Wintergrass 2017 Performers-Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons


The history of American roots music in the early 20th century could never fit into an encyclopedia.  it’s too ramshackle, too rambunctious, too radical.  Fiddlers, guitarists, banjo players, and all kinds of folks rambled those early roads, learning from each other, inspiring each other, and pushing the music in new directions.  Music constantly switched back and forth across the racial divide, beholden only to the beat and the dance.  It’s this fevered period of musical exchange that inspires Northwest roots music duo Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons.  The songs on their new album, The North Wind & The Sun, tap into everything from Memphis Jug Band blues to work songs recorded in Southern prisons.  They also touch on an 1861 composition used to recruit black troops for the Civil war, an original adaptaton of old topical songs about corrupt clergymen, and an early jazz composition of Duke Ellington.  All of these traditions are tied together in the swirling musical whirlpool of pre-war American music. In January of 2016, the Washington Blues Society sent Ben and Joe to the 26th annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. There, they were awarded 1st place—out of 94 solo/duo acts representing 16 countries—for their unique blend of pre-blues a cappella field hollers, fiddle & banjo breakdowns, and duet distillations of early jazz.


Ben and Joe have been playing together for almost 5 years, the last 3 of which sent them to the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, learning at the feet of the elders of the acoustic blues tradition.  They found an affinity in the many branches that tied into the blues and created this duo as a way to explore these branches.  Their musical kinship and sense of joy in interpreting this music is evident and was the basis of an invitation Dom Flemons (formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops) to tour and record for his album Prospect Hill. Last year, they launched an ongoing documentary film project to explore modern day music along the Mississippi River. Rather than thinking of their music as blues, it’s best to situate Ben and Joe as American songsters. A songster traditionally refers to an artist whose repertoire is much broader than the old blues, and spans many of the genres that Ben and Joe Inhabit. Uncle Dave Macon and Robert Johnson are classic examples of songsters.  Whatever you want to call it, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons make American music.  They make music that hews to the rough-and-tumble collisions of musical inspirations from the early 20th century; music that paved the way for everything we enjoy today.ben-hunter-and-joe-seamons-wintergrass-2016-watermarked-8


Wintergrass 2017 Performers-Love Canon

Sprouting from the musical foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville, Virginia’s LOVE CANON currently resides in full bloom. The musicians, led by guitarist Jesse Harper, are five seasoned virtuoso string players fused together by wood and wire to become LOVE CANON.


With a passenger van and a trucker’s atlas, LOVE CANON has been touring the mid-Atlantic since 2010 bringing their own blend of raucous bluegrass to the masses. The band’s diehard fans are music lovers first and foremost, drawn to the beautiful high-lonesome stylings of Harper’s guitar and vocals paired with banjo master Adam Larrabee, mandolin pickin’ by Andy Thacker with Darrell Muller holding down the low-end on upright bass. The band is augmented with the sweet sounds of resonator guitar king Jay Starling on the Beard MA-6.

Wintergrass 2017 Performers-Balsam Range

Balsam Range to a group of five outstanding acoustic musicians and singers from North Carolina. For their band name, they thoughtfully and respectfully adopted the name of a majestic range of mountains that surround part of their home county of Haywood, NC where the Smokies meet the Blue Ridge, the Balsam Range.

Adding to an already impressive list of awards and honors, the band received numerous top honors in the 2014 IBMA Awards, including Entertainer of the Year. Balsam Range was also honored at Vocal Group of the Year. Buddy Melton was named Male Vocalist of the Year, and Tim Surrett received a Mentor Award.

The band’s fifth album, Five, made its Billboard Chart debut at #4 and remained on the Billboard chart for an impressive 6 weeks. Additionally, Balsam Range consistently tops radio airplay lists with its history of top singles.

Balsam Range is comprised of five gifted friends who all hail from Western North Carolina. Tim Surrett delivers entertaining MC work as well as seasoned lead and harmony singing. Tim plays bass and he will occasionally share his talents on the resonator guitar. He charms with spontaneity, wit and professionalism. A stellar fiddler, Buddy Melton is also one of the most gifted tenor voices in Bluegrass and Americana today. His range and tone give Balsam Range its identifying sound. With his envied guitar style, Caleb Smith has been called “one of the top young guns of guitar.” He sings with both power and control, delivering a high energy song or a tender ballad with equal vocal skill. Darren Nicholson is a gifted mandolin player and harmony singer with tremendous enthusiasm for American heritage music. That twinkle in Darren’s eye says it all. He is usually up to something! Grammy Award winner, Marc Pruett brings more than 40 years of entertainment experience to the group. He brilliantly complements the ensemble with the intuitive, traditional three finger style that has made him one music’s most admired banjo players.

Elements of jazz, country, gospel, swing and old-time music are all infused into the fresh sound of this unique Southern band. It’s five distinct personalities creating one remarkable musical experience. It’s the award-winning Balsam Range.


  • 2015 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year WINNER
  • 2015 IBMA Song of the Year WINNER, “Moon Over Memphis”
  • 2014 IBMA Entertainer of the Year WINNER
  • 2014 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year WINNER
  • 2013 IBMA Album of the Year WINNER, Papertown
  • 2011 IBMA Song of the Year WINNER, “Trains I Missed”
  • 5 Consecutive Months at #1 on the Bluegrass Unlimited National Airplay Album Chart
  • 7 National #1 Songs. Including: “Last Train To Kitty Hawk”, “Caney Fork River”, “Trains I Missed”, “Gonna Be Movin”, “Row By Row”, “Could Do You Some Good”, & “Any Old Road”
  • “Papertown” album #2 in “PopMatters Best of Bluegrass 2012”
  • “Papertown” album #2 in CMT Edge 10 Favorite Americana Albums of 2012
  • 2011 IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year nominee
  • 2011 IBMA Album of the Year nominee, Trains I Missed
  • 2010 IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year nominee
  • WNCW, the #1 flagship bluegrass station, voted Trains I Missed as #1 on their Top 50 Bluegrass CDs of 2010, and #5 on their top 100 overall from any genre (ahead of Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Robert Plant)
  • Voted Best Old-Time/Bluegrass Band of 2012 in Asheville’s Mountain Xpress Newspaper
  • Part of the 2012-2013 Zac Brown Band Southern Ground Music Festival lineup (
  • First band to play at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC
  • Balsam Range was presented the “keys to the city” in Canton, NC where they were honored with an official declaration of “Balsam Range Day” in their home county for their positive contributions to their community
  • Balsam Range has raised over a half-million dollars for various regional and national charities

2017 Youth Educational Offerings

Wintergrass is passionate about music education. Thanks to Education Director, Beth Fortune and a team of incredible educators and mentors we’re pleased to offer programs specifically tailored for young children to young adults. Due to the generosity of the D’Addario Foundation and Acoustic Sound patrons, scholarships are available for every youth education program.

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 23-24, 2017
8:30am to noon Hyatt Evergreen Ballroom

$25 to $45

Pintgrass takes place on Thursday, February 23rd and Friday, February 24th, from 8:30am until noon at the Evergreen Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency. Pintgrass is designed for very young students ages 4-6. Students do not need to have experience with instruments to participate. Registration includes the two days of instruction and a 4 day weekend pass to the festival for the student.

Please be sure to include your email address. Youth Education Director, Beth Fortune, will be happy to communicate with you prior to the event so that both you and your child are fully informed and ready to go!

Parents or guardians of Pintgrass students are eligible for the Parent Weekend pass.

Wintergrass Youth Academy

For students ages 7-13

Thursday/Friday, February 23-24, 2015
8:30am to 4pm Hyatt Evergreen Ballroom
8:30am registration on Thursday
Friday performance on the Evergreen Stage from 4:45-6pm

Cost: $65 to $125

This two-day program is designed for beginners and young players who are just getting acquainted with independence and competence with instruments and performance. A dedicated staff of teachers, led by master educators Beth Fortune, Joe Craven, and Alfreida Moore, provide inspiration and attention to every student.

The 2017 Wintergrass Youth Academy takes place on Thursday, February 23rd and Friday, February 24th, from 8:30am until 4pm. On Friday, students perform from 4:45 to 6pm on the Evergreen Stage. The Youth Academy program is designed for beginning to intermediate student ages 7-14. Students will learn and perform in small groups as well as enjoy large group singing and dance activities. Registration includes the two days of instruction and a 4 day weekend pass to the festival for the student.

Please be sure to include your email address. Youth Academy Director, Beth Fortune, will be happy to communicate with you prior to the event so that both you and your child are fully informed and ready to go!

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.

Wintergrass Youth Orchestra

For middle school aged students

Rehearsals in Jan. & Feb., 2017 in the Seattle area
Onsite Rehearsal February 25th, 2017 8:30am to 1:30pm – Hyatt Evergreen Ballroom
Sunday Feb 26, 2017 Hyatt Grand Ballroom – Performance!

Cost: $50 – $100

Comprised of middle school orchestra students, the 120 piece youth orchestra learns and rehearses one-of-a-kind arrangements provided by headline performers, who work and perform with the student. This program requires a months-long commitment and culminates with the closing performance on the Grand Ballroom stage on Sunday afternoon.

The Youth Orchestra is comprised of existing middle school youth orchestras and single students from the greater NW region. Participating students receive written music, mp3s of the arrangements when possible, and are encouraged to participate in two full orchestra rehearsals prior to the festival. These generally take place at the end of January and the beginning of February in the Seattle area.

Students convene at the festival on Saturday, Feb. 25th for a lengthy rehearsal with each other and with Darol Anger & Mr. Sun, The Turtle Island String Quartet, Mike Marshall & Caterina Lichtenberg and Tim O’Brien. This rehearsal and the performance on Sunday is conducted by Bob Phillips and Dr. Andy Carlson. They will participate in a morning sound check on Sunday and finally the closing performance at 3pm on the Grand Ballroom stage.

This option includes a full weekend pass for the student. Parents of students purchasing this option are eligible for a discounted parent weekend pass.

Wintergrass Youth Academy/Orchestra Package

Cost: $95 – $190

This package is designed for students who wish to participate in both the Youth Academy and Youth Orchestra. There are a very limited number of this registration type available. This package includes a weekend pass to the festival and registration for both the Youth Academy and Youth Orchestra.

Wintergrass Youth Academy Teacher Training (YATT)

Wednesday Feb. 22th 7pm
Thursday Feb. 23th – Friday Feb. 24th 8:30am-5pm

For students ages 14 to 21

Cost: $35 to $70

Youth Academy Teacher Training is designed for young skilled musicians ages 14 to 20 who are keenly interested in becoming teachers – particularly music teachers – this intense program thrusts students into learning, teaching and performing situations. Students work with fantastic educators, like Beth Fortune, Joe Craven, Tom Petersen and others to gain teaching skills. Mentoring sessions also include performance coaching and tips. Students are given real world experience working with Youth Academy students on Thursday and Friday.

What can you expect?

  1. Specialized coaching session on Wednesday night focussing on how to teach kids and performance tips. Trainers include Joe Craven, Beth Fortune, Tom Petersen and others.
  2. Opportunity to serve as Junior Instructors for the duration of the Youth Academy
  3. The YATT program provides 20+ hours of community service hours for participants
  4. YATT participants are also invited to participate with Rhapsody Songsters evening activities.

YATTs teach younger children how to begin or improve playing Bluegrass-family instruments and to sing. YATTs work with children in one-on-one, small-group, and large-group settings. YATTs are kind, gentle, and patient, while energetic, enthusiastic, and encouraging. YATTs agree to work one long evening and two long days and would likely miss school to do so. They are ambassadors of good will and good cheer throughout the Wintergrass Festival. YATTs enjoy performance access and hospitality privileges.

Rhapsody Songsters

For high school and college aged students

Thursday, Feb 23-Sunday Feb 26
meet at Evergreen Ballroom 1pm Th & Fri
various activities on Th & Fri afternoon
evening activities in the Rhapsody Songsters suite Th-Sat nights

Cost: $35 to $70
For youth who have already purchased a weekend pass, an upgrade option is available on our ticket site.

Led by award-winning cultural ambassadors, community builders, and folklorists Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, the Rhapsody Songsters program is designed for students ages 15-20 who are interested in learning the many ways music can fit into a full and interesting life. Being a Rhapsody Songster means enriching yourself by learning to strengthen and diversify the musical community where you live. Each student of the Songster program should be prepared to have zany fun while cutting loose through playing your instrument, dancing with your friends, and cooking excellent food. Playing music is about more than just tunes and songs–it’s about the people and the stories that helped make those songs live! The goal of this program is to introduce young musicians/connoisseurs to the wider world of the music scene and be participants in its traditions and cultural legacy.

Songsters will participate in diverse activities throughout the festival, and have the opportunity to apprentice themselves to various members of the large team that makes Wintergrass go! Activities include:

  1. interviews and job shadowing with festival photographers, sound and light crews, luthiers, artists and more.
  2. afternoon training sessions with Ben & Joe
  3. evening jam sessions/student produced concerts

We fully expect graduates of the Rhapsody Songsters program at Wintergrass to lead the musical community for the next generation.

Registration includes a full weekend pass.

Register for all Youth Educational Offerings
online on our Education Registration Page.

Purchase a Parent Pass (for parents of students registered
for any education program) on our online Registration Page.

Oct 1 – Information on our Intensive Courses and on the 2017 Youth Education Program have been posted.

Support Wintergrass by shopping on Amazon at

2017 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 2017 theme is “Bach to Bluegrass” and our Intensives instructors will be pushing the musical envelope with this theme in mind.

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.

2017 Wintergrass Intensives Classes & Instructors

Singing Intensive
Mollie, Lucy, & Brigid O’Brien and Rich Moore
All Day – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $100

A full day session on Thursday.

Come sing with Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore and their singing daughters, Brigid and Lucy Moore.

This year we’re taking a different approach to the singing intensive by branching out a bit from the usual harmony singing classes and offering a class that’s geared more towards the art of the song and singing as a means to its own end. Singing is such a personal thing and it’s forgotten that (unlike instrumentalists) singers often don’t reach the heights of their powers until much later in life. This class will offer some short cuts that will help you get on a fast track to developing your own style and sound. Arranging, interpretation, dynamics, performance and more – we’re going to cover it all.

We’ll still cover some basics like:

  1. Vocal warm-ups and exercises to increase your range
  2. Theories of harmony singing
  3. How to blend with other singers

But we’ll also look at:

  1. Reaching beyond the lead sheet
  2. Finding the right key
  3. How to make the song your own
  4. Developing repertoire

And more…

The only requirement for this class is to bring at least one, if not two, songs. We’ll work on them with the whole class of your fellow singers as a very supportive audience. Come learn and share with all of us what you can do.


Bluegreass (& Slightly Beyond) Fiddle Intensive
Darol Anger
Afternoon – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $60

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

One of the most influential fiddlers alive, Darol Anger is a popular clinician and Berklee professor with his own online Fiddle School. He has helped drive the evolution of the string band through pathbreaking ensembles such as his Republic Of Strings,  Turtle Island String Quartet, the David Grisman Quintet, Psychograss, the Duo, and other ensembles. He has played and studied Bluegrass music all his life. More than traditional fiddling, a high level of ensemble skills are required for Bluegrass Fiddling.

The Bluegrass & Beyond Fiddle Intensive will include (but not be limited to)

  1. Playing fiddle tunes at high speeds and difficult keys
  2. Soloing:
    Prepared or improvised solos
    Playing and quoting lead melodies
    Quoting important historical fiddle solos
    Harmonizing melodies
  3. Backup skills:
    Techniques for playing fills
    Generating counterlines harmonies and double-stop textures
    Rhythms, bow shuffles, and the Chop.

Also to be included in the Intensive:

  1. Intonation exercises
  2. “Problem” areas of the fiddle
  3. High positions on the neck
  4. Other issues that might be diminishing our ability to have fun because they are difficult.

Folded into the session, we’ll examine tonal concepts, phrasing, rhythm techniques, the Blues melodic environment, look at the Dominant 7th Cycle, and analyze some standard tunes to freshen, polish and possibly ruin them.

Participants can expect to come away with new or improved techniques and insights that will lend to increased understanding, ease, and fun when playing Bluegrass fiddle in either an accompanying or a solo role. Knowledge of these ideas and techniques will greatly increase fiddlers’ musical confidence and spontaneity in a Bluegrass jam or band.


Mandolin Intensive
Mike Marshall
Afternoon – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $60

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

All levels welcome (Mandolas and Mandocellos too)

Mike Marshall has been at the vanguard of acoustic music making in a variety of styles for over 30 years. Come spend these 3 hours with Mike as he takes a comprehensive look into his vast world of mandolin styles and techniques. Bluegrass, Jazz, Blues, Brazilian choro and Classical music will be covered.

As the founder of the ‘Mandolin Symposium’ and now the mandolin teacher for the ‘Artist Works Bluegrass School of Mandolin’, Mike has honed his teaching techniques and communication skills to a fine art. He will break down his mandolin playing into simple digestible bits.  From the basics of how to hold the instrument and use the hands to clean up simple tunes, to freeing the improviser to play what you hear in your heads.

The Mandolin Intensive will include (but not be limited to)

  1. Right and left hand technique
  2. Interpreting a slow melody with tremolo
  3. Playing rhythm in a band
  4. Improvising over jazz changes
  5. Chord construction
  6. Cross-picking
  7. Brazilian Choro tunes
  8. Expanding your fiddle tune improve
  9. Fingerbusters
  10. Playing in a duet setting
  11. Playing solo Bach
Advanced Banjo Intensive
Pete Wernick
Morning – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $60

A half day session on Thursday Morning.

Geared to players in bands, this session will address your contributions on banjo (both “art” and entertainment value). The Advanced Banjo Intensive will include (but not be limited to)

  1. Hands-on working for full and clear tone, with coaching from Pete
  2. Hands-on exercises in dynamics and accenting
  3. Hands-on use of altered chord positions to enhance both lead and backup playing
  4. Soloing on songs including nuanced phrasing of the melody and tonal touches
  5. Approaches to backup
  6. Dissecting and showing various Hot Rize solos, hands-on.

A chart of altered chord positions will be sent beforehand. Please familiarize yourself with how the diagrams work and try out some before the class. Almost all the solos I’ve recorded can be found on in-print CDs or online (such as Spotify), and all have been tabbed. The archive can be found on

Students will have a chance to request content to be shown. From Pete, “I’m glad to show any Hot Rize solo, and can also show banjo content by category such as “playing in D with no capo” or “bluesy sounds to add to your playing””.

Suggested solos (all using the D in G tuning orientation):

  1. Won’t You Come and Sing for Me
  2. Wild Ride / This Here Bottle
  3. Your Light Leads Me On
  4. Colleen Malone
Real Bluegrass Jamming!
Pete Wernick, Joan Wernick and assistants
Afternoon – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $60

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

Hands-on learning in large and small groups

  • Gentle tempos. Mistakes expected.
  • Ground rules and etiquette of typical jams
  • How to lead songs and how to follow new songs
  • Bluegrass standard songs sung and played
  • How to find melodies, fake solos
  • Ear skills taught and used; reading skills not needed/used
  • Group and individualized instruction on backup skills

For all bluegrass instruments: guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, bass, dobro. Other instruments, see FAQs. Only requirement: Change smoothly between G, C, D, and A chords, or corresponding notes on fiddle or bass.

Fast playing not expected, ability to solo not required.

Intermediates welcome! You will be given extra challenges and jamming opportunities

All students must bring and use and electronic tuner.
All students are strongly encouraged to bring and use a recording device (smart phone, video OK)
Players of guitar, banjo, mandolin must bring appropriate picks.
All students (even if you’ve never done it and “can’t sing”) are specifically requested to prepare at least one song to sing (or “sing”) at the class — with coaching assistance as needed.
Songbooks/song lyrics OK, to help in leading songs.
Copies of student materials will be mailed in advance.

For more information about the Wernick Method of learning bluegrass jamming:

Recommended resources:
Bluegrass Slow Jam for the Total Beginner [17 songs using just 4 chords]
Bluegrass Jamming [17 songs with chance to solo on each song]
Bluegrass Songbook by Pete Wernick [140 songs with instruction on singing from leading bluegrass singers]

Links: FAQs
Bluegrass Slow Jam for the Total Beginner
Bluegrass Jamming
Bluegrass Songbook


Live Performance Intensive For Solo Artists And Bands
Vicki Ambinder
Afternoon – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $60

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

How can you take your act to the next artistic level? How can you become more dynamic and confident onstage? How can you make a deeper connection with your material, and with your audience? This intensive, conducted in a master class format, will focus on key elements of effective and compelling live music performance. Several acts will be selected during the class to perform a song and receive in-depth, supportive, practical, individualized, on-the-spot performance coaching. (Dressing as you would for a show is recommended, but not required.)

Topics to be addressed during coaching demonstrations and discussions include, among others:

  1. Honing Your Stage Presence And Owning The Stage – take charge of the performance space, and the audience
  2. Connecting With The Mission Of The Song – find the “nugget” of the song that makes it come to life, for you and for the audience
  3. Maximizing Your Arrangements – take a fresh look at your material, and utilize all the elements at your disposal to the best possible effect
  4. Front Person Skills – bring intention, clarity and purpose to your presentation, and let the audience know you’ll take care of them
  5. Band Cohesion – determine your common artistic goals, and work together to achieve them onstage
  6. Defining Your Own Sound – claim your unique style, and deliver it with authenticity
  7. Stage Patter And Audience Rapport – connect with the audience with ease and positive energy
  8. Channeling Discomfort Or Stage Fright – convert anxious energy into calm empowerment, and enjoy your performance in the moment
  9. Staging And Stage Plotting – examine and improve how you choose to use the space
  10. Developing Focus – direct and keep your attention where it will best serve you and your material

Bring your instruments and a song to present, or come to observe the process and participate in class discussions. Either way, you will leave with tools you can apply to your own artistic endeavors.

More information on Vicki’s approach can be found on her web site.


Guitar Intensive
Bryan Sutton
Afternoon – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $60

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

Join Bryan Sutton in a 3-hour master class setting!  The master class is considered to be one of the most effective ways of learning.    In a fun and supportive environment, Bryan will work with each participant regardless of level or experience, covering topics like –

  1. Flatpicking Fundamentals
  2. Speed and Volume
  3. Improvisation and Variation
  4. Rhythm Styles and Concepts
  5. Performance Challenges

Participants are invited to come prepared with a tune or question they want to target with Bryan. Using the master class format and process, Bryan will show you what to work on, and how to work to see real improvement.  You can expect to leave with a deeper awareness of how focused application of the basics can help everything you play sound better.


Classical Mandolin Intensive
Caterina Lichtenberg
Morning – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $60

A half day session on Thursday Morning.

An over view of the history of the mandolin from Early Baroque through Classical, Romantic to Modern periods.

Caterina will cover topics such as:

  1. Tone production
    Getting that big sound with proper use of the pick.
    Which pick is the best to use and what angle of the down stroke makes the best sound?
  2. Classical mandolin techniques for the right and left hand posture
    Classical Cross picking techniques from the early mandolin periods
    Solo Mandolin techniques including harp arpeggio.
    How can theses techniques be used in other styles of music.
  3. The art of the Tremolo
    How to create a smooth and relaxed tremolo with artful dynamics.
    Students will learn to play some easy pieces using the tremolo as well as begin to understand the rich and varied history of techniques of our instrument.
  4. Duo style, left hand pizzicato and harmonics
    Coordination and speed
    Caterina will provide some exercises for getting faster and cleaner on the instrument. „Finger Yoga“ for the left hand and Right hand exercises too.
  5. Fun pieces
    We will also learn some fun solo/duo classical pieces by using glide picking techniques and beautiful pieces of the Romantic Era using tremolo as well.
Dobro Intensive
Rob Ickes
Afternoon – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $60

A half day session on Thursday Afternoon.

When I teach groups, the Dobro students are typically at many different levels, so I usually start the class by asking the students what they would like to learn during our time together. That allows me to customize the class content towards the particular attendees that we have present that day. In addition to these student suggested topics, I have a long list of topics that I like to try and cover. We will get to as many of these as time will allow. These include, but are not limited to:

  1. Right and left hand techniques
  2. Playing cleanly and getting a good tone
  3. Rhythm techniques
  4. Minor chords and beyond
  5. Hammer-ons and pull-offs
  6. Slants
  7. Backing up a vocalist
  8. Creating a good solo
Intuitive Music Improvisation
Joe Craven
Morning – Thursday, February 23, 2017    Cost: $60

A half day session on Thursday Morning.

How do you make better music in the moment, jam confidently with folks you’ve never met, and/or say something different every time you take a solo? Joe provides a framework for musical improvisation based on what you already do as you improvisationally move through your day. This is not a jazz theory approach, requiring advanced skills. Joe connects music improvisation to what you already do as an improviser (which you already are) and moves you forward from there.

This year’s edition of this class will take a more focused look at applying instrumental application to improvising in string band settings with both rhythm and melody. Joe connects your improv skills you already possess in speech and physical movement to your music. The important goal is to stay in the music and keep playing – even if you don’t have familiarity with the music being played. You will learn the value of the skills as a footbridge to absorbing, retaining and expressing music both in singing and through your other instruments. The key is less attention to WHAT you’re saying – and more about HOW you’re saying it!

We’ll go through a quick series of exercises addressing awareness/focus, sending/receiving, the value of losing control, making mistakes and mimicry. These exercises will help you play with others in new ways and with greater confidence!

This class may well change some of your perceptions of what music is.  It’s a fun and enlightening romp!

This course will take a three pronged look at:

  1. Movement; rhythm as a priority over note choices.
  2. Soloing; how to have what you say mirror the way you improvise speech.
  3. Incremental learning; how to practice music anytime/anywhere without an instrument in your hands.

Joe will focus on the action of singing and recording as a footbridge for grabbing and retaining musical ideas to then be played upon any “outdoor” instrument (being that the voice is what he calls the “indoor” instrument).

Wintergrass 2017 Performers-True North

True North will be returning to Wintergrass 2017 performing only on the Thursday of the festival.

Hailing from Oregon’s beautiful Willamette valley, Americana-bluegrass quartet True North combines traditional bluegrass instrumentation with fat harmonies and folk-edged songwriting for a distinctive sound that is fresh, warm and memorable.

Fronted by vocalist and award-winning singer-songwriters Kristen Grainger and Dan Wetzel, True North is rounded out with two well-known Northwest bluegrass superstars Dale Adkins and Suzanne Pearce Adkins.

The band’s latest release, “Elsebound” (April 2014)  received very favorable reviews* from music critics here and abroad, spent 25 weeks  on the Roots Music Report’s top ten (national folk charts),  and was the number 7 album for the year on that same report.
True North’s performances exemplify the most compelling aspects of live acoustic roots music: intelligent songwriting, thoughtful arrangements, terrific instrumental interpretations by the band’s highly-skilled pickers, and vocals that alternately bring you to tears or raise ecstatic hairs on the back of your neck.true-north-1