Wintergrass 2017 Performers-Joe Craven and The Sometimers

Joe Craven has found a couple of hot young pickers worthy of his chops: wild man bassist Jonathan Stoyanoff and Bruce MacMillan dazzling with crafty dobro, acoustic guitar pickin’ and angelic voice. With Joe’s wildly eclectic musicality, the sonic possibilities are unlimited. I just saw this new trio and… WoW!

                                                  – PBS television producer Peter Berkow

J“Joe Craven and The Sometimers” featuring Bruce MacMillan and Jonathan Stoyanoff, adhere to a “no genre left behind” policy of music making while leaping from a springboard of Americana. They perform impressively credentialed and possess enough poetic license to operate heavy machinery. Their analog/power tool box includes both upright and electric bass, various guitars, Dobro, lap steel, mandolin, octave mandolin, fiddle, more cowbell and who knows what else. This new NorCal roots music trio is celebration for a new framework of POP music, as in “Pursuit of Possibility” music. Give ’em a listen and you just might do a little dance while you’re at it!

Multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven is an award-winning creativity educator, former museum curator, actor, music festival emcee, Director of RiverTunes Music Camp, a Co-Director for the Wintergrass Youth Academy. Joe Craven’s love of performing music has put him in many musical genres and alongside many musicians, from Jerry Garcia, David Lindley, Howard Levy and Jason Marsalis, to fusion banjoist Alison Brown and groups such as Psychograss and The Horseflies. For 17 years, he was percussionist and violinist for mandolinist David Grisman. Joe’s unique education programs have inspired; communities in Costa Rica, corporate heads in Contra Costa, CA, a dozen different music camps, thousands of school kids from Stockton to Scotland and college students from Alaska to Alabama. Whether jamming with musicians from Morocco or Mendocino, performing solo, with his daughter Hattie, The Joe Craven Trio, Mamajowali, The Sometimers or playing Carnegie Hall to busking on Cannery Row – Joe’s at home and loving every minute!

Jonathan Stoyanoff is a much in demand bassist who is a fan of, trained in and very proficient at, a wide variety of vernacular music. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA on a performance scholarship and, since then, Jonathan has helped form and perform in a variety of musical projects. He has played and/or shared bills with Larry Coryell, B.B. King, Robert Cray, Huey Lewis, Dave Mason, Jackie Greene, Ozomatli, Spearhead, Maceo Parker and many more. Jonathan has also played at some of the nation’s most prestigious festivals including the Monterey Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and the High Sierra Music Festival. He brings a high level of skill and enthusiasm to Joe Craven & The Sometimers.

Bruce MacMillan is a wonderfully intuitive musician dedicated to the holy temple of American Roots Music. His passion for the history and variety of America’s musical heritage has resulted in a versatility across many musical genres. From Blues to Bluegrass, Country to Jazz and Rock & Roll, Bruce plays with wonderful energy and artistry. He has performed upon many stages and at many music festivals, including the Strawberry Music Festival, High Sierra, and California Worldfest. With his wife Sally, they have two fine music stores in Chico and Redding, CA, known as The Music Connection where Bruce displays his chops as an educator, repairman and salesman. Bruce’s impressive skills on vocals plus all manner of guitars, Dobro and lap steel, bring a broad palette of sound to Joe Craven & The Sometimers.

Joe Craven and the Sometimers kicked off our Peacetown Summer Concert Series with a big bang. Folks danced, sang, and cheered the music of these incredible musicians.

-Jim Corbett,  Promoter / Educator




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 Education Update as of 2-3-16

These programs all require additional registration and are not covered by your festival ticket. Here’s a quick run-down of Intensives and Youth Education Programs:

Celtic Mandolin w/Séamus Egan SOLD OUT

Banjo w/Noam Pikelny SOLD OUT

Guitar w/Chris Eldridge SOLD OUT

Mandolin w/Tim Connell SOLD OUT

Youth Orchestra options SOLD OUT

Clawhammer Banjo w/Evie Ladin – 2 spots left!

Fiddle w/John Mailander – 9 spots left!

Intuitive Improve w/Joe Craven – plenty of spots left for mad, life-changing fun

Vocal Harmony w/The Steel Wheels – plenty of room for your voice!

Youth Academy – only 30 left. The Youth Academy WILL sell out, so be sure to get your kiddos registered soon!

Pintgrass – only 10 left. This one will sell out too. Pintgrass is for 4-6 year old aspiring musicians. No experience required

Wintergrass 2016 Performers-Evie Ladin Band w/ Keith Terry & Erik Pearson

Tenacious, innovative string musicians/dancers with a quirky neo-trad soul, the ELB throws down soulful folk songs with an unusual live show. Their 2012 eponymous release Evie Ladin Band won Americana Album of the Year from the Independent Music Awards Vox Pop Vote.

You don’t often hear words like “traditional,” and “authentic” paired with “innovative” and “unique,” but Evie Ladin & Keith Terry have brought them together brilliantly in the self-titled, debut album of the Evie Ladin Band, and the result is truly a high point in new old-time music. – FOLKWORKS

The polyrhythmic heat of Evie’s clawhammer banjo, resonant voice, real stories and rhythmic dance have been heard from A Prairie Home Companion to Celtic Connections, Lincoln Center to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Known as a driving force behind San Francisco’s Stairwell Sisters, Evie grew up in an East Coast traditional music scene,elb-134 but has always lived in urban centers – which all informs her songwriting, praised for making people laugh and cry.

Ladin’s voice is sultry, wistful and defiant all at once. She possesses a keen songwriting sense and a stable of strong musicians to back her up. –POP MATTERS

Keith Terry (bass, Body Music, vocals) is a renowned percussionist/rhythm dancer, and the founder of the International Body Music Festival. A pioneer in contemporary Body Music, Keith produces large-scale intercultural collaborations and educational outreach. Keith brings a cinematic ear to playing bass as tonal percussion, with bells, box, body and toys.

Erik Pearson (guitar, banjo, vocals) is a musician’s musician with the Crooked Jades, storyteller Diane Ferlatte, and his solo projects. His original banjo tune Fork & File was the soundtrack for a rapids rafting scene in Sean Penn’s movie Into the Wild.

Wintergrass 2016 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.

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.

To register online please click go to the Wintergrass ticket site.

Improvisation with Joe Craven
Thursday, Feb 25, 2016, 9am to noon Cost: $60
Vocal Harmony with The Steel Wheels
Thursday, Feb 25, 2016, 1-4pm Cost: $75
Banjo with Noam Pikelny (The Punch Brothers)
Thursday, Feb 25, 2016, 1-4pm Cost: $60
Celtic Mandolin with Seamus Egan (Solas)
Thursday, Feb 25, 2016, 1-4pm Cost: $60
Guitar with Chris Eldridge (Punch Brothers, Hounds Tooth Boys)
Thursday, Feb 25, 2016, 1-4pm Cost: $60
Fiddle with John Mainlander (The Molly Tuttle Band)
Thursday, Feb 25, 2016, 1-4pm Cost: $60