We're excited to announce the preliminary list of instructors for the 2013 RockyGrass Academy. Watch for several instructor additions in the coming days.
Please note: instructors are subject to change.
David's Lone Soldier project is listed in Acoustic Guitar Magazine's "100 Essential Acoustic Guitar Recordings of All Time" and David is included in the book, 1,000 Great Guitarists. David's solo release I've Got the House to Myself was called "one of the most brilliant solo guitar recordings ever made" (Darol Anger). His latest aolo album Evocative showcases David's unique touch on both acoustic and electric guitars. David's work is also captured on a Homespun video called "Building Powerful Solos." In addition to touring solo, David also appears as the guitarist for Psychograss and as the leader of the new quartet Helen Highwater. [less...]
For more than twenty-five years Uwe has been playing guitar and singing as a professional musician. Performing in Switzerland’s relatively limited music market required Uwe to develop versatility, and he became proficient on other instruments including the electric guitar and the banjo.
Today, Uwe astonishes audiences with his blend of guitar styles. His rich, resonant, and mellow baritone voice has an uplifting affect on all who hear him sing. Diverse influences range from Doc Watson, Jerry Garcia, and Eric Clapton, to Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms. Uwe’s unique style, a blend of flat picking and finger picking, is an experience to behold. [less...]
In 1991 Mike began working with the incomparable David Grier, touring the US and Japan. The two recorded a duet album shortly thereafter which was nominated for Album of the Year by the IBMA in 1992.
In the fall of 2000, after a tour of the southwestern US with Grier, Mike was offered his mandolin slot with Nashville Bluegrass Band and he didn't hesitate to rejoin. The Group has won two Grammy Awards, two Entertainer of the year honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association and four wins as IBMA's Vocal Group of the Year. They have become the acoustic music group to watch in the new millennium.
The NBB was the first bluegrass group to perform in the People's Republic of China and has also staged concerts in Egypt, Brazil, Crete, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Qatar, the Azores, Iraq and Israel, not to mention Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey, Japan , Italy, Spain, and England. The group has performed with Lyle Lovett and Mary Chapin Carpenter and performed to a sold out crowd at Carnegie Hall, and backed artists as diverse as Bernadette Peters and Clint Black.
Spring of 2001 led the NBB into a concert series with the Nashville chamber Orchestra which led Mike on a new pursuit of music reading skills and basic music theory and writing.
Mike recently received Grammy Award acknowledgement for playing the mandolin on two award winning projects, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Album of the Year and Best Compilation Soundtrack Album), and Down From the Mountain (Best Traditional Folk Album), which included artists such as Dr. Ralph Stanley, Norman and Nancy Blake, Alison Kraus and Union Station, Gillian Welch/David Rawlings, Emmylou Harris, The Whites, The Cox Family, The Fairfield Four, Chris Thomas King, NBB, and John Hartford, to name a few. He was also part of the sold-out "Down From the Mountain" tours which included the original soundtrack cast and Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, the Del McCoury Band, and Rodney Crowell.
The Mississippi State Senate honored Mike in March of 2002 with State Resolution No. 45 commending his accomplishments. The Resolution was awarded on the Senate floor and shortly thereafter followed by renditions of Bill Monroe's "Old Ebeneezer Scrooge" and "I'll Fly Away", which prompted the senators to sing along.
Mike was featured prominently on Dr. Ralph Stanley's recent work produced by recording industry legend T-Bone Burnett. Mike recently participated in the soundtrack for the upcoming movie Cold Mountain also produced by Mr. Burnett.
Mike does numerous workshops and music camps throughout the year. He is currently working on material for the tenor guitar, studying country blues mandolin styles and taking fiddle lessons. He is a prolific composer and treasures his memories of a friendship with his mentor, Bill Monroe. [less...]
Sharon received a Bachelor's Degree in Mandolin Performance from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. While in Nashville, she spent time playing upright bass with several singer-songwriters in the indie-rock scene such as Josh Rouse, Rebecca Stout and Jennifer Niceley. She also served as musical director and composer for the modern art collective, DddD.
Sharon is available for private mandolin instruction at the 5th String music store in Berkeley, California and is also available to teach mandolin lessons on line via Skype. She has taught mandolin at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design (formerly College of Santa Fe) from 2004 - 2012.
She has also taught at some of the finest music camps in the States including Augusta Heritage Center Bluegrass Week in Elkins, West Virginia, the Steve Kauffman Kamp, Mandolin Camp North, and the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Camp. Keep an eye out for the two film shorts that feature original music by Sharon - "Milagros" and "La Sevillana" and be sure to find a copy of "Quartet", the Rounder Records release by the Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet. This album features definitive renditions of Peter's classic songs as well as notable covers of Patti Smith, Towns Van Zandt and Jimmy Martin. The album highlights the master stylings of guitarist Tony Rice and poetry and clarity of Peter Rowan's songwriting and vocals. Accompanying these two icons are Bryn Davies (upright bass, vocals) and Sharon (mandolin, vocals). [less...]
Like lots of other young boys, sports interested Ronnie very much. In particular, baseball and basketball. One thing he clearly remembers is the fact that his dad never pushed him to play music or never “pushed it on him” at all, leaving both Ron and Rob to choose their paths on their own. At the age of 9 he started taking violin lessons. He took the lessons for two years and gave it up for sports. He played sports all the way through high school. But when he was just 13, after attending a show with his Dad where he saw Bill Monroe perform, he decided that he wanted to play the mandolin. He practiced on it for six months and when his Dad had an opening in the band for mandolin player, he asked Ron to fill it. That was on May 28, 1981 and Ronnie has been playing with his Dad ever since.
In 1995 Ronnie and Rob teamed up and put out a self-titled CD on Rounder Records. In 1998 Ronnie teamed up with David Grisman and some other great mandolin players to create the CD titled “Mandolin Extravaganza”, which made it’s appearance on the Acoustic Disc label in 1999. This CD was nominated for a Grammy Award and also won Instrumental Album of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year at the IBMA awards show in October of 2000. In 1999, Ronnie co-produced The Mountain, with Steve Earle and The Del McCoury Band. 2000 also brought along with it Ronnie’s first solo project…Heartbreak Town. A must hear for everyone!
Ronnie is married to Allison Bliss from Massachusetts and they have three children, Evan, Joshua and Emma. Someone once asked Ronnie what his greatest accomplishments were, musically or non and his first response was “Starting my own family”. Next in line was receiving the Grammy for “The Company We Keep”. Family life is very important to the McCourys. Having children inspired Ronnie to put out his next project, Little ‘Mo McCoury, a CD full of children’s songs done Bluegrass style.
Along with his award winning mandolin playing, Ronnie is also a singer/songwriter and producer He has recorded or performed with such diverse acts as Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Phish, Charlie Daniels, John Hartford, Vince Gill, Loretta Lynn, Alison Krauss, David Grisman, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, the Allman Brothers, John Paul Jones and countless others!
When Ron isn’t on stage with the Del McCoury Band or The Travelin’ McCoury’s, singing and playing mandolin, you will probably find him at home with his family. He enjoys cooking, gardening and reading. He loves to play golf, remodel and do construction work. He also enjoys picking up the guitar or maybe even the fiddle for a little musical change. [less...]
In the summer of 1978, she traveled the country with Duncan and his father, playing festivals and contests. A first place finish at the Canadian National Banjo Championship helped her land a one-night gig at the Grand Ole Opry. And around the time Brown graduated from high school, she and Duncan recorded a duo album for Ridge Runner Records entitled Pre-Sequel.
Brown’s journey to a professional music career took a detour while she attended Harvard, studying history and literature, then UCLA, where she secured an MBA and went to work as an investment banker. After taking a hiatus to return to composing and recording music, Brown assembled the material for her solo debut, the GRAMMY nominated Simple Pleasures. A three-year stint with Alison Krauss and Union Station and a year serving as band leader for Michelle Shocked followed as did bluegrass music’s highest accolade for an instrumentalist: the International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year in 1991.
In 1995 Brown put her financial background to work, founding Compass Records with her husband Garry West. Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2009, the Nashville-based Compass Records Group is an internationally recognized label group with a catalog of over 600 roots music releases across the Compass Records, Green Linnet, Mulligan Records and Xenophile catalogs. Compass Records Group is home to artists such as Colin Hay, Catie Curtis, Lúnasa, Solas, Martin Hayes and The Waifs, and has been called “one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade” by Billboard Magazine. Since its inception Compass Records Group (the subject of both Harvard Business School and Darden Business School case studies) has pursued an ambitious path of growth and met every goal including the most important one: providing a thriving haven of creativity for artists and a reliable beacon of quality for music fans.
Brown tours internationally with the Alison Brown Quartet, was personally requested to play at the 2007 inauguration of Harvard’ first female president, Drew Faust, and was the 2007 recipient of Irish America Magazine’s “Stars of the South Award” for Compass Records’ efforts towards the “cultivation and preservation of Irish music.” Brown’s discography includes four releases on Vanguard Records as well as six on the Compass Records label, including The Company You Keep (March 2009). She currently lives in Nashville with her husband Garry West and their 2 children: Hannah and Brendan. [less...]
At age 16, Jens and Uwe left home and traveled throughout Europe calling themselves the Rocky Road Band, attempting a living as street musicians. Their adventure paid off in the form of a record contract with CBS. In 1982, at the age of 20, Jens crossed the Atlantic, heading for the Bean Blossom Festival and Bill Monroe. Monroe introduced Jens to the Grand Ole Opry, as the first known European banjo player. After living with Bill for the summer and following his advice, Jens returned to Switzerland to develop his own musical style and repertoire. For four years, Jens spent days and nights learning tunes from all the records he could find.
In 1986, Jens and Uwe reunited to form the Appalachian Barn Orchestra, the forerunner of today’s Kruger Brothers. Since MerleFest 1997, the event that launched the Kruger Brothers’ career in America, Jens has performed with Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, John McEwen, Willie Nelson, and Ricky Skaggs, to name only a few. Like Uwe, Jens can play many stringed instruments with proficiency, and like the Kruger Brothers, Jens’ style and virtuosity cannot be characterized with a word or phrase. But those who have heard Jens play banjo know that he is truly a master of his art. As a composer, Jens’ comprehension of music in all of its forms is becoming well known among his peers, colleagues, and the Kruger Brothers’ growing audience. [less...]
In June of 1986 Del had a festival to play in Bath, NY and he needed a bass player. At that time Rob knew almost nothing about playing a bass fiddle. He knew the chords on the bass but had never played before in a band situation. Although he was scared to death he played bass with his Dad that day and ended up being the bass player in the band for about a year, until the banjo position became available.
Rob’s first show as a banjo player was a benefit show for Olla Belle Reed, a great singer/songwriter who penned one of Del’s most requested songs, “High on the Mountain”, along with many others. The show was in the spring of 1987 in Wilmington, DE and he has been with the band ever since.
In May of 1992 the McCoury family moved to Nashville, TN. Rob is convinced the move was the best one they could have made. He is very appreciative of his life and the experiences he has had. In his own words, “It’s been a wonderful adventure that keeps getting better and better. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like without music. I have gotten to see many parts of the world and meet lots of great people. I’ve made many great friends, but most of all I met my best friend, my wife Lisa, who supports me every step of the way.”
Rob is presently working with his Dad as well as the Travelin’ McCoury’s featuring his fellow band mates Ronnie McCoury, Jason Carter, and Alan Bartram.
Rob also has two children, a daughter Monroe Kennedy McCoury and a son and Grandpa’s namesake, Del Mercer Davis McCoury. [less...]
The summer of 1991 brought a close to his high school years and it was also the year he landed his first professional job. He worked six months for The Goins Brothers playing fiddle and traveling mostly on the East Coast. In February of 1992 The Goins Brothers played in Nashville, TN with Del McCoury; Jason asked him for a job. Two weeks later he was back in Nashville trying out. They played in Nashville, West Memphis and Garland, TX and when they got home they told him that he had the job. He’s been with the band ever since.
Since then Jason has relocated to Nashville and it’s been more than a dream come true for him. He feels very fortunate to be able to play with some of his musical heros and to travel the world playing bluegrass music.
Jason’s interests besides his music include sports of any kind, gardening and spending time at home with his wife. When asked what the best thing about being in The Del McCoury Band was he replied, “It’s hard to list only one thing. Of course the music, the friendships, playing in Europe and on the Grand Ole Opry, Jean’s cookin’!! But most of all standing on stage, watching Del sing and play his guitar.” [less...]
"Playing in these kinds of groups is an important part of what I do," Molsky says. "Regionalism was one of the hallmarks of traditional music in the old days; now we're in the Information Age, and I don't think that's what folk music does anymore. But the more cultures I discover, the more I realize that folk music performs the same function for everybody; and therefore is the same thing everywhere - just spoken with different accents."
Great fiddlers ask him to teach at their fiddle camps, including Alasdair Fraser, Jay Ungar, and Mark O'Connor, who says Molsky has "a mystical awareness of how to bring out the new in something that is old."
"Young people realize this is a guy who's tapped into the real deep emotional wellsprings of this music," says Matt Glaser, director of Berklee's American Roots Program. "He has a way of removing everything that's unnecessary; and young people are very hungry for something real. Bruce has that in spades."
Molsky was born in the Bronx in 1955, and fell in love with old-time music as a teenager. He moved to Virginia in the '70s, learning directly from old masters like Tommy Jarrell, and seeing how the music fit into people's lives.
"It was only the older people, of Tommy's generation, who still had the music as part of their everyday existence," Molsky says. "At first, I wanted to live like that; but then I realized I didn't want to claim the culture as my own - I just loved the music."
That personal authenticity deeply informs his music. Whether performing an ancient reel from Virginia, a Swedish waltz, or a loping cowboy ballad, Molsky presents himself as exactly who he is. Rob Simons, executive director of the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, says that's the key to Molsky's enormous appeal as a live performer: "He's that unique blend of virtuoso and humble, nice guy that is irresistible to audiences."
Linda Ronstadt hears that same honest beauty in Molsky's singing. She placed his singing of "Peg'n'Awl" on her Rhapsody playlist, alongside Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald, and Chet Baker. "Bruce has has that ability to track deep emotion in his voice, without any unnecessary adornment," she says. "It's pared back to only the essential architecture of emotion."
After his Appalachian tenure, Molsky became a mechanical engineer, playing music in his spare time with his wife, Audrey. By the time he turned 40, both his parents had died. That got him thinking.
"I had this sit-down with myself," he says, "and asked what I was saving for my retirement that I'd regret if I didn't get that chance. And it was playing more music. I thought, well, maybe I'll try it for one year. I asked Audrey, and she said, 'I can't believe you didn't do this 10 years ago. Go for it.' So I took the year off, and never went back."
Perhaps that's how he discovered the real secret to the humble genius of traditional music: that it's real people's music; the honest expression of life as we all live it. You don't master that by imitating others, nor by trying to live in other people's worlds. You master it by being yourself; and at that profoundly simple and profoundly difficult musical art, Molsky is truly old-time's master craftsman.
"I'm still a social musician," he says, "in the sense that I talk to an audience the way I talk to people in my house; and I play for them just like we're all in the living room together. I want to present myself as who I am; and this music as what it is. The biggest lesson from changing careers at mid-life is that you discover the strength is not in what you do; it's in who you are." [less...]
As an active session player and touring musician, he has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, including Merle Haggard, Earl Scruggs, Tony Rice, Charlie Haden, David Grisman, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, David Lee Roth, Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless, Peter Rowan, Claire Lynch, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
The youngest dobro player on The Great Dobro Sessions (Jerry Douglas & Tut Taylor, producers), which won the 1994 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, he was also on the Alison Krauss & The Cox Family album, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, which won the 1994 Grammy for Best Southern Gospel. His most recent release is a dobro-piano jazz album, Road Song (ResoRevolution 2009); he has also released four acclaimed solo albums on Rounder, nine albums with Blue Highway (Rounder, Ceili, Rebel) and a self-titled CD with Three Ring Circle, comprising Rob, Andy Leftwich and Dave Pomeroy (Earwave).
Rob is also a gifted resonator guitar teacher; in 2007, he founded ResoSummit, a three-day annual instructional event in Nashville, featuring leading Dobro players and luthiers as faculty, and 100 participants from around the world. [less...]
On the Sugar Hill label,Sally's work on The Great Dobro Sessions (producers Jerry Douglas/ Tut Taylor) earned her a 1994 GRAMMY AWARD certificate for Best Bluegrass Recording from NARAS as a featured performer. In addition, Sally’s solo album All In Good Time was a finalist nominee for IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year. Film, television and radio credits include the film Gather at the River, the celebrated CBS' Northern Exposure and TNN's Texas Connection. Sally has also been invited to perform for nationally acclaimed NPR show A Prairie Home Companion, and Nick Forster's popular NPR radio show, E-Town.
In 1995, Sally joined with David Grisman and Jerry Garcia for a special project, The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers-A Tribute produced by Bob Dylan for Columbia Records. From 1977 -1996, Sally was a member of the Good Ol' Persons, a much-beloved San Francisco- based band. She has been an IBMA Finalist Nominee for Dobro Player of the Year from 1990-1997 and in 1996 won two IBMA awards, Best Instrumental Recording and Recorded Event of the Year (The Great Dobro Sessions). For nearly three decades, Sally's musical journeys have taken her from the US to the United Kingdom, Europe and Japan.
These days Sally resides professionally in Colorado. She currently freelances with touring acts that include Jorma Kaukonen, Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen, Led Kaapana, and performs locally in Colorado as well as currently enrolled in film school. She misses California and the ocean each and every day. [less...]
Destined to find Uwe and Jens, in 1989 Joel moved to Switzerland and began a successful career as a bassist with various country/rock and jazz groups based throughout Europe. It was during this time that he met the Kruger Brothers and developed what would turn into a deeply rewarding musical alliance and friendship. In early 1995, Joel was initiated into the ‘Brotherhood’ and has been performing full time with the band ever since. [less...]
Along the way, she has … won a Grammy and two IBMA Awards for her part on True Life Blues: The Songs Of Bill Monroe … had three title tracks and albums (Call Me A Taxi, Walkin’ In My Shoes, and Warmer Kind Of Blue) each spend close to a year in the upper echelon of the Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey (“the charts”) … performed and recorded with the Frank Wakefield Band … appeared on three high-profile Rounder collections of bluegrass songs by women … written and recorded award-winning music for children and families … toured throughout North America, Europe, and Japan … received a “Lifetime Membership Award” from the California Bluegrass Association … and … collaborated with some of the country’s top acoustic musicians – including her fabulous current band. [less...]
Since a formal introduction to American audiences in 1997, their remarkable facility with their instruments and unique take on the American Songbook have made the Kruger Brothers a fixture within the world of acoustic music. Although initially staying fairly close to a traditional repertoire, the group later turned to song writing and composition in order to draw more closely from their personal experiences. The result is a catalog of songs distinguished by rich detail and an insight into the delicacy and complexity of everyday life. The honesty of their writing has since become a hallmark of the trio’s work.
The Kruger Brothers personify the spirit of exploration and innovation that forms the core of the American musical tradition. Their original music, composed by Jens Kruger, is crafted around their discerning taste, and the result is unpretentious, cultivated, and delightfully fresh.
The Kruger Brothers were awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for Music from the Spring a symphonic suite composed and orchestrated by Jens Kruger, which premiered in 2007. In late 2010, the Kruger Brothers premiered the Appalachian Concerto, a concerto for banjo, bass, guitar, and string quartet. In addition to their regular concert schedule they perform these pieces regularly with select symphony orchestras and string quartets throughout the country.
Through their numerous CD releases, radio and television performances, lectures, and collaborative efforts, the Kruger Brothers powerful artistic statement inspires and enlightens. [less...]
They recently played with the Allman Brothers at Wanee Fest and then brought the house down at Warren Haynes’ Annual Christmas Jam, an invitation only Southern Rock homecoming. Their jam with the Lee Boys was hailed by many as the highlight of the evening, and once word of the live video hit the streets, sent new fans online to watch a supercharged combination of sacred steel, R&B, and bluegrass. They’ve also performed with Warren Haynes, Phish, and have a tour scheduled with the aforementioned Lee Boys. Ronnie McCoury described it as “peanut butter and jelly.” It was just right.
They can push forward so far because their roots are so deep. The band has a confidence that only comes with having paid their dues with twenty years on the bluegrass road. Other groups and new fans hear this immediately—the tight rhythm, the soulful material, and the confidence in taking bluegrass from the safety of the shore into uncharted waters.
Ronnie says, “We like to go in and play traditional bluegrass music the way we do it with Dad, but we also like to be able to step into situations where we can really stretch out. If we need to plug in, we’ll plug in. We’re open to anything.”
It’s that attitude, backed up by talent, that marks great musicians, traditional or progressive. The Travelin’ McCourys are twenty-first century musical pilgrims and adventurers. They’re onto something new, just like Bill Monroe was in the 1940s, but now we can see and hear that adventure live or online. Go see them, or—if you hold still long enough—they’ll come to you. [less...]
In addition to Uncle Earl, K.C. has released two solo albums of original material, and was a Telluride Troubadour contest finalist. She has also teamed up with countless notable musicians, including Betse Ellis of The Wilders, Uncle Earl band mate Kristin Andreassen, old time musician and craftsman Riley Baugus and Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman.
K.C.'s latest project is playing bass and singing harmonies with the band Jeff Scroggins & Colorado.
K.C.’s home base in the seemingly sleepy town of Lyons in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies is home to Planet Bluegrass, the hallowed grounds that play host to RockyGrass and Folks Fest, and serves as a creative nexus for Front Range bluegrass and acoustic musicians.
Along with founding the High Street Concert series in Lyons, K.C. has spearheaded the weekly bluegrass jam at Oskar Blues. About to celebrate its tenth anniversary, the weekly jam is an encouraging environment for up and coming musicians. K.C. has been instrumental in providing support and advice for young players, with her latest protégé being the young mandolin prodigy Bella Betts.
“What makes bluegrass so cool is it’s a tradition that remains alive by fostering it and keeping the attention of young players,” K.C. explains. “Bluegrass is so hands on. When you go to a festival, you can go up and talk to your heroes. I feel like it’s my duty to pass it on.” [less...]