Wintergrass 2015 Sponsor- Nechville Banjo: The Banjo Revolution: Not Just a Slogan


For most of my career as a banjo designer and manufacturer I have used the slogan “Banjo Revolution” without often explaining its fullness of meaning. First, it obviously refers to the mechanical revolution of the flange component of my unique Nechville Heli-Mount banjo. When I entered the professional luthier field, no one was really asking for a better banjo. However, having studied the instrument from an in-depth mechanical design perspective for many years, I instinctively understood the difficulties that tended to keep this traditional American instrument on the sidelines of widespread popular music, and made it my personal mission to correct this limited perception. Now having reached the point in my efforts where many world-renowned professional performers are appearing with my instruments in hand, the merits of Nechville’s common sense designs are beginning to manifest themselves not only for top performers, but with grassroots players and music lovers across the globe.

But in addition to hailing my “Revolutionary” banjo design improvements, the pun intimates a reverence for what our forefathers fought for, i.e., freedom of expression. Having the freedom to create a future for oneself is the central benefit of being a free-thinking human. In my example as a free-born North American, I have been fortunate to be able to follow my passions in this way. As impractical as it may seem to some, and with the full support of h_athenamy loving wife and family, I decided to invent, build and play banjos for a lifetime career. The joyful phenomenon of making music that Nechville instruments were designed for can cause a revolution of thought that reinforces our freedom to act toward betterment.
The Nechville world view summed up by the “Banjo revolution” slogan invites all of humanity to discover the creative spirit such as that which guides our hands in creating music. Musical collaboration, especially that involving Bluegrass music opens new social channels and connects people of diverse origins in fun family friendly festivities. I dream of a social revolution when a major segment of our population embraces Bluegrass inspired music.
Personal bonds won through music can influence the world significantly for all of us.

Mankind has lived for thousands of years without cars, planes and computers, but with the explosion of technology and mechanization, we should have discovered how to redeem benefit from the fruits of our ingenuity to arrive at a better balance between work and play. Perhaps our currently overdrawn government obligates us to work off our national debt to sustain the credence of our dollar as a functional form of currency. The ultimate victory for the Revolution however, will be when our lawmakers, and powerful money makers develop a commitment to allowing employment to all that want to work thereby freeing up more priority time for relationship building among family and friends. As idealistic as it sounds, why not promote the proliferation of homegrown music worldwide? Our existence becomes a little happier when we experience the true meaning of making beautiful music together.

I feel fortunate to have found a form of work that satisfies much of my creative desire, but even I struggle to find the ideal balance between work and play. Unfortunately, artistic pursuits like learning the banjo are considered unattainable by those over-stressed by full time jobs and basic lifestyle responsibilities. The reality is however that people of all walks of life and the world at large can benefit from creative pursuits as simple as friendships through music.

The Banjo Revolution can remain forever a fantasy, OR it can actually happen if you decide to sell the fruits of your labors and be paid back with a Revolutionary banjo. Nechville banjos are made by inspired craftsmen who truly believe in our mission to build better banjos for your musical success along your life journey.
Your friend in music, Tom Nechville
Viva La Banjo Revolution!  612-275-6602


Wintergrass 2015 Performers-The Caleb Klauder Country Band

 The Caleb Klauder Country Band represents the best of the Northwest music scene. Caleb has been touring nationally and internationally for over 15 years, first with acclaimed folk – rock band
Calobo, a luminary in the Northwest’s burgeoning music scene, and then with the widely celebrated Foghor2013.04.17-band_instrumentsn Stringband.Today, leading with vocals, guitar, and a mandolin, Caleb hosts some
of the Northwest’s best singers and players creating a honky – tonk band that stands out as a totem in the country music scene. The band performs Calebʼs praised original songs right alongside classics from George Jones, The Louvin Brothers and Dolly Parton, all at once sounding timeless, fresh, and alive. There is a drive to his music that makes it unique and captivating. This is country music made for people who want to have fun and who want to dance, harkening back to the old dance hall days when people of all walks of life came together to simply dance, socialize, and enjoy
live music. Band members include Jesse Emerson on upright bass, Ned Folkerth on drums, Reeb Willms on vocals and guitar, Russ Blake on pedal steel and electric guitar, and Sam Weiss on fiddle, all of whom contribute to the vibrant Northwest music scene in various other bands. Raised on Orcas Island, Washington and now living in Portland, Oregon, Caleb is a true Northwesterner, yet his maternal family roots lay in East Tennessee. His mother, originally from Knoxville, moved her family out west when Caleb was only a year old. These deep family roots contribute to Calebʼs music, tapping into old memories to bring you the strong singing and spirited attitude that give his music an edge that is both cutting and sweet.

Wintergrass 2015 Performers-Mark O’Connor

Photo by Jim McGuire

Mark O’Connor (b. August 5, 1961, Seattle, Washington) will be playing Wintergrass 2015 with two performances on Sunday March 1st with the Youth Symphony and then his own performance on the Grand Ballroom stage.

Mark’s career has included at age 13, becoming the  youngest person ever to win the Grand Master Fiddler Championships competing against all ages, amateur and professional. the only person to ever win national titles (open to all ages) on fiddle, bluegrass guitar and mandolin (Weiser, ID; Winfield, Kansas; Kerrville, TX). Six Country Music Association Musician Of The Year Awards in a row.  At age 17 Mr. O’Connor played guitar as a member of one of the greatest acoustic string bands of the 1970s, the David Grisman Quintet. At age 19 he payed violin and guitar alongside Steve Morse as a member of one of the greatest rock-fusion instrumental bands of the 1980s, The Dregs. In his twenties he was a member of one of the greatest acoustic bands of all time with four of the greatest players on their respective instruments, Strength in Numbers (with Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and Edgar Meyer). During his twenties, Mr. O’Connor became the most in demand session musician of any instrument and in any genre for a 3-year period, appearing on more top ten hits in the country, recording over 500 albums, and recording with everyone – Dolly Parton, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Randy Travis, The Judds, and more.

His first recording for the Sony Classical record label, ‘Appalachia Waltz’, was a collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer. The works Mr. O’Connor composed for the disc, including its title track, gained worldwide recognition for him as a leading proponent of a new American musical idiom. The tremendously successful follow-up release, ‘Appalachian Journey’, received a Grammy Award in February 2001.

The Mark O’Connor Method is another project of Mark’s: About The O’Connor Method

The O’Connor Method for string teachers and students is a 10-Book series designed to guide students gradually through the development of pedagogical and musical techniques necessary to become a proficient, well-rounded musician through a carefully planned succession of pieces.


Mark’s website is a great site with lots of info on his music and collaborations with others.

Mark has a great Youtube Channel with music from his long and varied career.

  • 2 Grammy awards; 1992 & 2001.
  • 8 Grammy nominations; 1982–2004.
  • 7 CMA awards; 1991–1996.
  • 7 National & Grand Master fiddling championships; 1975–1984.
  • 2 National Guitar championships; 1975 & 1977.
  • World mandolin championship; 1982.
  • Frets Magazine Readers Poll Musician of the year; 1983–1987.
  • Irish-American Top 100; 2005.
  • Hundreds of regional, state and local awards; 1972–present.

Wintergrass 2015 Performers-The Steel Wheels November 2015 West Coast Tour

The Steel Wheels have captured audiences across the country with their heady brew of original soulful mountain music and their deep commitment to roots and community. Based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, this dynamic four-piece string band marries old-time musical traditions with their own innovative sound and lifestyle, generating a truly magnetic revival.

The Steel Wheels is an amalgamation of hard work and easy rapport. The band is renowned for their raw energy and chemistry on stage, where they often cluster tightly around a single microphone to adorn Trent Wagler’s unmistakable tenor with bell-clear four-part harmonies inspired by their shared Mennonite heritage. Add to this Eric Brubaker’s evocative fiddle, Brian Dickel’s grounded upright bass, and Jay Lapp’s signature mandolin style, and it’s no surprise that The Steel Wheels have enthralled the contemporary Americana scene.

Their breakout album, Red Wing (2010), gSteel Wheels photo by Aaron Johnston Photographyarnered critical praise and enjoyed tremendous success on the radio. It spent 13 weeks on the Americana Music Association’s Top 40 Chart, where it reached the number 15 slot, and cracked the Euro Americana Chart top 10.  The Steel Wheels were nominated for five Independent Music Awards in 2010, with “Nothing You Can’t Lose” taking top honors as Best Country Song.  Following 2011’s release, Live at Goose Creek, The Steel Wheels continued to take the Americana scene by storm with their album, Lay Down, Lay Low (2012), which lingered for 10 weeks on the AMA’s Top 40 Chart and was the 2012 Americana Album of the Year from the Independent Music Awards.   Additionally NPR Music named “Rain in the Valley” their Song of the Day, marveling that the “heavy hymn […] is sparse and dense all at once.”  2013 brought yet another Americana charting release entitled, No More Rain.

The Steel Wheels are selling out venues from coast to coast and appearing at many of the top festivals in the US & Canada.  These include Merlefest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots, Ann Arbor Folk Festival, Stagecoach, Fayetteville Roots Festival, Moab Folk Festival, Musikfest, Walnut Valley Festival, Canmore Folk Festival, Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, Riverhawk, Kerrville Folk Festival, and many others.  2014 shows no signs of slowing down with a full schedule of prestigious festivals and venues.  In 2013 the band hosted their own annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival ( that brought over 40 bands to 4 stages for 3 days of music & community.  In addition as the schedule allows, the band organizes and perform the SpokeSongs bicycle music tour, during which the band members tow their instruments, equipment, and merchandise from one show to another via bicycle.  Past tours have spanned up to 11 days, 600 miles, and 10 shows.  The attention from these special SpokeSongs tours allow the band to raise extra money and awareness for charities and causes along the way.

As the band thrives, so do their partnerships with local businesses, artisans, and charitable organizations. The values portrayed in their music—devotion to roots, community, and family—are a way of life for The Steel Wheels, and this is reflected in everything from production process and booking agency to merchandise and touring.  The band’s merchandise represents a host of grassroots connections to people and businesses. Lucas Roasting Company, located just outside of Harrisonburg, created “Halfway to Heaven” dark roast coffee in honor of their friends The Steel Wheels. Blue Mountain Brewery, located on Afton Mountain in Virginia, hosted the band when they were just getting started and now cans and bottles a multi-state distributed “Steel Wheels ESB.”  T-shirts and printing needs are locally sourced and their one of a kind ceramic mugs are made by a potter friend, Justin Rothshank.  Each product is intimately woven into the bands’ narrative. The Steel Wheels are proof that music remains a viable and sustaining force for connection in our world.


“What sets The Steel Wheels from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia apart from many bands is the combination of their stellar instrumentals, accentuated by the one of a kind lead vocal of Wagler, and keenly supported by strong harmonies. Eric Brubaker on fiddle, Jay Lapp on mandolin, and Brian Dickel on bass weave in and out intricately throughout this record, painting vivid imagery which flows effortlessly, just teasing the lyrics enough to allow them to resonate within you.”

Country Standard Time

Friday, November 14 

Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave South, Seattle, Washington

Wintergrass 2015 Youth Academy


Youth Educational Offerings

Youth Education Registration Form

Most Wintergrass Youth education programs take place at the Hyatt Regency (900 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue WA 98004) in the Evergreen Ballroom. Students and parents should plan to check-in thirty minutes before the start time each day. Parents are always welcome, but not required, to stay and observe the fun. Students should plan to pack a lunch. A substantial snack and drink will be provided to Youth Academy students on Friday at 4pm before their 5pm performance.

Wintergrass Pintgrass

For young students ages 4-6

Thursday/Friday, February 26-27, 2015
9am to noon Hyatt Evergreen Ballroom

Cost: $45

Pintgrass is for our youngest musicians. Your 4-6 year olds will learn easy tunes, begin developing a sense of rhythm, and have the opportunity to learn more Bluegrass and folk music in an encouraging environment. Your young students will love working with Ayrian Moore and her staff of caring instructors.

A weekend pass to Wintergrass is always free to kids under the age of twelve, so that pass is included with your registration to Pintgrass. Parents of registered students are eligible for a discounted Parent Weekend Pass to Wintergrass.

PintGrass is a half-day program. Registration begins 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Classes run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Thursday and Friday. All PintGrass students and parents are encouraged to come and watch the Wintergrass Academy’s final performance Friday evening at 5:00 p.m.

You can Register Online or fill out the Youth Education Form and mail it in to:

POB 2024
Milton, WA 98354

D’Addario Wintergrass Youth Academy

For students ages 7-13

Thursday/Friday, February 26-27, 2015
9am to 4pm Hyatt Evergreen Ballroom
8:30am registration on Thursday
Friday performance on the Evergreen Stage from 5-6:30pm

Cost: $117 (includes full weekend pass to Wintergrass)

The Wintergrass Youth Academy has long been the lynchpin the the Wintergrass youth education program. Beth Fortune and the irrepressible Joe Craven lead a stellar team of both adult and junior teachers who work to instill the seeds of a lifelong love of music in their young charges. Even if your child doesn’t yet play an instrument, the Youth Academy is a fantastically fun, affirming entry point into a musical life.

Registration includes a weekend pass to Wintergrass. Parents of registered students are encouraged to attend the closing performance on Friday night on the Evergreen stage from 5 to 6:30pm at no cost. A festival pass is required to attend other shows. Parents of registered students are eligible for a discounted Parent Weekend Pass.

Performers will learn about and practice:

  • Fine-tuning one’s stage presence
  • Reading the audience
  • Ensemble skills
  • Playing music with others
  • Building an interesting performance
  • Integrating the new skills acquired during the Kids Academy
  • “And everything else (except the kitchen sink)”

Small group and Individual attention!

All Youth Academy students participate in small group instruction on their own bluegrass instruments. (If you child needs an instrument, let us know!) Students also get a chance to try out other instruments and receive basic instruction on either guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, dobro, bass, or voice.

You can Register Online or fill out the Youth Education Form and mail it in to:

POB 2024
Milton, WA 98354

Wintergrass Youth Orchestra

For middle and high school aged students

EMP rehearsals in January/February – Dates to Be Announced
Rehearsal with Bob Phillips (ASTA president)
February 28th 9am to 1:30pm – Hyatt Evergreen Ballroom
Sunday March 1, 2015 Hyatt Grand Ballroom – Performance!

Cost: $100

Designed to bridge the gap between classical and oral tradition music, The Youth Orchestra provides an opportunity for middle and high school students to learn improvisation, ear training, and the study of traditional songs and styles; it offers exposure to both classical and traditional bluegrass instruments and the transfer of skills from classical orchestra to folk ensembles, and vice versa. This year students will be working with Aoife O’Donovan & Sarah Jarosz; Matuto; Darol Anger’s Mr. Sun, and Mark O’Connor.

The bulk of the orchestra is made up of select students from 3 participating schools each year. However, ‘singleton students’, i.e., those students who are not members of the participating orchestras, are also invited to participate. A limited number of singleton students are accepted each year. Those students must have an ability to learn and work on their own and must learn all of the material to be performed. They are invited and encouraged, but not required, to attend one of the two pre-festival rehearsals at Seattle’s Experience Music Project (EMP) which occur in January and February. All students will be provided with written music. Singleton students will also be provided with mp3s of the music, when available.

Registration includes a Saturday/Sunday pass to Wintergrass. Parents of all orchestra students are eligible for a discounted Parent Sunday pass, which is good for all shows, all day Sunday.

Perhaps the most important discovery for these students is the difference between a fiddle and a violin, which, of course, is… attitude. The Wintergrass Youth Orchestra does not compete with traditional symphony training – rather it seeks to validate multiple approaches to string music. Something magical happens during these sessions and is reflected in the culminating performance, when all 200 students share the Grand Ballroom Stage with Wintergrass headliner bands on Sunday morning.

325 5th Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98109

You can Register Online or fill out the Youth Education Form and mail it in to:

POB 2024
Milton, WA 98354

Wintergrass Youth Academy/Orchestra Package

For students wishing to participate in both the Youth Academy and Orchestra programs.

Registration Cost: $190

Registration includes a weekend pass for the student. Parents of Youth Academy/Orchestra package students are eligible for a discounted Parent Weekend Pass.

You can Register Online or fill out the Youth Education Form and mail it in to:

POB 2024
Milton, WA 98354

Wintergrass Youth Academy Teacher Training (YATT)

For students ages 14 to 21

Youth Academy Teacher Training is designed for young skilled musicians ages 14 to 21 to encourage growth in the areas of showmanship and band ensemble and prepare students for teaching possibilities.

More info coming soon.

Additional Information

A Parent Weekend Pass is $117. Parents or guardians of registered Pintgrass, Youth Academy or Youth Academy/Orchestra package students are eligible to purchase up to 2 such passes. The pre-festival price for a weekend pass is $137.

A Parent Sunday Pass is $17 – Parents or guardians of registered participants in the Youth Orchestra are eligible to purchase up to 6 such passes. The pre-festival price for a Sunday pass is $42.

For any other questions about any Wintergrass Youth Education program, please contact Beth Fortune directly.

Wintergrass 2015 Intensives

Wintergrass Intensives

Serious musical study for serious students

The Intensive Program at Wintergrass is a unique opportunity for the developing musician to gain musical insight from some of the industry’s most noted performers and experts in a half day or all day in-depth learning session. Our Wintergrass 2015 theme is “How Can I Keep From Singing?” Vocal and Instrumental Intensive participants should look forward to digging into the dog-eared pages of ‘The American Songbook’ with our hand-picked instructors as they lead participants in the discovery and learning of their most cherished songs.

The Wintergrass Intensive Program is geared for musicians who consider their skill level intermediate to advanced, unless it is noted that the session is specifically for beginners. It is assumed that most participants will be adults, though a youthful individual with the right mindset might also find benefit and enjoyment in the program.

Morning half-day sessions start at 9:00 am and end at 12:00pm; afternoon half-day sessions start at 1pm and end at 4pm; and all day sessions start at 9:00 am and end at 4:00pm, with a lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. Lunch is not provided.

To register online please click go to the Wintergrass ticket site or register by mail by using this downloadable form.

2015 Wintergrass Intensives Classes & Instructors

Vocal Harmony with Aoife O’Donovan & Sarah Jarosz
Thursday, February 26, 2014    Cost: $100

A full day of vocal harmony instruction with Aoife O’Donovan & Sarah Jarosz.

Aoife O’Donovan
Upon graduation from the New England Conservatory of Music, Aoife (pronounced “ee-fuh”) hit the road as the lead singer and principal songwriter/song-finder of Crooked Still, which grew into one of the world’s most acclaimed progressive string groups over the ensuing decade. The stunning versatility and appeal of her voice brought her to the attention of some of the most eminent names in music and led to collaborations across a wide variety of genres with everyone from Alison Krauss to Dave Douglas, along with a role as vocalist on the Grammy-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions alongside Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan. –

Sarah Jarosz
Since signing to Sugar Hill Records at age 16, Sarah Jarosz has barely stopped to catch her breath, even as she leaves audiences and critics alike breathless. Rolling Stone has compared her to Gillian Welch; Mojo labeled her a “newgrass prodigy” for her skills on banjo, guitar and mandolin; and the normally reserved New York Times hailed her as “one of acoustic music’s finest talents,” with songwriting chops to match her instrumental prowess. In addition to being a remarkable songwriter, she is also an exceptional interpreter of songs. That giftedness is rooted in understanding the power of music and songs in particular. “I love that music can be a connector between people… The communal aspect of music was one of the first things that drew me to it when I was a little girl attending the jam for the first time.”


Creativity with Joe Craven
Thursday, February 26, 2014    Cost: $55

A half day session on Thursday Morning.

Joe Craven
“I define creativity as “The Pursuit of Possibility or “POP!”. I’m driven to help individuals take possession of what they already have and “demystify” art through self-expression as a daily ritual,” Joe Craven.

An award winning educator for nearly 20 years, Joe’s clients include numerous schools, universities, teacher in-services, detention centers, special needs facilities, music camps, American String Teacher’s Association and corporate clients such as Wells Fargo and Enloe Medical Center. He is the Director of RiverTunes Music Camp and is Co-Director for the Wintergrass Youth Academy. And no matter who Joe’s connecting with – a community workshop in Costa Rica, a university lecture and demonstration in Washington, or on stage in front of thousands of school kids in Scotland – Joe propels people from a mindset of “How will I survive?” to “How can I thrive?”


Mandolin for All with Don Julin
Thursday, February 26, 2014    Cost: $55

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

Don Julin
“In addition to being an extraordinary mandolin player, Don is one of the most gifted teachers I’ve ever seen.” – Patrice O’Neill at the Mandolin Symposium. When the “…For Dummies” series folks went looking for an author for their book about mandolin, they found Don. He spent a year writing this incredible guide to really learning how to play the instrument. He currently tours as a duo with Billy Strings. The band has most recently been seen opening for the Del & Dawg show touring the country in 2014. He’s a sought after teacher


Advanced Mandolin with Joe Walsh
Thursday, February 26, 2014    Cost: $55

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

Joe Walsh
Joe Walsh is a musician who legendary fiddler Darol Anger called “one of my favorite musicians on earth.” Recognized as one of the foremost contemporary mandolinists, Joe has also won acclaim and affection for his vocals and his talents on a number of other instruments, including guitar and octave mandolin. With two solo albums to his credit, he tours internationally with the award-winning bluegrass supergroup The Gibson Brothers, and was recently named Managing Director of the American Roots Music Program at the Berklee College of Music.


Guitar with Grant Gordy
Thursday, February 26, 2014    Cost: $55

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

Grant Gordy
Grant Gordy “belongs to the new elite of American acoustic practitioners who are pushing the ever-expanding envelope of a musical frontier,” so says David Grisman. Gordy has learned the language of bebop and the standards of jazz, soaked up the high lonesome sound of bluegrass music, investigated classical composers like Béla Bartók and Bach, learned the rhythms of distant Mali alongside West African musicians, and doubled lines on electric with the pedal steel guitarist in honky-tonk bands. This versatility has landed him the guitar spot in a number of prestigious bands, chief among them the David Grisman Quintet, and makes him a sought after session player.


Fiddle & Cello with Tashina & Tristan Clarridge
Thursday, February 26, 2014    Cost: $55

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

Tashina and Tristan Clarridge
We’ve long considered Tashina and Tristan part of the fabric of Wintergrass and are thrilled to present them as exceptional instructors. Grand National Fiddle Champion Tashina Clarridge has toured with Mark O’Connor, Tony Trischka and Laurie Lewis and has performed at Carnegie Hall as a part of MacArthur Fellow/Grammy-winning bassist Edgar Meyer’s Young Artists program. Multi-instrumentalist brother Tristan is a 5-time Grand National Fiddle Champion and a pioneering cellist, synthesizing traditional folk influences with rhythmic vocabulary from jazz, rock and pop music, and leading a revolution among adventurous young cellists throughout the country. He has toured the world with bluegrass/nu-folk sensation Crooked Still and Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings, as well as Mike Marshall, Bruce Molsky and Cape Breton fiddle phenomenon Natalie MacMaster.


Dobro with Phil Leadbetter
Thursday, February 26, 2014    Cost: $55

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

Phil Leadbetter
Named IBMA and SPBGMA Dobro Player of the Year many times, Phil Leadbetter’s career as a much loved and respected dobro player spans decades. Currently touring with Dale Ann Bradley, Phil has been a member of numerous bands including Grasstowne, The Whites, Wildfire, JD Crowe & The New South, and has toured successfully as a solo artist. In December 2012, the Bluegrass world heaved a collective sigh of relief when Phil returned to an active performing schedule after a two year battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma. “Phil is a wonderful dobro player, and a heck of a sweet guy!” – Bela Fleck, 13 time Grammy winning musician