Roots of American Music Classes

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!

Brennen Leigh
The Evolution of Singing in Twentieth Century Country Music:    From what was once called “hillbilly” music (The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers) to what we now know as modern country or Americana, our genre’s singing evolved from varied, colorful origins. We’ll discuss and demonstrate some of these influences decade by decade, and learn how we can apply our rich traditional knowledge in a modern context.

Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay

Close Harmony:    We’ll learn about the style of harmony singing known as “brother harmony” or “family harmony,” how some of our musical heroes (The Louvin Brothers, The Everly Brothers, Gram and Emmylou) applied the style, how to find your harmony part and achieve that beautiful close harmony sound. We’re going to go light on music theory and focus more on intuitive singing.

Noel McKay

Beyond rhythm guitar-the frosting on the musical cake: In this class you will learn the valuable skill of playing quality accompaniment guitar. The subtle art of making the people you perform with sound good.

Joel Savoy

Cajun Fiddle/ Harmony, Double Stops and Chords for Fiddlers
Cajun fiddling history, styles, technique and repertoire. Learning a tune is just the beginning! The violin fingerboard and the strings themselves hold an immense wealth of knowledge. We’ll use that to learn some basic chord theory which will lead us to the land of harmony. The sky is the limit!

Introduction to Improvisation (open to all instruments)   Being creative is one thing, and having the technical ability on your instrument to express that creativity is one thing, but sometimes we need a few ideas to kickstart our undoubtably genius improvisations. Or maybe we need some simple tricks and licks to fall back on when those creative juices just aren’t flowing… I’ll teach you everything I know!

Wilson Savoy
Boogie woogie/blues piano with a touch of jazz:      “We will take some of my influences in blues and boogie (similar to the style of JERRY LEE LEWIS) and teach technique and rhythm and if we have time, delve into some Louisiana jazz and chords”
Cajun Accordion Technique and Songs:     “We will take a C accordion and talk about technique, rhythm and learn a few songs that will leave you a much stronger accordion player- level of the class will depend on who signs up!”

Ben Turner
Roots Percussion:   This workshop will focus on percussion techniques that were commonly used to accompany early blues music. We will explore different percussion techniques including washboards, bones, and hambone. For working with washboards, please bring thimbles that fit comfortably on the index, middle, and ring fingers of each hand (six thimbles in total). Although a few extra washboards and some extra bones will be available, feel free to bring your own. No previous experience is required for this workshop.

Valerie Turner
“Let’s Sing the Blues”:    In this workshop, we will explore a variety of early Blues songs and have some fun singing them together. Blues songs always tell a story and we’ll look at phrasing options to help make these stories as expressive as possible. For the brave of heart, we will create opportunities for your voice to solo and shine. And for those who care to bring an instrument, chord charts will be provided so that you can accompany us. No experience necessary – all are welcome!

Fingerpicking for Country Blues Guitar:   The fingerpicking styles of musicians like Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotten had a full sound that was due, in part, to their use of an alternating bass technique. This workshop will explore several easy arrangements of traditional songs in a variety of keys, drawing from the repertoires of these and other early blues musicians. In the context of these arrangements, students will focus on strengthening thumb/finger independence. Master this technique and you’ll be an entire band all by yourself! Students will learn by ear, and the class will move at a slow, easy pace. One new song will be presented each day and tablature will be provided for all songs covered. Audio recordings of these lessons are encouraged with the caveat that such recordings are made for personal use and do not appear on social media such as YouTube. Although the class will move at a comfortable pace, participants should already have some experience playing guitar and be able to switch easily between all major chords while keeping time.

Lightnin Wells
Piedmont 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:   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.