2015

Gretchen Priest – Fiddle


Gretchen Priest - FiddleGretchen Priest divides her time between performing, teaching fiddle and running the Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee (also known as the Fiddle and Pick) that she founded in 2008 in Pegram, Tennessee, just west of Nashville.
Her school teaches traditional acoustic instruments with a staff of 35, many of whom are among Nashville’s leading recording and performing professionals.

Gretchen, along with her husband Tim May, formed the band Plaidgrass by merging the traditions of Irish, old-Time and bluegrass music and the instrumentation of fiddle, bouzouki, bodhran, bass and banjo in a variety of configurations. Prior to opening the Fiddle and Pick, Gretchen toured with the bluegrass band Crucial Smith and the Celtic rock band, Ceili Rain. She is often a featured performer on the Grand Ole Opry, Mountain Stage, the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, and many festivals across the country.

James Mckinney – Banjo

James McKinney - BanjoJames McKinney is a true Master of the 5-string banjo. One of the most advanced players anywhere and a Scruggs and Reno style expert, James is also considered a leading expert in jazz and theory in the banjo world, having been mentored by renowned jazz educator, David Baker, and Mr. Henry Ferrel (teacher of Chet Atkins and Jethro Burns).

In his early days James played often with legends such as Bill Monroe, Vassar Clements, and John Hartford. James won the South U.S. Banjo Championship at age 15 and in 1982 he won the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas, as well as first-place in dozens of state and regional championships. He made the first of several appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, The Porter Wagoner Show, and the stages of Opryland at age 19 as part of
“Smoky Mountain Sunshine” combining his talents as a banjoist with those of musical arranger.

In the 1980’s he lived in Dallas and recorded and toured with his band “Danger in the Air” and later moved to Nashville to do full-time touring and studio work.

James spent many years as a popular studio musician in Nashville and performed/recorded with the likes of Porter Wagoner, Barbara Mandrell, John Hartford, and Johnny Cash in addition to a long and close friendship and professional relationship with legendary fiddler ,
Vassar Clements,  with whom he toured and performed as “The Vassar Clements Band”.

James has recorded on many projects and taught at many major banjo camps including SPGBMA workshops and other Master workshops all over the USA and in Australia. NightTravelers.com

O.J. Laier – Oldtime

O.J. LaierMusic has been part of O.J. Laier’s life from his early days playing trumpet in high school and a U.S. Army band to a busy teaching and performing schedule in Austin, Texas. Inspired by Earl Scruggs-style three-finger picking, O.J. first picked up a 5-string banjo in the early 70s. He was first introduced to frailing when he toured Europe in a Kingston Trio-type trio as part of his Army stint. About five years ago, while teaching guitar, dobro and banjo to students in Austin, he fell in love with playing oldtime clawhammer banjo. It didn’t take him long to get plugged into the amazing picking styles of Adam Hurt, Richie Stearns and many others. He enjoys learning fiddle tunes as a way to hone his banjo chops.

“The traditional style of playing is very addictive,” O.J. says. “If you apply yourself —and do it a lot! — it can get kind of Zen. I am a firm believer in using any and all available material to help me get where I want to go. By ear, tabs, video…it’s all good.”

Keith Yoder – Guitar / Mandolin

Keith YoderKeith Yoder performs on and teaches guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, resophonic guitar, bass and drums. He has taught at music camps including Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp, British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop/NimbleFingers, and the Walker Creek Music Camp. He has performed with bluegrass legends from Bobby Hicks to Dan Crary, and has recorded several CDs, the most recent featuring him playing all the instruments and singing all the vocal parts.

Bill Evans – Banjo

Bill Evans - BanjoBill Evans is an internationally known five-string banjo life force. As a performer, teacher, writer, scholar and composer, he brings a deep knowledge, intense virtuosity and contagious passion to all things banjo, with thousands of music fans and banjo students from all over the world in a career that spans over thirty-five years.

In Bill’s solo concert presentation “The Banjo in America,” he presents the banjo from its West African roots to the New World, performing musical examples from the 1700’s to the present day on a variety of vintage instruments, ranging from an African ekonting to a mid-19th century minstrel banjo, a modern bluegrass banjo and even an electric banjo. From an 18th century African dance tune to the music of the Civil War, and from early 20th century ragtime to folk and bluegrass banjo styles to Bill’s own incredible original music,The Banjo in America illuminates as well as entertains, exposing audiences to over 250 years of American music.

Bill also assembles first-rate progressive acoustic ensembles to perform music from his CDs at major festivals around the world. Acoustic luminaries Todd Phillips, Josh Williams, Don Rigsby, Matt Flinner, Barbara Lamb, Jim Nunally, Chad Manning, Mike Barnett, Lincoln Meyers, Missy Raines, Steve Smith, Joe Walsh, Tashina & Tristan Clarridge, Mike Witcher and Sharon Gilchrist are just some of the folks who have shared the stage with Bill in a moving musical feast he calls “The Bill Evans String Summit.”

Bill is the author of “Banjo For Dummies,” the most popular banjo book in the world and has been a Banjo Newsletter columnist for over fifteen years. He has also performed with acoustic legends David Grisman, Peter Rowan, David Bromberg, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Tony Trischka, Jody Stecher, Laurie Lewis, James Nash and Kathy Kallick, among many others.

Bill has appeared at many bluegrass and folk festivals all across North America, including appearances at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (San Francisco, CA); FreshGrass (North Adams, MA) and Wintergrass (Bellvue, WA). In 2012, Bill performed in 12 states, Canada, Germany and participated in a U. S. State Department-sponsored tour of Russia. Venues played in 2012 include the Birchmere Restaurant, VA; Banjo Camp Munich, Germany and an appearance with the San Francisco Symphony.

Bill will make his debut appearance on “A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor” in February 2013.

Bill’s 2012 CD “In Good Company” features 26 guest artists, including The Infamous Stringdusters, Tim O’Brien, Joy Kills Sorrow, Stuart Duncan, Rob Ickes, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, David Grier, Todd Phillips and many others. “In Good Company” was the #1 CD on the Roots Music Report national Bluegrass Charts for the first two weeks of November 2012 and was the #1 CD on the Folk DJ-List charts for May 2012.

“In Good Company” occupied either the #1 or #2 chart position on the California Roots Music Report charts from May to October 2012. This project received a Spotlight Review in the August 2012 edition of “Bluegrass Unlimited” magazine. “In Good Company” has been named to many “Best of 2012” CD lists, including Pop Matters, Folk Alley, Kansas Public Radio, Engine 145, Prescription Bluegrass, and WDHX-FM.

Bill has a Master’s Degree in Music from the University of California, Berkeley with a specialization in American music history and he has been a scholar/artist in residence at many universities across the United States. He has served as a consultant to the National Endowment for the Arts and is the former Associate Director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owenboro, Kentucky.

David Hamburger – Fingerstyle Guitar

David Hamburger - Fingerstyle GuitarFingerstyle Guitarist David Hamburger has appeared at Merle Fest and the Kerrville and Philadelphia Folk Festivals, toured with Joan Baez and shared the stage with Dave Van Ronk, Jorma Kaukonen, Tony Trischka, Duke Robillard, Cindy Cashdollar and many others. His guitar, slide guitar and dobro playing can be heard on his solo albums Indigo Rose and David Hamburger Plays Blues, Ballads & a Pop Song and with the Grassy Knoll Boys on their debut CD, Buckeyed Rabbit. David is also a contributing editor to Acoustic Guitar and the author of several books, including the award-winning Beginning Blues Guitar and The Acoustic Guitar Method, also available on DVD from Homespun Tapes. He lives in Austin, Texas.

When I want to sound like I come from a musical background, I tell people that my grandfather was born in Harlem and learned to play stride piano by ear in the Roaring Twenties, all of which is true, if slightly misleading (Harlem used to be a Jewish neighborhood, my grandfather ran an ad agency, not a speakeasy, and he picked up his “popular piano” chops as a freshman in college). My father played piano as well, mostly Tin Pan Alley tunes, Mozart and Chopin, although one of my earliest musical memories is of running around in circles while he played “Malaguena,” until I threw up. (The other is of watching monster muppets on Sesame Street sing “Lulu’s Back in Town.”) I started on the violin in the fourth grade, discovered clawhammer banjo at a groovy New Hampshire summer camp at age 12, and was subtley re-directed towards the guitar by my mom, who thought I’d stand a better chance at parties that way. My first guitar teacher was Lucille Magliozzi, a bluegrass freak and brother to the Car Talk guys, so while my friends were decoding Van Halen’s “Eruption” I was learning fingerpicking and fiddle tunes, rendering the whole guitar/party thing a bit of a wash.

At Wesleyan University I fell in with a bad lot and, to quote Dave Van Ronk, “I wanted to play jazz in the worst way – and I succeeded.” I did, however, also have my first noteworthy gig, backing up Allen Ginsburg at a packed poetry reading my senior year. He was only going to sing a handful of tunes, but when I asked if I should leave the stage in between, he told me, “no, just stay up here and…meditate.” So I did. He was Ginsburg, after all, and gave me a big smooch on the cheek afterwards (very furry, as you might expect).

On to New York City, where I spent the first couple of years gigging with Freedy Johnston and playing on his first record, The Trouble Tree, before embarking on a decade of playing guitar, pedal steel and dobro in the city’s 1990s alt. country scene and serving as de facto house session musician for a couple of indie folk/singer-songwriter labels. Around the same time I wrote an instructional book, Beginning Blues Guitar, which led to me writing for Guitar Player, cranking out a handful more books, becoming a contributing editor to Acoustic Guitar and interviewing people like John Leventhal, Jerry Douglas and Keb’ Mo’. (That first book also wound up selling over 100,000 copies and being translated into French and Japanese, which I thought was pretty cool. After all, who doesn’t want to be known as the author of “Debutante Blues Guitar”?) After a brief stint as a Broadway pit musician and a season playing on the Food Network’s Emeril Live, I headed for Austin, Texas in 2000, where I helped start a hardcore bluegrass band, the Grassy Knoll Boys, and went on tour playing guitar for Joan Baez.

In 2004 I did my first jingle for Austin music house Tequila Mockingbird, a Krispy Kreme radio spot. Since then I’ve continued to freelance for Tequila and for Duotone Audio Group in New York, scoring commercials for Wendy’s, Autozone, Milkbone, Breakstone’s and AARP, while working directly with agencies and directors on spots and PSAs for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Texas Department of Transportation and others. In 2009 I began working in film, scoring When I Rise, a feature-length documentary which premiered at the 2010 South By Southwest Film Festival, and Wild Texas Weather, which has been screening six times a day, six days a week at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum since the fall of 2009.

In 2010 I began working with the Austin-based production company Megalomedia, scoring the one-hour reality show pilot Quintuplet Surprise, which aired on TLC in April of that year. Since then I have worked with Megalomedia on two seasons of the resulting series “Quintuplets By Surprise,” also on TLC, the first season of “Heavy” and, most recently, the first season of Shipping Wars (both on A&E) . I can also be heard every week playing banjo on the theme to the History Channel show “Swamp People,” and my music is frequently heard on the Outdoor Channel, the Green Channel, Discovery Science and, of course, the Playboy Channel’s “Search For The Perfect Girlfriend.”

But more to the point, I once played on a Springsteen remake of “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Now me and the Boss are like this, despite the fact that, through the magic of the studio, we’ve never actually met.

Visit DavidHamburgerMusic.com

Tim May – Flatpicking Guitar

Tim May - Guitar / Dobro

For fifteen years, Tim performed with the progressive bluegrass band Crucial Smith, playing most of the high-profile festivals in the country including Telluride, Winfield and Winterhawk.  In 2002-2003 he toured with Patty Loveless in support of her bluegrass albums Mountain Soul and White Snow: A Mountain Christmas.  In 2005, he recorded on Charlie Daniels’ album Songs from the Long Leaf Pines, and was solo guitarist on the Grammy-nominated track I’ll Fly Away.

Tim has also toured with John Cowan Band, performed at the Grand Ole Opry as a member of Mike Snider’s Old Time String Band and recently played on the all-star Rounder recordingMoody Bluegrass: a Nashville Tribute to the Moody Blues, of which Mark Hurley of Higher and Higher, the Moody Blues fan magazine, said “The jaw-dropping guitar solo on The Voice would cause Eddie Van Halen to weep from insecurity.”

Besides our camp, Tim’s taught at Nashville Guitar College, South Plains College and Nashcamp, and is a national clinician for Breedlove guitars.

Of his playing, Pat Flynn said “Tim always says that I influenced him, but the truth is that I’ve learned something every time I play with him.  I owe him a lot,” and Dan Crary said simply, “Tim May has just become one of my favorite guitar players.”

Robert Bowlin – Guitar

Robert BowlinAs a Blue Grass Boy: Robert Bowlin was the last fiddler to join the Blue Grass Boys. He plays on the recording of “Boston Boy” that closes the boxed set “Music of Bill Monroe, 1936-1994”

Recording Sessions: 1/9/1994

Before and After: A multi-instrumentalist, Bowlin won the 1979 National Guitar Championship. He has created audio lessons in twin guitar and twin mandolin playing for Musicians’ Workshop, and has recorded as a sideman with many bluegrass and country artists. He has been a member of the Osborne Brothers’ and Kathy Mattea’s bands, and currently plays lead guitar and fiddle with the group Shady Mix.

For more information about Robert, visit: https://RobertBowlin.com

Wil Maring – Songwriting

Wil MaringAs Wil Maring sat for long summer hours as a teenager at her family’s roadside vegetable stand, picking out self-made tunes on her Sears guitar to pass the time, she never dreamed of the path she would one day follow. Wil has become a highly acclaimed songwriter, a previous winner of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest, and has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry with her original music, in addition to touring extensively in Europe and Japan. She honed her songwriting skills playing music professionally in Europe with her group Shady Mix.

Wil Maring and virtuose guitarist and fiddler Robert Bowlin have been recently combining talents to create beautiful original acoustic music which straddles the fence between bluegrass, folk and country music. Wil’s beautiful airy vocal style and heartfelt lyrics have raised the eyebrows of the acoustic music world in recent years with the release of her three solo cds and four band cds with her band Shady Mix. Robert, a two-time National Fingerpicking and Flatpicking Guitar contest winner, has been a band member with legendary artists like Bill Monroe, Maura O Connell, Kathy Mattea, the Osborne Brothers, and many more. Their music will leave audiences spellbound long after the show is over. For bigger venues, Wil sometimes appears with whole band, Shady Mix, which includes instrumental lineup of upright bass, fiddle, mandolin, and sometimes banjo.

As Dave Higgs, respected host of Nashville Public Radio’s nationally syndicated bluegrass program describes the performance: “Absolutely, hands-down some of the most mesmerizing, exciting, interesting and enjoyable acoustic music I have ever heard. Wil’s songs are just in a league of their own, and the picking…. the interplay between (the musicians) is simply astonishing. Not clones — but an inspired group with a different message. I love it!”

WHAT FOLKS ARE SAYING:

“Wil Maring, one of the most underrated writers in bluegrass, returns with a new collection of songs about familiar topics like home, family, the road, and relationships. Her approach is refreshingly intimate and subtle, rendering the songs simultaneously contemporary and timeless, in a way that rewards repeated listening. The singing matches the grace of the songwriting, and her top notch regular band, with great guests like Rob Ickes and Stuart Duncan, couches everything in shimmering, spacious sound. Plus there’s a great cover of a Steve Winwood song – how’s that for contemporary bluegrass?”
– Bruce Bergathon “Acousticity” WGLT, Bloomington, IL

“This is the best stuff I’ve heard at TAXI since I can’t remember when. The songs are beautifully written and memorable, the lyrical imagery is vivid and intense, the level of musicianship is stunning. Oh, and did I forget to mention the singing?! Well, the singing is pretty damn great too. I believe every word. I am forever under the singer’s spell. Music of this caliber deserves to be celebrated. Superb. Can’t wait to hear more.”
– TAXI rep., the biggest independent A and R company

“With “The Calling” she has established herself as one of the genre’s premier songwriters. Her songs are always thoughtful, tastefully arranged, arrestingly executed, melodically interesting and pack a 20-megaton emotional wallop. And, as though that wasn’t enough to send everyone into perpetual euphoria, she has developed an original sound as well–propelled by her beautiful, one-of-a-kind voice that is lilting and gorgeous yet tempered with a tough-edginess that makes for a simply exquisite combination. I especially enjoyed the ominous “Black Snake of the Sky,” the inspiring “Keeper of the Farm,” the hauntingly poetic “Going Down,” the introspectful “Window Seat” and the killer cover of “Back in the Highlife Again.”
– Dave Higgs, syndicated Bluegrass Breakdown, WPLN Nashville, TN

“Wil Maring is a dynamic songwriter, guitarist and singer. She has created a homespun quality and sound while performing deep rooted bluegrass music mixed in with the sound of folk. There is clarity and brilliance in her masterpieces. She has a passion in her voice while performing songs dear to her heart such as “Keeper of the Farm”. The song is poetic in nature with a down-home feeling. The lyrics contain visions of the past that will take you down an old path leading to a family farm that is filled with history. It is a heartfelt song in its overall interpretation of its presence, and in a land of memory dear to her heart called family. Overall she brings forth great music that will last a lifetime.”
– Peggy Leyva-Conley, former Editor/Columnist, Delta Snake Blues Magazine San Jose, California

“When you are finished reading this review, please, please go to her website and have a listen to her voice. I can’t even begin to describe what it is about it that attracts me so. Is it the easy back-porch alto, the slight twang, the way it just sounds real? Maring’s lovely vocals are surrounded by her Shady Mix bandmates as well as acoustic luminaries such as Stuart Duncan and Rob Ickes. The soft bluegrass arrangements are perfect for the contemporary rural themes of the songs. ……Whether you focus on the heartfelt poetry of the lyrics or the gently intricate playing, Maring and company welcome you to a very genuine place in the country. Essential!”
– Michael Devlin, Music Matters Reviews

“Don’ get much better than this…. Nothing else to add except to urge you buy this excellent album.”
– Maverick Country Music Magazine, United Kingdom

“Congratulations, Wil, on another great record! Strong songwriting, excellent production, and stellar players – this one will be getting lots of spins!”
– Bud Johnson, host of syndicated Acoustic Accents, Tok, Alaska

“Wil…Got home from the post office awhile ago, laid down with headphones and listened to your tunes….whew!! I just finished taking it all in. So many different grooves and perfect backup to your lyrics and voice. This project is just plain right, that’s all I can say at the moment. You must be proud to be able to produce such an awesome album. Any of the writers we know should be so lucky as to come up with lyrics and melodies like yours! What a great trip your CD is…no kidding! ”
– Kevin Lynch, WWUH, West Hartford, CT

For more information about Wil, visit: https://www.myspace.com/wilmaring.

Paul Glasse – Mandolin

Paul GlasseGrowing up in Poughkeepsie, NY, a young Paul Glasse was introduced to the unusual acoustic draw of the mandolin. Though as an adolescent he cut his teeth on Bluegrass, Old Timey, and New England Traditional Music, it was the Siren of Texas Swing that would lure him to Austin, Texas in 1977. Under the tutelage of the great electric mandolinist, Tiny Moore (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys) Glasse immersed himself in the vocabulary and vibe of Texas Swing. Known for its quick-pulsed tempo and unusual blend of early Country and Western fused with the jazz harmony of late 30’s Benny Goodman/Charlie Christian swing, this indigenous art would be the unique and central core of his musical identity.
To the right, a youthful Paul Glasse, 1981 Buck White International Mandolin Championship winner(middle), pictured between 1982 winner Nashville recording artist Mark O’Connor (left) and 1980 winner Bobby Clark (right). A decade-long success championing mandolin contests in the late 80s would hone his technical picking prowess and morph his interest into the rapid-fire compendium of Bebop jazz. A fondness for a short, recognizable “head,” followed by blazing improvisation became the signature sound of Glasse, and his compositional skills. (Photo of Paul with his electric mandolin courtsey of JazzMando.com)

Permanently rooted in the promiscuously vibrant Austin musical scene, Glasse’ regular appearances at local performances have become of the many treasures of this town’s nightlife. Known internationally for its cadre of talented players and musical originality, Austin with it’s notably raw brilliance has all the musical attraction and potential of Nashville, sans the gloss. Though he has toured with such notables as Lyle Lovett, it’s the incubating environment of this musical homebase that defines the originality and sensibilities of his music.Paul furthered his traditional education through his coursework in the University of Texas, where he filled the Big Band guitar slot with his 5-string electric mandolin. Michael Stevens, former Senior Design Engineer of the Fender Custom Shop, introduced a special signature Paul Glasse Model Mandolin. He also owns the original darker sunburst prototype that Michael made in 1982. Barry Mitterhoff (Hot Tuna) borrowed this for some touring before his own “Paul Glasse Model” was completed. These mandolins are played by, Aubrey Haynie, Tom Rozum, and Don Stiernberg among others.

Two albums grace his discography, and lately, a compilation double CD re-release of these (with bonus tracks!) record this magnificent ground-breaking music for posterity and of course, serious aural study for the aspiring jazz mandolinist.

Kudos:

1st place 1981 Buck White International Mandolin Championship Kerville, Texas
Winner Professional Mandolinist division Shriner Central Texas Pick-off.
1st Place 1987East Texas Mandolin Championship
1st Place 1989 Walnut Valley (Winfield) Mandolin Championship
Multiple appearances on Austin City Limits including as a featured performer with his own group
Inductee Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame
Featured on an NPR All Things Considered profile/interview with Noah Adams
Awarded a six month apprenticeship with Johnny Gimble as part of Texas Folklife Resources “Master/Apprentice” program
Custom Builder Michael Stevens “Paul Glasse Model” electric mandolin
Endorsee, D’addairo Strings
National Association of Jazz Educators citation for “outstanding musicianship.
“Featured on voluminous projects with artists such as Tiny Moore, Johnny Gimble, Mark O’Connor, Jethro Burns, Mike Marshall, Tony Trishka, Jerry Douglas, Howard Levy, Peter Rowan, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Eldon Shamblin, Allison Krause, Kelly Willis, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Michelle Shocked, Laurie Lewis, Riders in the Sky, Asleep at the Wheel, and many others.

Paul’s bio courtsey of Ted Eschliman – JazzMando.com

Irl Hees – Bass

Irl Hees - BassOn December 11th, 1976, at 16 years of age, Irl Hees began playing the upright bass.  It was a very important day in his life.  Up to that day, he had been playing a washtub bass; one quarter-inch strand of nylon clothesline cord on a number 3 galvanized washtub.  After that day, he never looked back.

He began working with Oklahoma banjo player Kenny Cantrell the following year, and took several more regional band gigs over the next 10 years. Irl was the original bassist in the Midwest group “Radio Flyer”, and in the late 80’s, Irl began a group called “Down The Road”.  The band lasted about 6 years.  It was during this time that he joined with several others to produce and record “The Missouri Session”, a CD devoted to showcasing several Midwest bluegrass bands and musicians in a studio setting.

Irl began playing professionally in 1995 when he joined Rhonda Vincent’s country band.  In 1996, he was part of the original RAJ’E band, which later became Rhonda Vincent and the Rage.  Irl then joined Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, and eventually did two stints with Chris, appearing on Chris’s “Just A Town” album.  In 2002, Irl joined the Lonesome River Band, and recorded “Window Of Time” with LRB.

The Grand Ole Opry, The Jerry Lewis Telethon, Music City Roots, Larry’s Country Diner, are just a few of the venues Irl has appeared on over the years.  He has performed with actress Mare Winningham and her ‘Jewgrass Boys’ several times, and he knows Miles Cleverly of the Cleverly Trio personally, although he’s never seen Miles perform.  That’s OK, because Miles has never seen Irl perform, either.  Irl has also worked with Roy Rogers Jr. as a Highrider for two years.

Irl now enjoys teaming with bandleader Clay Hess in the Clay Hess Band, and does occasional session work for other bluegrass performers.  He still has the old wash tub as a reminder of where he came from, but prefers the acoustic upright bass, although he has toyed with donating the wash tub to the IFWS…..the International Foot Washers Society.

Sam Swank – Fingerstyle Guitar

Sam Swank - Fingerstyle GuitarSam Swank is a life-long Dallasite who started playing guitar in 1968 when his father brought home a copy of “Are You Experienced” by Jimi Hendrix to supplement his record collection, which consisted of “The Monkees Greatest Hits” and “Revolver” by the Beatles.

Sam has made his living as a professional musician and guitar instructor for 25 years. He studied classical guitar with Rick Madriguera at Eastfield College and Tom Johnson at the University of North Texas. He has recorded and performed with such diverse talents as Johnny Reno, Olivia Newton-John, Ray Wylie Hubbard and Andy Timmons. (Sam believes Andy is really coming along!)

Sam’s approach to teaching is always tailored to individual needs. He specializes in acoustic fingerstyle and classical, as well as rock and blues styles. He enjoys corrupting strict classical and acoustic players with rock and blues music, and vice-versa. He even plays bluegrass well enough to fool undiscriminating listeners, but tries not to tell too many people. Sam really likes helping people improve their guitar skills.

 

Lee Thomas – Clawhammer Banjo

D Lee Thomas - Clawhammr BanjoLEE THOMAS while in college and by random chance saw Earl Scruggs on a TV special.  The rest is history. Absorbed, obsessed, possessed, and insane over the five string, his life became the banjo. Dropped out of college, abandoned his wife, went on the road and never looked back…

Gerald Jones – Banjo / Mandolin

Gerald Jones - Banjo / MandolinGerald Jones, founder and director of Acoustic Music Camp, is a favorite instructor at many bluegrass and roots music camps around the nation, teaching banjo, mandolin, and many special topics such as “Jam Survival Skills.” He’s a skilled player in many different styles, including bluegrass, western swing, country, classical banjo and Polish war hymns. He’s played on stage or recorded with Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor, Vince Gill, Sam Bush, Hank Thompson, Red Steagall, Jethro Burns, Jerry Douglas, Tanya Tucker, Junior Brown and many more. He is the inventor of the Jones/AcousticPlus banjo pickup endorsed by Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Alan Munde and many others. As a banjoist, he’s been a two-time finalist in the National Bluegrass Banjo championship in Winfield, Kansas.

Gerald has taught music for almost 30 years, and counts among his students Marty and Emily Erwin of the Dixie Chicks, and Max Johnston of the Gourds. He was the editor of Mel Bay’s bimonthly webzine Banjo Sessions and a frequent contributor to Joe Carr’s Mandolin Sessions. As Joe said of Gerald, “Students love him because he jams a lot with them and teaches as much out of class as in!”

For more information about Gerald, visit: TheGeraldJones.com.

 

Nate Lee – Mandolin


Nate Lee playing mandolin at the fiddle house nashville tn
Nate Lee is a 2015 IBMA Momentum Award winning instrumentalist and renowned teacher of private lessons and music camps. While attending the Bluegrass & Country Music Program at South Plains College, Nate joined the Alan Munde Gazette. He toured with the band for six years and played fiddle on their second release, Made To Last.  After moving to Nashville in 2012, Nate toured with Irene Kelley, Town Mountain, and the Jim Hurst Trio. Although Nate is in demand on stage and in the studio, his first love is teaching. With more than thirteen years’ experience as a teacher and workshop instructor, Nate has gained a loyal following of students who enjoy his comprehensive teaching methods and relaxed, encouraging demeanor.  Nate can be found playing mandolin, twin fiddle, and singing with the Becky Buller Band.  He is also a member of the IBMA Leadership Bluegrass committee and a 2014 graduate of the program.  For more info on studying music with Nate and to check out his Plays Well With Others solo album and his popular new teaching DVD, How To Play A Break On A Song You’ve Never Heard Before, visit TheNateLee.com and PlayNately.com