We're excited to announce the faculty for the 2016 Song School.
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 | Terri Delaney | Val Denn | Ellis | Rebecca Folsom | Connor Garvey | Robby Hecht | JJ Jones | Arthur Lee Land | John Linn | Clare McLeod | Mouths of Babes | Bill Nash | Justin Roth | Alan Rowoth | Amy Speace | Tom Wasinger
Registration for the 2016 Song School is now sold-out. If you'd like to be notified about extra availability sign-up for our Song School notification email list. 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.
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...]
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...]
APPALACHIAN: of a wild and beautiful mountain land, a genre of distinctly American music, and for many, the deep roots of family. For Kathy Mattea, it also represents an essential piece of her musical education and heritage. Calling Me Home
is Kathy's new release on Sugar Hill Records, co-produced with multi-Grammy-winner Gary Paczosa. It's a collection of songs that celebrates the Appalachian culture of her native West Virginia, and expands the vocabulary of acoustic roots music that has always served as her artistic center. [more...]
Kathy has gathered songs and stories of bravery, pride and grief that further define and describe the life and times of her home place. 2008's Grammy nominated COAL was her first step to discovering this vast and rich genre of music that producer Marty Stuart allowed was "in her blood," taking her back to the lore of family stories and to her place and her people.
Kathy's concerts present her new and most recent material alongside her Top 20 radio hits: from the signature ballad "Where've You Been?" to the bluesy "455 Rocket" to the iconic "Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses." Long known as an impeccable songcatcher, her 17 albums are woven through with bluegrass, gospel, and Celtic influences, and have garnered multiple CMA, ACM, and Grammy Awards.
Increasingly in demand as a public speaker, Kathy regularly presents keynotes and educational programs at colleges and civic venues across the country, both as a stand-alone and in conjunction with concert appearances. Her long history of activism has led Kathy to bring public attention to several current environmental issues, including climate change and some mining practices in her native Appalachia. [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...]
Paul Reisler is a composer, songwriter, recording artists, performer and teacher. He is the founder and artistic director of Kid Pan Alley, co-founder of Trapezoid, as well as his current bands, Paul Reisler & A Thousand Questions featuring Howard Levy, and Three Good Reasons. Over the past 40 years, he has performed in over 3,000 concerts, recorded close to three-dozen albums, written Aesop's Fables for Orchestra and Narrator, as well as the script and songs for a new musical entitled Bouncin'. [more...]
He has written more songs than the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Stephen Foster combined—somewhere north of 3,500 compositions. And, he's probably had more than enough collaborators to make it into the Guinness Book of World records—approaching 40,000 and counting (though he's lost count). He's written songs with tens of thousands of children through his Kid Pan Alley project and he's written songs with a bunch of Grammy winning songwriters. Artists including Sissy Spacek, Raul Malo, Darrell Scott, Cracker, Corey Harris, Jesse Winchester and many others have recorded his songs.
He's one of the most popular songwriting teachers in the country and has taught at workshops and songwriting schools including Rocky Mountain Song School, Utah Song School, New Song Academy, Swannanoa Gathering, Augusta Workshop, Hollyhock, Kerrville, NSAI, Songcamp in the Mountains, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Berklee College of Music, University of the Pacific, and Moulin á Nef (France). [less...]
Darrell Scott is a Grammy-nominated performer and recording artist, a highly demanded multi-instrumentalist (he plays 13 instruments!), and an ASCAP songwriter of the year. Darrell delivers his soulful performances in solo, duo, trio, band, and string quintet configurations, all equally dynamic and powerful. Darrell will be touring in 2016 in support of his new CD “Couchville Sessions.” Songwriting credits include the Grammy Award winning “Long Time Gone” and “Heartbreak Town.” When not on tour with his own shows, Darrell plays in Robert Plant’s Band of Joy.
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...]
Cheryl Wheeler has to be seen to be appreciated. Nothing you read and nothing you hear from her albums prepares you for how entertaining a performer she is. If you're not already familiar with Cheryl, you have probably heard her music. She is very respected as a songwriter by her
peers, which can be seen by how many of them record her songs. Cheryl's songs have been covered by artists as diverse as Dan Seals, Peter Paul & Mary, Kenny Loggins, Garth Brooks, Suzy Bogguss, Melanie, Bette Midler, Maura O'Connell,
Sylvia, Kathy Mattea, and Holly Near.
From her albums you can tell that she is a gifted songwriter with a beautiful voice. [more...]
From other people's comments about her you learn that she is a natural storyteller with a fantastic sense of humor. But until you see her in person, you never really believe what you've been told about her. Interestingly enough, almost half of the songs she performs during her shows have never been recorded!
Cheryl's first concert was to a captive audience. She found an old toy ukelele in a neighbor's attic and serenaded her mother who was taking a bath at the time. A year later she got a real ukelele, followed by her first guitar. She learned guitar from a neighbor, who also taught a group of boys. Each week they would get together and play just about any song they could think of for hours on end. Her first public performance was at a Hootenanny when she was 12. She started writing her own songs when she was 17.
Cheryl has never had a "day job," and her first professional gigs were at the Steak and Ale Restaurant in her home town of Timonium, Maryland. The place only had one PA system; in the middle of her songs you would hear: "Jones, party of four ... Jones, party of four." She finally convinced them to get a second PA system. She performed at venues around Baltimore and Washington DC before moving to New England in 1976, where she now lives.
She tours extensively, often performing solo or with Kenny White, who often opens her shows as well. She appeared as part of the On a Winter's Night tour, and was part of the Philo 25th Anniversary tour.
Her funny stories between songs reveal her talent for diversity. Each time she tells a story, it will be a little bit different, so even if you've heard it before, you still find yourself laughing. [less...]
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 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, and has begun booking a return visit for Autumn 2016. 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 14th annual Access Film Music Showcase will take place during Film Festival Week in Park City, Utah January 19 - 29, 2017. Access Film Music is also the Official Music Partner of the ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, France each April 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...]
Influenced early on by folk-singing parents and years of campfire sing-alongs at summer camps, Mai Bloomfield grew up with a love for the language of Song. Her formal training began with cello at age 9, and at 15 she started playing guitar and writing songs. After getting her degree at UC Santa Cruz and living in France and Switzerland, Mai returned to her hometown Santa Monica, CA and quickly found herself playing in the all-female band Raining Jane. Together for over 15 years, the group has released 4 albums, and most recently toured the world [more...] with the album "Yes!" which they co-wrote and recorded with Jason Mraz. All the while they've remained independent and self-managed, a theme that is also reflected in the non-profit that they helped launch in 2010 (Rock n' Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles) which is a social justice organization dedicated to empowering girls through music. Mai helps maintain the organization year-round, and teaches songwriting in the spring and summer sessions.
Over the years Mai has also worked closely with many other artists on the road, in the studio, and on screen (Sara Bareilles, Willy Porter, Adam Cohen, Sarah Sample to name a few.) She's appeared on The Tonight Show, Ellen, David Letterman and has had songs placed in Grey's Anatomy and more. In 2010 she released a solo EP "Eclipse" with songs that would garner her awards in the Kerrville New Folk, Telluride Troubadour and Rocky Mountain Songwriting Competitions.
Career accolades aside, what Mai treasures about music is, the transformational practice of songwriting and its ability to nurture Listening and Discovery. In 2007 she came to the Song School for the first time and she said it felt like "coming home." She's been back 7 times, and considers it to be a sacred place of refuge, resource and reinvention. She returns this year to teach for the first time. Her class, which has to do with The Healing Heart of Song, will be informed by her recent journey with Breast Cancer. She says her diagnosis and recovery changed her life –for the better. Who would've known that the darkest year could also be the brightest? She never could have predicted that she'd be at once going through chemo while also opening for Bob Dylan in France. For Mai, that juxtaposition is precisely what she loves about music. As she says, "if we are willing to walk through the dark, we will inevitably stumble into the light." [less...]
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...]
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...]
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...]
There's just something about Ellis. She is at once funny and wise, thoughtful and uninhibited, and her captivating voice is matched by her upli fting 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...]
As a professional musician for 18 years, Rebecca has toured nationally including such venues as Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, Kerrville Folk Festival, Nashville's Opryland, Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheater and New York's Bitter End. Additionally, she's traveled to the UK where she performed her music on BBC radio and television. She has published two books of poetry and has a BFA in Fine Arts focused in painting and drawing. She has been teaching the Art of Vocal Freedom workshops for over 18 years; [more...] reflecting her collective artistic experience she inspires and empowers others to move into authentic expression and action. These sessions mix non-traditional shamanic exercises, Taoist, Toltec and Yogic practices with traditional vocal techniques to help individuals gain strength and ease through simple adjustments in alignment and synchronization of all parts of the body. This will be her 18th year at the Song School. [less...]
Connor Garvey is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Portland, Maine, with the amiable presence of an entertainer, the lyrical depth of a poet, and the enchantment of a storyteller. Garvey leaves audiences uplifted and inspired through a positive message delivered in a way The Portland Press Herald says proves you can be optimistic and self-aware without being boring. His unique sandy tenor and masterful blend of rhythm and melody draw comparison to Paul Simon and contemporaries Josh Ritter and Jason Mraz. He wins song competitions. He fills rooms. But most of all he moves people. [more...]
First time listeners often are drawn to Garveys engaging performance style, accomplished musicianship, and memorable melodies. But his lyrics project a depth and sincerity that allow the observant listener to find meaning beyond the catchy hook. Meanwhile, the intricate production of his albums adds emotional depth and keeps the songs fresh play after play.
This combination of songwriting and performance strength has earned Garvey numerous awards including being named winner of the Kerrville New Folk, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, SolarFest, Wildflower Art and Music Festival and Maine Songwriters Association songwriting competitions, voted as Most Wanted artist at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, nominated for Best Male Performer in the New England Music Awards, and a top new singer songwriter by Sirius XM's The Coffeehouse.
On his latest release, Meteors and Beating Hearts, Garvey shows further maturity as a songwriter, addressing personal and universal themes through a series of lyrical stories. Many of the songs were written as assignments for a weekly songwriting group. The challenge of writing a new song each week and presenting it to a group of artists he admires challenged and pushed Garvey to try a new approach to his songwriting.
Garveys interest in music and writing began at a very young age. Both his parents are educators and his father was a songwriter. Growing up in such a musical environment in the artistically rich Northeast, Garvey developed the firm belief that songwriting is a method for bringing community together and a way for people to explore a greater depth within their own lives.
Originally a drummer, he picked up the guitar in his teens, in part because his best friend was better with the sticks and together they could start a rock band. But this rhythmic background remains at the core of his musical style. He merges syncopated bass lines with melodic leads to create a full sound from his acoustic guitar.
The themes of community and living with intention run deep for Garvey, from the musical memories of his youth to his ease in developing relationships with audiences and fellow artists. He builds upon on the energy of live performance to deliver a memorable experience in a way that has led folk stalwarts Vance Gilbert and David Wilcox to proclaim the tradition of acoustic music is in good hands with Connor Garvey. [less...]
Robby Hecht won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Contest in 2010 and has also grabbed the top honor in the Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase. Growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hecht was exposed to his parents' collection of 70s acoustic pop albums and his dad's mandolin playing. The summer before he started college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hecht made a conscious decision to become a singer/songwriter. "Playing music just never seemed like work, so I knew that was what I was meant to do. I used the Internet to teach myself guitar. [more...] I discovered I had an affinity for fingerpicking and went from there." After traveling abroad, Hecht fronted the folk/swing band All Day Radio in San Francisco and settled in Nashville to pursue his songwriting career. Robby Hecht is a unique voice—one that is stirring, instantly recognizable and truly original. Hecht's debut album Late Last Night, made with notable Nashville friends and colleagues such as singers Mindy Smith and Jill Andrews plus producer Lex Price, was flagged by numerous critics and colleagues as a top release in its genre. Maverick magazine called it "gorgeous" and one blogger flagged it as one of his five favorite discs of all time. The album's lovelorn tone gave way to a brighter mood on its follow-up, Last Of The Long Days in 2011, which was tapped by CMT as a "mellow and beautiful effort." Robby's third album, self-titled as if to announce a true arrival. Again Hecht turned to Nashville's Lex Price, a low-key sonic master who's worked with with k.d. lang, Mindy Smith and others, as producer. The honestly recorded, elegantly mixed record is well positioned to stir the hearts that have been stirred before and more besides. [less...]
JJ Jones is a drummer and educator who has accompanied and recorded with numerous indie artists, including Girlyman, Po'Girl (now Birds of Chicago), Lucy Wainwright Roche, Grammy-winning producer Tom Wasinger, and Margaret Cho, among many others. She's toured extensively through the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Netherlands, playing hundreds of shows, performing at renowned music festivals, and her discography to-date includes playing on fifteen CDs recorded by various artists. In 2014, JJ and two other members of Girlyman released a kids' music record under the name Django Jones, [more...] which JJ co-wrote and co-produced. The album -recorded, mixed and mastered in the band's own project studio- received critical acclaim and won a Parents' Choice Gold award, one of the most prestigious honors in children's music. Most recently, JJ toured with Laney Jones, who Rolling Stone just called one of the "10 new country artists you need to know", and a song JJ co-wrote with Margaret Cho and two members of Girlyman was featured in Margaret's Showtime concert movie "psyCHO," released in September 2015.
Formerly self-taught, JJ completed Berklee College of Music's online performance degree program last year as a drum specialist. She is a instructor, band coach, and workshop facilitator at girls and ladies rock camps across the U.S., and teaches private drum lessons via Skype to students all over the country. This will be her eighth year teaching at song school. [less...]
Arthur Lee Land combines diverse influences to create a fresh new musical vibe: Afrograss Flavored Folk Rock. During a tour of Nigeria and Ghana, West Africa in 2001, Arthur spawned the concept of Afrograss: a synthesis of West African percussion and bluegrass in a folk rock context with a touch of funk, reggae, latin and world beat. Touring as a multi-instrumental solo act Arthur calls “A One-Man Afrograss Folk Rock Ensemble,” he utilizes THE ART of LIVE-LOOPING to create a full band sound by layering African percussion, bass, acoustic [more...] & electric guitars, guitar synth, vocals and talk box. In and around touring and recording Arthur has been devoting more time to his passion of working with youth and teaching. Since 2007 Arthur's Musical Life Skills K-12 Assembly Program & Looping Clinics have been presented to over 20,000 students in more than 15 states. This is Arthur’s 7th year teaching at the RMFF Song School. [less...]
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...]
Australian Clare McLeod is a vocalist, teacher and assistant professor at Berklee College of Music, Boston, USA. Clare earned a Graduate Diploma of Education from Monash University
and she performed with the Australian Opera, including Der Rosenkavalier, Hansel and Gretel, Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci
, and Turandot
. In describing her teaching: “I want to help singers close the gap between what they intend to do and what they are currently able to do; to help them understand the physical aspects of how their instrument works. The voice of the [more...] singer is like a race car, the singer is the driver and I’m in the pit, getting them road ready.”
“I began singing classical works quite young, and when I was a teenager my father brought home the Complete Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks. I started exploring jazz and dived into all kinds of genres, always curious about the variety of tones and colors in different voices—including my own. I started attending voice conferences and reading journals, asking ‘How does this work? What’s the science behind it?’ That curiosity has become one of my strengths as a teacher.”
“I want my students to have a strong sense of the lyrics and what it is they are saying. Great singers have a connection not only with their instrument, but with their material and their audience. Once they have a vision and the training to produce a range of sounds freely and efficiently, they can express themselves with greater precision and emotion. Knowing the options they have removes some of the fear and guesswork from the process of singing. The answer to fear is knowledge. I live by that.”
“One of the best parts about teaching private instruction is building a relationship in which students expand their awareness, are able ask questions, and learn to trust their bodies. There are moments in working with people, not necessarily when they have mastered a skill or completed a task, but when they see new possibilities and paths open for them. That’s when the lights go on.” [less...]
Ty Greenstein & Ingrid Elizabeth
With more than a dozen albums and over a thousand shows between them, Ty Greenstein and Ingrid Elizabeth of Mouths of Babes are no strangers to the contemporary folk music scene. For years, their respective bands Girlyman and Coyote Grace captivated thousands of loyal fans as they criss-crossed the country, rocked festival main stages, and toured with the likes of the Indigo Girls and Dar Williams. Now, as Mouths of Babes, Ty and Ingrid have distilled the very best of the songwriting, humor, and musicianship of their previous groups into a new power duo that brings more style and depth than ever before. [more...]
Mouths of Babes burst onto the acoustic music scene in 2014 with big shoes to fill, and on their debut EP Faith & Fumes they delivered with songs that are equal parts celebration and blues, folk and soul, tear-jerker ballad and irreverent ditty. In just over a year, the duo has become a sought-after act in its own right, headlining some of the best rooms on the circuit, such as the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley and Club Passim in Boston. Known for their poetic and eclectic songwriting, they are alumni of Real Women Real Songs and have taught songwriting workshops at The Old Town School of Folk Music, The Freight & Salvage, Rocky Mountain Song School, and others, and assisted with Dar Williams' "Writing A Song That Matters" retreat.
Mouths of Babes is slated to go back into the studio in 2016 to record its highly anticipated first full-length CD. As a testament to MoB's fan power, the Kickstarter for the new album was wildly successful, drawing almost 800 backers and raising over $56,000 in 30 days. [less...]
Bill Nash is a 16 year veteran of the Rocky Mountain Song school and has
guitarist for the past 38 years, with 34 years of teaching experience under
belt. He has been mentoring guitar students at the Song School for the past
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
use of altered tunings, capo use, assorted other guitar techniques and music
theory. More recently, he has been working on cutting edge guitar
using cut capos, [more...] multiple cut capos, altered tunings, and altered tunings
multiple capos. One of his songs even uses 4 capos, in DADGAD tuning, and
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...]
Justin Roth is a nationally touring singer/songwriter, fingerstyle guitarist, and a home studio recording engineer. 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. 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." Justin has toured with John Gorka and David Wilcox, as well as opened for Shawn Colvin, Martin Sexton, and Darrell Scott. [more...] 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 at the Kerrville Folk Festival, Sisters Folk Festival and International Folk Alliance Conference. When not on the road, Justin records and produces other independent artists in his home recording studio. He is also a proud new father of a baby girl, Adelyn, and is quickly becoming a master at spontaneously composing songs on the spot, mid-diaper change. [less...]
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.
“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...]
Tom Wasinger is a composer, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist based in Boulder, Colorado. Tom has received three Grammy Awards as producer of the “Best Native American Music Album” in 2003 and 2007, and 2009. Tom also produced two other GRAMMY nominated records, one in 2001, and another in 2005. Tom’s first commercial success as a producer came in 1994 when his collection of international lullabies “The World Sings Goodnight” reached #3 on the Billboard World Music chart. This collection has since been [more...] licensed by National Geographic for the release “Lullabies, Dream Songs From Around the World”. For other recordings Tom has received four A.F.I.M. Indie awards (American Federation of Independent Music), five NAMA Nammy awards (Native American Music Association) including best producer for 2001 and 2005, as well as awards from Amazon.com, the American Library Association, and New Age Voice. Please see discography for award details. As a composer, Tom wrote the score for the feature length mountain biking film “Tread”, and the scores for numerous commercial short films. His music has been used in programming and syndicated programming on ABC, NBC, CBS, HBO, ESPN, and Animal Planet. He has also been commissioned to compose music for prominent modern dance companies including Llory Wilson and Dancers of Seattle, and Helander Dance Theatre of Boulder, Colorado. Tom has performed live in concert halls around the world from Carnegie Hall in New York to the Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall in Istanbul Turkey. Tom builds experimental musical instruments and is the founder of “The Lost Angel Stone Ensemble”, the world’s only touring ensemble of resonating stone instruments. Tom and his music have been featured twice on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered”. As an educator Tom has taught music privately since 1976, and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Colorado/Boulder and the University of Colorado/Denver. [less...]
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.