Roots of American Music Classes

Shelia Kay Adams:

“a nest of singing birds”- Cecil Sharp’s Collection- the Singers and their Songs

“During the summer and early fall months of 1916 -1918, the renowned English folklorist and collector, Cecil Sharp, spent a total of 46 weeks in the southern Appalachian mountains locating and recording singers who sang what he called, “English Folk-Songs.” Fourteen and a half weeks were spent in Madison County, NC which he referred to as “The Laurel Country” where he collected 231 “love songs.” Of the Laurel Country he said, “I found myself for the first time in my life in a community in which singing was as common and almost as universal a practice as speaking.” The majority of the singers were my relatives – from my great-great Aunt Mary Sands, he collected 25 love songs, from Mrs. Ruben (Clora) Hensley, 26 songs and Mrs. Tom (Ona) Rice, 18 songs. They were first cousins to both my grandmothers. In this workshop, we’ll tag along with Sharp and through my family stories we’ll “visit” with the singers and “listen” to their songs as they were passed down to me. Come prepared to learn some of those love-songs that I’ll teach in the same manner in which it was taught to me. Please join us for the other side of the story of Sharp’s meanderings through my part of the world! It’ll be great fun!”

Paula Bradley:

Honkytonkitis – songs of lovin, livin and leavin;

This class will focus on honky tonk song repertoire from the 50’s and early 60’s, generally songs you might not know! We’ll also delve into some vocal aspects of honky tonk that give it that lowdown sound. Bring your voice, an instrument if you want to (not required – I will have my guitar) and we’ll try to sound like a dusty southern roadhouse on a Saturday night.

Old Time Uke Party

This class is suitable for all levels. Several notable stringbands in the 20’s and 30’s (the golden age of recorded stringband music) included ukuleles or banjo ukuleles.  In this class we will learn songs from those recordings as well as rhythmic uke accompaniment to old-time fiddle tunes (great for jamming!)  The chord progressions will be fairly straightforward; some familiarity with basic major chords in different keys will be helpful. We will play in both “C” and “D” tunings, with and without a flexible pick. The class will combine learning by ear with some basic chord tablature.

Josh Goforth:

Flatpick Guitar-O-Rama

Everyday a new topic: rhythm, tunes, theory, ear training, and style. . . . . We will cover the gamut!  Geared for intermediate to advanced players, this class will use various folk styles as vehicles for discovering the massive range that flatpick guitar offers.  Each of these topics will be broken down in a way that “teaches you to fish” rather than giving you the trout.  It’s my hope that when you finish the week, you will go home with a plan that will provide years of improvement through practice.  Sound’s fun huh?!!

Brilliance of the Mandolin

There’s no better word to describe the mandolin than BRILLIANT.  It adds shimmer to any band whether rhythmically or melodically.  We will explore the mandolin as a groove creator, melodic master, and vocal supporter.  With a heavy emphasis in ear training and technique, this class will help the intermediate to advanced player feel more comfortable with the mandolin’s role in any band setting, no matter the style.

Robert Jones:

Blues Harmonica 101

The harmonica is a great little instrument.  It can be played melodically and rhythmically, solo or with others, and it works with just about any style of music.  This class is designed to introduce you to the harmonica.  Its price, portability and versatility make the harmonica an ideal instrument to add to a folk musician’s arsenal.

This class is intended to introduce basic techniques, styles and approaches to the use of the harmonica in blues and folk music. Topics covered include holding the harmonica, playing in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd positions, and harmonica maintenance.  We will also explored special effects like bends, trills, fanning, tremolo, and throat pops. We will also address things like accompanying yourself on harmonica with other instruments, etc.  Students are required to bring at least one diatonic (10 hole) harmonica in the key of C.

Delta Blues Guitar

The Mississippi Delta is a region that produced some of the most influential musicians in American history.  Guitarists like Eddie “Son” House, Charley Patton, Willie Brown, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Nehemiah “Skip” James, Robert Johnson, McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield and Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett set the standard for this music in Mississippi and helped to usher in urban electric styles in places like Chicago and Detroit.

This class will focus on playing guitar in both standard and open tunings, utilizing fingerpicking and slide styles.  We will explore the guitar styles of the aforementioned Delta blues giants while touching on the aesthetics that define the Delta style.  Lyric sheets and music tablature will be provided.  This class is designed for intermediate level players. Students should bring a steel string acoustic guitar, thumb and fingerpicks and a guitar slide (glass or metal).

Mick Kinney:

Jug Band

Jug Band music is an exciting blend of Blues, Rags, and novelty or “hokum”songs, played on traditional folk instruments along with everyday objects like washtubs, scrub boards, and jugs of course!  Using harmonica or kazoo to mimic the sound of trumpet, some jug bands did their own versions of early jazz pieces. All levels and instruments are welcome, and plenty of gadgets will be on hand for you to try. Come raise a ruckus with us!

American Roots Piano 

Starting with some easy folk songs like Corrina, and Careless Love, we will explore many facets of piano including left hand bass patterns, ways to improvise, and how to accompany songs or fiddle tunes.  Several genres will be covered such as Blues, Gospel, Honky Tonk, Country, and Swing. This is a multi level group class, and pianos are available on site although portable keyboards are welcome. Some graphics will be used for study but emphasis is on playing by ear and feel.

Nadine Landry: 

Harmony Singing:

This class is designed for anyone who wants to sing and learn how to sing harmony. We will break down the discipline of singing two and three part harmony songs and will provide terminology, experience in hearing and feeling harmony intervals and guidelines. No experience necessary, all levels, vocal ranges and genders welcome! It is such a beautiful feeling to sing in harmony with other people, come give it a try!

Upright Bass:

The bass workshop will be targeted for mostly beginner upright players and will focus on improving tone and timing through playing lots of songs and fiddle tunes in different keys. Participants will get to practice good left and right hand techniques. There will be lots of 1-5 for sure, but we’ll also work on incorporating and understanding bass runs!

Sammy Lind: 

Old Time Fiddle:

I like to teach fiddle by jumping right in and teaching tunes.  With old time fiddling, the bowing is probably the most important factor.  There is a lot of syncopation in old time fiddling rhythm, so this will be the focus of every tune.  So I’ll start by teaching tunes that have a repetitive bowing pattern throughout both the A and B parts and we’ll move on to other tunes that just vary slightly in their patterns.  After a few tunes are learned this way and certain bowing patterns are recognized, it should be easier to hear these rhythms in other tunes and should be helpful for learning new tunes. This is an advanced class, so we may even work on certain solo pieces, ones that are too crooked to play in a jam session, aka, “jam busters”.

I will be teaching tunes in standard tuning (GDAE) for G,C, E and F tunes , high bass tuning (ADAE) for certain D tunes and A modal tunes, and cross tuning (AEAE) for A tunes.


Students must be comfortable with the fiddle and have a general knowledge of what “old time” fiddle is and have a few tunes they feel comfortable leading in a jam session or playing for a square dance.  Also, students must be open to “cross-tuning” the fiddles to get that authentic “old time” sound.  Many students find a recording device really helpful, so bring an audio and/or visual recorder if one will be helpful later for personal use and not too distracting to the student or others in the class.

Reuben in G:

Puttin’ Up The Wood in G: Puttin’ Up the Wood – Foghorn Stringband at CBA Festival

Old Time Banjo:

I like to teach banjo by jumping right in and teaching tunes.  Since all my banjo mentors have always been fiddlers, I’ll start out by demonstrating the tune on the fiddle and explain what I’ve come to learn is the role of the banjo playing alongside the fiddle.  From there I will teach the tune phrase by phrase on the banjo.  Tunings used in the workshop will be G (gDGBD), A (aEAC#E), D (aDADE), C (gCGCD)

Lightnin’ Wells:

Intermediate/Advanced Piedmont-Style Blues Guitar

Lightnin’ Wells will teach piedmont style blues guitar featuring the finger-picking style.  The class will explore blues tunes in the  keys of C,G,A,D, and drop D. The class will cover tunes from such piedmont blues artists such as Blind Boy Fuller, Gary Davis, Sylvester Weaver, Elizabeth Cotton and William Moore. Students should have some familiarity with finger-picking guitar techniques.

Lightnin’ Wells has been playing finger-style guitar for nearly 40 years. He has taught successful blues guitar workshops beginning in 1995 through organizations such as Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia, Centrum Acoustic Blues Festival in Port Townsend, Washington, Swannanoa Gathering in North Carolina and Dusty Strings in Seattle, WA.

Mainland Ukulele Songs and Techniques

Lightnin’ Wells will teach vintage tunes in the mainland style for the standard (soprano) ukulele. Vintage tunes from the 1920s, when the uke reigned supreme in America, will be enjoyed and explored. During this workshop we will learn several old uke tunes using copies of the original vintage sheet music with appropriate chord diagrams. Several strumming techniques will also be examined including the triplet strum. All songs will be presented in the now widely accepted C tuning for the ukulele G-C-E-A which is possible on a soprano, concert or tenor sized uke (Baritone ukulele is tuned D-G-B-E and uses different chord positions so it will not work in this case). Class level will be in the beginner/intermediate level. It would help to be familiar with the ukulele and know your basic chords.