2016 Instructors

We're excited to announce most of the 2016 Academy faculty, including 3 stellar bands-in-residence. We'll announce the remaining instructors as soon as each one confirms -- hopefully in the next few weeks.

Guitar | Mandolin | Banjo | Fiddle | Dobro | Bass | Songwriting & Vocals |
Bands-in-Residence | Kids Camp | Instrument Building

Please note: instructors are subject to change.

Guitar Instructors
Grant Gordy
For several years Brooklyn-based guitarist Grant Gordy has been a major voice on the American "acoustic music" scene, and one of the most highly regarded young instrumentalists of his generation. Having held the guitar chair in the legendary David Grisman Quintet for six years, he's also worked alongside such musical luminaries as Edgar Meyer, Steve Martin, Aoife O'Donovan and Darol Anger. Grant has performed all over North America and Europe, everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Montreal Jazz Festival; Jazz at Lincoln Center to Bonnaroo. [more...]

His music has been heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts, and he's received attention from international music periodicals such as Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Japanese bluegrass publication Moonshiner, Just Jazz Guitar and Flatpicking Guitar Magazine.

"Grant belongs to the new elite of American acoustic practitioners who are pushing the ever-expanding envelope of a musical frontier.” -David Grisman [less...]
Darryl Poulsen
Darryl Poulsen is a professional Canadian musician, born and raised in Alliston, Ontario.  He was naturally drawn to music and began avidly playing guitar at the age of 10.  He went on to study jazz at Humber College under the tutelage of Ted Quinlan and Don Thompson, during which time he was awarded for his outstanding achievements.  Since then, Darryl has thoroughly immersed himself within Toronto's music scene.  He has made a name for himself as a guitarist, both acoustic and electric, who is highly sought after [more...] as a performer, teacher, and session artist.  He's had the honor to work with an array of highly talented songwriters and bands including New Country Rehab, Jadea Kelly, Corin Raymond, and the Sudden Valley Boys.  Well versed in a large variety of genres, Darryl found his true passion in bluegrass and has garnered a great deal of success with the international touring band, which he helped found five years ago, the Slocan Ramblers.  Their newest album, "Coffee Creek," was released in July, 2015, to wide acclaim. [less...] Top
Bryan Sutton
Bryan Sutton is one of the most sought after acoustic guitarists on the planet . Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Bryan grew up in a musical family and was immersed in the rich heritage of western North Carolina music. Sutton entered the bluegrass world in 1995 as a member of Ricky Skaggs' Kentucky Thunder band, playing on two Grammy award winning records. After his tenure with Skaggs, Bryan went on to build a career as a top studio guitarists in Nashville. [more...] His playing can be heard along side such names as Keith Urban, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, and Harry Connick Jr.. Always striving to keep his bluegrass roots strong, Bryan has also released four solo projects and has toured around the world with artists like Bela Fleck and Chris Thile, and as a member of the legendary bluegrass band, Hot Rize. Sutton has been honored as a six time winner of the IBMA's Guitarist of the Year, and received a Grammy in 2007 for "Best Country Instrumental Performance" for his duet recording with Doc Watson. [less...] Top
One more guitar instructor to be announced soon.

Mandolin Instructors
Casey Campbell
Casey Campbell
Casey Campbell is a Nashville native bringing a fresh perspective to the traditional mandolin style. Born and raised in the sounds of Bluegrass, his first steps were taken backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in Bill Monroe's dressing room. He graduated from Belmont University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Music Business in May of 2014. Over the past year, Casey has been recording and playing with the Vickie Vaughn Band, Bryan Sutton Band, Becky Buller, Jim Lauderdale, Mac Wiseman, Shawn Camp, and more. Top
Adrian Gross
Adrian Gross is a mandolinist, guitarist and composer based in Toronto. Originally from Montreal, Adrian relocated to Toronto to study music at Humber College. He has since decided to call Toronto home, quickly becoming a fixture on the city’s acoustic music scene, and co-leading The Slocan Ramblers, one of Canada’s leading roots acts (“I love it – smokin’ bluegrass!” – BBC Radio). Adrian can regularly be found performing his mandolin and guitar in a variety of styles from folk to bluegrass, klezmer to jazz, chamber music to modern classical music, [more...] while keeping a busy career as a sideman and session musician. He has performed and recorded with many of Canada’s leading musicians, and can be found performing with group such as Kevin Breit’s Upper York Mandolin Quartet, Ozere and the Rucksack Willies. Adrian has also been a featured mandolinist with contemporary classical ensembles Continuum, Soundstream and ensembles from The Glenn Gould School. [less...] Top
John Reischman
John Reischman is one of the premier mandolinists of his generation. He’s a master instrumentalist capable of swinging between re-inventions of traditional old-time tunes, deconstructions from the bluegrass repertoire, and compelling original tunes, many of which have become standards. He’s also a powerful bandleader, touring his band the Jaybirds all over Canada and the United States. But most of all, he’s an understated visionary, the kind of master craftsman whose music is virtuosic without ever being flashy and who is renowned for his impeccable taste and tone as an artist. [more...] John Reischman embodies the true spirit of acoustic music in the 21st century.

A Juno–nominated and Grammy–award winning artist, John Reischman is known today for his work with his band the Jaybirds and his acclaimed solo albums, but he got his start as an original member of the Tony Rice Unit in the late 1970s. With the Tony Rice Unit, Reischman helped define the “new acoustic music” movement in bluegrass thanks to their high profile albums on Rounder Records. Building this sound, Reischman was of course influenced early on by Monroe’s mandolin playing, but also by the playing of early bluegrass mandolinists like Sam Bush, David Grisman, and jazz mandolinist Jethro Burns. Living in the Bay Area in the 80s, Reischman toured and performed with seminal bluegrass band The Good Ol’ Persons, cementing his reputation as a powerful mandolinist with an original vision for the instrument. He moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in the 1990s and formed The Jaybirds, but Reischman never stopped his musical explorations. In 1996, he won a Grammy as part of Todd Phillips’ all-star tribute album to Bill Monroe. Over the years, he’s overseen collaborations with a remarkably wide range of artists, like bluegrass singer Kathy Kallick, to guitarist Scott Nygaard, banjo wiz Tony Furtado, Chinese Music ensemble Red Chamber, Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Celso Machado, singer songwriter Susan Crowe, and more.

This kind of cross-cultural trailblazing has always been at the center of John Reischman’s music. It’s not a kind of musical fusion, but rather an extension of his curiosity to the stringed instruments and musical rhythms of other traditions. Long inspired by Latin American roots music, from Puerto Rican cuatro to Brazilian choro music, John’s been exploring this music, and forging new compositions from these inspirations, in his duo with Seattle guitarist master acoustic guitarist John Miller. The two have recorded three acclaimed albums together. Bringing together two forces in instrumental acoustic music, John Reischman and John Miller were both able to channel their music together into a truly intimate and supportive ensemble.

Though some people, including Tony Rice, questioned John’s move away from the hotbed of California bluegrass that had formed his career, John’s relocation to Vancouver, British Columbia in the 1990s ultimately led to his next big step as an artist: becoming a bandleader. Drawing from the very best bluegrass and acoustic musicians in the Pacific Northwest to form the band, Reischman led The Jaybirds on cross-country tours, five albums, and two Juno nominations. With their latest album released in 2011, John Reischman & the Jaybirds are still going strong as one of the top bluegrass ensembles. The secret to their success lies in the innovative arrangements and powerful original song writing and tune composition, but also in the mix of talents that make up the group. Fiddler Greg Spatz has a crystal-clear tone and an ability to play with blazing speed and soft subtlety. Bassist and vocalist Trisha Gagnon writes and sings beautiful original songs. Banjo player Nick Hornbuckle has a solid, original style of picking that forms the bedrock of the music, and guitarist Jim Nunally is renowned as one of the top acoustic roots guitarists and is also an in-demand record producer. Reischman ties these different talents together into an impossibly tight band that can turn on a dime and play with the kind of power and precision that is the hallmark of the original bluegrass greats.

In 2013, John Reischman released his third solo album, Walk Along John. Made up of traditional and original tunes, the album’s a celebration of Reischman’s long career, featuring guest spots from old friends like old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky, banjo genius Tony Trischka, The Punch Brothers’ Chris Thile, bluegrass guitarist Kenny Smith, and members of the Jaybirds, plus new friends from a new generation of bluegrass instrumentalists: guitarist Eli West, members of The Deadly Gentlemen, among others. Walk Along Johnfollows in the footsteps of Reischman’s other acclaimed solo albums, like his debut, North of the Border, which was recorded for Rounder Records and was reviewed by Bluegrass Unlimited as “monumental … it establishes a remarkably high standard for mature, tasteful mandolin music”. But Walk Along John plumbs a deeper level of talent for Reischman, the result of the past decades of hard work and constant study. After 40 years of picking at the forefront of the American bluegrass tradition, it should come as no surprise that John Reischman still has a lot to say. [less...]

Banjo Instructors
Frank Evans
Frank Evans grew up in a family of classical musicians in Toronto, which made his decision to play clawhammer banjo at the age of 10 all the more unlikely. Carving his own path, he developed a passion for Old Time Appalachian music, making regular excursions to festivals and competitions in the United States, eventually placing second in the banjo competition at the Clifftop Appalachian Stringband Festival (2011).  With the guidance of Toronto banjo legend Chris Coole, Evans recorded his first CD, Big Meal Time with his brother Max. [more...] The two founded the highly popular Kitgut Stringband in 2008, performed regularly in Toronto, and recorded the CD Rebel Raid. He joined the bluegrass outfit Slocan Ramblers in 2010, who quickly released their debut album Shaking Down the Acorns produced by Juno award winner Andrew Collins. The album gained attention world wide and even got them a slot opening for Steve Martin at the Toronto Jazz Fstival. Frank broke with convention once again when he began exploring jazz music, becoming the first banjo player to attend the jazz program at the Humber College of Music. Frank currently resides in Toronto and is in high demand as a session player, performing and touring with such bands as Oh My Darling, Annie Lou, Jaron Freeman Fox, and the Foggy Hogtown Boys. [less...] Top
Tony Trischka
Tony Trischka (United States Artists Friends Fellow-2012) is considered to be the consummate banjo artist and perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. For more than 45 years, his stylings have inspired a whole generation of bluegrass and acoustic musicians with the many voices he has brought to the instrument. A native of Syracuse, New York, Trischka's interest in banjo was sparked by the Kingston Trio's "Charlie and the MTA" in 1963. Two years later, he joined the Down City Ramblers, where he remained through 1971. [more...] That year, Trischka made his recording debut on 15 Bluegrass Instrumentals with the band Country Cooking; at the same time, he was also a member of America’s premier sports-rock band Country Granola. In 1973, he began a three-year stint with Breakfast Special. Between 1974 and 1975, he recorded two solo albums, Bluegrass Light and Heartlands. After one more solo album in 1976, Banjoland, he went on to become musical leader for the Broadway show The Robber Bridegroom. Trischka toured with the show in 1978, the year he also played with the Monroe Doctrine.

In 1978, he toured Japan and recorded with Peter Rowan and Richard Greene. In the early 1980s, he began recording with his new group Skyline, which released its first album in 1983. Subsequent albums included Robot Plane Flies over Arkansas (solo, 1983), Stranded in the Moonlight (with Skyline, 1984) and Hill Country (solo, 1985). In 1984, he performed in his first feature film, Foxfire with Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and John Denver. Three years later, he worked on the pre-recorded music for the off-Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy that featured Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. Trischka produced the Belgian group Gold Rush's No More Angels in 1988. The following year, Skyline recorded its final album, Fire of Grace. He also recorded the theme song for Books on the Air, a popular National Public Radio Show, and continued his affiliation with the network by appearing on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, From Our Front Porch, and other radio shows. Trischka continued his recording career with 1993's World Turning, 1995's Glory Shone Around: A Christmas Collection and 1999's Bend. New Deal followed in 2003.

Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, featuring appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice and many other luminaries, came out four years later. For this recording he went back to Bluegrass and reinvigorated the double banjo tradition. In October 2007, Tony was given an IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) award for Banjo Player of the Year 2007. Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular received IBMA awards for Recorded Event of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and a Grammy Nomination.

With his fearless musical curiosity as the guiding force, Tony Trischka's critically acclaimed release, Territory roams widely through the banjo's creative terrain. Nine selections partner Tony with fellow banjoists Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, Bill Evans, Bill Keith and Bruce Molsky. Twelve all-Trischka solo tracks explore a panorama of tunings, banjo sounds, and traditions; tapping the creative potential of America's signature musical instrument.

Tony is not only considered amongst the most innovative of banjo players, he is one of its most respected and sought after instructors creating fifteen instructional books as well as a series of DVDs. In 2009, he launched the groundbreaking Tony Trischka School of Banjo, an advanced, interactive, online instructional site that is the banjo home for students from around the world.

2011 saw “Give Me the Banjo” aired on PBS stations nationwide with Tony as the Musical Director and Co-Producer of the documentary. It was subsequently released on DVD. He produced Steve Martin’s Grammy nominated Rare Bird Alert (Rounder), which features performances by Paul McCartney, the Dixie Chicks and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

In the summer of 2012, Tony continued to broaden the reach and influence of the banjo as performer and Band Leader for the Shakespeare in the Park, NYC performances of “As You Like It”, placing the banjo in even newer ground.

In December of 2012, Tony was awarded the United States Artists Friends Fellow in recognition of the excellence of his work.

On Tony’s latest album Great Big World (Rounder Records - released February, 2014) his instrumental expertise and boundless imagination are as sharp as ever. One of the most ambitious and accomplished of his career, the album is a deeply compelling showcase for his expansive instrumental talents, far-ranging musical interests and distinctive songwriting skills, as well as his sterling taste in collaborators. With contributions from his band Territory, Steve Martin, Michael Daves, Noam Pikelny, Ramblin’ Jack Eliot and many other special guests the 13-track set finds Trischka embracing all manner of possibilities, while keeping one foot firmly planted in the traditional bluegrass roots that first inspired him to make music.

Tony continues to maintain a national and international touring schedule with his band of extraordinary musicians. [less...]
One more banjo instructor to be announced soon.

Fiddle Instructors
Mike Barnett
Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Michael Barnett has always had a special place in his heart for bluegrass and country music. After picking up the violin at age four, he went on to seriously study the fiddle with his first instructor, the Director of Vanderbilt’s Fiddling Program at the Blair School of Music, Crystal Plohman, at the age of ten. Five years, one album, and many fiddle camps later, Barnett was introduced to the legendary "Mr. Mandolin" Jesse McReynolds, and soon joined his outfit, Jesse and his Virginia Boys, [more...] playing regular weekend performances at the Grand Ole Opry. "Touring around on Jesse’s bus at such a young age was a very humbling experience and really brought the music and legacy of Jim and Jesse alive for me," says Mike of his time as a Virginia Boy. And oh, was the music alive in Barnett’s playing: that same year, at just fifteen years of age, he became the youngest instructor ever to teach at the Fiddle School at Vanderbilt University.

Jesse’s pioneering spirit continued to influence Barnett’s style even after he relocated to Massachusetts. He quickly befriended Boston based mandolinist, Joe Walsh, who introduced him to one of New England’s renowned progressive bluegrass bands, Northern Lights. Together, Barnett and Walsh toured with Northern Lights and recorded “One Day,” the band’s final album, in 2007. Through that project, Mike met folk singer Jonathan Edwards, who later invited him to record on his project “My Love Will Keep," adding to Barnett’s growing list of collaborations. One of those collaborations was with banjoist Gordon Stone, known for teaching and recording banjo withPhish’s Mike Gordon, who helped Mike Barnett to hone his improvisation and performance talents. Their efforts weren’t in vain, with their 2006 album, "Rhymes with Orange," winning Vermont’s Album of the Year Award. 

A few years and many connections later, Barnett met Tony Trischka, one of the most influential banjo players in roots music, and had the great honor of touring with Tony on his “Double Banjo Bluegrass” project and “Territory.” Through the “Double Banjo” project, Barnett shared the stage with the great Bela Fleck, comedian/banjoist Steve Martin, and Greg Liszt, the banjoist of Crooked Still/Bruce Springsteen fame. Soon after, Greg and Mike conceived The Deadly Gentlemen, an Americana band that allowed Mike to push the limits of tradition, incorporating new influences into his constantly improving playing. This led to a spot as fiddler of the David Grisman Sextet, in which Barnett plays, filling the shoes of past DG artists, including Vassar Clemens and Darol Anger. In between tours, Barnett attends Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he currently resides, and is thankful for the chance to play and write with some of the finest musicians of this generation’s acoustic music scene.  

His most recent project is the exciting creation and release of his newest album, "One Song Romance." With the August 2014 release of his first solo album since he was 15 years old, Barnett is poised to burst on the scene as a solo artist, showing off not only his immense skills on the fiddle, but his impressive song-writing chops as well. The twelve track album combines traditional bluegrass roots with the progressive Northeastern "smarty-grass" style, stemming from Barnett’s long-time studying and collaboration with Boston-based musicians. The opening track “It’ll Be Alright” features a driving fiddle line underneath an ethereal vocal blend of Barnett andAoife O’Donovan, the former Crooked Still songstress who has now launched a solo career of her own. The following track “Change Her Mind” features the talented Tim O’Brien and O’Donovan on vocals, but Barnett’s poignant opening solo and fiery licks solidify his place as the star of the track. The album shows a wide range, spanning from traditional fiddle tunes to new grass originals, and establishes Barnett as one of the most exciting emerging bluegrass artists of his generation. [less...]
Paul Shelasky
Paul Shelasky
Paul Shelasky is a native of Northern California who began playing several stringed instruments in his teens. He soon mastered bluegrass, jazz, Celtic, and other styles of music. He has earned two California State Fiddle Championships, has twice been named California State Flat-picking Guitar Champion, and is an honorary lifetime member of the California Bluegrass Association. Paul was a member of two semi-legendary bands -- Phantoms Of the Opry (with Pat Enright) and Arkansas Sheiks (with Laurie Lewis) — before joining the Good Ol' Persons in 1976. [more...] He released four albums and toured the world with them before relocating to Southern California for stints in the Rhythm Brothers (Disneyland house band) and Lost Highway.

Since returning to NorCal, Paul's been a member of Blue & Lonesome and The David Thom Band, written a monthly column for Fiddler Magazine, and continued to win fiddle contests. Through the years, Paul has also performed and recorded with David Grisman, Tony Rice, Frank Wakefield, and other bluegrass legends, released a solo album, and spiced up many a show with his "comedy." [less...]
Annie Staninec
Annie Staninec has been playing the violin since the age of four, began performing professionally at the age of 12, and now makes her living playing, recording, teaching and touring internationally with renowned groups spanning several genres. Annie’s fiery playing and unassuming charm have been captivating audiences around the world for years, whether she is on the festival stage with a bluegrass band, playing an intimate club with a gypsy jazz combo, or just playing for the local Cajun dance. [more...]

Annie toured with the 2006 Gypsy Caravan Tour, featuring such luminaries as David Grisman, Stephane Wrembel, and the Robin Nolan Trio, and has performed numerous times at Djangofest either leading her own group or with the Avatar Ensemble. She has just returned from an expansive European tour with the internationally acclaimed Kathy Kallick band, including headlining the annual European World of Bluegrass Festival in Voorthuizen, the Netherlands, and will be performing on the main stage at the prestigious California Bluegrass Association annual festival in June.

Annie makes her home in San Francisco, CA and is currently performing with the Kathy Kallick Band, Andrew Carriere and the Cajun Allstars, Doug Martin’s Avatar Ensemble, the George Cole Quintet, and others. Her playing can be heard on albums from numerous artists including Kathy Kallick, Town Mountain, Avatar String Ensemble, and a soon to be released project by Jerry Vessel. Annie is proudly sponsored by Saga Cremona Violins, and the L.R. Baggs company. [less...]

Dobro Instructor
Sally Van Meter
Since 1977, Sally's slide guitar work has gained respect and recognition among peers and audiences for her commitment to staying true to playing music with heart and soul. She is well-known for her performances & recorded works ranging from solo work to collaborations with artists such as Led Kaapana, Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, Cyril Pahinui, Jerry Douglas, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Alison Brown, Taj Mahal, Peter Rowan & the Rowan Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Tony Rice, Kathy Kallick, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Gerry O'Beirne, Maura O'Connell, the inimitable Leftover Salmon and more. [more...]

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...]
Mike Witcher
Mike grew up the youngest of five siblings (including a twin brother) in a musical and artistic family in the suburbs of Los Angeles, and began playing the resonator guitar at the age of fourteen. Influenced by the many styles of music he heard at home, he was soon playing with father Dennis and brother Gabe (who currently plays in the Punch Brothers) in the legendary SoCal-based bluegrass band The Witcher Brothers. Now a much-in-demand session player in LA and Nashville, Michael has worked with such artists as Dwight Yoakam, Dolly Parton, Bette Midler, Peter Rowan, Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), [more...] Laurie Lewis, John Paul Jones (bassist of Led Zeppelin), Joan Osborn, The Gibson Brothers, Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show), and Fernando Ortega among others. He has played the Grand Ole Opry and Prairie Home Companion many times and you can hear him on hundreds of records, sound tracks, commercials and tv shows.

Michael is a gifted and caring teacher. Over the last 15 years he has developed an effective method of teaching the resonator guitar, one that allows the student to integrate complex concepts quickly into his or her playing. He has written two instructional books (Resonator Guitar— Tunes Techniques and Practice Skills, which has become a standard, and the recently released Resonator Guitar—20 Bluegrass Jam Favorites), and teaches at the top acoustic music camps around the world, including Rob Ickes’ Reso Summit.

But what sets Michael apart (and why he has such an impressive resume) is his sound. He has achingly gorgeous tone, dead-on intonation, and ideas and breaks that make you feel that thing deep in your gut when the music is just right. Every time we hear Michael play we hear something new, jaw-droppingly creative and tasteful. He is, simply put, one of the best resonator guitar players in the world. [less...]

Bass Instructors
Trisha Gagnon
Trisha Gagnon is a Canadian singer-songwriter whose bluegrass-inspired work reaches far past the genre's signature subjects of heartbreak and loneliness.  The Juno Award nominee's reverent yet playful songs have the power to refresh the soul through artful depictions of the things she finds most inspiring: landscape, family, and the divine.  With world-class upright bass skills, a poet's command of language, and a voice dubbed "irresistible" by Sing Out!, Trisha has made a name for herself playing in acclaimed bluegrass bands Tumbleweed and John Reischman and the Jaybirds.  [more...]

Trisha's musical journey was set in motion during her honeymoon when she and her husband heard bluegrass gospel music for the first time. At that moment she did not play an instrument, but her attraction to the music led her to attend a bluegrass festival where she says it was "seeing people play music and sing together in that style that made me want to try and do it too." She soon became involved with the Pacific Heritage and Bluegrass Society in Vancouver, and joined together with Chris Stevens, Michael Heiden and her sister, Cathy-Anne McClintock, to form Tumbleweed.  Trisha began to play upright bass with the band and found it was exactly the right fit for her.  The group went on to be voted "Best Bluegrass Band" by the British Columbia Country Music Association for nine consecutive years.  Trisha was then handpicked by John Reischman to join his band and now, after nearly ten years and four albums with the Jaybirds, Trisha is set to release her first solo album. 

Fans who are familiar with Gagnon's trademark optimistic and respectful songs—such as her lively original, "The Jaybird Song," which was nominated as the Just Plain Folks Bluegrass Song of the Year in 2009—will be happy to know that Gagnon's originals are the focus of her debut solo album "A Story About You And Me." 

One standout track on the album is "On My Way to You," Trisha's duet with Vince Gill. Trisha wrote the song upon returning home after a lengthy road trip with The Jaybirds. In it she offers listeners the perfume of spring lilacs and the palpable chill of British Columbia winter, truly transporting her audience to another place, another state of mind. The song is emblematic of Gagnon's poetic sensibility and profound connection to her home, B.C.'s Fraser River Valley. In this song as well as others on the album, Trisha carries her listener to places of beauty, places of longing, places of wonder. Given close inspection, there is one thing that becomes clear about all of Trisha's work: no matter where the songs might transport us, they all spring from one single source, and that is a place of great peace. 

"A Story About You and Me" will be released in Fall of 2010, an appropriate season for Trisha's fresh new role as solo artist.  After her years of touring with the Jaybirds—a life she finds entirely satisfying—Gagnon recently realized she had amassed a collection of original compositions in need of a home.  This realization happened about the same time that Trisha's singer-songwriter sister, Cathy Anne McClintock, fulfilled the dream of recording a solo album. Seeing her sister achieve this dream inspired Gagnon to set about making her own record.  Many musical friends lent their talents to the project, which features collaborations with award-winning musicians from the bluegrass, American roots, and country music worlds. 

The core of "A Story About You and Me" was recorded at Music Hill, the Crockett, California studio of fellow Jaybird band mate, Jim Nunally.  Each of The Jaybirds lends his instrumental and, in some cases, vocal skills to the effort: Greg Spatz on fiddle, Nick Hornbuckle on banjo, John Reishchman on mandolin, and Jim Nunally on guitar.  The album also features collaborations with notable musicians including Shaun Cromwell, Tony Furtado, Rob Ickes, Vince Gill, Chris Jones, Laurie Lewis, Roger Gillespie, Keith Little, Kathy Kallick, Peter Rowan, and Cathy-Anne McClintock, with whom Gagnon sings one-of-a-kind sibling harmonies. 

The careful listener might be able to pick out traces of Trisha's musical influences on this album—she says "growing up I listened to my Mom's music: Elvis, The Supremes, Carole King." Later the songs of Led Zepplin, Mahalia Jackson, and Bonnie Raitt spoke to her. When she finally came to bluegrass, she says it was Vince Gill, Tony Rice, The Stanley Brothers, The Good 'Ol Persons, Tim O'Brien, Alison Krauss, Peter Rowan and Laurie Lewis who most inspired her. "A Story About You and Me" sees Gagnon working alongside so many of her heroes, a gift for which she is truly grateful. 

When she is not in the studio or on tour as the lone "bird" in John Reischman and the Jaybirds, Trisha can be found tending the acreage of her organic berry farm.  The homemade jams she makes from her harvested berries are exceptional and available—when in supply—at her concerts. Trisha also tends to her hometown and the greater bluegrass community by teaching voice and instrument lessons at home and at music camps. She loves to share all she's learned with her students in order to help inspire them to follow their own dreams.  [less...]
Samson Grisman
Samson Grisman
Bassist Samson Grisman from Mill Valley, California made his recording debut at age eight with John Hartford, Mike Seeger and his dad David Grisman on their Grammy-nominated Retrograss album. Since then he has played and/or recorded with Darol Anger, Luke Bulla, Noam Pikelny, Tim O’Brien, Bryan Sutton, Martin Taylor and Sarah Jarosz, and The Milk Carton Kids among others. He’s a member of David Grisman’s Bluegrass Experience and FolkJazz Trio, and has appeared on the Grand Old Opry with Jesse McReynolds and Ricky Skaggs. [more...] Sam currently resides in Nashville and plays with Lee Ann Womack and in the Brotet with Alex Hargreaves, Nat Smith and Dominick Leslie. Growing up in a music-rich environment exposed Sam to many players and styles, making him one of the “go to” bassists of his generation. [less...] Top
Alistair Whitehead
Alastair Whitehead is a bassist and songwriter based in Toronto, Canada. Alastair started his career at a young age playing bass in the local clubs and theatres of his hometown St John’s Newfoundland. After several years cutting his teeth in the vibrant Newfoundland music scene, Alastair moved to Toronto to pursue a degree in jazz performance at Ontario’s prestigious Humber College. Since then Alastair has earned a reputation in the thriving Toronto roots scene, touring across Canada, the U.S., Europe, and as far as the Middle East [more...] with some of Canada’s finest musicians. Alastair co-leads Ontario’s acclaimed bluegrass outfit, the Slocan Ramblers as well as working regularly with musicians such as John Showman, Chris Coole, Ivan Rosenberg, and New Country Rehab among others. [less...] Top

Songwriting & Vocal Instructors
Kathy Kallick
There is a tendency to think of West Coast bluegrass as being softer, jazzier, and somehow “other” than traditional. This can be the case, but there is also a school of bluegrass in Northern California which has, from the beginning, been steeped in Monroe-based tradition—as well as welcoming to women and original songs. Kathy Kallick (guitar, vocals) has been leading bands in this traditional brand of West Coast bluegrass since co-founding the internationally-acclaimed band, Good Ol’ Persons, in 1975. [more...]

She continues to evolve as one of the music’s extraordinary composers and vocalists, now releasing her 17th album, recordings which include over 100 of her original songs. 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 five title tracks and albums -- Call Me A Taxi, Walkin’ In My Shoes, Warmer Kind Of Blue, Between the Hollow and the High-Rise, and Time-- each spend a year in the top echelon of the national bluegrass charts …
- performed and recorded with the Frank Wakefield Band …
- written and recorded award-winning music for children and families …
- appeared on three high-profile Rounder collections of bluegrass songs by women, as well as noteworthy compilations of songs about baseball, trains, spiritual matters, families, broken hearts, Christmas, and mothers …
- toured throughout North America, Europe, and Japan  …
- received a Lifetime Membership award from the California Bluegrass Association … and …
- collaborated with the country’s top acoustic musicians – including her fabulous current band.
One more songwriting/vocal instructor to be announced soon.

Good Ol' Persons
The Good Ol' Persons were formed in 1975 as a result of the success of five women performing at a Freight & Salvage open mic. The name filled a spur-of-the-moment need and provided a wry comment on the dominant bluegrass culture of the era. It didn't take long for a band to form, for men to infiltrate -- and for the music to become more important than a gimmicky name. [more...]

The Good Ol' Persons were among the first bluegrass bands to feature the songwriting, lead playing, and vocal harmonies of women, and went on to be trendsetters in the incorporation of Latin, swing, folk, Cajun, and other musical genres into their bluegrass. The band released five albums (and had three additional songs on a compilation), toured throughout the US (including Bill Monroe's Beanblossom Festival) and Europe, and had a profound influence on several generations of bluegrassers.

Expect a performance that goes far beyond nostalgia, filled with dazzling playing, passionate singing, inclusive humor, and some really good ol' songs. "When it comes to bluegrass, it doesn't get much better than this." - Relix magazine's overview of the Good Ol' Persons [less...]
Slocan Ramblers
The Slocan Ramblers are Canada’s young bluegrass band to watch. Rooted in the tradition, fearlessly creative, and possessing a bold, dynamic sound, The Slocans (2015 Edmonton Folk Fest Emerging Artist Award recipients), have quickly become a leading light of Canada’s roots music scene, built on their reputation for energetic live shows, impeccable musicianship and their uncanny ability to convert anyone within earshot into a lifelong fan. On their new album, Coffee Creek (2015) The Slocan Ramblers blend lightning fast and devilishly intricate instrumentals [more...] with the sawdust-thick vocals of singer Frank Evans, who takes lead on songs ranging from rowdy old-time numbers like “Groundhog,” to a Dustbowl classic like Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures of Plenty.”

“Toronto audiences don’t respond to a clean, polished Nashville sound,” tune composer and mandolinist Adrian Gross explains. “They dig a lot of energy in their music, a rowdy bar vibe. They’re hard to win over.” But The Slocan Ramblers have won them over, moving from a young ensemble of bluegrass pickers to one of the best known Canadian roots bands. They’ve done this by staying true to the roots of the music, not seeking to revive anything but rather to tap the rough and rowdy heart of the music.

Coffee Creek was produced by the band’s friend and mentor Chris Coole (The Foggy Hogtown Boys), a well-known banjo player and community leader in Toronto’s bluegrass and old-time scenes. Like Coole, The Slocan Ramblers bring the live, collaboratory aspects of the music to the fore, and they understand that if you polish up the music too much, you lose the raw excitement that makes it so vibrant.

In the liner notes, Coole breaks it down: “What really impressed me while we were working on this album, was that, while they can pull off the precision and virtuosity that is at the backbone of bluegrass, they understand the power of the fragile moment in music. The fragile moment used to be a big part of what made an album cool–Monroe singing just beyond the edge of his voice, the moment right before you realize Vassar isn’t lost–the moment on and beyond the edge.” Listen to Evans’ worn vocals and you’ll hear some of the edge that great singers like Keith Whitley brought to the music. Or try Gross’ powerfully discordant and innovative mandolin solo on “Groundhog,” or Darryl Poulsen’s counterpoint Lester-Flatt-runs towards the end of the title track, or the rumbling beats of Alastair Whitehead’s acoustic bass on “Call Me Long Gone” (or Whitehead’s beautiful, world-weary original songs like “Elk River” or “Angeline”) to get a feel for how The Slocan Ramblers are pushing the envelope.

This is roots music without pretension, music intended to make you feel something, music to get you moving in a crowded bar. The Slocan Ramblers recorded Coffee Creekthe same way they perform on stage: standing up, leaning into the music, and pushing harder and harder for that edge just beyond. [less...]
Bryan Sutton Band
Bryan Sutton is one of the most sought after acoustic guitarists on the planet . Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Bryan grew up in a musical family and was immersed in the rich heritage of western North Carolina music. Sutton entered the bluegrass world in 1995 as a member of Ricky Skaggs' Kentucky Thunder band, playing on two Grammy award winning records. After his tenure with Skaggs, Bryan went on to build a career as a top studio guitarists in Nashville. [more...] His playing can be heard along side such names as Keith Urban, Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, and Harry Connick Jr.. Always striving to keep his bluegrass roots strong, Bryan has also released four solo projects and has toured around the world with artists like Bela Fleck and Chris Thile, and as a member of the legendary bluegrass band, Hot Rize. Sutton has been honored as a six time winner of the IBMA's Guitarist of the Year, and received a Grammy in 2007 for "Best Country Instrumental Performance" for his duet recording with Doc Watson. [less...] Top

Kids Camp Instructors
Kate Hamre
Kate grew up in Anchorage, Alaska listening to her parents and friends play bluegrass, old tyme, and folk music. At the age of 14, she joined Bearfoot, a nationally touring band, and played festival such as Merlefest, Greyfox, Wintergrass, Rockygrass, and Telluride to name a few. As a Compass recording artist, Bearfoot cut their 4th album, called "Doors and Windows" in April 2009, which quickly rose to #1 in the Billboard Bluegrass Charts. Kate is also the director of the renowned bluegrass music education program, "Bluegrass Camps for Kids", which has taught thousands of children internationally in the last decade. This year [more...] will be her 9th year leading the Rockygrass Academy for Kids, along with 10 other camps in 2011 in various locations across the U.S. Kate also has a B.S. in Elementary Education through the University of Idaho and is now teaching in San Francisco after leaving Bearfoot last April. [less...] Top
Justin Hoffenberg
Originally from Northern Illinois, Justin Hoffenberg currently makes his home in Boulder, CO. Growing up in a musical household, he attended many concerts as a child and was drawn towards music. At 10 years old Justin joined his 5th grade orchestra, where he played the violin for one year before beginning Suzuki lessons, which he pursued until graduating high school. The summer between 5th and 6th grade proved a fateful one, as a family friend recommended attending the Rockygrass festival in Lyons, CO, as well as the camp that precedes it. Just ventured to the camp not knowing anything about Bluegrass, but was immensely changed by the experience. [more...] After spending the week with such fiddlers as Jason Carter (Del McCoury Band), Justin never looked back.

He played in bluegrass bands from the time that he was 13; professionally since he was 15 years old. While a senior in high school, Justin helped form Long Road Home, the bluegrass band with which he is still playing full time. When not with Long Road Home, you can find him playing with a variety of projects, across a variety of genres. He’s been known to appear with his Rock and Roll band, The Bimarinal, and even at times as a guest eTone on the eTown radio show (where he appeared with such acts as the Indigo Girls, Tim O’Brien, Big Al Anderson and the North Mississippi All Stars). [less...]
Phoebe Hunt
Like all troubadours, singer-songwriter Phoebe Hunt is a rambler. Recent years have seen the Texas native relocate from Austin to Nashville to her current residence in Brooklyn. This wanderlust is evident in the variety of projects she is a part of, moving in and out of multiple styles and genres of music with an effortless grace. You may find her performing completely solo, with her violin and her voice, drawing you into her memorizing vortex, or surrounded by a group of young musicians from all around the world as a part of The One Village Music Project, playing songs written and recorded at a program that Phoebe initiated out of her desire to play her role in healing the world with music. [more...]

Most recently, she has returned to the states from international travel in Sweeden as a part of City of Songs, a collaboration initiated by The House Of Songs in Austin, TX wherein Austin musicians collaborate internationally in unique settings as they represent what it means to come from the live music capital of the world.  

Having collaborated and toured with such inspiring artists as Ben Sollee, Shakey Graves, The Belleville Outfit, and The Hudsons, Hunt is never one to turn down the opportunity to create a new sound or be a part of a musical experiment, but it is as a band leader that she truly shines.  In her latest musical project, "Phoebe Hunt Sings the New American Songbook", Phoebe presents a unique show nodding to the jazz and swing roots from where she came, by singing her renditions of the classics. Featuring an all star band of unique talents (Nathaniel Smith: Cello, Dennis Ludiker: Violin, Dominick Leslie: Mandolin, Danny Levin: Piano, Nick Falk: Percussion, Andrew Pressman: Bass), this captivating performance will also feature Hunt’s original material infused with the nuances of the art form. Come experience history in the making as Phoebe Hunt sings for you the New American Songbook.   [less...]
Dominick Leslie
Dominick Leslie
Mandolinist Dominick Leslie has spent every one of his years immersed in bluegrass and acoustic music, and his innovative style and musical curiosity are informed by these deep roots. He has studied with mandolin masters David Grisman, Mike Marshall and Chris Thile, won numerous mandolin championships, and performed in France as a member of Mike Marshall's Young American Mandolin Ensemble. He has toured with Missy Raines, The Bee Eaters, The Grant Gordy Quartet, Noam Pikelny and Friends and The Deadly Gentlemen. instead of going straight into college, and is still touring and producing full time. Justin draws his inspiration from a variety of sources, including the classic styles of Benny Martin and Chubby Wise, the blues and jazz of Vassar Clements and Darol Anger, and the newer sounds of Jason Carter and Stuart Duncan. [less...] Top
Sean Trischka
Sean Trischka writes songs, sings,  plays the drums, and wears pants. He is currently living in Boston, MA (hometown of Whitey Bulger and birthplace of New Kids On The Block). In the past few years Sean has been fortunate enough to play music with The Deadly Gentlemen, Oteil Burbridge (The Allman Brothers Band), Darol Anger, Sam Bush,  Victor Wooten, Mike Gordon (of Phish) and many others. Sean is a proud alumni of the RockyGrass Academy Kids Camp. It didn't take long before she was singing and playing in numerous bands such as The Mossy Mountain Band and Who Hit John?

With string music tugging at her heart, Leslie decided to move to the mountains where there was sure to be no shortage of good pickers. Since the summer of 2009 when she moved to town, Leslie has played with some of the Colorado's most talented acts including Spring Creek Bluegrass Band, Bonnie and the Clydes, and many others. She is also an active member of Magnolia Row, another great Boulder-based group.

By day, Leslie teaches orchestra music in the Boulder Valley School District, where she nurtures and encourages the future generation of music lovers.

Leslie keeps The Railsplitters in time with her driving rhythm on the 1920s German upright which was restored at the Guarneri House in Grand Rapids, MI. [less...]
Leslie Ziegler
Hailing from both Michigan and West Virginia, Leslie has been studying the upright bass since she was just a little girl. As she got older she decided to further her music education at Western Michigan University where she focused on Music Education. While in college, Leslie also toured the midwest with the many orchestras and string ensembles she represented. Outside the classroom, Leslie immersed herself in Kalamazoo's local music scene where she discovered her deep love for Bluegrass and folk music. [more...] It didn't take long before she was singing and playing in numerous bands such as The Mossy Mountain Band and Who Hit John?

With string music tugging at her heart, Leslie decided to move to the mountains where there was sure to be no shortage of good pickers. Since the summer of 2009 when she moved to town, Leslie has played with some of the Colorado's most talented acts including Spring Creek Bluegrass Band, Bonnie and the Clydes, and many others. She is also an active member of Magnolia Row, another great Boulder-based group.

By day, Leslie teaches orchestra music in the Boulder Valley School District, where she nurtures and encourages the future generation of music lovers.

Leslie keeps The Railsplitters in time with her driving rhythm on the 1920s German upright which was restored at the Guarneri House in Grand Rapids, MI. [less...]

Instrument Building Instructors
Michael Hornick
Michael Hornick is the builder of Shanti Guitars. After building his first guitar in 1985, he worked at Santa Cruz Guitar Company, and presently works alone in his shop in Missoula, Montana, building about twelve instruments a year. Michael has built the first place guitar prize for the nationally recognized Telluride Troubadour contest from its inception in 1991, and helped design the original mandolin and mandola kits. His love of lutherie is reflected in the high quality of craftsmanship found in each of his custom instrument. [more...] Michael has assisted students in the building of well over two hundred mandolin kits over the past seventeen years. [less...] Top
Chuck Midgley
Chuck Midgley
Chuck has known Michael Hornick since 1992, owns a Shanti guitar, and has assisted Michael with the mando building class since 2002. Each year Chuck produces a mandolin while assisting other students with theirs. In his other life, he is a master mechanic building hot rods in California. Top
Dan Roberts
Dan Roberts began his instrument making career with Flatiron Banjo and Mandolin Company in Bozeman, MT. He was production manager for Gibson Montana Division before moving to California as luthier and production manager for Santa Cruz Guitar Company. Dan lived in Santa Cruz for 6 years before moving back to Montana to work for Santa Cruz out of his own shop. There he built the SCGC archtops, did new model design and some prototypes, and was the warranty repairman, service manager, and production manager with the help of an on-site [more...] shop foreman. After 17 years with SCGC Dan hung out his own shingle and is a Custom guitar maker building Roberts Guitars. Dan has been teaching the mandolin building class at Rockygrass Academy since 1996. [less...]Top
Bobby Wintringham
Bobby Wintringham is returning for his sixth year as an instructor at the Academy's mandolin building experience. He is a full time luthier building San Juan Mandolins in his shop in Dolores, Colorado.  Says Bobby, "The only thing more rewarding than building instruments is being able to share that knowledge with others." Top