2017 Instructors

We're excited to announce the faculty for the 2017 Song School.

Songwriting Instructors

Mary Gauthier | Bonnie Hayes | Peter Himmelman | Pat Pattison | Paul Reisler | Rachel Sermanni | Ben Sollee | Steve Seskin

Elective Instructors

Jenn Adams | "Chicago Mike" Beck | Mai Bloomfield | Ron Browning | Jill Brzezicki | RJ Cowdery | Terri Delaney | Val Denn | Ellis | Ramy Essam | Rebecca Folsom | Vance Gilbert | Ali Handal | Dan Harris | JJ Jones | Arthur Lee Land | John Linn | Clare McLeod | The Mae Trio | Rich Moore | Bill Nash | Mollie O'Brien | Bonnie Paine | Emily Scott Robinson | Justin Roth | Alan Rowoth | Christopher Smith | Amy Speace

Registration for the 2017 Song School is now sold-out. Connect with your fellow Song School students in the Festivarian Forum. Make sure you're signed up for the "Notes from the Planet" email newsletter for all the latest news.

Song School finale (photo: Russell Bramlett)

Songwriting Instructors
Mary Gauthier
The Associated Press named Mary Gauthier as one of the best songwriters of her generation. Her songs have been recorded by dozens of artists, including Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, and Candi Staton, Amy Helm and Bettye Lavette and Mike Farris, and have also appeared in Film and Television, most recently on the ABC hit show Nashville, HBO's Banshee, and Masterpiece Theater's Case Histories. She was awarded New Artist of the year by The Americana Music Association in 2005, and has released 8 studio albums. [more...] Her current release is Trouble and Love, and she is touring the world with it. Her third album, Filth and Fire was named Best Independent CD of the year by the New York Times. Her following 3 records were listed in both the LA Times and NY Times top three releases of the year. Her record Mercy Now was named in the top 5 records of the decade by No Depression magazine.

Mary tours the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and the UK, performing an average of 175 dates a year, and has appeared dozens on NPR radio (US), BBC radio (UK), CBC radio (Canada), and ABC radio (AU). Her short stories have been published in several books and magazines, including the book Amplified, released by Random House. She is a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry, and currently resides in Nashville, TN. She's often been called a writer's writer, and that thrills her to no end. [less...]
The songs of Bonnie Hayes have always been extraordinary, from "Shelly's Boyfriend", the post-punk badgirl anthem that put her on the map to the authentic passion of "Have A Heart" and "Love Letter," which restored Bonnie Raitt to superstardom with the multi-platinum, multi-Grammy-winning CD Nick of Time. Writing for artists as diverse as Bette Midler, Robert Cray, Adam Ant, David Crosby, Booker T and the MG's, and Cher, Hayes has continued to craft songs one critic described as "sparkling clockwork mechanisms with a tendency [more...] to do the unexpected."

On the new CD, Love In the Ruins, Bonnie infuses her barbed lyrics with her own unmistakable vocal style and adds a new fervor for crunchy guitars and incendiary drumming. The sum is ironic, literary, melodic, tragic, wild, honest, joyful music that also flat out ROCKS. Known for years as a keyboardist (she actually toured as a keyboard player/backing vocalist with such arena acts as Belinda Carlisle and Billy Idol), she turned to writing on guitar to stimulate the creative process. Bonnie's personal reinvention is typical of her uncompromising attitude: "I reject the idea that music has to be either smart or kickass---why not both?"

Famed for her kick-out-the-jams live show, Hayes has also enjoyed success as a recording artist and producer. In 1984, her pop/punk debut Good Clean Fun was released on seminal LA indie Slash Records to critical raves and national college airplay and in 1995, the Hayes-produced CD Steppin' Out by the Gospel Hummingbirds was nominated for a Grammy. Her new CD marks a return to center stage for this exceptional songwriter.

Bonnie Hayes is a popular and experienced teacher with an original slant on writing songs that satisfy both artistic and commercial criteria. She teaches classes in various aspects of songwriting and popular music regularly. Her students have won prizes in the John Lennon songwriting contest, the WCSA songwriting contest, the Soulmaking contest, and others. [less...]
Peter Himmelman
During his multi-pronged career as a singer, songwriter and all-around performer, as a children's entertainer, TV and film composer and pioneering webcast star, Peter Himmelman has maintained remarkably high standards: Can you point to a song in his vast body of work that feels tossed off, or remember a concert or club date that didn't delight and amuse? Recorded on a dare – his own – to work faster and more under the gun, and closer to the quick of the creative process, Himmelman's new Himmasongs album, "The Mystery and the Hum," tumbled out of him with no planning or preparation. Holed up in a Minneapolis studio, [more...] far from the comforts of his home in Santa Monica, Calif., this native of St. Louis Park, MN, wrote the tunes over a two-week period and cut them in three days. Though he co-produced them with his friend Rob Genedek, who operates the studio, he raised the stakes of his experiment by hooking up with "house" musicians with whom he had never played, taking it on trust that if bassist Jim Anton and drummer Billy Thommes were good enough to run with Jonny Lang, they were good enough to ride the sonic rapids with him.

As the songs emerged, ranging from the irresistibly catchy love song "Change My Channel" to the earthy blues narrative "Georgia Clay" to the wryly observant "Medicine," Himmelman knew they were winners. What he didn't know, having knocked them out so unselfconsciously, is what they meant. Like DNA samples, they needed to be analyzed. To paraphrase a line from one of his tunes, they knew him better than he did.

Ultimately, great artists are more than the sum of their recordings. More than the sum of their performances. More than the sum of their press clippings (speaking of which: "Himmelman writes songs with the same emphatic edge and aesthetic urgency that impelled the Lost Generation to write novels" – Time Magazine; "One of rock's most wildly imaginative performers" – USA Today). What becomes an artist of Himmelman's stature most is continuing to reach deep inside for answers to life's mysteries, while continuing to reach out to listeners. Himmelman may not have the mystique of his father-in-law Bob Dylan or the swagger or hipitude of some of his contemporaries. But his honesty and soul-searching intensity make him one of the most treasured rock musicians of his era.

As convenient as it is to categorize him as a singer-songwriter, it is as a singersongwriter-husband-father-son-supplicant that Himmelman has left his mark. His devotion to his wife and four children is its own work of art. At critical junctures in his career, he has resisted pressure to stay on the road flogging an album and returned home to raise his kids instead. To make it easier to navigate between touring and homebodying, he has performed more frequently as a solo act. The first highly recognized (and highly applauded) Observant Jew since Sandy Koufax, he has refused to perform on Friday nights, when the Jewish Sabbath begins. What pop artist would turn down a guest shot on "The Tonight Show" (which he did more than once) for religious reasons?

Himmelman makes no bones about being torn over the career sacrifices he has made in the name of family. Even knowing he made the morally appropriate decision in putting his wife and children first didn't ease his sense of regret over the chances at greater fame and commercial success he had missed. But if some artists can resist the pull of their little boy or girl crying on the phone from thousands of miles away, begging "Daddy, come home," he was – is – constitutionally unwilling.

In the post-9/11 world, his songs have gotten darker, losing some of the idealism of earlier efforts including his much-loved "Woman with the Strength of 10,000 Men" (based on an encounter with an ALS survivor who could communicate only with her eyebrows). A few years ago, Himmelman was in a serious funk. Between albums, dulled by the strain and monotony of TV work, and unsure as to where to go next, he found himself reading and thinking about Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter executed by Arab extremists for no other reason than being Jewish. He regretted that he had never met Pearl, or become friends with him, or performed for him. Then a friend sent him an article in which it was revealed that Pearl had been a fan of his – that, in fact, Himmelman was his favorite artist. Himmelman also was stunned to learn from the author of the article, a longtime friend of Pearl, that he and Danny had bonded over Himmelman's songs and had come backstage to meet him following a 1995 show in at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Himmelman, he said, gave each of them a broken string as a souvenir.

The revelations proved life-changing. "The knowledge that my songs have had reach beyond what I could ever begin to imagine has made me less concerned about the difficult choices I've made and focused me with a greater sense of mission," said Himmelman, who has become close with Pearl's parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl. "Sometimes when I write, I feel like I'm connecting with my Dad, who died many years ago, or my sister, who died six years ago in a car crash in Wisconsin, or Danny Pearl, with whom I'm strangely forging some kind of Earthly/heavenly relationship."

The unfathomable loss of Daniel Pearl resonates in the strange cry that rises from "Raining Down from Satellite," a new song that muses on the sad global divisions technology seems to only widen. "The Mystery and the Hum" is frequently about distance and detachment, opening twangily with a guy holed up in a "Motel Room in Davenport," "waiting on a resurrection," and ending movingly with a lonely soul in an empty house yearning for lost connections, feeling the "Trembling in the Beams." As moody as it is, "The Mystery and the Hum" may be the most radio-friendly of all Himmelman's albums, for which he gives credit to the friend who mixed it, veteran producer Don Smith (Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, U2), whose recent death was a major blow. As always, Himmelman's belief in the power of love, and the power of music, to lift us above and beyond our circumstances shines its special, uplifting light.

If anyone can call the performance stage home away from home, it is Himmelman. Many fans prefer his solo shows because there's no band to get in the way of his improvised verbal riffs and hilarious back and forth banter with the audience. Unlike such celebrated rock wits as Randy Newman and Warren Zevon, he keeps humor out of his songs, preferring to use it as a "counterbalance" to the serious themes in them. There's Himmelman the singer and Himmelman the comic. "Sometimes they duke it out with one another on stage," he says approvingly.

For fans of Himmelman the comic, his groundbreaking webcast, "Peter Himmelman's Furious World," is manna from heaven. Originating from his Santa Monica studio (and accessible at peterhimmelman.com), the newfangled variety program features live music and spoken bits by the host (joined by his cast of regulars), off-the-wall videos, and guest performers. "Furious World" has featured acclaimed veterans such as Joe Henry and Michael McDermott, up-and-comers such as Joe Firstman and Raining Jane and compelling non-musicians such as Judea Pearl, a scientist/philosopher, humorist, Sandra Tsing Loh, and Jeff "the Dude" Dowd – inspiration for the Coen Brothers' film, "The Big Lebowski." A second webcast, "Peter Himmelman's Curious World," is aimed at kids, for whom Himmelman has recorded five albums – among them, "My Green Kite," which was nominated for a Grammy. "I'm as proud of those albums as anything I've done," he says.

Himmelman started his first band in sixth grade, and, armed with the red Fender Duo-Sonic his father bought for him from his cousin, led several others in junior high. A Jewish kid among gentiles, a boy with curly brown hair in the land of uncurled Scandinavian blonds, an introspective soul among jocks, he found escape in black culture: in funk and R&B, reggae and blues. During 11th grade, he auditioned for R&B star Alexander O'Neill, an original member of The Time. Before his senior year was out, he was playing lead guitar and writing songs for Shangoya, a legendary local band with Caribbean origins. "Maybe because I write songs and talk too much, it's easy for people to forget that at the root of it all, I'm a guitarist," said Himmelman, a cutting soloist inspired by Jimi Hendrix, Taj Mahal, John Lee Hooker and Luther Allison.

He first made a serious noise with his power-pop unit Sussman Lawrence, which released a pair of well-received albums in 1980 and 1984, respectively. But it was his 1985 solo debut, "This Father's Day," the moving title song of which was written following his dad's death, that announced him as a special kind of artist. It led to his first major-label effort, "Gematria," the title of which comes from a system used by rabbis to interpret scripture by assigning numerical values to words and letters. He has soared ever-higher in that special place where romantic and spiritual expression meet – and where it's sometimes difficult to separate one from the other – on a succession of acclaimed albums including "Synesthesia," "From Strength to Strength," "Flown This Acid World," the bold conceptual effort "Skin," "Love Thinketh No Evil," "Unstoppable Forces," "Imperfect World" and "The Pigeons Couldn't Sleep."

(Ever generous, he also has made available, in some cases as free bonuses, 11 volumes of previously unreleased songs from the "Himmelvaults" and other rarities including "Blackout In the Book of Light," an album he recorded years back with a name producer but didn't like enough to put out then.)

There has been plenty else to keep him busy. In addition to his soundtrack composing (his TV shows have included "Judging Amy," for which he received a Grammy nomination for the song, "The Best Kind of Answer," and the Fox hit, "Bones"), he has written music for commercials, fashion shows and a Teddy Bear used with rape victims and autistic kids and penned songs, "like Cyrano, for lonely, speechless men to woo unwilling lovers." Himmelman also is an increasingly prolific visual artist whose work has been purchased by art collectors the world over.

He's never in danger of not working on something. "My Mother tells me," he says, "that when she gave birth to me in 1959 without any anesthesia whatsoever – a completely natural childbirth – there was a group of medical students watching the delivery and that they actually applauded when I emerged. You could say I was born to be onstage." [less...]
Pat Pattison is an author, clinician and Berklee Professor of Lyric Writing and Poetry whose students have composed for major artists and written number one songs. At Berklee, he developed the curriculum for the only songwriting major in the country. In addition to his four books, Songwriting Without Boundaries, Writing Better Lyrics, The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, and The Essential Guide to Rhyming, Pat has developed three online lyric writing courses, one on poetry, and one on creative writing available through [more...] Berkleemusic.com. He has filmed a series of lectures and masterclasses, available through Songwork.com and has written over 50 articles for various magazines and blogs.  Pat continues to present songwriting clinics across the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Several of his students have won Grammys, including John Mayer and Gillian Welch. [less...] Top
Paul Reisler
Paul Reisler has written more songs than the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Stephen Foster combined—somewhere north of 3,500 compositions. Ok, he has had some serious help from some of his co-writers including a handful of Grammy winning songwriters as well as the over 50,000 children he’s written with in his Kid Pan Alley program. Artists including Sissy Spacek, Raul Malo, Cracker, Corey Harris, Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Jesse Winchester and many others have recorded his songs. Paul has been performing professionally for over 40 years as the leader of Trapezoid, Paul Reisler & A Thousand Questions featuring Howard Levy, and Three Good Reasons.   [more...] During that time, he’s been involved in over 3 dozen recordings as a musician, producer, composer and songwriter.  He’s taught at workshops and songwriting schools including Rocky Mountain Song School, Utah Song School, Swannanoa Gathering, Blue Ridge Songcamp, Augusta Workshop, University to the Pacific, Hollyhock, Berklee College of Music, Folk Alliance, Kerrville, Nashville Songwriters Association, Omega Institute, Moulin a Nef in S. France, Songcamp in the Mountains, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and many others.

In addition to all his songs and instrumentals, he wrote the full-length piece Aesop’s Fables for Orchestra and Narrator as well as a new musical entitled Bouncin’ in which he wrote the songs as well as the script. [less...]
Steve Seskin
The music of Folk-Noir Balladeer, Rachel Sermanni, has the flesh of Folk but, if you were to cut the skin, you’d find it pumped with contemporary, genre blended blood. Born under a rainbow, in Raigmore hospital, on the 7th November ’91, Rachel Sermanni has grown into a writer, musician and artist. In all that she creates, it seems, there remains a preservation of the pure and mystical, symbolic in that beam of fragmented light that shone, 25 sun-spun years ago. In 2011, Rachel Sermanni released her first EP, The Bothy Sessions, recorded quite spontaneously, deep in a Highland forest with 10 friends. [more...] Soon to follow came the studio EP, Black Currants. And on the 12th September 2012, Rachel’s debut Album, Under Mountains, was set free into the ether. Produced by Ian Grimble (Travis, Manic Street Preachers, Texas…) and recorded at Watercolour Studios nestled among big, purple hills in the West Highlands, Under Mountains was Rachel’s first full musical contribution to the world. And the world opened it’s doors. Following the release, Rachel tramped for 4 years across the globe.

In this 4 years, on top of the non-stop touring, two more EP’s and a live album were born. First, The BoatShed Sessions, recorded in the same raw element and ethos of the Bothy Sessions. Then a studio recording, Everything Changes, produced by Alex Newport (Bloc Party, City and Colour, Death Cab for Cutie) in New York City.

‘Live in Dawson City’, recorded during a festival in the Yukon, came in early 2014, with the help of two fond accomplices: Jennifer Austin on piano and Jimi Troup at the sound desk.

In March 2014, hiding in the sticks of Nova Scotia, Rachel sowed the seeds of her latest creation. Tied to The Moon is Rachel’s sophomore studio album. It was released in July 2015 to wide spread critical acclaim. The songs follow the theme of being ‘Like a Moth’; of being in darkness but drawn to the flame. To hear it is to take a walk in the moonlight.

Rachel Sermanni’s creativity hasn’t burgeoned without help, of course. Friends, family members, peers, teachers and employees have always been supportive and often very wise in their advice or observations. And you’ll find that most of her astrological being resides in the 5th house, otherwise known as The House of Fun. Whether you adhere to horoscopic notions or not, it works as a succinct explanation in this case: Having so much planetary energy in the 5th House means that Creation equals Existence; Creative expression equals Happiness.

Up Next: A digital EP of a special, soft and collaborative nature to be released mid July. The printing of a collection of Sonnets. The establishing of prints and original pieces of Rachel’s artwork to be sold online and on the road. And, of course, more tour.

All Rachel Sermanni’s records have been released on Middle of Nowhere Recordings, a label she helped create with Robert Hicks who lives in beautiful Ullapool in the North West. MONrecordings is now an established label with a growing roster of artists. [less...]
Ben Sollee
Kentucky-born cellist and composer Ben Sollee likes to keep moving. He kicked off 2014 with the release of his score for the documentary film Maidentrip. In March, he performed at Carnegie Hall as part of a tribute to Paul Simon. Throughout April and May, he was out supporting song-writer William Fitzsimmons. This September, he toured for two weeks in Europe and returned to the United States to perform with the Charlotte Ballet. If you’ve seen him perform, you know it’s not to missed. For listeners just discovering Ben’s music, you’ll find that there’s a lot more to it than just songs. [more...]

Over the six years following the release of his debut record, Learning to Bend, Sollee and his rugged cello, Kay, told an unconventional story. Seeking a deeper connection to communities on the road, Ben packed his touring life on to his bicycle in 2009. Since then he has ridden over 4,000 miles! He has been invited to perform and speak on sustainability at a number of festivals including South by Southwest Music (2011) and TEDx San Diego (2012). Closer to home, Ben has devoted a tremendous amount of energy to raising awareness about the practice of Mountain Top Removal Strip Mining in Central Appalachia. His 2010 collaborative album Dear Companion (Sub Pop) brought together fellow Kentucky artist Daniel Martin Moore with producer Jim James (My Morning Jacket) to shed light on the issue. In teaming up with international organizations such as Patagonia Clothing and Oxfam America, Ben has come to be known as a thoughtful activist and dedicated informer at shows.

Like his contemporaries Chris Thile and Abigail Washburn, Sollee’s music is difficult to pin down. Following a performance at the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, the New York Times remarked how Sollee’s “...meticulous, fluent arrangements continually morphed from one thing to another. Appalachian mountain music gave way to the blues, and one song was appended with a fragment from a Bach cello suite, beautifully played.” It’s Ben’s quality of narrative and presence on stage that unifies his musical influences. However, always on the move, Sollee’s musical career has expanded beyond the stage.

Ben’s music can be heard in film and on TV. Shows like ABC’s Parenthood and HBO’s Weeds have placed songs. In 2013, Ben was invited by director Mark Steven Johnson to write a song for the film Killing Season starring John Travolta and Robert De Niro. 2014 is Ben’s second year performing with the North Carolina Dance Theater in Dangerous Liaisons, a play with music written by Ben Sollee. [less...]
Steve Seskin
Steve Seskin is a songwriter/singer who has written seven number one songs, including Grammy-nominated "Grown Men Don't Cry," recorded by Tim McGraw, and "Don't Laugh at Me," winner of NSAI Song of the Year and Music Row Magazine Song of the Year in 1999 as recorded by Mark Wills. "Don't Laugh at Me" was also recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary and became the impetus for the Operation Respect/Don't Laugh at Me project, a curriculum designed to teach kindness, respect and tolerance in schools. This program has already been implemented in more than 20,000 schools across the country. [more...] Steve now enjoys performing at school assemblies in support of this program. The song is now available as a children's book, Don't Laugh At Me. In 2007, Steve started Kids Write Songs and these days spends 80 days a year in schools writing songs with students. Go to kidswritesongs.org for more info. He has also been very busy writing songs this year with Seth Glier who recorded 3 songs they wrote together on his new record "If I COuld CHange One Thing" as well as the song "This Too Shall Pass" with Sinclair an amazing new pop artist on Drive records. In 2015, he also released "Some Sunsets", his first new recording in ten years. Produced by Julia Sinclair it features her talents on all the instumrnats except percussion which was handled by the legendary Roy Wooten AKA Future Man. [less...] Top
Elective Instructors
Jenn Adams
Twisting the corners of folk, blues and jazz into immediately personal songs, Jenn Adams is an award winning, internationally recognized performing songwriter known for her distinctive sound and well-crafted songwriting. Over the last 25 years, she has traveled in Europe and the USA, performing in listening rooms, coffeehouses, theaters and some of our country's most notable festivals. She's won several songwriting awards including the USA Songwriter Awards, top prize for her song "Rosalia". [more...]

Since graduating from Berklee College of Music, Jenn has returned to Montana to continue teaching, performing and community building through music arts education and performance. In 2013 she helped establish the Bitterroot School of Music and is now director. The School focuses on providing a broad range of programs for children, teens, adults and seniors.

"Teaching has been an unexpected revelation. It's a natural extension to my veracious appetite for learning but I never expected it to become such a passion. While at Berklee, I worked one on one with students like myself; challenged by learning in one form or another. I'm truly fascinated by how we all go about it so differently. I'm hooked on discovering learning strategies, sharing ideas and tying it all together to help a student get the most out of the experience." [less...]
"Chicago" Mike Beck
"Chicago" Mike Beck is an ASCAP-award-winning songwriter and recording artist who has been teaching at the SongSchool since 2005. He’s been touring full-time in the USA and Europe since 2001 as a solo performer and with his band Chicago Mike's InterGalactic Brother & Sisterhood of Big Eyed Beans. Mike performs several weeks each year at the Bright Angel Lodge on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and has toured Europe over 20 times, performing in Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, Spain and Luxembourg. [more...] In December 2015, Mike completed his first tour of Asia, performing shows in Japan and Thailand. He has personally brought over 30 musicians on their first overseas tours. His debut CD, released in 2002, has received radio airplay in the USA, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Transylvania, Romania, Macedonia and Japan. Mike’s music and tour schedule are available online at www.ChicagoMike.com.

In addition to his performing and recording endeavors, Mike is the founder of Access Film Music, an organization dedicated to helping independent recording artists expose their music to directors, producers and music supervisors working in film, television, videogames and advertising. The 15th annual Access Film Music Showcase will take place during Film Festival Week in Park City, Utah January 18 - 28, 2018. Access Film Music is also the Official Music Partner of the ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, France each Spring (next year scheduled for May 4 - 6, 2018) where Access showcase events have helped further their mission to connect music-makers with film-makers. More info is online at www.AccessFilmMusic.net.

Mike loves empowering and inspiring musicians to pursue their dreams, and enjoys sharing practical ideas, methods and information to help make them real. He's currently at work on a new album, and hopes to have some new recordings available in time for SongSchool. [less...]
Mai Bloomfield
Mai is a singer-songwriter-cellist-guitarist from California. She writes songs from the heart and loves to collaborate. As a solo artist, she’s received awards from the Kerrville, Telluride, and Rocky Mtn Folks Festivals. As a collaborator, she tours/writes/records with various artists including Raining Jane, Jason Mraz, Adam Cohen, Sara Bareilles, Willy Porter. Along with her bandmates of 15 years (Raining Jane) she co-wrote the chart-topping album “Yes!” (Jason Mraz) and has toured with Mraz around the world, including performances this year at the Hollywood Bowl and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Last year she had the honor of playing on Leonard Cohen’s album “You Want It Darker.”  [more...]

Mai is driven by a love of songwriting, and a dedication to support others in the creative process. She helped start the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles, a non-profit dedicated to empowering girls through music, where she teaches songwriting and serves as Art Director year-round. Mai returns to Song School for her 9th year, and looks forward to offering “The Healing HeART of Song” workshop. Influenced by her recent experience with Breast Cancer, Mai crafted the workshop as a way to help others tap into the insights and healing that come from crisis. She is currently working on a book on the same subject, and hopes her shared experience will inspire and encourage others to find their light inside the dark. [less...]
Ron Browning
Maestro Lorin Maazel, world-renowned conductor for the New York Philharmonic: “RON BROWNING is simply a master! The singers absolutely love working with him!” Ron is an internationally sought voice, performance, and crossover coach based in Nashville, Tennessee. His clients include Grammy® Award recipients and major recording artists in all genres of music. He has had the privilege of coaching leading singers from the Metropolitan and New York City Operas, and from other major domestic and international opera houses. He is a [more...] member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and a voting member of The Grammy Foundation® and Country Music Association. Ron has traveled the globe with celebrity singers, grooming them for events such as the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony Concert and Royal Command Performances. Her voice reduced to a whisper, Grammy® winner, Patti LaBelle, called Ron a “miracle worker” after he helped her quickly restore her voice by show time, avoiding a costly show cancellation. Accolades about Ron’s work by major artists on TV and radio talk shows, press, and liner notes of CDs have earned Ron the title of “Voice Coach to the Stars.” Wynonna Judd says in the liner notes of her 2006 CD A Classic Christmas, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears. God sent Ron to me just in time.” Ron is an accomplished jazz pianist and successful songwriter, which earned him Artist in Residence for the city of Winnipeg, Canada. He developed the voice and performance curriculum for the Nashville Jazz Workshop where he is currently on staff. Ron holds music degrees from UCLA, California State University at Northridge, and the University of Kentucky. [less...] Top
Jill Brzezicki
Interpreting life through music while integrating a vast composition of styles, Singer/Songwriter Jill Brzezicki (pronounced Brrrr-Zit-Ski) weaves from a feel of country to rock to folk and even a hint of bluegrass in her second full-length release, The Horizon. Bringing the listener through stories of love, pain, fear and growth, all while trusting music as a path to express the heart and connect with all humans. Jill attended the Colorado Contemporary Music College in Fort Collins Colorado in 2004 and graduated with a diploma in performance and education. [more...] Jill released her debut full length solo CD Consequence of Truth in 2007 and her second full length CD The Horizon in 2012. Jill owns and operates a sound company called Resonate (established 2008) out of her home west of Fort Collins and enjoys teaching guitar and sound to kids and adults. [less...] Top
RJ Cowdery
Rj Cowdery has solidified her place in the world of performing singer-songwriters, garnering accolades at Mountain Stage NewSong, Kerrville, Falcon Ridge, Rocky Mountain Folk Festival, and Sisters Folk Festival. She plays a clean guitar, flat picking or strumming, stringing chords together to develop melodies built like a proverbial brick house and pours over it all with a voice like butter. Her lyrics are sincere and plainspoken, inviting you to lean in hard and come out the other side changed. After working for years in health care and writing on the side, Ohio native RJ Cowdery finally found the nerve to choose music  as her career, [more...] winning fans from across the country with her heartfelt lyrics and tender voice. “In This Light”, RJ’s 2011 release on Blue Rock Artists label, is a collection of 11 intimate songs produced by veteran Billy Crockett and recorded at Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, Texas. The CD features Cindy Cashdollar on dobro/lap steel and special appearances by Pierce Pettis,and Jonathan Byrd.

In 2008, Rj released her second CD, “ONE MORE DOOR.” A compelling gathering of 13 songs, ”One More Door”      – a title very much reflective of the exciting promise of her current career good fortune was recorded live in only two days in Parkersburg, West Virginia with percussionist Ammed Solomon and guitarist Michael Lipton, who are both band members with National Public Radio’s Mountain Stage. The sessions for the recording, were produced by West Virginia’s renowned singer-songwriter Todd Burge. The disc also features  Don Dixon, singer, songwriter, musician and producer of such pop icons as R.E.M. Smithereens, and Marti Jones. [less...]
Terri Delaney
Terri Delaney
Terri Delaney is a Minneapolis-based social worker turned booking agent. What started as a brief consulting gig for a local musician turned into a full-time music career. Terri founded Peppermint Booking Agency in 2000 and she received the National Association of Campus Activities award of "Agent of the Year" in 2005. She also collaborates with nationally touring folk/rock musician Ellis, co-managing her record company Rubberneck Records. Terri applies her social work training in her music career, and she is known for her passionate commitment to helping [more...] artists reach their full potential. In addition to coaching musicians and helping them to set goals and action plans, Terri has taught music business workshops at several festivals and music conferences throughout North America. [less...] Top
Val Denn
The Val Denn Agency was opened in 1994 when Val began booking legendary Texas songwriter, Ray Wylie Hubbard. They had met when she and her husband had opened for Ray. In 1980 Val attended Berklee College of Music in Boston where she studied jazz guitar. While there she met her future husband James. They married in 1982. Val Denn Agency has grown to 10 artists with a concentration on working with singer-songwriters and also working with artists from Atlantic Canada. Val Denn Agency's offices are located in Austin, TX [more...] and her Canada office in picturesque Upper Blandford, Nova Scotia outside of Halifax. Kelley Mickwee joined the agency as the office manager in 2008. in 2009 Val will finish out her 4 years of service on the Board of Directors for the International Folk Alliance where she was Secretary, Vice President and President. Val also plans and partners with other artists to lead coaching and creativity workshops for the enrichment of the creative/artistic process. [less...] Top
There's just something about Ellis. She is at once funny and wise, thoughtful and uninhibited, and her captivating voice is matched by her uplifting lyrics. After her recent appearance on A Prairie Home Companion, Ellis' music charted in the Folk Top 100 in iTunes and Folk Top 20 on Amazon.com. She also received hundreds of messages from strangers including, "you exude pure joy", "I heard you and fell in love" and "I was stopped in my tracks by your music and captivating laugh" as well as "Yours is a voice we all need to hear." [more...] Ellis' performances are transformational; she leaves her audiences better than she finds them, with softened edges & opened hearts. A winner of several awards and honors, Ellis has been recognized both for her songwriting skills as well as her engaging performances. Many folk festivals have "audience choice" awards, and Ellis has claimed those honors at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Moab Folk Festival, and Sisters Folk Festival. She also won the Midwest Mountai n Stage New Song Contest (US) in 2011 and the award for the Just Plain Folks (International) Best Female Singer Songwriter Album in 2009. If you haven't yet caught her engaging and disarming live show, take a chance on Ellis and you'll become a lifelong fan. With compelling songwriting and engaging performances, Ellis is quietly amassing a loyal following of supporters across the country. She founded her own record company at age 18 and has since released seven albums including the critically acclaimed Right On Time (2010). Ellis has been instructor at the Rocky Mountain Song School since 2006, and has repeatedly taught at the Americana Song Academy in Sisters, OR and the IAMA Songwriting Academy in Salt Lake City, UT. [less...] Top
Ramy Essam
Egypt’s Ramy Essam exploded into international fame as the real voice of the Egyptian revolution in 2011, when his songs spread like wildfire among the demonstrators. During the height of the uprising, he performed in front of millions of people in Tahrir Square, and his music became the soundtrack of a whole generation of his countrymen and women struggling for a better life and a more just society. His song Irhal, in which he demands the resignation of then-ruler Hosni Mubarak, is referred to as the real anthem of the revolution. But fame came with a heavy price. Ramy experienced brutal torture and arrests that were meant to silence his voice. [more...] His songs were banned and he was forbidden to perform publicly. He resolved to come out even stronger against oppression, saying “In the revolution I was born again. The struggle became the purpose of my life.” In 2014, Sweden offered him a safe haven – and with his voice freed, he’s toured and released rock-influenced recordings that prove he remains one of the loudest voices for the young generation in Egypt and their fight for a progressive and modern society. He’s also become an international symbol of social activism, and a beacon of bravery in the Middle East and the rest of the world. He performs with a band of both Swedish and Egyptian musicians, and in addition to other credits, was recently awarded the Spirit of Folk Award by the Folk Alliance International. [less...] Top
Rebecca Folsom
Named "The Creativity Shaman" by her artist-to-CEO clients, Rebecca Folsom inspires whole system transformation. If you are motivated to thrive, ready to lose your fascination with old stories of limitation, and to live into the reality of new possibilities through essential action, Rebecca is the coach for you. She helps you dissolve old barriers, transmute fear into flow, and take action to live in the marrow of your creative goals. Rebecca invites you into expanded territories so simple people often shake their heads with a "Why didn't I think of that?" response. You embody openness and flow. [more...] You release life-inhibiting static and resonate with the genius that is your birthright. This is where you shine brightest and have creative impact in the world. Rebecca's approach is direct, kind, and fun loving with the measured precision and care of one who has navigated these streams for a lifetime.

Rebecca has refined her coaching methods through more than 22 years of performing, coaching individuals, and leading workshops. Her one-on-one sessions offer supportive, personal depth exploration with practical life changing results. Her workshops offer fertile ground to catalyze individual growth, while at the same time empower community and connection. Life-long relationships often emerge from her workshops. She mixes non-traditional shamanic exercises, Taoist, Toltec, Big Leap, Yogic, and Martial Arts with traditional Vocal, Theater, and Public Speaking techniques to offer deep systemic change. By accessing Body Intelligence, she helps you create the "magic" of streamlined change.

Maybe you're new, ready to change your life or experienced seeking refinement and hungry for more. All are welcome in Rebecca's coaching arena: singers, artists, writers, bands, business teams, CEOs, one-on-one, small and large groups. The only requirement is the willingness to dissolve limitation, ease into what you really want, and experience a turbo-booster launch down the path of creative freedom. Rebecca returns to the teaching staff at Song School for her 20th season. A prolific artist and accomplished businesswoman, Rebecca tours nationally and has 12 CDs to her credit. Along with being a transformation facilitator, she is also a published author of two books, a painter with a BFA degree in Fine Arts, and shows her work in numerous galleries.

Songs from her most recent CD hit #1 on National Folk DJ Chart, #4 on National Americana Country Charts, and #42 for the year 2016 on the National Folk DJ Chart. Radio DJs deemed it "Stunning" and "Spectacular." Boulder Magazine called it "Achingly Beautiful." She has played Opryland, The Bluebird, The Bitterend, Falcon Ridge Festival, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, Kerrville Folks Festival, and BBC Radio and Television. Her songs crack open hearts, awaken longing, and inspire listeners into expanded perspectives. [less...]
Vance Gilbert
Vance Gilbert burst onto the singer/songwriter scene in the early 90's when the buzz spread through the folk clubs of the Northeast about an ex-multicultural arts teacher who was knocking them dead at open mics. Word got out about this Philadelphia-area born and raised performer, and Shawn Colvin invited Gilbert to be a special guest on her 1992 Fat City tour. Gilbert took audiences across North America by storm. "With the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil, and the guitar playing of a god, it was enough to earn him that rarity: an encore [more...] for an opener" wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in its review of a show from that tour. Gilbert's three albums for the Rounder/Philo label - Edgewise (1994), Fugitives (1995), and Shaking Off Gravity (1998) - are all essential additions to the American singer-songwriter collection. With guests as varied as Tuck and Patti, Jonatha Brooke, Patty Larkin, Vinx, and Jane Siberry, all three albums found significant niches on NAC (New Adult Contemporary) and Non-Commercial A3 radio.

These discs were followed by the self-released Somerville Live (2000), lionized by the Boston Globe as the disc "young songwriters should study the way law students cram for bar exams," and One Thru Fourteen (2002), a stylistically varied offering that New York's Town and Village called "lively, eclectic, electrifying and transcending." Gilbert followed with Side Of The Road (2003), a duo album with Ellis Paul, lauded as "haunting, artful, and lovely" by Boston Magazine and nominated for a 2004 Boston Music Award. Then came Unfamiliar Moon (2005). "The songwriter's most compelling work; literate, heartfelt, rippling…emotionally resonant songs" raved the Boston Globe, placing the album in its Top 10 CDs of the year (#4). On Angels, Castles, Covers (2006), "Gilbert's choice of an album of covers seems both fitting and fearless. …he displays his vocal virtuosity with some unexpected choices from the late 20th century songbook. From the sounds of Motown, through the R&B of Al Green to classic Joni Mitchell and Shawn Colvin…He makes each and every tune sound fresh and new," writes Roberta Schwartz of FAME.

Gilbert then launched into a year and a half as support for George Carlin, leading up to the creation and recording of Up On Rockfield (2008), a landmark album noted for being written in the styles of some of his favorite songwriters. Of this disk Vintage Guitar proclaimed that “His fervor for composing is as powerful as a Colorado thunderstorm...accomplishing the seemingly impossible...Up On Rockfield should be on your must hear list.”

Who else would name their most recent album “Old White Men”, and actually have recorded a groundbreaking, heartbreaking title song to back it up? That’d be Vance Gilbert.

This latest release has received raves based solely on the material folks knew would be on it! The soul aching title cut, OLD WHITE MEN, the winsome BOY ON A TRAIN, and the comic tour de force MY BAD are present. The lonesome KING OF THE RAILS will leave a diagonal crease across the listener’s heart. DRAGONFLY WINGS is a delightful throwback to 70‘s pop. NO ONE CAN LOVE YOU LIKE MARY is an all acoustic life story punctuated by Billy Novick’s funky saxophones. The maddened rant of HELPLESS MAN is followed by the big hearted NEW YEAR’S EVE AT THE LION’S HEAD HOTEL - HOURLY RATES, a one-sided conversation between a prostitute and a policeman. Vance’s original YOU SHOULD BE HERE sounds like a refugee from the Rogers and Hart songbook and is just Vance and a classical guitar. GO and COME HERE MY LOVE are both solo snapshots of breathless points in time. The acapella BRAKEMAN’S SON is a small story of a search for big peace. Eleven killer songs, pared down to their living core, listener ready (OK, there’s a buried track. Listen for yourself…). [less...]
Ali Handal
Moved early on by wise and resilient women, singer/songwriter Ali Handal wore out Carole King’s Tapestry album. As a cat-obsessed six-year-old (some things never change), Ali honored her initial musical heroine by naming her very first kitten “Carole.” Over the years, the sweet melodies and lyrics penned by musical sages King, Dylan, Lennon and McCartney captivated her. She had an epiphany when, as a teenager, she heard Led Zeppelin for the first time. Completely mesmerized by Jimmy Page’s seductive guitar riffs, Ali quit her piano lessons to pick up the guitar. [more...] Now based in Los Angeles, Ali holds her own among the ranks of fierce female performing songwriters like ani difranco and formidable guitarists such as Page. Music Connection magazine describes her as “earthy, natural, real and loaded with talent…a singer/songwriter with something to say… a gifted artist who brings insight and intelligence to her art.” When asked about her music and stage presence, fans simply say “badass.” Ali’s songs have been featured in numerous films and hit TV shows. She’s toured Australia, Japan and beyond, provided backing vocals for Neil Young, and shared the stage with songwriting legend Paul Williams as his featured vocalist. Also a published author, Ali penned Guitar for Girls (Hal Leonard), an exceptional guitar method book & CD brimming with advice and encouragement for aspiring musicians. Watch for Ali Handal’s fourth album, That’s What She Said, out September 8 on Red Parlor Records/Sony Distribution. [less...] Top
Dan Harris
Dan Harris grew up with a guitar in his hands for as long back as he can remember. As a teenager, he had a strong interest in woodworking and guitar making and would often tinker around with the finish or pickups on his guitars. It wasn’t until several years after getting his BA in classical guitar that he got around to taking a bona fide guitar making course at Vermont Instrument Company, in Fairfield VT, under George Morris. In 2003 he started building guitars and mandolins. In 2014 he established Dan Harris Instrument Co, Ltd with the goal of building the finest guitars and mandolins that I can. [more...]

Says Dan, "I build every guitar, mandolin, and fiddle as if it were going to be played in front of a sold out show for 10,000 people, and treat every stringed instrument that comes into my shop for a repair as if it were my own." Harris Instrument Company offers a full-service repair shop, working on all aspects of electric and acoustic guitars and other instruments.  From electronics to structural issues, cracks, and broken necks to bridge replacements… no job is too small or too large. [less...]
JJ Jones
JJ Jones is an internationally touring, Berklee-trained drummer and educator. She has played with folk-pop darlings Girlyman, Canadian roots band Po’Girl (now Birds of Chicago), singer-songwriter Lucy Wainwright Roche, comedian Margaret Cho, and LA's pop-punk band WASI, among many others. One of JJ’s projects, a kids’ music record under the name Django Jones, won a Parents’ Choice Gold award, one of the most prestigious honors in children’s music. JJ teaches online lessons to students all over the country through her website EmpowerDrumming.com. [more...] She is the Tech and Gear Review Editor of Tom Tom Magazine, the world’s only magazine dedicated to female drummers, and is an instructor at rock camps across the U.S., preaching the gospel of inner joy and empowerment through playing drums, to women and girls. [less...] Top
Arthur Lee Land
Innovative Lyons Colorado based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, Live-Looping Artist, producer and educator: Arthur Lee Land plays an eclectic fusion of folk-rock, AfroGrass (bluegrass/worldbeat) and electronica dubbed: Electro-Americana. Arthur has toured for years as an unforgettably unique solo act employing the Art of Live-Looping to create a full band sound. Equally unique is the creative songwriting collaboration with his non-performing lyricist and wife Carol Lee who contributes the majority of the lyrical content for "Arthur Lee Land." [more...]

In November 2014, Arthur joined the Colorado Americana Jam band "Great American Taxi" replacing Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon. Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth produced their new album that is due out in fall 2016. Arthur and lyricist Carol Lee penned five songs on the new ten song album. Drummer Duane Trucks (Widespread Panic, Hard Working Americans) played on the record and also joins them for shows.

In May 2013 Arthur released his 4th album Cracked Open on Perfect Groove Records, offering a groundbreaking style that is driven by the integration of sophisticated musical, emotional and spiritual juxtapositions. "Fresh!.... Arthur has a unique, creative approach in his music." Grammy Award winning producer Bil Vorndik (Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Doc Watson)

Arthur's autobiographical song: Good Enough (music and lyrics penned alone) and music video were the feature of a campaign to help raise awareness and money for AbleChild: Parents for Label and Drug Free Education—a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to parents, caregivers and ADD/ADHD children's rights.

Since 2004, Arthur's inspirational and interactive Art of Live-Looping assembly programs and music workshops have reached over 50,000 students in over 25 states across the country. He has been on staff at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Song School at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons CO since 2003. [less...]
John Linn
Largely due to a visioning session in Ellis Delaney’s class at Song School, John Linn now teaches guitar and makes music full-time in Washington, D.C., with over twenty-five students, aged six to sixty-five.  His mission is to share the joys of creativity and musical living with his students and audiences.  Having discovered so much of that joy in Lyons, John is especially glad to be returning to teach at the Song School again in 2016.  In his teaching practice, John especially enjoys the gentle exploration of music theory, creativity coaching and performance development. [more...]

As a performing songwriter, John’s music has been described as “songs for sinners and everyday angels.”  Whether you hear stories of growing up on the prairies of the Midwest, of a coffeehouse flirtation, or of the sweet disappointments of love, John’s music will leave you with a sense of the depth and mystery of human experience, vibrating with its surprising joys and hidden tragedies

John has performed his music in venues across the U.S., and has toured internationally as a tenor with Mastersingers USA, winners of Best Male Choir at the 2003 International Eisteddfod in Wales.  John is an active member of the local D.C. arts scene, as a member of the Americana band After the Flood, and he has served as Music Director for Lean and Hungry Theater’s audio productions of Julius Caesar and Oedipus Rex on WAMU public radio in Washington. [less...]
The Mae Trio
Maggie Rigby, Elsie Rigby & Anita Hillman
Melbourne’s The Mae Trio return with their unique contemporary twist on folk music with their sophomore album, Take Care Take Cover, set for release April 2017. Their debut album, Housewarming earned them Folk Alliance Australia Youth Award and NFSA Folk Recording of the Year and saw them tour Australia, Canada, USA and Europe with performances at the Hydro Stadium at Celtic Connection, Glasgow, Americana Folk Festival, Nashville, Cambridge Folk Festival, UK Edmonton Folk Festival, Canada, and Port Fairy and National Folk Festivals, Australia. [more...]

The trio comprising of Maggie Rigby (banjo, ukulele, guitar and vocals), sister Elsie Rigby (violin, ukulele and vocals and Anita Hillman (cello, bass and vocals), grew up steeped in music. Elsie and Maggie played in their family band and spent their childhood going to music festivals and camps, choir rehearsals and concerts while Anita with her classical pianist mother and folk enthusiast father, grew up playing in orchestras, string quartets and jazz ensembles.

When Maggie and Elsie asked Anita to play the cello on an album they were recording with their family band in 2011, little did any of them know they were embarking on an adventure which would change their lives, and see them throw in the towel of their regular jobs/degrees/lives.

The trio decamped to Nashville Tennessee to record with producer and engineer Erick Jaskowiak (Crooked Still, Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, The Waifs).  The album features guest performances by The Stray Bird’s Maya De’Vitry; Darrell Scott, The Time Jumper’s Jeff Taylor; Victor Krauss; Jano Rix; and Kai Welch. Speaking of the recording experience Maggie says“The day after we arrived we got snowed in for four days in the third highest snowfall in Nashville on record. As three Australians who have never been snowed in anywhere this was a huge thrill! The slightly isolated location of the studio also gave us the space and peace to record something that was sincerely and completely ourselves. [less...]
Clare McLeod
Clare McLeod is an Assistant Professor in the Voice Department at Berklee College of Music. A Certified Master Teacher in Estill Voice Training, Clare also trained at the National Center for Voice and Speech, and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. In addition to teaching at Berklee, she presents voice clinics regularly in Los Angeles, Colorado and Austin and continues to study developments in the voice research field. Top
Rich Moore
Rich Moore and his wife Mollie O'Brien have for nearly 30 years quietly made it their mission to find, mine and reinvent other artists' songs. They are geniuses at the craft of interpretation in the way that great singers, since the beginning of popular American music, have made the songs of their era their own. As songwriters they add their own tunes to the canon of American roots music they inhabit and show us they’re completely at home with their musical selves. Rich Moore has busied himself in the Colorado music scene for many years. [more...] Not only is Rich known to produce some of the funniest onstage running commentary, he's also a powerhouse guitar player who can keep up with Mollie O'Brien's twists and turns from blues to traditional folk to jazz to rock and roll. He creates a band with just his guitar and, as a result, theirs is an equal partnership. [less...] Top
Bill Nash
Bill Nash is a 17-year veteran of the Rocky Mountain Song school and has been a guitarist for the past 39 years, with 35 years of teaching experience under his belt. He has been mentoring guitar students at the Song School for the past 6 years, in a one on one basis under his canopy. He teaches fingerstyle guitar technique (mostly three finger Travis style) and also instructs students on the use of altered tunings, capo use, assorted other guitar techniques and music theory. More recently, he has been working on cutting edge guitar technique, using cut capos, [more...] multiple cut capos, altered tunings, and altered tunings with multiple capos. One of his songs even uses 4 capos, in DADGAD tuning, and each capo is critical to performing the song. He also works with songwriters on polishing their melodies, chord choices in their songs, and honing their musical ideas. [less...] Top
Mollie O'Brien
Grammy Award winner Mollie O'Brien became known to the rest of the world as a singer's singer when, in 1988, she and her brother Tim released the first of three critically-acclaimed albums for Sugar Hill Records (Take Me Back, Remember Me and Away Out On The Mountain). Eventually, Mollie recorded five equally well-received solo albums (Tell It True, Big Red Sun and Things I Gave Away for Sugar Hill Records, and I Never Move Too Soon and Everynight In The Week for Resounding Records). Additionally, she was a regular on the nationally-syndicated radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion” from 2001 through 2005. [more...] She's long been known as a singer who doesn't recognize a lot of musical boundaries, and audiences love her fluid ability to make herself at home in any genre while never sacrificing the essence of the song she tackles. O’Brien has primarily focused her efforts on the fading art of interpretation and the end result is a singer at the very top of her game who is not afraid to take risks both vocally and in the material she chooses.

Mollie O'Brien and her husband, guitarist Rich Moore, have for nearly 30 years quietly made it their mission to find, mine and reinvent other artists' songs. They are geniuses at the craft of interpretation in the way that great singers, since the beginning of popular American music, have made the songs of their era their own. As songwriters they add their own tunes to the canon of American roots music they inhabit and show us they’re completely at home with their musical selves. [less...]
Bonnie Paine
The ethereal voice of Bonnie Paine is one of the most instantly recognizable pieces of the musical experience that is Elephant Revival. Her multi-octave range and haunting, hushed tones is complimented by her skill on a wide variety of percussive and bowed instruments, from the washboard to cello and many points between. Her performance skills, when joined with that of her Elephant Revival bandmates, create a brand of music often described as “Transcendental Folk. Of all her contributions to the band’s unique and dynamic sound, the most important is her songwriting. Top
Emily Scott Robinson
Emily Scott Robinson is a Song School veteran and full-time touring Americana artist. She's a winner for the 2017 Wildflower Performing Songwriter Contest and the 2016 Kerrville New Folk Contest. Emily released her debut album, “Magnolia Queen,” in February 2016. She is currently living on the road with her husband full-time in their motorhome, writing and performing across the country. Emily is a student of mindfulness, meditation, and visualization techniques, and loves learning new ways to work with fear and invite creativity into songwriting and the business of being a grassroots musician. Top
Justin Roth
Justin Roth is a nationally touring singer/songwriter, fingerstyle guitarist, and recording engineer/producer. His path to acoustic music was solidified at 17 when he heard innovative guitarist, Michael Hedges, and saw how the acoustic guitar was capable of creating such a huge sonic palette, much more than he had ever heard before. From that moment on, he knew it would be the root of his musical world. His use of alternate tunings, partial capos and his innovative two-hand tapping technique has been described as, 'more than just an instrument, but an extension of himself.' [more...] "Fans of Leo Kottke or Michael Hedges will find themselves right at home with [Roth's] intricate guitar work...beautifully written lyrics." - San Francisco Art Magazine

Justin has toured with John Gorka and David Wilcox, as well as opened for some of the finest singer/songwriters on the acoustic music scene, including Shawn Colvin, Martin Sexton, and Darrell Scott. Equally, his guitar playing has earned him shared stages with some of the greatest fingerstyle players of today, such as Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee and Pat Donohue. Justin's self-produced and fan-funded album, Now You Know, was voted as one of the Top 100 Folk Albums of 2011. Two songs from Now You Know have also been featured on the #1 ranked soap opera The Young & The Restless reaching over 5 millions viewers worldwide. In late 2013, Justin wrote and released "Rise," inspired by the Colorado floods, and has donated 100% of the proceeds to flood relief.

Justin has attended Song School every year since 1997 and taught each year since 2003, as well as teaching at the Kerrville Folk Festival, Sisters Folk Festival, International Folk Alliance Conference, and offering online lessons at www.JamPlay.com. When not on the road, Justin is a recording engineer/producer for independent artists at Bridgeway Recording, a multi-room, full-service recording facility, as well as at his home studio, The ToneBar, in Fort Collins, CO. [less...]
Alan Rowoth
In 1991, Alan started the folk music listserv, and later organized the first Internet Quartet Songwriters Showcase, a tour that took 24 songwriters to 11 cities in the Northeast in a total of 66 concerts. Alan has written for several music magazines including Dirty Linen and Sing Out! and has taught seminars on the internet for musicians at national and regional Folk Alliance conferences, the Kerrville Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Christine Lavin’s Martha’s Vineyard Singer Songwriter Retreat, and of course, our own Song School. Top
Christopher Smith
Christopher Smith exemplifies what it means to be "under the radar". Having long ago embarked upon twin paths (kindergarten teacher and performing songwriter) he has dedicated himself to writing great songs in relative obscurity. He is committed to reaping the rewards of living a creative life through song, even if it never earns him one thin dime. Part of his mission is to elevate that space between amateur and professional. His music is not a livelihood. It's just plain life. Christopher's music is grounded in folk roots with broad American and Celtic influences. He plays guitar, banjo, ukulele and mandolin, and his voice is sweet and engaging. [more...] His ballads tell stories that spring from interesting ideas. He is skillful at crafting songs that blend both humor and heart.

This year will mark Christopher's 21st year of studying at the Song School, where he has taught electives on songwriting as it relates to children's music, traditional music, humorous songs and topical songs. He loves being both student and teacher and is grateful to be part of this ongoing creative community. He is currently on sabbatical, living and writing in the tropics in his Singapore woodshed. Christopher will be returning to his beloved San Francisco Bay Area in 2018, where he hopes to resume study with his spirit animal, Steve Seskin. [less...]
Amy Speace
“Amy Speace has one of the richest and loveliest voices in the singer/songwriter genre and her songs are luxuriously smart…she’s profoundly personal yet also a bit mythic. The imagery and the careful use of language is stunning and more evocative of classical poetry than most contemporary Americana peers” – Craig Havighurst, author & host of Nashville’s “Music City Roots”.   Baltimore born, NYC bred and Nashville based, Amy Speace has been making critical waves since Judy Collins discovered her in 2006, releasing “Songs For Bright Street” on Collins’ own Wildflower Records. A logical protégé to classic singers like Collins and Baez, Amy’s brand of folk comes with a bit of grit and soul. [more...]

Each release since her debut more personal, more crafted, her voice deepening with intimacy and authority.  The critics followed with increasing notice.  2009’s “The Killer In Me” had NPR likening her to a younger Lucinda. 2013’s “How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat,” a song cycle conversation with Shakespeare’s characters, brought her national recognition with a feature on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and acclaim from famed rock critic Dave Marsh. 

Her most recent release, 2015’s “That Kind Of Girl,” was lauded by The New York Times’s Jon Pareles and marked her 4th appearance on “Mountain Stage”.  Judy Collins has recorded her songs, as well as the late Memphis Hall of Fame member Sid Selvidge and other folk and jazz artists.  Just recently she released a trio record with Amber Rubarth and UK-based Emily Barker called Applewood Road, which got 5 star reviews in England including The Sunday London Times writing “a flawless set that has to be the most haunting release of the past year”. 

But all this is not what she had planned. After graduating from Amherst College with a dual degree in English and Theater, she moved to NYC to study acting at The National Shakespeare Conservatory, fully intending on a career as a playwright, director and actress. She spent a few years doing just that: a member of a few classical repertory companies, a founding Artistic Director of Off-Off Broadway’s Five Points Theater Company – until a borrowed guitar and a spectacular break up led to her penning her first few songs.  It was only a few years later that a demo of hers was brought to the attention of Judy Collins who was in search of talent for a fledgling record label. 

Amy has taught performance and songwriting at Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Song School for over a decade and been on staff at The Kerrville Folk Festival Song School, Swannanoa Gathering, Sister’s Folk Festival & Americana Academy, Berklee College of Music (Summer Session), her own Songs From The Well Writing Retreats and is honored to work with Songwriting With Soldiers.  [less...]



Past Instructors

2016 Song School Instructors

Vance Gilbert, Bonnie Hayes, Kathy Mattea, Pat Pattison, Paul Reisler, Darrell Scott, Steve Seskin, Cheryl Wheeler, Jenn Adams, "Chicago Mike" Beck, Mai Bloomfield, Ron Browning, Jill Brzezicki, Terri Delaney, Val Denn, Ellis, Rebecca Folsom, Foxfeather, Connor Garvey, Robby Hecht, Jagoda, JJ Jones, Arthur Lee Land, John Linn, Clare McLeod, Mouths of Babes, Bill Nash, Justin Roth, Alan Rowoth, Sarah Sample, Amy Speace, Judith Wade, Tom Wasinger

2015 Song School Instructors

Mary Gauthier, Vance Gilbert, Bonnie Hayes, Lucy Kaplansky, Shane Koyczan, Pat Pattison, Paul Reisler, Steve Seskin, Richard Shindell, Peter Yarrow, Jenn Adams, "Chicago Mike" Beck, Mai Bloomfield, Jill Brzezicki, Ron Browning, RJ Cowdery, Joe Craven, Terri Delaney, Val Denn, Ellis, Rebecca Folsom, Heiko Grein, Robby Hecht, Django Jones, JJ Jones, Arthur Lee Land, John Linn, Clare McLeod, Bill Nash, Justin Roth, Alan Rowoth, Christopher Smith, Amy Speace, Caroline Spence, Judith Wade, Tom Wasinger, Annie Wenz, Shannon Wurst

2014 Song School Instructors

Antje Duvekot, Mary Gauthier, Vance Gilbert, Bonnie Hayes, Peter Himmelman, Pat Pattison, Paul Reisler, Steve Seskin "Chicago Mike" Beck, Michael Bowers, Ron Browning, Edie Carey, Terri Delaney, Val Denn, Ellis, Rebecca Folsom, Robby Hecht, Arthur Lee Land, Bill Nash, Siobhan Quinn, Etan Rosenbloom, Justin Roth, Alan Rowoth, Sarah Sample, Amy Speace, Mary Vyn, Tom Wasinger, Kai Welch, Annie Wenz

2013 Song School Instructors

Ysaye Barnwell, Mary Gauthier, Vance Gilbert, Bonnie Hayes, Lynn Miles, Pat Pattison, Paul Reisler, Steve Seskin, "Chicago Mike" Beck, Michael Bowers, Ron Browning, Terri Delaney, Val Denn, Ellis, Rebecca Folsom, Robby Hecht, Jagoda, Arthur Lee Land, Mike Meadows, Clare McLeod, Bill Nash, Brendan Okrent, Siobhan Quinn, Justin Roth, Alan Rowoth, Sarah Sample, The Sea, The Sea, Christopher Smith, Amy Speace, Judith Wade, Tom Wasinger, Kai Welch, Annie Wenz

2012 Song School Instructors

Mary Gauthier, Peter Himmelman, Holly Near, Pat Pattison, Gretchen Peters, Paul Reisler, Darrell Scott, Steve Seskin, Richard Shindell, "Chicago" Mike Beck, Michael Bowers, Ron Browning, Don Conoscenti, Terri Delaney, Ingrid Elizabeth, Ellis, Rebecca Folsom, Girlyman, Jagoda, JJ Jones, Diana Korpi, Arthur Lee Land, Danielle Morales, Bill Nash, Brendan Okrent, Siobhán Quinn, Justin Roth, Alan Rowoth, Maggie Simpson, Christopher Smith, Amy Speace, Mary Vyn, Judith Wade, Tom Wasinger, Annie Wenz

2011 Song School Instructors

Ysaye Barnwell, Mary Gauthier, Vance Gilbert, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Johnny Irion, Anais Mitchell, Pat Pattison, Paul Reisler, Steve Seskin, Livingston Taylor, "Chicago" Mike Beck, Tim Burlingame, Michael Bowers, Ron Browning, Ellis, Rebecca Folsom, Girlyman, Bob Hemenger, Jagoda, JJ Jones, Diana Korpi, Arthur Lee Land, Terri Mazurek, Bill Nash, Siobhán Quinn, Etan Rosenbloom, Justin Roth, Alan Rowoth, Sarah Sample, Kathrin Shorr, David Slater, Amy Speace, Mary Vyn, Judith Wade, Annie Wenz

2010 Song School Instructors

Jonatha Brooke, Sheila Carabine, Vance Gilbert, Pat Pattison, Paul Reisler, Darrell Scott, Steve Seskin, Amanda Walther, David Wilcox, "Chicago" Mike Beck, Michael Bowers, Ron Browning, Joe Craven, Ellis, Girlyman, Bob Hemenger, Jagoda, JJ Jones, Diana Korpi, Arthur Lee Land, Terri Mazurek, Bill Nash, Brendan Okrent, Siobhan Quinn, Justin Roth, Alan Rowoth, David Slater, Amy Speace, Mary Vyn, Judith Wade

2009 Song School Instructors

Mary Gauthier, Peter Himmelman, Karin Bergquist, Linford Detweiler, Pat Pattison, Steve Seskin, Vance Gilbert, Paul Reisler, Carmen Allgood, "Chicago" Mike Beck, Michael Bowers, Ron Browning, Tim Burlingame, Chuck E. Costa, Ellis, Rebecca Folsom, Thomas Golubic, Jagoda, Jennifer "JJ" Jones, Diana Korpi, Arthur Lee Land, Terri Mazurek, Ryan Mintz, Kathy Moser, Bill Nash, Brendan Okrent, Siobhan Quinn, Justin Roth, Alan Rowoth, Kathrin Shorr, Maggie Simpson, Christopher Smith, Amy Speace, Annie Wenz

2008 Song School Instructors

Josh Ritter, Melissa Ferrick, Pat Pattison, Susan Werner, Steve Seskin, Vance Gilbert, Paul Reisler, Carmen Allgood, "Chicago" Mike Beck, Michael Bowers, Ron Browning, Tim Burlingame, Ellis, Rebecca Folsom, Jagoda, Jennifer JJ Jones, Arthur Lee Land, Terri Mazurek, Bill Nash, Brendan Okrent, Julie Portman, Siobhan Quinn, Justin Roth, Alan Rowoth, Kathrin Shorr, Moira Smiley, Amy Speace, and Annie Wenz.

2007 Song School Instructors

Peter Himmelman, Darrell Scott, Mary Gauthier, Zoe Lewis, Catie Curtis, Steve Seskin, Vance Gilbert, Arthur Lee Land, Moira Smiley, Annie Wenz, Rebecca Folsom, Ellis, Terri Mazurek, Alan Rowoth, Amy Speace, Kathrin Shorr, Tim Burlingame, Jennifer "JJ" Jones, Siobhan Quinn, Michael Bowers, Anna Wolfe, Justin Roth, Ben Wisch, Carmen Allgood, and "Chicago" Mike Beck.