October Old-Time Week

October Old-Time Week

October 21-26, 2018

October Old-Time Week focuses on West Virginia’s rich traditions of old-time music. Workshops meet 9 a.m. to noon, with an afternoon cultural session each day and afternoon workshops. Presentations from master artists, evening jam sessions and much more fill out the week. Stay for the Old-Time Fiddlers’ Reunion, October 26-27, a celebration of West Virginia fiddlers. The Reunion kicks off Friday night with a square dance and continues Saturday with performances by West Virginia’s master fiddlers, a flatfoot dance contest, instrument vendors, and the Augusta Store.

Hey folks, We couldn’t be more pleased to announce the 29th annual October Old-Time week here at the Augusta Heritage Center in scenic Elkins, West Virginia. This week will be focused specifically on styles and traditions of folk art and music from all around West Virginia. We’ve go a great lineup as you will see and we have a few programming tricks up our sleeves that you’ll just have to come participate to find out about. All of us here are excited to see you in October and hope you have a great year until then. Please keep checking back for new content, and don’t forget to share this great news with a friend! – Ben Townsend, October Old-Time Week Coordinator


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

(+ Room & Board or other available options.)
Housing for October Old Time Week is available at the Graceland Inn and Conference Center as well as in the city of Elkins (https://augustaheritagecenter.org/lodging). Meal cards for the week may be purchased online  when you register, or you  may also purchase meals individually as desired at the Dining Hall.

October Old-Time Week  2018 Event Schedule October Old-Time Week  2018 Flyer Register Here! | October Old-Time Week  Welcome Letter

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

Ben Townsend, October Old-Time Week Coordinator

Ben Townsend

As a member of The Fox Hunt, Old Sledge, The Iron Leg Boys, The Hackensaw Boys, and now as a solo performer, Ben has traveled across the country and around the world spreading his unique take on West Virginia regional old-time music. Born and raised in Romney, West Virginia, multi-instrumentalist Ben Townsend has studied Appalachian traditional music extensively. He is also a successful engineer, whose label, Questionable Records, has released popular traditional albums, as well as albums of music from genres across the board. Ben’s most recent record, Deep End Sessions, Volume 3: Ben Townsend and Friends, has recently been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Folk Album category.

Kirk Judd, Master Artist

Kirk Judd

Kirk Judd has lived, worked, trout fished, and wandered around in West Virginia all of his life. Kirk was a member of the Appalachian Literary League, a founding member and former president (and JUG recipient) of West Virginia Writers, Inc., and is a founding member of and creative writing instructor for Allegheny Echoes, Inc., dedicated to the support and preservation of WV cultural heritage arts. He authored three collections of poetry Field of Vision (1986), Tao-Billy (1996), and My People Was Music (2014), and co-edited the widely acclaimed anthology, Wild, Sweet Notes – 50 Years of West Virginia Poetry 1950 – 1999. His work has appeared in respected regional publications, including The West Virginia Hillbilly, Appalachian Heritage, Appalachian Journal, BOGG, Now & Then, The Sow’s Ear, Grab A Nickel, Down Home, The Dickensonian, The Hamilton Stone Review, and Hill and Valley. His poetry has been taught in classes at the University of Tennessee, The Ohio State University, Marshall University, and Southern West Virginia Community College. He was featured three times on American Public Radio on “The Poet and The Poem” with West Virginia native, Grace Cavalieri. Kirk’s poetry deals with the Appalachian cultural experience, and the individual emotional and spiritual involvement of living day to day in this unique environment. Kirk was honored to be one of the five readers selected for the installation ceremony of Louise McNeill Pease as Poet Laureate in 1979 at the WV Cultural Center on the Capitol grounds in Charleston, WV, and currently sits on the board of the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation, headquartered in Hillsboro, WV. He is internationally known for his performance work combining poetry and old-time music, and has performed poetry in Ireland and across West Virginia at fairs, concerts, and festivals for the past 40 years.

Keith McManus, Master Artist

Keith McManus

Keith McManus, a professional musician from Doddridge County, WV, has been playing old-time string band music with for nearly 40 years. He plays fiddle, mandolin, and banjo, and sings in the band Stewed Mulligan. A storyteller and songwriter, Keith has written songs that have been recorded by Stewed Mulligan and several other bands, including “Mannington #9,” which tells the story of a 1968 mine disaster in West Virginia. He facilitates regular old-time jam sessions in Morgantown, WV, and performs around the region. 

Doug Van Gundy, Master Artist

Doug Van Gundy

Doug Van Gundy has been performing and teaching old-time fiddle and banjo for more than twenty years.  He first learned to fiddle from the late Mose Coffman through a Folk-Arts Apprenticeship Grant through the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Augusta Heritage Center, and is currently teaching an apprentice through a similar program through the West Virginia Folklife Program.  Doug has played solo shows in the US, Canada and the UK.  His music is deeply rooted in the oldest traditional music of his home state of West Virginia, and has taught workshops throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England.  His playing has been featured on three CDs and many documentary films and television commercials.

Doug is a member of the duo, Born Old, with Paul Gartner. They have been featured on National Public Radio’s Mountain Stage program, and played at both the Appalachian String Band Festival (Clifftop) and Vandalia Gathering annually for many years.  Their repertoire consists of traditional old-time music from the central Appalachians as well as early country classics from the great artists of the 78 rpm era, including The Carter Family, Charlie Poole, Uncle Dave Macon, and others.

Doug is also a nationally-known poet, editor and teacher.  He is the author of the poetry collection, A Life Above Water and the forthcoming collection Roaring Creek.  He is also the co-editor of the anthology Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods:  Poetry and Fiction from West Virginia.  Doug teaches in both the undergraduate and graduate writing programs at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Banjo (Beginning) with Hunter Walker

Banjo (Beginning)

This workshop caters to rank newbies of clawhammer banjo and covers basic musical principles in how they apply to Old-Time Music. Initially, we will develop proper rhythm-hand technique that unique to this style of banjo in order to foster the learning of old-time repertoire with emphasis on WV tunes. This workshop requires a 5-string banjo, and a capo is strongly recommended. As a prerequisite, participants are encouraged to know the basics of tuning as well as a few chords.

Hunter Walker

Beckley native Hunter Walker has been in demand as a teacher and performer in Appalachia and surrounding areas in recent years. He has performed at prestigious venues such as Theatre West Virginia, the Vandalia Gathering, and Mountain Stage. While proficient at guitar and mandolin, he is best known for his virtuosity and innovation on the banjo and mountain dulcimer. His skill on the dulcimer has merited him the titles four time WV State Dulcimer Champion, TN Open Grand Youth Champion, three time Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention Dulcimer Champion, Mid-Atlantic Regional Dulcimer Champion, as well as numerous other first place finishes at Fiddlers’ Conventions. When Hunter is not teaching, you may spot him jamming at festivals. He is excited to see the rich Appalachian music heritage passed on.

Banjo (Intermediate) with Bob Shank

Banjo (Intermediate)

This workshop will cover clawhammer techniques. In it, participants will explore several tunings and learn tunes with melodic passages using drop thumb technique. Additionally, we will look at how basic elements such as rhythm, chords, scales, and harmony work together to make your playing richer and more musical. Want to play with others, perhaps in a jam session or a band? We’ll spend some time learning about the dynamics of playing in group settings. Finally, we will spend some time on backup playing and learning tunes on the fly. Intermediate students should have at least a small repertoire of tunes and be familiar with basic chords. They should know the basic bum-ditty bum-ditty right hand frailing rhythm. We’ll go from there to add new tunes and techniques and have some banjo fun! 

Teacher name

For more than three decades Bob Shank has been a benchmark for American banjo players. Not bluegrass or old-time, or classical or ragtime, but all that and more. A sixth-generation West Virginian, Bob began his musical journey at age 5 with drums and piano and by age 13 he was firmly hooked on banjo. And then guitar. And then hammered dulcimer. And an abiding rock and roll sensibility. That all led to the formation, with Sam Morgan, Mark Walbridge, Pete Tenney, and Glen McCarthy, of the successful crossover band, Hickory Wind. Hickory Wind’s fusion of various traditional musical forms over (and under) layered with rock rhythms and fills got them all the way to opening for some of the best known acts of the time, including Steely Dan, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, and Jackson Brown. As Flying Fish recording artists, the band toured 30 American states and 20 countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, recording three very favorably reviewed albums in the process. A new compilation of previously unreleased Hickory Wind material, No Fish Today, is available from CD Baby.

Banjo (Advanced) with Paul Gartner

Banjo (Advanced)

Banjo (Advanced): The advanced banjo workshop will focus on tunes learned from recordings of West Virginia fiddlers such as Burl Hammons, Ward Jarvis, Frank George and Mose Coffman. Keys of A, G, C, D and A modal. As Paul has been playing in Born Old for 20 years, these are tunes in their repertoire.

Paul Gartner

Paul Gartner is a native of Ohio’s Mahoning Valley, and moved to West Virginia in 1977. He plays guitar and banjo with fiddler Doug Van Gundy in Born Old. Paul is a two-time Ohio State clawhammer banjo champion, and has won the blue ribbon at the WV State Folk festival at Glenville, and the senior banjo contest at the Vandalia Gathering in 2015. He is also a published writer, and has written profiles of several Mountain State traditional musicians, including fiddlers Clark Kessinger, Frank George, and Wilson Douglas. West Virginia’s great fiddling traditions are his main inspiration for his clawhammer banjo playing, which leans toward the melodic, but without sacrificing rhythm or drive. In Born Old, Paul has appeared on “Mountain Stage,” and at Marshall University, FestivALL, Shepherd University, Fort New Salem, West Virginia University, the Appalchian String Band Festival, the Vandalia Gathering, Ohio University, Pittsburgh’s Emerging Legend Series, the Edinboro (PA) Arts and Music Festival, New York City, Grand Ledge (MI), and Charlotte (NC). Paul has played at dances all over the state, from Morgantown to Charleston, and Dunmore to Huntington. He resides at Tango in Lincoln County.

Fiddle (Advanced Beginning) with Joe Herrmann

Fiddle (Advanced Beginning)

The focus of this workshop is for people that have already developed the basics of playing the fiddle and are looking to move forward. We will be drawing from the old-time repertoire to explore techniques that give old-time fiddle tunes unique expression. We will focus on basic elements of music and old-time fiddle playing such as tone, rhythm, intonation, melody, and of course, bowing. By using these elements, participants will be directed and given access to a path of musical growth, enjoyment, and participation. Working in the aural tradition (no written handouts will be provided), the workshop will aim to inspire confidence in one’s own ability to practice and learn new tunes. Be sure to bring a recording device. Feel free to contact Joe about any concerns or questions: samjoe@juno.com.

Joe Herrmann

Joe Herrmann is a singer and multi-instrumentalist. He co-founded The Critton Hollow String Band with his wife, Sam Herrmann, in 1975, and has toured internationally and recorded 8 albums.

Joe Herrmann plays music that draws from his background in traditional folk and old-time traditions, songs and instrumentals from traditional and contemporary sources. They are songs that express a range of experience that can make you laugh or make you cry and occasionally do both at the same time. They include ballads that tell stories of bad men and disappointed lovers and instrumentals that will make you want to get up and dance or sit back and listen. Joe plays guitar, fiddle, and banjo.

“My first instrument was the 5-string banjo ala Pete Seeger, and as a child of the ’60s we actually had ‘hootenannies’ in our back yard where we would play and sing the popular folk music of that era. In high school it was rock and roll, which was a very healthy form at the time and an influence on my musical sensibilities. A bit later it was jazz, and by 1974 I had sold all the electric guitars and amplifiers and moved to Paw Paw, WV with my Yamaha acoustic guitar. I discovered fiddle about that time and rediscovered banjo. Music has been good to me”.

Fiddle (Intermediate) with Rachel Eddy

Fiddle (Intermediate)

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

Participants should come to this intermediate workshop already able to tune their instrument, ready to learn by ear, able to easily use bow slurs in their playing, and already having some old-time repertoire. 

Rachel Eddy

Rachel Eddy hails from West Virginia, where she grew up steeped in Appalachian music and dance. Rachel’s multi-instrumental talents and soulful singing bring an incredibly powerful energy to the stage. She performs as a soloist in addition to touring with The Early Mays (Pittsburgh) and The Kolodner Quartet (Baltimore). Rachel was born and raised in rural WV just south of Morgantown, where her musical family inspired her to play and sing as a little girl. She grew up listening to local fiddlers, her father among them, going to old-time festivals, and attending square dances. The old-time bug bit her early in life and Rachel now performs and teaches full-time on fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass. She has taught fiddle, banjo and guitar at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins WV, at Sore Fingers Summer school in the UK, and different various weekend workshops from the hills of West Virginia to Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, London and Wales. Rachel’s love of music comes from the heart and she loves every part of her job from performing, to educating dedicated students, and the electrifying charge of playing in jam sessions around the world!

Fiddle (Advanced) with Dave Bing

Fiddle (Advanced)

Fiddle (Advanced): In this workshop, Dave Bing will use local tunes as a tool for explaining bowing rhythm, left-hand technique, dynamics, syncopation and all the things that make a tune fun to play and more interesting to listen to. For this advanced workshop, participants should already have several tunes they are comfortable with and be able to easily play along in jams. 

Dave Bing

Dave Bing’s first Augusta experience was in 1983 when he and his brothers performed in concert for Old-Time Week. Two years later, he began teaching beginning fiddle and has taught every year since, developing his style of teaching to include all aspects of West Virginia fiddling. Dave began playing guitar at five years old, banjo in his mid-teens, and fiddle soon after. He was lucky to learn from several old-time fiddlers who had different styles, and he incorporated them into what has become his own style of fiddling. Dave has performed and taught old-time fiddle and banjo internationally with annual workshops in Spain and England. His style of teaching focuses on the rhythmic bowing techniques, different left hand methods, dynamics, and timing that make an old-time fiddle tune more appealing to listen to and more fun to play. In addition to teaching, Dave currently plays and performs with the trio High Ridge Ramblers. He now lives in Roane County, West Virginia, with his wife. He plays on his tractor on their farm, plays and teaches old-time West Virginia music, and builds violins.

Hammered Dulcimer (Beginning / Intermediate) with Sam Herrmann

Hammered Dulcimer (Beginning / Intermediate)

This workshop is for folks who have some experience playing and learning tunes. There is no need to have a huge bag of experience, but the class isn’t for folks with no experience. The workshop will focus on a rhythmic approach to playing fiddle tunes using tunes with roots in West Virginia and the surrounding region of Appalachia. Being part of October Old-Time Week will allow you to surround yourself with an undeniable wealth of inspiration for the tradition of fiddle and banjo rhythms.

Sam Herrmann

Sam Herrmann has played hammered dulcimer since building her first one in 1975. Co-founder of Critton Hollow Stringband in 1976, she has toured extensively in the US, Canada, and the UK, performing and teaching workshops at many major festivals. Her band was considered the “house band” in the early years of the Augusta Heritage Workshop, and Sam taught the hammered dulcimer repertoire class for many summers. Sam’s dulcimer playing has always focused on traditional fiddle tunes.


Click here to see all  mini courses offered this week!