ONLINE REGISTRATION ENDS FRIDAY OCT. 4, 3:30 pm! If spots are still available, you can also sign up at the Ramsey Center information table at the festival.
Workshops take place on Saturday October 5. $5 under 18, $10 all others. Minors must be accompanied by adults. After the workshops, bring your instruments over to the Sunken Garden for an open jam led by Roger Howell, Jerry Sutton, and Don Pedi!
Scroll all the way down the page for detailed information on each workshop.
Fiddle Workshop with Roger Howell: 12:00-1:00 pm
Guitar Workshop with Jerry Sutton: 12:00-1:00 pm
Banjo Workshop with Jake Owen: 12:00-1:00 pm
Dulcimer Workshop with Don Pedi: 12:00-1:00 pm
Shaped-Note Workshop with Laura Boosinger: 12:00-1:00 pm: This workshop is FREE and will take place in Day Hall 304.
Join multi-instrumentalist Roger Howell as he teaches fiddle tunes and styles unique to Madison County and the region. All tunes will be played in standard tuning.
Students should be at an intermediate to advanced level. Class size is limited, so please make sure to register early.
About Roger Howell: Roger has always lived in Madison County, and for the past half-century has resided on Banjo Branch. It was on Banjo Branch, in early childhood, that he first grew to love the music of his native county. Roger has won a great many awards, including first place in fiddle on multiple occasions at such festivals as Fiddlers Grove, the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, and the North Carolina Mountain State Fair. His playing was also heard by moviegoers worldwide when he played fiddle for Iris Dement’s rendition of “Pretty Saro” in the feature film Songcatcher. Roger has recorded over 600 fiddle tunes from memory for his Memory Collection for Mars Hill University’s Southern Appalachian Archives. He received the prestigious Brown-Hudson Folklore Award from the North Carolina Folklore Society in 2015 and the Lunsford Award in 1999 for his work preserving and celebrating regional music traditions. He is the subject of the 2015 film A Mighty Fine Memory. Learn more about Roger.
This workshop will focus on right and left hand guitar techniques, picks, strings, and the importance of rhythm. Students will learn a few fiddle tunes and songs. Students should bring a capo, tuner, and a means of recording (optional).
Workshop is for advanced beginner to intermediate students.
About Jerry Sutton: Jerry is in the middle generation of a multigenerational family of musicians. He is the son of the late fiddler Grover Sutton, and the father of Leesa Sutton Brandon and Grammy Award-winning guitarist Bryan Sutton. Among the many awards he has won are first place in guitar at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair and second place in guitar at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival. Learn more about Jerry.
This workshop will focus on clawhammer banjo technique. Jake will bring some banjos that he has constructed for folks to check out. Bring your banjos and we will play a tune or two!
All skill levels are welcome, and Jake will be happy to answer banjo-related questions.
About Jake Owen: Jake grew up in Madison County and has been playing clawhammer-style banjo for over 30 years. His parents played old time music, and his wife and kids also play. Jake is a two-time winner of first place old-time banjo at the Appalachian Stringband Festival at Clifftop, West Virginia. He teaches at the Madison County Junior Appalachian Musicians Program.
Participants will learn a selection of songs, tunes, and ballads from Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, Buncombe, Haywood, and Jackson counties. The pieces will come from such sources as Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Tommy Hunter, the Wallin Family, Mary Jane Queen, and more.
Students should be at an intermediate skill level, but adventurous novices are welcome. Bring a working dulcimer and a flexible pick.
About Don Pedi: Don Pedi is a traditional mountain musician. He shares songs, tunes, and stories in a warm, often humorous and always entertaining manner. Don is known for developing a playing style for the fretted mountain dulcimer that can match a fiddle note for note – while maintaining the rhythms and characteristics of traditional music. He won first place in the first contest he ever entered at Fiddler’s Grove in Union Grove, North Carolina, in 1974. Before retiring from competition in 1984, Don had amassed around forty first place ribbons. Over the decades, he’s been recognized and honored for collecting, preserving and performing traditional Appalachian music. He received the Lunsford Award in 1998.
Since 1985 Don has championed folk music as an on air host at NPR affiliate WCQS 88.1 in Asheville, NC. His weekly show “Close to Home” airs on Saturdays, locally from 8:00-10:00pm (Eastern Time) and simultaneously streams on the web. Don has appeared in the motion pictures Songcatcher and The Journey of August King, as well as a number of documentaries and music specials. Learn more about Don.
This workshop will focus on learning the seven-note shaped-note scale. Our text will be William Walker’s Christian Harmony, which was first published in 1866. Many old hymn favorites will be sung, including “Prayer Meeting” (“Sweet Hour of Prayer”), “Coronation” (“All Hail the Power”), and “New Britain” (“Amazing Grace”).
No experience is necessary – just bring your voices and some water!
About shaped notes: The addition of shaped-notes to religious texts was introduced during the 18th century in New England in an effort to restore congregational singing, the reading of music, and the musical heritage that had perished since the early settlers came to America. Congregational singing declined with the increase of illiteracy and the scarcity of printed music. Singing schools utilizing shaped-notes were instituted to instruct and to encourage lively group singing. Eventually, these singing schools spread throughout the East and the South with the continued westward expansion of frontier America. Recently, this style of singing has gained national attention through the film Cold Mountain, which was set in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
The shaped-notes appear on the musical staff in place of the round-note notation, and accurately represent the syllables of the musical scale. Shapes are applied to give the singer a visual aid indicating the pitch of the scale degree that the shape represents.
About Laura Boosinger: Laura lives in Asheville, NC, but has the good fortune to work in Madison County, which is known for its ballad traditions and is home to a slew of traditional and bluegrass musicians. Laura Boosinger has been studying and performing traditional Southern Appalachian music since she was a student at Warren Wilson College in the 1970’s. It was at WWC where she began to learn clawhammer banjo, learned how to call southern mountain square dances, and attended Shaped Note Singing School with North Carolina Folk Heritage Award winner Quay Smathers. Laura performs solo, as one of David Holt’s Lightning Bolts, with her duet partner Josh Goforth, and with The Midnight Plowboys. Her latest recording, Most of All, with Josh Goforth, has received extensive airplay throughout the US and the UK. Laura is a member of the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame and won the Lunsford Award in 2008. Learn more about Laura.
This workshop is FREE and no preregistration is required. It will take place in Day Hall 304.