Blues Week

Blues Week

July 12-17, 2020

Augusta’s Blues Week provides participants with the opportunity to work with some of the finest performers and educators in the Blues world today. Workshops cover a variety of styles and levels of instruction on guitar, bass, piano, harmonica and voice, as well as the history of the art form and a dance track. Evening activities include legendary late-night jams, concerts, and dances. All workshops are intended for those who can already play their instrument to some extent and are ready to start learning blues style, technique and repertoire. Youth, as well as adults, are welcome to participate.

Blues Week runs concurrently with Vocal Week; American String Band workshops (old-time music); Arts, Crafts, & Folklore Workshops; Folk Arts for Kids; and Evening Mini-Courses. Participants can take advantage of all that is offered on campus that week by attending special events, swapping tunes and songs in jam sessions, and sharing in the fun.

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

Registration will open on Feb 1, 2020. 

(+ Room & Board or other available options.)

Please select workshops for Periods 1 – 4 when you register.
Register Here!

Full Class Schedule for Blues Week 2020!

Coordinator (Blues) – Phil Wiggins


Washington, D.C. native Phil Wiggins, a Takoma Park, Maryland, resident, blues musician, teacher and artistic director, a two time winner of the prestigious WC Handy Blues Foundation awards, is only the third harmonica player to receive the lifetime honor of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship. Today he is the only living player of the instrument to hold the prestigious honor of being a “Master of Traditional Arts.” Often referred to by its unofficial designation as “Living Cultural Treasure” award, the fellowship honors and preserves the diverse cultural heritage in the United States. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) annually awards one-time-only NEA National Heritage Fellowships to master folk and traditional artists, to recognize lifetime achievement, artistic excellence, and contributions to our nation’s traditional arts heritage.

The NEA National Heritage Fellowship has been bestowed on some of the greatest luminaries in traditional and folk music. In the traditional blues genre, past winners include some of the most important figures in blues history: B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Pinetop Perkins, Sunnyland Slim, Elizabeth Cotton, Clifton Chenier, Robert Lockwood Jr., Honeyboy Edwards, Brownie McGhee, Jack Owens, Mavis Staples and her father Pops Staples, and many more. Harmonica players Sonny Terry and Elder Roma Wilson are the only other harmonica instrumentalists to receive the honor.

Phil now joins the ranks of his eminent elders, friends and compatriots in the Washington, D.C area traditional Piedmont blues scene to win this distinguished award. His former duo partner, the Piedmont blues singer and guitarist John Cephas, received the National Heritage Fellowship Award in 1989. Phil’s friend and early career catalyst , the great blues singer/guitarist and songster John Jackson received the honor in 1986. The blues singer/guitarist and songster Warner Williams, who took the award in 2011, is now the only other living practitioner of the regional traditional blues besides Phil Wiggins with this recognition.

He is a versatile traditional harmonica player, continuing the Piedmont blues tradition, a gentle and melodic blues style of the mid-Atlantic region. He plays the diatonic ten-hole harmonica in the country blues style, cupping both hands around the instrument and playing acoustically. His sound is not shaped by the gear, the microphone or amplifier when performing on stage, instead by his complex syncopated patterns, breath-control and rhythm, stylistic virtuosity and fiery solo runs.

As a teenager living in Washington D.C. in the 1970s, he played at the Smithsonian National Folklife Festival with street singer Flora Molton, sitting in with blues greats Johnny Shines, Sunnyland Slim, Sam Chatmon, Robert Belfour and Howard Armstrong. By the time he graduated from high school in 1973, D.C. blues elders John Jackson, John Cephas and Archie Edwards had embraced him. He joined the Barrelhouse Rockers, a band fronted by pianist and singer Wilbert “Big Chief” Ellis, where John Cephas played guitar. They toured regionally until Ellis retired in 1977, when John Cephas invited him to join in the duo ‘Cephas & Wiggins’.

With John Cephas as guitarist and primary singer, the duo performed together for 32 years as internationally renowned stars of the country blues, and a staple on blues radio, ever present on the concert and festival circuit – all with the help of National Council for Traditional Arts director Joe Wilson. Cephas & Wiggins played Carnegie Hall, Royal Prince Albert Hall in London and the Sydney Opera House, as well as small venues worldwide, touring every continent except Antarctica. They recorded more than a dozen critically acclaimed albums, including on Flying Fish and Alligator Records, winning the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Award in 1984 for Best Traditional Album of the Year and in 1987 as Entertainers of the Year. They even performed at the White House with B.B. King. Phil Wiggins as well as Cephas & Wiggins have been featured in major music magazines, including on the cover of Living Blues, and the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and many more. University of Maryland professor, author, blues historian and producer Dr. Barry Lee Pearson has released numerous Cephas & Wiggins tracks on his Smithsonian Folkways album collections, in addition to his frequent writings over more than 30 years, which also featured the duo and John Cephas’ autobiography.

Since the 2009 death of John Cephas, Phil has performed with numerous musicians including Nat Reese, Corey Harris, Australian guitarist Dom Turner, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, Sherman Holmes, the Rev. John Wilkins, Jerron Paxton, and longtime friends Eleanor Ellis and Rick Franklin. He fronts the acoustic swing/roots/blues ensemble, the Chesapeake Sheiks, and is actively engaged in reuniting the Piedmont blues with its origins of African American buck and tap dancing.
Phil has taught thousands of burgeoning harmonica players and actively continues to teach and lead as artistic director in workshops, such as at the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia and the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop in Washington State. Plus, he continues to play an active role on the board of the National Council for Traditional Arts.

Additionally, he performed in the feature film Matewan about the coal mining wars in West Virginia, written and directed by John Sayles. Phil appears in the film and contributed music to the soundtrack. He also appeared in Blues Houseparty , a documentary produced by Eleanor Ellis that captures a wonderful celebration of music and culture that takes place at the home of John Jackson. Phil appears in the film and supplies the voiceover narration. Plus: Portland Mojo: How Stumptown Got the Blues Written and produced by Bob Lietch, a documentary film about the blues scene in Portland, Oregon, narrated by Phil. Letters from Mound Bayou A documentary film about the establishment of a community health center for the rural community of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Produced by an activist group in Washington, D.C. called Video Action, Phil wrote and performed the music for the soundtrack.

Coordinator (Blues) – Joan Fenton

Joan Fenton has worked as a musician, folklorist, and business woman. She is the recipient of the WC Handy award for keeping the blues alive in education. She produced traditional music shows for 15 years for various radio stations and received two National Endowment for the Arts grants to record traditional musicians. Her field recordings can be found at the D&E Library and in the Joan Fenton collection at the University of NC at Chapel Hill library. Her work with nonprofits includes serving on the executive board of the Folk Alliance.

Guitar

Country Blues Guitar Fingerpicking Basics – Part 1 & 2 (Beginning) – Valerie Turner

These two workshops will be conducted in daily, back-to-back sessions and it is an opportunity for participants to be immersed in Country Blues guitar fingerpicking for an entire morning each day.

The first session (Part I) will focus on learning basic guitar fingerpicking skills and techniques along with first position chords. This session is ideal for guitar players who are new to fingerpicking, or those who want to brush-up on fingerpicking basics. A new skill will be introduced each day along with new chords, drills, exercises, and lots of time to practice. If time allows, we’ll also get a head start on the Country Blues arrangement that will be presented in the second session.

The second session (Part II) is a repertoire-based class that picks up where Part I leaves off. Participants in the Part II workshop should be familiar with basic first position guitar chords and be able to keep time while changing between them. The goal in each Part II session will be to learn a new Country Blues guitar arrangement, primarily using the skills and techniques being covered during the previous Part I session. Songs will be presented in a variety of keys, structures, and timings.

Participants are welcome to attend one or both sessions with the caveat that Part II attendees must be familiar with the skills presented in the corresponding Part I session. Both sessions will begin with a brief review of the previous day’s work, move at an easy pace, and will be taught by ear. Each session will conclude with a short summary and it is recommended that participants are encouraged to bring recording devices to capture this important information.

Valerie Turner

Valerie Turner plays finger style country blues guitar and specializes in the Piedmont style of fingerpicking. She has taught at Blues & Swing Week in West Virginia, Blues in the Gorge in Oregon, the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation in Maryland, and the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop in Washington. She is also the author of Piedmont Style Country Blues Guitar Basics, an independently published book that was acquired by the Library of Congress in 2017. Her guitar playing is reminiscent of traditional blues greats like Mississippi John Hurt, Etta Baker, and Elizabeth Cotten.

Valerie is a native New Yorker with southern roots. During the great migration, when millions of African Americans left southern American towns and ventured to the industrialized cities of the west and the north, Valerie’s grandparents and parents abandoned their ties with Virginia and Georgia and relocated to New York City where she was born and raised. One grandparent moved as far north as Saranac Lake, and summer visits to the Adirondacks are where Valerie was first introduced to hoedowns, square dancing, and country music. Her love of traditional, acoustic music was reinforced by visits to Washington Square Park with her parents on most fair-weather weekends, where she was exposed to New York City’s folk music scene at a very young age.

Valerie’s official introduction to country blues music came through Stefan Grossman’s book, Country Blues Guitar, which she discovered in her late teens. She had many interesting teachers over the years, beginning with Jack Baker of the Fretted Instruments School in Greenwich Village. Valerie also studied with Woody Mann, a former student of Rev. Gary Davis. Her main influence, however, was John Cephas, a world-renowned, Piedmont style, country blues musician from Washington, DC, and half of the famed Cephas & Wiggins duo which included his enormously talented harp playing partner, Phil Wiggins. By the time Valerie met Cephas, he was living on a sprawling ranch in Virginia and, in addition to attending his formal workshops, she would occasionally travel to Virginia to study with him there.

Valerie is a co-founder of the Piedmont Bluz Acoustic Duo in which she performs with her husband, Benedict Turner. The duo was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame in 2018 and, in addition to a host of domestic venues and festivals from coast to coast, these tradition bearers have traveled as far as Israel, Ireland, Spain, and Germany to share their music.

Piedmont Blues Guitar: Parts 1 & 2 (Beginning) – Justin Golden

In this workshop, participants will learn basic Piedmont Blues Guitar techniques. Participants will practice building finger/thumb independence, basic picking patterns, a few essential Piedmont licks, and develop a foundation for further study. We will focus on a couple of Piedmont Blues tunes to help reinforce technique.

On the left hand, participants will learn picking patterns using mainly open chords. On the right hand, we will examine how to incorporate an independent alternating bass line and learn how to use the index, middle, and ring fingers to make intricate melodies.

Participants should have basic knowledge of chords.

Justin Golden

Justin Golden’s origins are deeply vested in the blues. With roots in the Mississippi Delta, Chicago, and the Piedmont of Virginia, he has always felt most connected to the blues. First picking up the guitar at age 19, Golden did what came naturally and let the music flow through him. With an extremely diverse musical palette, Golden aims to bring some new ideas to traditional blues forms.

The Piedmont Blues style came to Golden in a dream. Before he had ever heard the term, he had written several songs in the Piedmont style. He seemed destined to play the blues in his own way. Now 27 years old, Golden calls Richmond, VA, his home base. He tours regionally, and as far north as Montreal.

Blues Guitar: Women of Acoustic Blues (Beginning/Intermediate) – Erin Harpe

In this workshop Erin gives students an overview of early women of the acoustic blues – who accompanied themselves by snapping and bending strings just as masterfully as their male counterparts! Though these women didn’t record many songs and weren’t as famous, their unique songs and masterful guitar playing have been influential and stand the test of time. The class will discuss what is known of these obscure blues women, and learn songs by Geeshie Wiley, Elvie Thomas, Mattie Delaney, Jessie Mae Hemphill, and Elizabeth Cotton. Skills covered include varied picking patterns, playing in different keys, and some innovative guitar styles invented by these ladies as they played solo or as a duo (like Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas). Resources will be provided for students including tabs and lyric sheets.

Erin Harpe

Boston-based guitarist, singer, songwriter, and visual artist Erin Harpe is a two-time Boston Music Award-winner and three-time International Blues Challenge semifinalist. Growing up watching her dad, Neil Harpe, along with a long list of other local DC area acoustic blues players, Erin soaked it all in. She remembers being a little girl attending performances by Neil, Eleanor Ellis, Rick Franklin, John Cephas and Phil Wiggins, John Jackson, Archie Edwards, Warner Williams and Jay Summerour, and many more – and she was inspired to pick up the guitar in her teens. Early on Erin learned fingerpicking songs directly from her dad, as well as from Eleanor Ellis, who she cites as a big influence. After relocating to Boston, she continued to develop her own unique guitar and vocal style, influenced by piedmont and country blues, which often moves listeners to get up and dance. She performs original songs as well as her own spirited arrangements of songs by Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, Mississippi John Hurt, Tommy Johnson, and many more – both solo, and with her blues bands Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers and Erin Harpe’s Country Blues Trio. (She also fronts the electro dance rock band Lovewhip!) Erin has released two acoustic blues albums, “Blues Roots” and “Delta Blues Duets” (an album of duets with her dad), as well as two albums with Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers – 2014’s “Love Whip Blues” and her brand new self-produced album “Big Road” (out on the VizzTone label). In 2016, she also released an instructional guitar DVD “Women of the Country Blues Guitar,” through Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop. For more information, music, videos, tour schedule, and more check out Erin’s website: www.erinharpe.com.

Pickin’ and Poppin’: Delta Blues Guitar Technique (Intermediate) – Erin Harpe

In this workshop, Erin teaches delta blues finger-style songs that highlight what she calls “Pickin’ and Poppin’”. Students will learn to add some percussiveness to their playing by learning the “Poppin’” thumb technique, snapping the lower strings to give an extra pop, while “Pickin’” out the melodic lines. Erin will break songs down and help each student adapt the technique to their own playing style. This class is for beginning to intermediate finger-style guitar players. Resources will be provided for students including tabs and lyric sheets.

Erin Harpe

Boston-based guitarist, singer, songwriter, and visual artist Erin Harpe is a two-time Boston Music Award-winner and three-time International Blues Challenge semifinalist. Growing up watching her dad, Neil Harpe, along with a long list of other local DC area acoustic blues players, Erin soaked it all in. She remembers being a little girl attending performances by Neil, Eleanor Ellis, Rick Franklin, John Cephas and Phil Wiggins, John Jackson, Archie Edwards, Warner Williams and Jay Summerour, and many more – and she was inspired to pick up the guitar in her teens. Early on Erin learned fingerpicking songs directly from her dad, as well as from Eleanor Ellis, who she cites as a big influence. After relocating to Boston, she continued to develop her own unique guitar and vocal style, influenced by piedmont and country blues, which often moves listeners to get up and dance. She performs original songs as well as her own spirited arrangements of songs by Memphis Minnie, Bessie Smith, Mississippi John Hurt, Tommy Johnson, and many more – both solo, and with her blues bands Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers and Erin Harpe’s Country Blues Trio. (She also fronts the electro dance rock band Lovewhip!) Erin has released two acoustic blues albums, “Blues Roots” and “Delta Blues Duets” (an album of duets with her dad), as well as two albums with Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers – 2014’s “Love Whip Blues” and her brand new self-produced album “Big Road” (out on the VizzTone label). In 2016, she also released an instructional guitar DVD “Women of the Country Blues Guitar,” through Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop. For more information, music, videos, tour schedule, and more check out Erin’s website: www.erinharpe.com.

Spirituals & Gospel for Guitar (Beginning / Intermediate) – Hubby Jenkins

In America, Gospel music has been the cornerstone of communities, the soundtrack of movements such as civil rights, and the inspiration for many popular songs. In this class we will talk about the history around spirituals and gospel songs as we learn them, covering songs from slave poets and gospel composers alike.

Hubby Jenkins

Hubby Jenkins is a talented multi-instrumentalist who endeavors to share his love and knowledge of old-time American music. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he delved into his Southern roots, following the thread of African American history that wove itself through country blues, ragtime, fiddle and banjo, and traditional jazz. Hubby got his higher musical education started as a busker. He developed his guitar and vocal craft on the sidewalks and subway platforms of New York City, performing material by those venerable artists whose work he was quickly absorbing. An ambitiously itinerant musician, he took his show on the road, playing the streets, coffee shops, bars, and house parties of cities around the US. After years of busking around the country and making a name for himself, Hubby became acquainted with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Since 2010 he has been an integral part of the Grammy award winning band and continues to make solo performances.

Blues Guitar: Slidin’ on the Frets (Intermediate)—Hubby Jenkins

The distinctive sound of blues being played on guitar with a bottleneck slide has its roots in Hawaii, the Diddley bow and one stringed ancestors in Africa. In this class we will study the proper technique for holding a slide and intonation. We will begin with the first known bottleneck style recording by Sylvester weaver and work our way to delta blues styles.

Hubby Jenkins

Hubby Jenkins is a talented multi-instrumentalist who endeavors to share his love and knowledge of old-time American music. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he delved into his Southern roots, following the thread of African American history that wove itself through country blues, ragtime, fiddle and banjo, and traditional jazz. Hubby got his higher musical education started as a busker. He developed his guitar and vocal craft on the sidewalks and subway platforms of New York City, performing material by those venerable artists whose work he was quickly absorbing. An ambitiously itinerant musician, he took his show on the road, playing the streets, coffee shops, bars, and house parties of cities around the US. After years of busking around the country and making a name for himself, Hubby became acquainted with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Since 2010 he has been an integral part of the Grammy award winning band and continues to make solo performances.

Blues Guitar: Mixed Bag of Traditional Blues Styles (Intermediate) – Eric Noden

Eric will teach a variety of fingerpicking styles from his catalogue of traditional acoustic blues tunes. Tabs and lyrics will be provided for all songs.

Eric Noden

Deeply rooted in the music of ’20s and ’30s blues pioneers, Eric Noden’s percussive guitar work, timeless songwriting, and well-traveled blues vocals have earned the respect of audiences, critics, and musicians worldwide. The Illinois Entertainer described Eric as “a spiritual heir to Chicago blues guitarists of the ’20s and ’30s like Tampa Red and Big Bill Broonzy.”

This multi-talented acoustic artist fills an important niche in the city’s mostly plugged-in blues scene. Similarly, Eric’s artistry was also recognized in Cadence Magazine, which said he is, “intent on mastering older styles while transporting them and us into a new century where the past is not forgotten.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel adds, “The Chicago-based bluesman makes a National Resonator guitar absolutely wail.”

Eric Noden sings, shouts, and stomps while conjuring old spirits from the strings of his acoustic guitar. Varying his approach from song to song, Noden draws from a deep well of American music that fuels his high energy performances. His right-hand thumb often lays down a driving bass figure that weaves around intricate melodic parts played with his fingers. This style, favored by early bluesmen like Charley Patton, Reverend Gary Davis, and Blind Blake, is one that only a few contemporary bluesmen have mastered.

Delta Blues Guitar (Intermediate) – Jontavious Willis

Class description coming soon!

Jontavious Willis

Hailing from Greenville, Georgia, Jontavious Willis grew up singing gospel music at the Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church with his grandfather. At the age of 14, he came across a YouTube video of Muddy Waters playing “Hoochie Coochie Man” and was hooked. That’s when he set his course on the blues. As a fingerpicker, flat-picker, and slide player, he explored all types of blues — Delta, Piedmont, Texas, gospel — and on harmonica, banjo, and cigar box.

Four years later he was playing on Taj Mahal’s stage. Currently Jontavious is finishing his studies at Columbus State University, majoring in sociology. But on most weekends, he can be found playing a small house show, up on the main stage, or posting music videos for his friends and fans around the world.

Jontavious was nominated for a GRAMMY in 2020 for Best Traditional Blues Album.

Moveable Chords: Playing Blues Guitar Up the Neck (Intermediate) – Joan Fenton

Unlock the mysteries of playing up the neck. Most guitarists just play chords in first position or with a capo. Participants in this workshop will learn how to take 3 and 4 finger chords and move them up and down the neck and learn how to take a song and play it in any key. Then they will explore how to pick out melodies while holding the chord and also how to find the chords in a song. It’s a “must-take” class for guitarists who feel they are stuck down the neck, or who, when they play up the neck, really don’t feel comfortable or know exactly what they are doing. Participants should know how to play basic first position chords A, B, C, D, E, F, and B7, and be able to switch chords easily.

Joan Fenton in class

Joan Fenton

Joan Fenton has worked as a musician, folklorist, and business woman. She is the recipient of the WC Handy award for keeping the blues alive in education. She produced traditional music shows for 15 years for various radio stations and received two National Endowment for the Arts grants to record traditional musicians. Her field recordings can be found at the D&E Library and in the Joan Fenton collection at the University of NC at Chapel Hill library. Her work with nonprofits includes serving on the executive board of the Folk Alliance.

Slide Guitar (Intermediate) – Samuel James

From Son House to Muddy Waters, from Robert Johnson to Mississippi Fred McDowell, participants will learn the techniques and styles of the old masters and find the one that’s right for them. Participants who are curious about playing acoustic slide guitar or know the basics but are looking to sharpen up are all welcome. Participants can come in as absolute beginners — they can literally have just picked up a guitar on the way to class, and as long as they’ve got a slide and two hands we can make it happen! This class will cover open tunings as well as what that even means. It will also cover the best ways to hold a slide and the best techniques for self-expression while using it. For this class participants won’t need to know how to read music. They won’t even need to know one single chord. A metal slide is recommended specifically because it won’t break and can be found easier if it is dropped, but it’s up to the participants’ personal preferences. A guitar tuner is also recommended.

Samuel James

With a voice of grit and gravel, roots musician Samuel James sings with an authenticity lost in time. A modern guitar master, James’ skill has a depth and range that seems impossible for a man with only two hands. An award-winning songwriter, one of the world’s most innovative guitar players, and a Moth-featured storyteller, James brings all of this to his amazing stage show. His live performance is not just a concert, it is an event.

Three Notes & the Truth (Intermediate) – Tom Mitchell

Have you ever wondered how a Jazz guitar player navigated their way through what seemed to be a chord change every other beat or worse yet every beat? Well, as usual there no substitute for practice and time spent learning how to play your instrument but… Tom Mitchell has something that will be a valuable tool if you aren’t already aware of it. In this workshop he will show you how to use three-note chord shapes to navigate some of the more common chord changes that you will come up against in Jazz. Three note chords, used by countless swing/jazz guitar players from the late ’20s to the present, are a vital part of a guitar player’s arsenal. Participants will start by getting comfortable with moving one simple shape around to play a minor blues, concentrating on swinging together with the whole group. Next, participants will add more shapes and sounds to make it a little more interesting and soon move into a major blues. From there participants will go on to applying their newfound three-note wonders to some jazz standards and turnarounds. Participants will also work on analyzing these shapes and sounds to make the best use of them. At this point, Tom will ask participants not to let a little music theory (very little) send them running. The more you know about how these things work, the more you will be able to utilize them in your playing. This is an intermediate level workshop: Participants should feel very comfortable with basic guitar chord shapes and keep good, consistent rhythm while making chord changes. This is also a great workshop for people who want to refresh their knowledge of three-note moveable swing chords.

Tom Mitchell

Tom Mitchell’s guitar playing is rooted in the styles of the 1920s and ’30s jazz, western swing, country blues, and old-time music. Ten years of playing with the legendary Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks took him around the world and led to the recording of two acclaimed CDs including Beatin’ the Heat, which featured guest appearances by Bette Midler, Ricki Lee Jones, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and Brian Setzer. His work with Ann Savoy and her Sleepless Knights led to a movie soundtrack spot and producer credits for the Sony picture All the King’s Men. He makes his home in Baltimore where he can be seen playing with some great players and bands including the Blue Rhythm Boys and The Redwine Jazz Trio.

As a teacher and performer, Tom has worked at many music and dance workshops and camps such as Ashokan Fiddle and Dance, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, The Swannanoa Gathering, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, and Augusta Heritage Center.

Tom’s love of swing guitar shines brightly through his playing, and his extensive knowledge and appreciation of jazz history and tradition brings a “true to style” integrity to any venture he undertakes.

Guitar – Slide / Bottleneck Guitar (Intermediate / Advanced) – Lightnin’ Wells

This workshop will cover pre-war songs and techniques for the blues slide guitar in open D and G tunings. Bring a metal or glass slide.

Lightnin’ Wells

Mike “Lightnin'” Wells breathes new life into the vintage tunes of 1920s and Depression era America, employing various appropriate stringed instruments in a dynamic style which he has honed over forty years of performing. Raised in eastern North Carolina, Wells learned to play harmonica as a young child and later taught himself to play the guitar as he developed a strong interest in traditional blues and folk music. His many years of public performance began in Chapel Hill, NC, in the early 1970s. During the following decades he has presented his brand of acoustic blues throughout North Carolina, the United States, and Europe.

Lightnin’ is a life-long student and devotee of the pioneering performers in the piedmont blues tradition which once thrived in the Carolinas, including such artists as Blind Boy Fuller, Rev. Gary Davis, and Elizabeth Cotten, deceased musicians whose influence seems only to grow with time. He also produced the first commercial recordings of the NC blues veterans Big Boy Henry, Algia Mae Hinton, and George Higgs, and has traveled and performed extensively with these musicians in past years.

Since 1995, Lightnin’ Wells has had five solo CDs released with contributions to at least five other compilations and projects. This year, he will release a new CD release on the German Blind Lemon Records label. Publications have included contributions to the Encyclopedia of North Carolina, North Carolina Tar Heel Junior Historian, Music Makers, Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America, as well as various blues CD liner notes.

Besides his beloved guitar, Lightnin’ plays the harmonica, ukulele, mandolin, and banjo. He has taught blues guitar and ukulele at most of the leading “Blues Weeks” sponsored by universities and teaching organizations throughout the country. He served for ten years as a board member for the Music Maker Relief Foundation and is presently included in the North Carolina Arts Council’s Touring Artist Roster.

With his experience, knowledge and well-honed performance skills, Lightnin’ Wells has established himself at the forefront of the traditional blues revival. His musical style is personal and energetic yet remains true to the original root form. His goal is to entertain and educate using a variety of sources, influences, and techniques to express his dedication, respect, and pleasure in presenting this unique American art form. Wrote one recent reviewer, “Whether you look to performers for inspiration, education, virtuosity, or sheer entertainment, Lightnin’ Wells delivers all the above, every single time”. www.lightninwells.com

Acoustic Blues Guitar Repertoire (Intermediate / Advanced) – Lightnin’ Wells

Lightnin’ Wells will teach Piedmont style blues guitar featuring the finger-picking style. The workshop will explore blues tunes in the keys of C, G, A, D, and drop D, and possibly some open tunings. The workshop will cover tunes from such Piedmont blues artists such as Blind Boy Fuller, Gary Davis, Sylvester Weaver, Elizabeth Cotten and William Moore. Students should have some familiarity with finger-picking guitar techniques.

Lightnin’ Wells

Mike “Lightnin'” Wells breathes new life into the vintage tunes of 1920s and Depression era America, employing various appropriate stringed instruments in a dynamic style which he has honed over forty years of performing. Raised in eastern North Carolina, Wells learned to play harmonica as a young child and later taught himself to play the guitar as he developed a strong interest in traditional blues and folk music. His many years of public performance began in Chapel Hill, NC, in the early 1970s. During the following decades he has presented his brand of acoustic blues throughout North Carolina, the United States, and Europe.

Lightnin’ is a life-long student and devotee of the pioneering performers in the piedmont blues tradition which once thrived in the Carolinas, including such artists as Blind Boy Fuller, Rev. Gary Davis, and Elizabeth Cotten, deceased musicians whose influence seems only to grow with time. He also produced the first commercial recordings of the NC blues veterans Big Boy Henry, Algia Mae Hinton, and George Higgs, and has traveled and performed extensively with these musicians in past years.

Since 1995, Lightnin’ Wells has had five solo CDs released with contributions to at least five other compilations and projects. This year, he will release a new CD release on the German Blind Lemon Records label. Publications have included contributions to the Encyclopedia of North Carolina, North Carolina Tar Heel Junior Historian, Music Makers, Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America, as well as various blues CD liner notes.

Besides his beloved guitar, Lightnin’ plays the harmonica, ukulele, mandolin, and banjo. He has taught blues guitar and ukulele at most of the leading “Blues Weeks” sponsored by universities and teaching organizations throughout the country. He served for ten years as a board member for the Music Maker Relief Foundation and is presently included in the North Carolina Arts Council’s Touring Artist Roster.

With his experience, knowledge and well-honed performance skills, Lightnin’ Wells has established himself at the forefront of the traditional blues revival. His musical style is personal and energetic yet remains true to the original root form. His goal is to entertain and educate using a variety of sources, influences, and techniques to express his dedication, respect, and pleasure in presenting this unique American art form. Wrote one recent reviewer, “Whether you look to performers for inspiration, education, virtuosity, or sheer entertainment, Lightnin’ Wells delivers all the above, every single time”. www.lightninwells.com

Acoustic Blues Guitar Repertoire (Intermediate / Advanced) – Eleanor Ellis

No matter what the song or who the musician, you can almost always find something unique or peculiar going on in old-time acoustic blues, whether in the subject matter, the structure of the song, the guitar accompaniment, the style of the singer, or a combination of the above. Country blues is not all the same song, and the songs are not always the same tune. We’ll find and learn some interesting songs from the acoustic country blues tradition, songs which you can play as is or adapt to your own style and make your own.

Eleanor Ellis

Blues musician Eleanor Ellis, a native of Louisiana, has taught and played throughout the United States and Europe. She has developed a distinctive and personal approach to the music. According to one reviewer, “More than copying one artist or another, Ellis distills the elements of the originals and transmits them, intact, in her own expressive way.” Her musical influences include the blues musicians she has known personally as well as early blues greats such as Memphis Minnie and Mississippi John Hurt.

She has a long involvement with the blues scene and has traveled and played with the late gospel street singer Flora Molton, was a regular at the Saturday afternoon barbershop blues jams of Piedmont bluesman Archie Edwards, and sometimes accompanied Delta blues great Eugene Powell in Greenville, Mississippi. She is a founding member of the Washington, DC, Blues Society and the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation. She has written about the Blues for several publications, teaches guitar privately and at various blues camps, and is producer and editor of the video documentary Blues Houseparty, which features well-known Piedmont blues musicians such as John Jackson, John Cephas, Phil Wiggins, and Archie Edwards. Once upon a time she worked at the Archive of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University and at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

Blues Guitar in Dropped D Tuning (Intermediate / Advanced) – Eleanor Ellis

Alternate tunings can be a useful way to get fresh ideas for arrangements, voicings and sounds on the guitar, and this simple tuning works well with many styles of music. We’ll begin with an overview of the tuning – basic chords, turnarounds, intros etc. – and will put these elements together to learn songs from musicians such as Tommy Johnson, Ragtime Henry Thomas, Pink Anderson and others.

Eleanor Ellis

Blues musician Eleanor Ellis, a native of Louisiana, has taught and played throughout the United States and Europe. She has developed a distinctive and personal approach to the music. According to one reviewer, “More than copying one artist or another, Ellis distills the elements of the originals and transmits them, intact, in her own expressive way.” Her musical influences include the blues musicians she has known personally as well as early blues greats such as Memphis Minnie and Mississippi John Hurt.

She has a long involvement with the blues scene and has traveled and played with the late gospel street singer Flora Molton, was a regular at the Saturday afternoon barbershop blues jams of Piedmont bluesman Archie Edwards, and sometimes accompanied Delta blues great Eugene Powell in Greenville, Mississippi. She is a founding member of the Washington, DC, Blues Society and the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation. She has written about the Blues for several publications, teaches guitar privately and at various blues camps, and is producer and editor of the video documentary Blues Houseparty, which features well-known Piedmont blues musicians such as John Jackson, John Cephas, Phil Wiggins, and Archie Edwards. Once upon a time she worked at the Archive of New Orleans Jazz at Tulane University and at the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

Piedmont Jewels (Intermediate / Advanced) – Shari Kane

The Piedmont tradition uses a treasure trove of fingerstyle techniques.  In this course we’ll learn how rolls, chicken-picking, moving basslines and quirky chord combinations can adorn your playing.

We’ll build from a basic arrangement by applying these fingerstyle gems from the likes of Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Blind Boy Fuller and others.

Shari Kane

Shari started playing guitar at the age of five. By the early 1970s she had become a devoted blues fan, and learned how to play fingerstyle blues on the acoustic guitar, exploring and embracing the many avenues of blues guitar.

Her many years spent studying the work of the Delta Blues masters can be heard nightly as she picks up her acoustic or National Steel guitar. Throwing herself into a stinging Robert Johnson interpretation, a jumping Robert Junior Lockwood shuffle, or the intricate fingerstylings of Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Blake or Mississippi John Hurt, Shari’s love of the acoustic tradition is apparent.

In 1990, she began touring with harmonica legend Peter Madcat Ruth. The two recorded four CDs and played in venues nationwide and overseas.

In 2009, Shari teamed up with husband, Dave Steele (Big Dave & the Ultrasonics) to form a power blues duo. They’ve been touring all over Michigan and quality clubs east and west. Their two CDs received rave reviews and their combined energy has fans stomping their feet at every show.

Shari began teaching guitar when she was just sixteen. Teaching remains one of her great loves. After a 35-year stint teaching guitar at college level, she continues to teach privately, and at workshops throughout the country and abroad.

Playing with Other Guitarists (Intermediate / Advanced) – Shari Kane

There are so many great ways for guitar players to jam together without getting in each other’s way. Shari and Dave will team up and give you the tools you need, mapping out great strategies for playing with other guitarists. From using a capo to play in the same key in two different fingerings, to learning to play in different areas of the fretboard, to using the great Freddie Green swing chords that accompany intricate finger style work so well, to learning to play solos or fills when others are playing rhythm, this course will broaden your options for playing with others.

Shari Kane

Shari started playing guitar at the age of five. By the early 1970s she had become a devoted blues fan, and learned how to play fingerstyle blues on the acoustic guitar, exploring and embracing the many avenues of blues guitar.

Her many years spent studying the work of the Delta Blues masters can be heard nightly as she picks up her acoustic or National Steel guitar. Throwing herself into a stinging Robert Johnson interpretation, a jumping Robert Junior Lockwood shuffle, or the intricate fingerstylings of Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Blake or Mississippi John Hurt, Shari’s love of the acoustic tradition is apparent.

In 1990, she began touring with harmonica legend Peter Madcat Ruth. The two recorded four CDs and played in venues nationwide and overseas.

In 2009, Shari teamed up with husband, Dave Steele (Big Dave & the Ultrasonics) to form a power blues duo. They’ve been touring all over Michigan and quality clubs east and west. Their two CDs received rave reviews and their combined energy has fans stomping their feet at every show.

Shari began teaching guitar when she was just sixteen. Teaching remains one of her great loves. After a 35-year stint teaching guitar at college level, she continues to teach privately, and at workshops throughout the country and abroad.

Guitar and Harmonica

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee for Guitar and Harmonica (All Levels)–Joe Filisko and Eric Noden

Learn the music and techniques of Legendary Blues duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

 

Joe Filisko

Revered as a master player, teacher, custom harmonica pioneer, researcher, and historian, Joe Filisko is arguably the world’s foremost authority on many aspects of the diatonic harmonica and a key figure in today’s harmonica scene. Over the past 20 years he has had a tremendous influence on developments in the culture of the instrument. His much sought after custom harps are used by a remarkable roster of players and are prized for their superb response and tonal qualities by a client list that includes a large proportion of the world’s diatonic harmonica elite. Since the early 1990s, his groundbreaking work in improving the playability of the instrument has directly affected the production of all major harmonica manufacturers. In 2011 Joe Filisko entered into a close cooperation with Hohner as Head of Certification Process for the company’s new Affiliated Customizer Program, a bold move to guarantee standards for purchasers of custom harmonicas which is without precedent in the harmonica industry. He also made important design contributions to the latest model of Hohner’s Marine Band range, the Thunderbird, which bears his signature and has been cited as the finest low key harmonica available on the market today.

Fueled by his desire to preserve historical harmonica styles from extinction, Joe Filisko has amassed not only an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire gamut of traditional harmonica techniques, but has mastered them to an extent unrivaled among contemporary players. His passion for both the well-known and the unsung heroes of the 10-hole diatonic has made him a riveting performer in his own right, with a fluid command of a wide range of styles and possibly the most powerful hand effects ever heard. A master of tone and complex, nuanced tongue block rhythms, he has for many years shared his knowledge with students on five continents and so contributed enormously to the widespread understanding of traditional harmonica styles among a new generation of players.

In recent years, Joe’s reputation as a performer and recording artist has been catching up with his legendary status as a customizer and teacher. Since he first hooked up with guitarist/vocalist Eric Noden in 2003, the duo has released three highly regarded CDs, and has performed at concerts and festivals around the globe. Reflecting their deep affinity with the tradition, their exciting explorations of seminal pre-war styles have won them an enthusiastic international audience and cemented their reputation as one of today’s premier acoustic country blues acts. Joe Filisko was awarded “Harmonica Player of the Year 2001? by the SPAH organization in the US and performed at the induction of Grand Ol’ Opry star Deford Bailey into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Documentaries that feature Mr. Filisko include Harmonica Summit, Imagination is Limitless, In the Reeds, Tin Sandwich, and Pocketful of Soul. A native of Joliet, Illinois, Joe lives in the shadow of Chicago, the Windy City, and performs there regularly as well as teaching popular weekly classes at the city’s Old Town School of Folk Music.

Though his work as a scholar and a craftsman has rightly earned him a place in the harmonica pantheon, it is as a player that he truly shines. Joe Filisko coaxes sounds from the harmonica which few before him have ever created and which open up new perspectives for countless players and lovers of this remarkable little instrument.

Eric Noden

Deeply rooted in the music of ’20s and ’30s blues pioneers, Eric Noden’s percussive guitar work, timeless songwriting, and well-traveled blues vocals have earned the respect of audiences, critics, and musicians worldwide. The Illinois Entertainer described Eric as “a spiritual heir to Chicago blues guitarists of the ’20s and ’30s like Tampa Red and Big Bill Broonzy.”

This multi-talented acoustic artist fills an important niche in the city’s mostly plugged-in blues scene. Similarly, Eric’s artistry was also recognized in Cadence Magazine, which said he is, “intent on mastering older styles while transporting them and us into a new century where the past is not forgotten.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinal adds, “The Chicago-based bluesman makes a National Resonator guitar absolutely wail.”

Eric Noden sings, shouts, and stomps while conjuring old spirits from the strings of his acoustic guitar. Varying his approach from song to song, Noden draws from a deep well of American music that fuels his high energy performances. His right-hand thumb often lays down a driving bass figure that weaves around intricate melodic parts played with his fingers. This style, favored by early bluesmen like Charley Patton, Reverend Gary Davis, and Blind Blake, is one that only a few contemporary bluesmen have mastered.

Harmonica

Intro to Blues Harmonica: Part 1 (Beginning) – Stingy Brim Seals

Participants can choose to enroll in either Part 1, Part 2, or both. The focus of these workshops is on playing a ten-hole diatonic harmonica, solo or accompanying other musicians. In class, participants will be taught a 12-bar and an 8-bar blues song. Participants will learn breathing techniques, techniques for projecting sound, how to control tone, and how to play chords and individual notes within a 12- or 8-bar blues structure. These workshops will also cover bending notes, hand effects, blues riffs, call and response, supporting the groove, rhythmic playing, and accompanying others. Participants will need at least one harmonica. To participate in the workshop, participants should bring a ten-hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C. Other keys are optional, such as A, D, G, F, and Bb.

<a href=”http://augustaheritagecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/Seals-Geoffrey-Stingy-Brim-Blues-Swing-2018.jpg”><img class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-24086″ src=”http://augustaheritagecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/Seals-Geoffrey-Stingy-Brim-Blues-Swing-2018-300×300.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>

Stingy Brim Seals

Originally from Buffalo, NY, Geoffrey “Stingy Brim” Seals was exposed to all varieties of music from classical to country and soul to heavy metal. Through it all the harmonica drew his attention time and time again. However, his parents wouldn’t allow him to have one in the house. As an adult he stumbled across one in a store and learned on his own until 1997 when he began taking lessons. He relocated to Virginia in late 2007 and has played with a variety of local bands, performing music ranging from soft rock to down home blues with various local performers. He teaches beginner harmonica classes at the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation.

Intro to Blues Harmonica: Part 2 (Beginning) – Stingy Brim Seals

Participants can choose to enroll in either Part 1, Part 2, or both. The focus of these workshops is on playing a ten-hole diatonic harmonica, solo or accompanying other musicians. In class, participants will be taught a 12-bar and an 8-bar blues song. Participants will learn breathing techniques, techniques for projecting sound, how to control tone, and how to play chords and individual notes within a 12- or 8-bar blues structure. These workshops will also cover bending notes, hand effects, blues riffs, call and response, supporting the groove, rhythmic playing, and accompanying others. Participants will need at least one harmonica. To participate in the workshop, participants should bring a ten-hole diatonic harmonica in the key of C. Other keys are optional, such as A, D, G, F, and Bb.

<a href=”http://augustaheritagecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/Seals-Geoffrey-Stingy-Brim-Blues-Swing-2018.jpg”><img class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-24086″ src=”http://augustaheritagecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/Seals-Geoffrey-Stingy-Brim-Blues-Swing-2018-300×300.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”300″ /></a>

Stingy Brim Seals

Originally from Buffalo, NY, Geoffrey “Stingy Brim” Seals was exposed to all varieties of music from classical to country and soul to heavy metal. Through it all the harmonica drew his attention time and time again. However, his parents wouldn’t allow him to have one in the house. As an adult he stumbled across one in a store and learned on his own until 1997 when he began taking lessons. He relocated to Virginia in late 2007 and has played with a variety of local bands, performing music ranging from soft rock to down home blues with various local performers. He teaches beginner harmonica classes at the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Foundation.

Blues Harmonica (Intermediate/Advanced) – Andrew Alli

Class description coming soon!

Andrew Alli

Andrew Alli is a 27-year-old Richmond, Virginia, native. Always into music, he stumbled upon the blues while taking up his first instrument, the harmonica. He instantly fell in love with the blues and all of the history that comes with the harp. Andrew developed his style of playing by studying from the harmonica greats, including Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Junior Wells.

Andrew co-founded Andrew Alli and Last Night’s Blues Band with drummer Charles Hibbler in 2012. The band had a particular interest to the Chicago and Delta styles of blues. The band, which also includes bassist Ken Kellner and guitarist Mike Burgess, won the title of 2013 River City Blues Society Blues Challenge Champions. They represented Richmond in the International Blues Challenge down in Memphis, Tennessee. Andrew also has had the privilege to tour with folk musicians Tim Barry and Josh Small during US, European, and Australian music tours.

He has played with a large number of other great local musicians including Phil Wiggins, Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner, Alison Self, Cy Taggart, and The Mike Lucci Band. The Richmond Folk Festival has featured Andrew for three years, teaching harmonica lessons and performing. Andrew continues to play with his band, Andrew Alli and the Mainline (formerly “Last Night’s Blues Band”), with Charles Hibbler on drums, Ken Kellner on bass, and Ivan Applerouth on guitar. He is also in a duo with legendary Richmond folk musician Josh Small. Andrew was very excited to be featured on the recent Big Walter Horton tribute album with EllerSoul Records, where the top harmonica players from around the world contributed songs to commemorate the great Big Walter! He is also planning a full-length debut album to be released this year. AndrewAlliRva.com

Blues Harmonica (Intermediate/Advanced) – Joe Filisko

Participants will learn how to get the biggest, fattest, and greasiest sound out of their tiny harmonicas and better understand what makes it a great instrument in blues music. This is basically what describes the playing tradition of Sonny Boy’s and Walter’s and other Chicago blues harp styles. Participants should bring standard key harps in G, A, Bb, C, D, and F, and an audio recording device. The only experience needed is being familiar with the 12-bar blues form. The workshop will cover tongue blocking, dirty notes, chords, and chordal effects and bending, including how to best execute it.

Joe Filisko

Revered as a master player, teacher, custom harmonica pioneer, researcher, and historian, Joe Filisko is arguably the world’s foremost authority on many aspects of the diatonic harmonica and a key figure in today’s harmonica scene. Over the past 20 years he has had a tremendous influence on developments in the culture of the instrument. His much sought after custom harps are used by a remarkable roster of players and are prized for their superb response and tonal qualities by a client list that includes a large proportion of the world’s diatonic harmonica elite. Since the early 1990s, his groundbreaking work in improving the playability of the instrument has directly affected the production of all major harmonica manufacturers. In 2011 Joe Filisko entered into a close cooperation with Hohner as Head of Certification Process for the company’s new Affiliated Customizer Program, a bold move to guarantee standards for purchasers of custom harmonicas which is without precedent in the harmonica industry. He also made important design contributions to the latest model of Hohner’s Marine Band range, the Thunderbird, which bears his signature and has been cited as the finest low key harmonica available on the market today.

Fueled by his desire to preserve historical harmonica styles from extinction, Joe Filisko has amassed not only an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire gamut of traditional harmonica techniques, but has mastered them to an extent unrivaled among contemporary players. His passion for both the well-known and the unsung heroes of the 10-hole diatonic has made him a riveting performer in his own right, with a fluid command of a wide range of styles and possibly the most powerful hand effects ever heard. A master of tone and complex, nuanced tongue block rhythms, he has for many years shared his knowledge with students on five continents and so contributed enormously to the widespread understanding of traditional harmonica styles among a new generation of players.

In recent years, Joe’s reputation as a performer and recording artist has been catching up with his legendary status as a customizer and teacher. Since he first hooked up with guitarist/vocalist Eric Noden in 2003, the duo has released three highly regarded CDs, and has performed at concerts and festivals around the globe. Reflecting their deep affinity with the tradition, their exciting explorations of seminal pre-war styles have won them an enthusiastic international audience and cemented their reputation as one of today’s premier acoustic country blues acts. Joe Filisko was awarded “Harmonica Player of the Year 2001? by the SPAH organization in the US and performed at the induction of Grand Ol’ Opry star Deford Bailey into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. Documentaries that feature Mr. Filisko include Harmonica Summit, Imagination is Limitless, In the Reeds, Tin Sandwich, and Pocketful of Soul. A native of Joliet, Illinois, Joe lives in the shadow of Chicago, the Windy City, and performs there regularly as well as teaching popular weekly classes at the city’s Old Town School of Folk Music.

Though his work as a scholar and a craftsman has rightly earned him a place in the harmonica pantheon, it is as a player that he truly shines. Joe Filisko coaxes sounds from the harmonica which few before him have ever created and which open up new perspectives for countless players and lovers of this remarkable little instrument.

Blues Harmonica (Advanced)– Phil Wiggins

Class description coming soon!

Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to learn blues harmonica directly from master artist Phil Wiggins in a small class setting.

Phil Wiggins

Phil Wiggins

Washington, D.C. native Phil Wiggins, a Takoma Park, Maryland, resident, blues musician, teacher and artistic director, a two time winner of the prestigious WC Handy Blues Foundation awards, is only the third harmonica player to receive the lifetime honor of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship. Today he is the only living player of the instrument to hold the prestigious honor of being a “Master of Traditional Arts.” Often referred to by its unofficial designation as “Living Cultural Treasure” award, the fellowship honors and preserves the diverse cultural heritage in the United States. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) annually awards one-time-only NEA National Heritage Fellowships to master folk and traditional artists, to recognize lifetime achievement, artistic excellence, and contributions to our nation’s traditional arts heritage.

The NEA National Heritage Fellowship has been bestowed on some of the greatest luminaries in traditional and folk music. In the traditional blues genre, past winners include some of the most important figures in blues history: B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Pinetop Perkins, Sunnyland Slim, Elizabeth Cotton, Clifton Chenier, Robert Lockwood Jr., Honeyboy Edwards, Brownie McGhee, Jack Owens, Mavis Staples and her father Pops Staples, and many more. Harmonica players Sonny Terry and Elder Roma Wilson are the only other harmonica instrumentalists to receive the honor.

Phil now joins the ranks of his eminent elders, friends and compatriots in the Washington, D.C area traditional Piedmont blues scene to win this distinguished award. His former duo partner, the Piedmont blues singer and guitarist John Cephas, received the National Heritage Fellowship Award in 1989. Phil’s friend and early career catalyst , the great blues singer/guitarist and songster John Jackson received the honor in 1986. The blues singer/guitarist and songster Warner Williams, who took the award in 2011, is now the only other living practitioner of the regional traditional blues besides Phil Wiggins with this recognition.

He is a versatile traditional harmonica player, continuing the Piedmont blues tradition, a gentle and melodic blues style of the mid-Atlantic region. He plays the diatonic ten-hole harmonica in the country blues style, cupping both hands around the instrument and playing acoustically. His sound is not shaped by the gear, the microphone or amplifier when performing on stage, instead by his complex syncopated patterns, breath-control and rhythm, stylistic virtuosity and fiery solo runs.

As a teenager living in Washington D.C. in the 1970s, he played at the Smithsonian National Folklife Festival with street singer Flora Molton, sitting in with blues greats Johnny Shines, Sunnyland Slim, Sam Chatmon, Robert Belfour and Howard Armstrong. By the time he graduated from high school in 1973, D.C. blues elders John Jackson, John Cephas and Archie Edwards had embraced him. He joined the Barrelhouse Rockers, a band fronted by pianist and singer Wilbert “Big Chief” Ellis, where John Cephas played guitar. They toured regionally until Ellis retired in 1977, when John Cephas invited him to join in the duo ‘Cephas & Wiggins’.

With John Cephas as guitarist and primary singer, the duo performed together for 32 years as internationally renowned stars of the country blues, and a staple on blues radio, ever present on the concert and festival circuit – all with the help of National Council for Traditional Arts director Joe Wilson. Cephas & Wiggins played Carnegie Hall, Royal Prince Albert Hall in London and the Sydney Opera House, as well as small venues worldwide, touring every continent except Antarctica. They recorded more than a dozen critically acclaimed albums, including on Flying Fish and Alligator Records, winning the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Award in 1984 for Best Traditional Album of the Year and in 1987 as Entertainers of the Year. They even performed at the White House with B.B. King. Phil Wiggins as well as Cephas & Wiggins have been featured in major music magazines, including on the cover of Living Blues, and the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and many more. University of Maryland professor, author, blues historian and producer Dr. Barry Lee Pearson has released numerous Cephas & Wiggins tracks on his Smithsonian Folkways album collections, in addition to his frequent writings over more than 30 years, which also featured the duo and John Cephas’ autobiography.

Since the 2009 death of John Cephas, Phil has performed with numerous musicians including Nat Reese, Corey Harris, Australian guitarist Dom Turner, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, Sherman Holmes, the Rev. John Wilkins, Jerron Paxton, and longtime friends Eleanor Ellis and Rick Franklin. He fronts the acoustic swing/roots/blues ensemble, the Chesapeake Sheiks, and is actively engaged in reuniting the Piedmont blues with its origins of African American buck and tap dancing.
Phil has taught thousands of burgeoning harmonica players and actively continues to teach and lead as artistic director in workshops, such as at the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia and the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop in Washington State. Plus, he continues to play an active role on the board of the National Council for Traditional Arts.

Additionally, he performed in the feature film Matewan about the coal mining wars in West Virginia, written and directed by John Sayles. Phil appears in the film and contributed music to the soundtrack. He also appeared in Blues Houseparty , a documentary produced by Eleanor Ellis that captures a wonderful celebration of music and culture that takes place at the home of John Jackson. Phil appears in the film and supplies the voiceover narration. Plus: Portland Mojo: How Stumptown Got the Blues Written and produced by Bob Lietch, a documentary film about the blues scene in Portland, Oregon, narrated by Phil. Letters from Mound Bayou A documentary film about the establishment of a community health center for the rural community of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Produced by an activist group in Washington, D.C. called Video Action, Phil wrote and performed the music for the soundtrack.

Piano

Blues Piano: Parts 1 & 2 (Beginning) – Judy LaPrade

Participants should plan to attend both Part 1 and Part 2 of this workshop. This will be a piano program on acoustic traditional blues songs, including those not in the usual 12-bar form. The classes are designed for both true beginners to piano players who read music and want to learn to play blues piano by ear. Participants will learn completely by ear in this program, with the use of simple chord charts and lyric sheets. The class will start with the basic 8- and 12-bar blues forms in the key of C and build left- and right-hand skills note by note. Each participant progresses at their own pace, from single notes with each hand to simple blues chords and patterns. With the right hand, participants will pick out melodies by ear and riff on the blues scale and chords. The left hand is all about playing bass lines, from single notes to simple versions of walking bass, rhumbas, shuffles, and others.

Participants will use their voices and bodies to guide their natural sense of tone and rhythm as they sing, clap, and stomp each song. Participants should bring a recorder, so together with the many handouts of songs and useful theory, they will be ready to continue on their own. The class will play many different blues tunes and some gospel, which is similar in form. The aim is to have fun and take the fear out of starting something new. Keyboards will be provided, but participants should bring their own headphones. Participants who wish to bring a keyboard for class, jamming, or practice are welcome to do so.

Judy LaPrade

Judy LaPrade grew up playing piano at home and in church. She started as a toddler mimicking her older sister and then began classical lessons that left her strong, natural ear in the dust. Augusta’s Blues Week in 1985 began the long road to recovery of that ear with a deep love of traditional Blues. This background makes her a somewhat nervous performer but a wonderful teacher who truly understands the challenge of leaving printed music behind. She has a gift for breaking things down in a systematic yet artistic way that blends the use of the left and right parts of the brain.

Judy has taught Blues piano for ten years in a variety of Blues camps with students who are both raw beginners and trained pianists who yearn for freedom from the printed page. She has a joy for teaching that encourages people to have fun and move past the voice in their heads that says, “This is too hard. I can’t do it.” She found this joy as a member of the Elktones, a group of women musicians from Elkins, West Virginia, known for vocal harmonies and an eclectic repertoire that included African music, blues, rock, and folk. She is a life-long teacher in every aspect of her work, since she directed music programs and the choir at a local state mental hospital in junior high school.

Judy fell in love with the blues, studying piano, accordion, and voice with Maureen DelGrosso, Ann Rabson, Erwin Helfer, and others. It is her mission to keep traditional blues alive and growing by passing this joy on to others.

Blues Piano: Part 1 (Intermediate) – Sunpie Barnes

Ben Levin and Sunpie Barnes will both teach one section of Intermediate and Advanced Blues Piano, so participants at both levels will have the opportunity to learn from each of these great workshop leaders. In Sunpie’s intermediate workshop, participants will focus on how to play a walking bass patterns and shuffles on the left hand and simple right-hand melody accompaniments. No previous knowledge is required for this class. No books or written materials are required, but a note pad or recording device will help to capture the music that will be taught. All participants are required to bring an 88-key keyboard with headphones.

Sunpie Barnes

If a career in music hadn’t panned out, a number of attractive and diverse career paths would have been open to blues harmonica player and zydeco accordionist Bruce Sunpie Barnes. Thanks to his athletic ability that earned him a football scholarship to Henderson State University in Arkansas, he had a brief career in professional football with the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs. He also studied marine biology, a background that could have led to a variety of jobs and which ultimately led Barnes to work for the National Park Service as a naturalist. Acting jobs in commercials and on Hollywood movie sets, too, have come to the musician. The entire time he was working elsewhere, however, music was always a part of Barnes’ life. Even when football provided a handsome paycheck, he chose to play a number of gigs.

Barnes, who can play seven instruments, knew enough about his chosen career in music to realize that it isn’t the most reliable work, especially in terms of a steady paycheck. When he made the leap to become a professional musician, he supported himself with a day job, putting in hours as a ranger in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Louisiana, where he also served in the capacity of a naturalist. Evenings found him on stage in New Orleans, working with such artists as bluesman “Boogie” Bill Webb, vocalist Barbara George, and the New Orleans Blues Department Band. He went on to establish a group of his own, drawing from a pool of zydeco musicians based in the city of Lafayette, and he called the outfit Sunpie & the Creole Zydeco Fanners. Along with Harold Ray Brown, former drummer for War, he established another band in late 1991 and dubbed it Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots. Barnes led the band through performances at such venues as Martinique’s 11th International Clarinet Festival, Houston’s Juneteenth Festival, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Blues was a part of Barnes’ life in Benton, AR, during his youth. His dad, who instructed him in the harmonica, was a blues harpist who impressed upon his son the importance of education. Good times like picnics and other family get-togethers revolved around the harmonica playing of the elder Barnes and other regional blues musicians, including Sonny Boy Williamson. In addition to the influence of his father and Williamson, Barnes draws inspiration from Carey Bell and Lee Oskar. [/two_third_last]

Blues Piano: Part 2 (Intermediate) – Ben Levin

Ben Levin and Sunpie Barnes will both teach one section of Intermediate and Advanced Blues Piano, so participants at both levels will have the opportuntiy to learn from each of these great workshop leaders. Participants are encouraged to bring a tape recorder, and those who read music may want to bring some blank staff paper to take notes. All participants are required to bring an 88-key keyboard with headphones.

Ben Levin

Bio coming soon!

Blues Piano: Part 1 (Advanced) – Ben Levin

Ben Levin and Sunpie Barnes will both teach one section of Intermediate and Advanced Blues Piano, so participants at both levels will have the opportuntiy to learn from each of these great workshop leaders. Participants are encouraged to bring a tape recorder, and those who read music may want to bring some blank staff paper to take notes. All participants are required to bring an 88-key keyboard with headphones.

Blues Piano: Part 2, New Orleans Style (Advanced) – Sunpie Barnes

Ben Levin and Sunpie Barnes will both teach one section of Intermediate and Advanced Blues Piano, so participants at both levels will have the opportuntiy to learn from each of these great workshop leaders. For Sunpie’s Advanced workshop, participants should have proficiency playing with both hands and be able to make music by hear. This class will focus on playing blues shuffles, boogie woogie, New Orleans style rumba, and walking bass lines. Some the songs that will be played are “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor,” “C.C. Rider,” “44 Blues,” and “Careless Love.” All participants are required to bring an 88-key keyboard with headphones.

Sunpie Barnes

If a career in music hadn’t panned out, a number of attractive and diverse career paths would have been open to blues harmonica player and zydeco accordionist Bruce Sunpie Barnes. Thanks to his athletic ability that earned him a football scholarship to Henderson State University in Arkansas, he had a brief career in professional football with the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs. He also studied marine biology, a background that could have led to a variety of jobs and which ultimately led Barnes to work for the National Park Service as a naturalist. Acting jobs in commercials and on Hollywood movie sets, too, have come to the musician. The entire time he was working elsewhere, however, music was always a part of Barnes’ life. Even when football provided a handsome paycheck, he chose to play a number of gigs.

Barnes, who can play seven instruments, knew enough about his chosen career in music to realize that it isn’t the most reliable work, especially in terms of a steady paycheck. When he made the leap to become a professional musician, he supported himself with a day job, putting in hours as a ranger in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Louisiana, where he also served in the capacity of a naturalist. Evenings found him on stage in New Orleans, working with such artists as bluesman “Boogie” Bill Webb, vocalist Barbara George, and the New Orleans Blues Department Band. He went on to establish a group of his own, drawing from a pool of zydeco musicians based in the city of Lafayette, and he called the outfit Sunpie & the Creole Zydeco Fanners. Along with Harold Ray Brown, former drummer for War, he established another band in late 1991 and dubbed it Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots. Barnes led the band through performances at such venues as Martinique’s 11th International Clarinet Festival, Houston’s Juneteenth Festival, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Blues was a part of Barnes’ life in Benton, AR, during his youth. His dad, who instructed him in the harmonica, was a blues harpist who impressed upon his son the importance of education. Good times like picnics and other family get-togethers revolved around the harmonica playing of the elder Barnes and other regional blues musicians, including Sonny Boy Williamson. In addition to the influence of his father and Williamson, Barnes draws inspiration from Carey Bell and Lee Oskar.

Afternoon Piano Session (All Levels) Sunpie Barnes, Ben Levin, Judy LaPrade

Afternoon Piano Session (All Levels)

This class is an opportunity to learn from all of our staff piano instructors over the course of the week.

Sunpie Barnes

If a career in music hadn’t panned out, a number of attractive and diverse career paths would have been open to blues harmonica player and zydeco accordionist Bruce Sunpie Barnes. Thanks to his athletic ability that earned him a football scholarship to Henderson State University in Arkansas, he had a brief career in professional football with the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs. He also studied marine biology, a background that could have led to a variety of jobs and which ultimately led Barnes to work for the National Park Service as a naturalist. Acting jobs in commercials and on Hollywood movie sets, too, have come to the musician. The entire time he was working elsewhere, however, music was always a part of Barnes’ life. Even when football provided a handsome paycheck, he chose to play a number of gigs.

Barnes, who can play seven instruments, knew enough about his chosen career in music to realize that it isn’t the most reliable work, especially in terms of a steady paycheck. When he made the leap to become a professional musician, he supported himself with a day job, putting in hours as a ranger in Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Louisiana, where he also served in the capacity of a naturalist. Evenings found him on stage in New Orleans, working with such artists as bluesman “Boogie” Bill Webb, vocalist Barbara George, and the New Orleans Blues Department Band. He went on to establish a group of his own, drawing from a pool of zydeco musicians based in the city of Lafayette, and he called the outfit Sunpie & the Creole Zydeco Fanners. Along with Harold Ray Brown, former drummer for War, he established another band in late 1991 and dubbed it Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots. Barnes led the band through performances at such venues as Martinique’s 11th International Clarinet Festival, Houston’s Juneteenth Festival, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Blues was a part of Barnes’ life in Benton, AR, during his youth. His dad, who instructed him in the harmonica, was a blues harpist who impressed upon his son the importance of education. Good times like picnics and other family get-togethers revolved around the harmonica playing of the elder Barnes and other regional blues musicians, including Sonny Boy Williamson. In addition to the influence of his father and Williamson, Barnes draws inspiration from Carey Bell and Lee Oskar.

Judy LaPrade

Judy LaPrade grew up playing piano at home and in church. She started as a toddler mimicking her older sister and then began classical lessons that left her strong, natural ear in the dust. Augusta’s Blues Week in 1985 began the long road to recovery of that ear with a deep love of traditional Blues. This background makes her a somewhat nervous performer but a wonderful teacher who truly understands the challenge of leaving printed music behind. She has a gift for breaking things down in a systematic yet artistic way that blends the use of the left and right parts of the brain.

Judy has taught Blues piano for ten years in a variety of Blues camps with students who are both raw beginners and trained pianists who yearn for freedom from the printed page. She has a joy for teaching that encourages people to have fun and move past the voice in their heads that says, “This is too hard. I can’t do it.” She found this joy as a member of the Elktones, a group of women musicians from Elkins, West Virginia, known for vocal harmonies and an eclectic repertoire that included African music, blues, rock, and folk. She is a life-long teacher in every aspect of her work, since she directed music programs and the choir at a local state mental hospital in junior high school.

Judy fell in love with the blues, studying piano, accordion, and voice with Maureen DelGrosso, Ann Rabson, Erwin Helfer, and others. It is her mission to keep traditional blues alive and growing by passing this joy on to others.

Ben Levin

Bio coming soon!

Ukulele

Ukulele (Beginning) – Tina Dietz

In my ukulele workshop we will learn a couple three- or four-chord songs, some simple strumming patterns, and a little ukulele flare.

Tina Dietz

“I am a soul. A heart. A head of hair and my voice is my guide. Most just call me Tina. Now, I could sit here, list all of the things that ‘make my name valuable’ but then honestly, I don’t want to. If there is one thing I have learned this far, it’s that trying to use traditional means of explaining myself will never tell you a thing. What we can have is a conversation, then you can come up with whatever story you want to believe about me off of that. That being said, I go by many names: Teeny Deets, the one that rolls off the tongue; Christina Marie, when mother is unhappy; Miss Tina when directions are to be followed; Briar when in the garden; Queen as par for the course.

There is not a time in which I can pinpoint ever starting to sing because, quite frankly, I don’t remember starting. I remember singing. There is a time I do remember, a time when I was told that singing wasn’t for me, it was to glorify The Lord. My belief in such a one may be up for scrutiny, as I have since been confused by knowledge of our world. Yet the lesson remains and its implication is that the world does not revolve around any one person.

If you can understand that a voice is an extension of oneself and therefore, just as hard to explain as why we are on this earth in the first place, then I can teach you. If you are willing to understand that though technique is important, finding a way to process emotion—and then relaying that message through song—is even more so, then I can teach you. If you are willing to let go of your fear, to sing without shame no matter how bad you think you sound, I will teach you. It’s not about how you sound. It’s about how you feel, and how that feeling can help bring others into the experience—empathy.”

Ukulele Blues Party (Intermediate / Advanced) – Del Rey

This workshop will include jugband and blues songs orchestrated for the ukulele, with playing and singing parts for several levels of player. We’ll work on getting that old-timey sound on your uke, with the right rhythm, chord positions and where to find the melody. Plus we’ll try and listen to each other and play together. We’ll add parts for basic chords, strumming, picking and singing. Basic level: be comfortable and confident with first position chords and able to keep time while changing between them. Re-entrant (high G) tuning preferred. By ear, no TAB

Del Rey

Del Rey started playing guitar when she was four. She was introduced to the world of traditional acoustic music when she was 13, when she and a friend stumbled into a concert at Folk Arts Rare Records in San Diego. About 20 people were sitting on the floor under the record bins listening to a kid named Tom Waits play his original songs.

Lou Curtiss, proprietor of Folk Arts and artistic director of the San Diego Folk Festival, suggested she quit wasting her time playing “Stairway to Heaven” and listen to some Memphis Minnie. He put her on stage with Sam Chatmon when she was fourteen and introduced her to Lydia Mendoza and Howard Armstrong. Lou gave her recordings that still influence everything she does on solo acoustic guitar. She soaked up country blues, stride piano, classic jazz and hillbilly boogie. It was a musical education hanging around the record shop.

Thirty years later, Del Rey became fascinated with the ukulele. She tries to play the same kind of complicated rhythmic blues and ragtime on four strings as on six. She expects a lot out of the little instrument.

She now plays solo concerts worldwide and presents a concert/lecture on women musicians called Women In American Music. She collaborates and tours frequently with Steve James, Suzy Thompson, and Adam Franklin. She has contributed to projects in honor of The Mississippi Sheiks, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Johnny Cash and occasionally writes about music for various publications, including Acoustic Guitar. Her most recent release is just her, singing with uke and guitar; it’s called Solo. Her albums are available from Hobemian Records.

Fingerpicking The Blues on the Ukulele (Advanced) – Del Rey

Many of the great 1920-30s guitar and banjo blues tunes sit beautifully on the ukulele. There are also African American ukesters like Lemon Nash of Louisiana and Rabbit Muse of Virginia, with distinctive styles on traditional and standard jazz material. Using characteristic chord inversions and melody picking, we’ll learn solo finger style arrangements for the uke. Re-entrant (high G) tuning preferred. By ear, no TAB. Level: Be able to keep a 4/4 beat with your thumb while picking a melody with your fingers.

Del Rey

Del Rey started playing guitar when she was four. She was introduced to the world of traditional acoustic music when she was 13, when she and a friend stumbled into a concert at Folk Arts Rare Records in San Diego. About 20 people were sitting on the floor under the record bins listening to a kid named Tom Waits play his original songs.

Lou Curtiss, proprietor of Folk Arts and artistic director of the San Diego Folk Festival, suggested she quit wasting her time playing “Stairway to Heaven” and listen to some Memphis Minnie. He put her on stage with Sam Chatmon when she was fourteen, and introduced her to Lydia Mendoza and Howard Armstrong. Lou gave her recordings that still influence everything she does on solo acoustic guitar. She soaked up country blues, stride piano, classic jazz and hillbilly boogie. It was a musical education hanging around the record shop.

Thirty years later, Del Rey became fascinated with the ukulele. She tries to play the same kind of complicated rhythmic blues and ragtime on four strings as on six. She expects a lot out of the little instrument.

She now plays solo concerts worldwide and presents a concert/lecture on women musicians called Women In American Music. She collaborates and tours frequently with Steve James, Suzy Thompson, and Adam Franklin. She has contributed to projects in honor of The Mississippi Sheiks, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Johnny Cash and occasionally writes about music for various publications, including Acoustic Guitar. Her most recent release is just her, singing with uke and guitar; it’s called Solo. Her albums are available from Hobemian Records.

Vocals

Blues Vocals (All Levels) – Tina Dietz

From Tina: “In my vocal workshop you will learn a little yoga, a song or three, and you will learn that singing is not for you alone. For in this world, we are simply not alone. Everything has a pulse, a heart (no matter how unorthodox). We have our own built-in rhythm section. Everything around you is vibrating. Literally. Scientifically. Look it up. And that’s not even the best part. The best part is that we have the ability to manipulate that vibration with our voices. I ask you to rifle through your brain, pick a memory that is so strong you can still experience the emotion within it, then… sing. That is all.”

Tina Dietz

“I am a soul. A heart. A head of hair and my voice is my guide. Most just call me Tina. Now, I could sit here, list all of the things that ‘make my name valuable’ but then honestly, I don’t want to. If there is one thing I have learned this far, it’s that trying to use traditional means of explaining myself will never tell you a thing. What we can have is a conversation, then you can come up with whatever story you want to believe about me off of that. That being said, I go by many names: Teeny Deets, the one that rolls off the tongue; Christina Marie, when mother is unhappy; Miss Tina when directions are to be followed; Briar when in the garden; Queen as par for the course.

There is not a time in which I can pinpoint ever starting to sing because, quite frankly, I don’t remember starting. I remember singing. There is a time I do remember, a time when I was told that singing wasn’t for me, it was to glorify The Lord. My belief in such a one may be up for scrutiny, as I have since been confused by knowledge of our world. Yet the lesson remains, and its implication is that the world does not revolve around any one person.

If you can understand that a voice is an extension of oneself and therefore, just as hard to explain as why we are on this earth in the first place, then I can teach you. If you are willing to understand that though technique is important, finding a way to process emotion—and then relaying that message through song—is even more so, then I can teach you. If you are willing to let go of your fear, to sing without shame no matter how bad you think you sound, I will teach you. It’s not about how you sound. It’s about how you feel, and how that feeling can help bring others into the experience—empathy.”

Field Hollers, Work Songs and Spirituals (Intermediate / Advanced) – Resa Gibbs

The class will focus on a selection of field hollers, African-American work songs and spirituals in oral traditions, call/response, rhythms, melody and harmonies, mainly singing in community.

The class is offered both periods two and three. You may take either period or both. They will not be exactly the same, but similar material and concepts will be covered in each period.

Resa Gibbs

Resa Gibbs, lead vocalist and percussionist for MSG Acoustic Blues Trio (a trio steeped in the Piedmont Blues tradition), is known for her warm, soulful, and heartfelt sound. A sought-after vocal instructor, she feels pleased and honored by the opportunity to instruct vocal workshops at Augusta Heritage Center’s Blues Week.

In the summer of 2008 and 2009, Resa taught blues singing during Country Blues Week at Centrum in Port Townsend, WA. She has also been an assistant instructor at Augusta’s Blues & Swing Week gospel mini-course. In 2010, she, along with Jackie Merritt, was accepted into the Library of Congress “Americana Women: Roots Musicians – Women’s Tales and Tunes” as part of the MusicBox Project collection, some of which has been catalogued in the American Folklife Center.

Resa has made vocal contributions including backing vocals on several award-winning singer / songwriters’ albums. Most notably, she sang background vocals on Gaye Adegbalola’s Bitter Sweet Blues CD, produced by Rory Block and recorded by Alligator Records. On the 2008 CD project by Gaye Adegbalola entitled Gaye Without Shame, Resa sang a featured duet with Gaye and added backing vocals to several tracks. This CD was produced by Blues Music Award winner Bob Margolin. She performed with Gaye, Bob Margolin, Jason Ricci, and other nominated artists at the 2009 BMAs (Blues Music Awards) in Memphis. She also had the pleasure of singing on Roddy Barnes’ ODD album in 2015 and most recently (2019), contributed vocals to Gaye Adegbalola’s well-received album, The Griot. 

MSG’s 4th CD, The Flood, was released in the spring of 2016 and nominated in the first round for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Traditional Blues Album. It was also selected by the DC Blues Society for submission to the International Blues Challenge in the category of Best Self-Produced Album. In Feb. 2020, the trio was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the VEER Magazine Music Awards. 

Songwriting (All Levels) – Samuel James

Class description coming soon!

Samuel James

With a voice of grit and gravel, roots musician Samuel James sings with an authenticity lost in time. A modern guitar master, James’ skill has a depth and range that seems impossible for a man with only two hands. An award-winning songwriter, one of the world’s most innovative guitar players, and a Moth-featured storyteller, James brings all of this to his amazing stage show. His live performance is not just a concert, it is an event.

Bass

Blues Bass (Beginning / Intermediate) – Ralph Gordon

The direction of this blues bass session will be determined by the participants and their needs. All aspects of playing blues bass will be covered, including chordal construction and variations of the 12-bar and 8-bar blues, what notes typically are played for them, walking lines and moving between chords, and turnarounds. The numbering system for the notes and chords will be explained to facilitate changing keys and seeing/hearing their harmonic values. We will cover the blues scale and how it is used for soloing. Most important for the bassist will be time matters, how the grooves and styles are rhythmically tensioned to create the different feels (i.e. 12/8 shuffle, funk and straight eighths, swing, and others) while sometimes playing the exact same notes. If you want to start playing blues bass or deepen your groove and understanding of it, this would be the workshop for you.

Ralph Gordon

Ralph Gordon

A uniquely versatile musician, Ralph Gordon brings 45 years of musical experience to the bass and cello in the genres of Blues, Swing, Jazz, Klezmer, Folk, Bluegrass, Country, and many others. Classically trained in music studies at West Virginia University and the Manhattan School of Music, Ralph went on to do a stint with the New Jersey Symphony and tour with Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians. When it comes to knowing and holding down the bottom, Ralph is on top!!! www.RalphGordonMusic.com
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All instruments

String Band / Jug Band Performance (All Levels) – Ben Hunter, Joe Seamons, with Phil Wiggins

This workshop will provide an opportunity for folks to learn some great dance and party tunes, learn to play well together as an ensemble, mine the intersection of blues and swing that happens in the string band / jug band tradition, and have a great and joyful time providing the sound track for dances and celebrations. Songs will come from from the Mississippi Sheiks; Martin, Bogan and Armstrong; Fats Waller; Duke Ellington; Gus Cannon; and many more! All instruments are welcome. The level will be intermediate / advanced but participants who feel like they are a little bit below intermediate should come and check it out. Accommodations can most likely be made.

Ben Hunter


Ben Hunter was born in Lesotho, a tiny nation in South Africa, and was largely raised in Phoenix, Arizona. Living with his globetrotting mother, he also spent two of his formative years in Zimbabwe. There, at the age of seven, his love of rhythm began to blossom as he learned to play the marimba and perform traditional Shona music, while also continuing to pursue a better grasp of the violin. Throughout his early travels, Ben was introduced to a large variety of music, ranging from the folk traditions of the United States, down through Latin America, and across the seas to the continent of Africa.
Ben began studying classical violin at the age of 5, and was taught predominantly in that tradition. He played in a variety of youth and string orchestras before eventually majoring in violin performance at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. Adopting the Pacific Northwest as his new home, Ben moved to Seattle, WA, soon after college. After discovering the vibrant diversity of southeast Seattle, he founded a non-profit, Community Arts Create, to break down social barriers through community arts activities. In 2011, he joined Renegade Stringband after meeting its banjo player, Joe Seamons, at String Summit.
After two years of national tours in 2012 and 2013, both Ben and Joe attended the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, where living legends of traditional blues and ragtime showed them a new musical direction. After founding a new duo act with Joe to pursue this new interest, Ben suggested that they expand their work as educators (both regularly taught private lessons and after school classes) by developing a new music project as a program of Community Arts Create. The Rhapsody Project was thus established, with the goal to strengthen communities through song and spread the gospel of folk and blues music. Rhapsody is the integration of performance and teaching through public events and school workshops designed to facilitate cross-generational, cross-cultural interactions through the medium of music.
Ben plays an active role in the southeast Seattle community, serving on a variety of boards and committees that work to develop the south Seattle region economically, socially, environmentally, and all the while, artistically. In 2013, Ben co-founded The Hillman City Collaboratory, the mission of which is to be an instrument of transformation that provides a built environment and programming specifically designed to create community and equip change-makers.

Joe Seamons

Joe Seamons is a songster and teacher of the Pacific Northwest. Raised in the backwoods of Oregon in a house built by his parents, he was exposed to local folk music of sawmill workers, loggers and fishermen whose music reflected the character of the region.
As he heard these songs in living rooms, around campfires, and at cider pressing parties, Joe also attended public school in the small nearby town of Rainier, Oregon. Consequently, he was exposed to the artistry and fierce environmentalist passion of his parent’s and their friends as well as the quiet conservatism of a tiny town full of paper mill workers and longshoremen. Living between these two cultures prepared Joe to relate to the perspectives of the great early blues artists, whose music he discovered after taking up guitar at age 16.

The poetic clarity of southern blues got Joe to thinking about the history and character of Northwest folk music, worked to deepen his knowledge of the history of Northwest folk songs by applying for and receiving a Woody Guthrie Fellowship from the BMI Foundation. He travelled to New York City, where he worked for a week in the Woody Guthrie Archives uncovering manuscripts and letters written by Guthrie during his time in Portland, OR (in 1941). This intensive study of Guthrie’s Columbia River songs greatly enhanced his appreciation of the power and value of the obscure music he had heard growing up. To properly perform and interpret this music, Joe soon took up the banjo, taking instruction from the brilliant Northwest folklorist (and old family friend) Hobe Kytr. Joe’s passion for Northwest folk culture soon took shape in a new musical endeavor called Timberbound, a revivalist band performing the region’s ballads.

Around this time, Joe met the violinist Ben Hunter, and the two began playing music together. Inspired by the community Ben was engaging in South Seattle, Joe moved from Portland to Seattle in 2013 and the two began working as a duo. There, Ben had founded his own non-profit, Community Arts Create, with programs dedicated to food, murals, and the power of art to build community. Joe & Ben co-founded a new music project under CAC, The Rhapsody Project, which helps people to engage with their heritage through roots music. They have delivered programming for this project throughout America, and in 2019 were recognized by the Ethnic Heritage Council for excellence in ethnic performance and significant contributions to the development and presentation of the traditional cultural arts in the Pacific Northwest.

Phil Wiggins

Washington, D.C. native Phil Wiggins, a Takoma Park, Maryland, resident, blues musician, teacher and artistic director, a two-time winner of the prestigious WC Handy Blues Foundation awards, is only the third harmonica player to receive the lifetime honor of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship. Today he is the only living player of the instrument to hold the prestigious honor of being a “Master of Traditional Arts.” Often referred to by its unofficial designation as “Living Cultural Treasure” award, the fellowship honors and preserves the diverse cultural heritage in the United States. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) annually awards one-time-only NEA National Heritage Fellowships to master folk and traditional artists, to recognize lifetime achievement, artistic excellence, and contributions to our nation’s traditional arts heritage.

The NEA National Heritage Fellowship has been bestowed on some of the greatest luminaries in traditional and folk music. In the traditional blues genre, past winners include some of the most important figures in blues history: B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Pinetop Perkins, Sunnyland Slim, Elizabeth Cotton, Clifton Chenier, Robert Lockwood Jr., Honeyboy Edwards, Brownie McGhee, Jack Owens, Mavis Staples and her father Pops Staples, and many more. Harmonica players Sonny Terry and Elder Roma Wilson are the only other harmonica instrumentalists to receive the honor.

Phil now joins the ranks of his eminent elders, friends and compatriots in the Washington, D.C area traditional Piedmont blues scene to win this distinguished award. His former duo partner, the Piedmont blues singer and guitarist John Cephas, received the National Heritage Fellowship Award in 1989. Phil’s friend and early career catalyst, the great blues singer/guitarist and songster John Jackson received the honor in 1986. The blues singer/guitarist and songster Warner Williams, who took the award in 2011, is now the only other living practitioner of the regional traditional blues besides Phil Wiggins with this recognition.
He is a versatile traditional harmonica player, continuing the Piedmont blues tradition, a gentle and melodic blues style of the mid-Atlantic region. He plays the diatonic ten-hole harmonica in the country blues style, cupping both hands around the instrument and playing acoustically. His sound is not shaped by the gear, the microphone or amplifier when performing on stage, instead by his complex syncopated patterns, breath-control and rhythm, stylistic virtuosity and fiery solo runs.

As a teenager living in Washington D.C. in the 1970s, he played at the Smithsonian National Folklife Festival with street singer Flora Molton, sitting in with blues greats Johnny Shines, Sunnyland Slim, Sam Chatmon, Robert Belfour and Howard Armstrong. By the time he graduated from high school in 1973, D.C. blues elders John Jackson, John Cephas and Archie Edwards had embraced him. He joined the Barrelhouse Rockers, a band fronted by pianist and singer Wilbert “Big Chief” Ellis, where John Cephas played guitar. They toured regionally until Ellis retired in 1977, when John Cephas invited him to join in the duo ‘Cephas & Wiggins’.
With John Cephas as guitarist and primary singer, the duo performed together for 32 years as internationally renowned stars of the country blues, and a staple on blues radio, ever present on the concert and festival circuit – all with the help of National Council for Traditional Arts director Joe Wilson. Cephas & Wiggins played Carnegie Hall, Royal Prince Albert Hall in London and the Sydney Opera House, as well as small venues worldwide, touring every continent except Antarctica. They recorded more than a dozen critically acclaimed albums, including on Flying Fish and Alligator Records, winning the prestigious W.C. Handy Blues Award in 1984 for Best Traditional Album of the Year and in 1987 as Entertainers of the Year. They even performed at the White House with B.B. King. Phil Wiggins as well as Cephas & Wiggins have been featured in major music magazines, including on the cover of Living Blues, and the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and many more. University of Maryland professor, author, blues historian and producer Dr. Barry Lee Pearson has released numerous Cephas & Wiggins tracks on his Smithsonian Folkways album collections, in addition to his frequent writings over more than 30 years, which also featured the duo and John Cephas’ autobiography.

Since the 2009 death of John Cephas, Phil has performed with numerous musicians including Nat Reese, Corey Harris, Australian guitarist Dom Turner, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, Sherman Holmes, the Rev. John Wilkins, Jerron Paxton, and longtime friends Eleanor Ellis and Rick Franklin. He fronts the acoustic swing/roots/blues ensemble, the Chesapeake Sheiks, and is actively engaged in reuniting the Piedmont blues with its origins of African American buck and tap dancing.
Phil has taught thousands of burgeoning harmonica players and actively continues to teach and lead as artistic director in workshops, such as at the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia and the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop in Washington State. Plus, he continues to play an active role on the board of the National Council for Traditional Arts.

Additionally, he performed in the feature film Matewan about the coal mining wars in West Virginia, written and directed by John Sayles. Phil appears in the film and contributed music to the soundtrack. He also appeared in Blues Houseparty, a documentary produced by Eleanor Ellis that captures a wonderful celebration of music and culture that takes place at the home of John Jackson. Phil appears in the film and supplies the voiceover narration. Plus: Portland Mojo: How Stumptown Got the Blues Written and produced by Bob Lietch, a documentary film about the blues scene in Portland, Oregon, narrated by Phil. Letters from Mound Bayou A documentary film about the establishment of a community health center for the rural community of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Produced by an activist group in Washington, D.C. called Video Action, Phil wrote and performed the music for the soundtrack.

Play in the Band! Getting in the Grooves (Int/Adv) – Tom Mitchell, Dave Davies, Peter Davis, Ralph Gordon

This band class will explore various forms and grooves found in blues (and some swing) music, and how to make them as clean and effective as possible. Depending on attendees, topics covered may include listening, chord theory, soloing, fitting your part into a groove or section, harmonizing parts, and many other aspects of ensemble playing. Attendees should have some familiarity with chords and scales on their instruments.

Chord Progressions and Improv (Intermediate) – Peter Davis

Students should have some basic facility on an instrument or as a singer.

This is a fun, practical theory class that anyone can enjoy,  instrumentalists and singers can play the material in class or just come watch and listen. Come and learn some practical secrets of how chord sequences are put together in blues, swing, folk, country and other Americana forms.. Goals will include – how to listen to and recognize common progressions by ear,  how to predict what’s going to happen next and how to use and choose appropriate chords for your own compositions.  Each topic covered will be illustrated with songs and tunes that we play and sing in class. We will also learn how to approach improvising within each genre of music.

Some topics we will address:

What is a Cadence and Why is the Dominant 7th important?

The Circle of 4ths and 5ths and the Number System

1, 2 and 3 chord songs for folk and pop

Cycle 4 Progressions for ragtime and  trad

The 2-5-1 progression for swing and jazz

Blues Progressions and Rhythm Changes

Diatonic Chording the Scale,  The i, ii, and vi Minor Chords,  

Minor Progressions,

Scales, Arpeggios, Riffs and Other Improv Ideas

2020 Blues Week Workshop Grid