tuning style and delivery. The class will focus on songs from classic country acts like the Louvin Brothers, Buck Owens and Don Rich, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, the Davis Sisters, and more, as well as some great old songs from the likes of Hank Williams and Kitty Wells that the instructors have worked up into soul-satisfying duets. Many great songs will be taught during the week, but participants are also encouraged to bring duets they want to polish up. Lyrics will be provided. Participants should bring a portable audio recording device.

Emily Miller

Jesse Milnes

 

Emily Miller

The first song Emily Miller remembers learning is the Louvin Brothers’ hit, “When I Stop Dreaming,” around age 8, which she sang as a duet with her older brother Ethan. After performing with many different groups in her teenage years (most notably Northern Harmony, with whom she toured all over the US and Europe), Emily formed the honky-tonk country band The Sweetback Sisters in 2006 with fellow singer Zara Bode. They have recorded three full-length records and have performed their renegade retro style of country music in barrooms, festival stages, and concert halls around the world, including appearances on A Prairie Home Companion and Mountain Stage. Emily and her husband Jesse Milnes also perform as a duo, singing country and old-time music in close harmony. Emily is musical director for the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble string band in Elkins, WV, which recruits talented old-time instrumentalists and percussive dancers from around the country for a high-level student performance ensemble. She and Jesse make their home in Valley Bend, WV.

Jesse Milnes

Jesse Milnes grew up in the world of West Virginia old-time music (his father is fiddler and folklorist Gerry Milnes). Although he is widely known as a fiddle player, Jesse’s first instrument was a guitar, and he has developed a personal style of finger-picking, drawing on influences from blues to bluegrass to country. He has played fiddle and guitar with many country, old-time, and bluegrass bands over the years, including the Sweetback Sisters, a country band for which he was also a main songwriter. Jesse has won many local and regional fiddle contests, including the WV State Folk Festival in Glenville, WV, and the Ed Haley Fiddle Contest in Ashland, KY. Jesse and his wife, Emily Miller, recently toured in Australia and California and recorded their first album as a duo. They live in Valley Bend, WV.

Singing a Confident Solo (All Levels) with Emily Miller

Singing a Confident Solo (All Levels)

This class will take on the full scope of how to be the lead singer in a country band, both in terms of mastering vocal style and leading your band. Although no one will be expected to be the country “stars” at the outset, students should feel comfortable singing on their own.  We will learn some great Classic Country songs as a class (think Kitty Wells, Ray Price, Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams), but students are also encouraged to bring old songs that they love for fine tuning. We will make time for singing, discussing performance/delivery issues that students may encounter, and providing master-class style feedback to everyone who wants that. Students who play instruments can bring them along, but the main focus will be on lead singing style and technique. Lyrics will be furnished.  Students should bring an audio recording device.

Emily Miller

The first song Emily Miller remembers learning is the Louvin Brothers’ hit, “When I Stop Dreaming,” around age 8, which she sang as a duet with her older brother Ethan. After performing with many different groups in her teenage years (most notably Northern Harmony, with whom she toured all over the US and Europe), Emily formed the honky-tonk country band The Sweetback Sisters in 2006 with fellow singer Zara Bode. They have recorded three full-length records and have performed their renegade retro style of country music in barrooms, festival stages, and concert halls around the world, including appearances on A Prairie Home Companion and Mountain Stage. Emily and her husband Jesse Milnes also perform as a duo, singing country and old-time music in close harmony. Emily is musical director for the Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble string band in Elkins, WV, which recruits talented old-time instrumentalists and percussive dancers from around the country for a high-level student performance ensemble. She and Jesse make their home in Valley Bend, WV.

Playing Fiddle in Country Music (All Levels) with Jesse Milnes

Playing Fiddle in Country Music (All Levels)

This class will focus on learning to play leads and fills in an appropriate style to accompany country songs. It will be geared particularly towards fiddlers who play fiddle tunes (whether old-time, Cajun, Irish, or some other style) and want to learn to play songs as well. Participants will learn to use their ears to pick up a melody, decide how and when to play fills, and learn bowing techniques that will help them slow down and simplify their playing to match the way a singer might sing a melody. The class will also cover how to kick off a tune and how to construct a fiddle break.

Jesse Milnes

Jesse Milnes grew up in the world of West Virginia old-time music (his father is fiddler and folklorist Gerry Milnes). Although he is widely known as a fiddle player, Jesse’s first instrument was a guitar, and he has developed a personal style of finger-picking, drawing on influences from blues to bluegrass to country. He has played fiddle and guitar with many country, old-time, and bluegrass bands over the years, including the Sweetback Sisters, a country band for which he was also a main songwriter. Jesse has won many local and regional fiddle contests, including the WV State Folk Festival in Glenville, WV, and the Ed Haley Fiddle Contest in Ashland, KY. Jesse and his wife, Emily Miller, recently toured in Australia and California and recorded their first album as a duo. They live in Valley Bend, WV.

Acoustic Bass in a Country Band (Beg/Int bass) with Miss Tess

Acoustic Bass in a Country Band (Beg/Int bass)

In this class we will look at the acoustic bass and it’s role in country music standards.  We fill focus on hearing chord changes, keeping good time, and playing simple lines to support the singer and other instruments.  We will touch upon techniques to make your bass easier to play, and to support getting the best tones on the instrument.

Miss Tess

Miss Tess has been leading her own band, performing, and touring professionally for the last decade. She currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, making a living as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and bassist. Tess specializes in writing and playing American roots music including styles of country, blues, and swing.

The Many Rhythms of Classic Country Music (Int/Advanced ) with Miss Tess

The Many Rhythms of Classic Country Music  (Int/Advanced ) 

In this class we will be delving into the rhythms in classic country tunes.  We will work on 2-steps, walking shuffles, western swing, 12/8 tunes, straight 8th feel, and stretching ideas for note choices or bass lines in the context of the song.

Miss Tess

Miss Tess has been leading her own band, performing, and touring professionally for the last decade. She currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, making a living as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and bassist. Tess specializes in writing and playing American roots music including styles of country, blues, and swing.

Arty Hill, Jam Leader

Arty Hill

“One of the best country singers going right now is not from Texas or from Tennessee — he’s from Baltimore and his name is Arty Hill. He’s also is a first-class songwriter…” San Antonio Express.

This year’s jam leader, Arty Hill, has been a bandleader since he was 13 years old, and currently leads The Long Gone Daddys (band member Lynn Kasdorf is teaching pedal steel guitar at Augusta this year). Arty has recorded 7 cds in the last 15 years, his songs have been in television shows and movies, and he is a co-founder and instructor at the Hank Williams Songwriting Workshop at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, AL, now in its fifth year.

Arty has jammed frequently at Augusta and he knows how to help a jam session be fun: to help everyone involved bring something good to the table, get a chance to participate, play and sing and play their best, and make a real pretty sound. Arty knows hundreds of classic country songs and his enthusiasm for the music will make you glad you came to Augusta !

Scott Phelps, Musician

Scott Phelps

As a past recipient of an Augusta Scholarship, Scott Phelps understands the power of a week spent studying at Augusta. After purchasing his first guitar at 21 years old, Scott has spent countless hours studying all forms of American roots music. He is particularly passionate about early country, early rock n’ roll, and rock-a-billy music. He holds a graduate degree in Archival Studies from East Tennessee State University where he participated in the internationally recognized Bluegrass, Old-Time, and country Music program. During this time he studied bluegrass guitar, old-time banjo, and honk-tonk electric guitar. In addition to being a musician, Scott spent several years as a performing member of the Green Grass Cloggers. He had the opportunity to dance at music festivals such as Merlefest and LEAF, as well as perform with the Carolina Chocolate Drops on several occasions.

 

Click here to see all  mini courses offered this week!

 

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!