Fiddle week staff - August 6-12, 2017
Since 2011, performer, educator and composer Christian Howes has been voted #1 in the Downbeat Critics Poll (“Rising Stars/Violin”), named among the top three jazz violinists in the Jazz Times critics poll, and nominated for “Violinist of the Year” by the Jazz Journalist Association. He received the Residency Partner Award through Chamber Music America for outreach in schools, earned a USArtists grant through the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, and was invited by the U.S. State Department for tours to Ukraine and Montenegro. His 2013 release on Resonance Records, Southern Exposure, earned recognition in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Downbeat, Jazz Times, as well as a six-night run at Lincoln Center in April, 2013. His 2015 release, American Spirit was named among the Best Jazz Albums of 2015 by the Huffington Post. Now living here in Asheville, Howes is the founder of Creative Strings, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to expand music education through the creation of online curriculum, an annual summer conference, and dozens of visits to schools annually teaching improvisation, contemporary styles, and related subjects.
Michael Doucet and his band, BeauSoleil, have been the premier ambassadors of the Cajun sound for more than four decades, offering music that is usually melodic and harmonically interesting, in addition to its riveting rhythmic drive. He grew up on his father’s farm about five miles west of Lafayette, Louisiana, and by 1974, Doucet was playing in local hangouts when a French promoter asked him and his band to come to France for two weeks to play at a folk festival. “It was the turning point of my life,” he says, when he realized the correlations between old French songs from the Middle Ages and modern Cajun music. In 1975, he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to study the music styles of such living Cajun music legends as Dennis McGee. Most of his time has been spent with double Grammy-winners BeauSoleil, and the group has toured throughout the states, Europe and the Middle East and recorded more than twenty albums. The band composed and recorded the sound track for the movie, Belizaire the Cajun, and the title song for the romantic thriller, The Big Easy. Doucet has collaborated with Richard Thompson, and the band has made several appearances on NPR’s radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, and at former President Jimmy Carter’s inaugural gala. Keith Richards asked Doucet to play on his solo release, Talk is Cheap, and in 1990, BeauSoleil celebrated Mardi Gras with the Grateful Dead for 17,000 fans at Oakland Coliseum. In 2005, Doucet was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. This will be his sixth year teaching here at what Michael calls “my favorite fiddling school!”
Eden MacAdam-Somer is one of the most exciting and versatile musicians performing today. Hailed by the New York Times as reflecting “astonishing virtuosity and raw expression,” her music transcends genre through soaring violin, sweet vocals, and percussive dance, weaving in and out of the many cultures that have formed her experience. Her travels have carried her across the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii, to Afghanistan, India, China, Iceland, Israel, and the UK. Eden is a full-time faculty member at the New England Conservatory, where she teaches improvisation and serves as Co-Chair of the Department of Contemporary Improvisation. She also makes frequent visits to Kabul, Afghanistan, where she works with young Afghan musicians as guest faculty member at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and collaborates with local artists. Her solo album, My First Love Story, was listed as one of the top ten jazz albums of 2015 in the Boston Globe. In addition to her work in Boston, Eden maintains an active international performance and recording career as a soloist and with such bands as Notorious Folk, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and Hebrew National Salvage.
Alex is one of the most acclaimed fiddlers of his generation. He has received numerous honors including the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin from Mark O’Connor’s Strings Conference, as well as being the youngest ever (age 15) to win the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Idaho. In 2010, at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Alex was awarded the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship, and a full tuition scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, where he completed the prestigious Berklee Global Jazz Institute. Under the artistic direction of world-renowned pianist Danilo Perez, this new program admits only a handful of students each year, providing them with the opportunity to work one-on-one with a select group of faculty. He has toured with Mike Marshall’s Big Trio, Jerry Douglas, David Grisman, Bela Fleck, Danilo Perez, Darol Anger and singer/multi-instrumentalist Sarah Jarosz, appearing on three of her critically-acclaimed albums, as well as her Grammy-nominated instrumental, “Mansinneedof.” His debut album, Prelude featured master acoustic musicians Mike Marshall, Grant Gordy and Paul Kowert, and special guests Bela Fleck and Noam Pikelny. Alex is an active performer and has played on stages around the world including Austin City Limits, A Prairie Home Companion, Panama Jazz Festival, Bonnaroo, Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, as well as venues in Europe and South Korea.
Pascal Gemme is known as much for his original compositions as his fine interpretation of traditional Québécois tunes. He is the fiddler, singer and arranger of the band, Genticorum, whose CDs and shows have met with critical acclaim in more than 20 countries around the world. From a young age, the fiddle music and songs of his native Québéc have captivated him. After graduating with a degree in composition and band arrangements at Montreal’s St Laurent College, he immersed himself in the traditional music around him, playing, collecting and recording music found all over Québéc. Pascal has developed a vast knowledge and is a leading exponent of the music of “La Belle Province” and now is as much in demand as a teacher as a performer. He has been teaching weekly at the Ecole des Arts de la Veillée in Montreal since 2003, as well as at music workshops and master classes around the world, including the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick (Ireland), the Goderich Celtic College (Canada), many appearances at The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA. (USA), Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon and Sierra Fiddle Camps (USA) and recently the Quasitrad Music Camp (Australia).
Creativity educator, former museum curator, visual artist, actor/storyteller, emcee and recipient of the 2009 Folk Alliance Far-West Performer of the Year and the Gathering's Master Music Maker award, Joe has made music with many folks – from jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, and Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia – to multi-strings guy David Lindley and harmonica wizard Howard Levy. Always looking for the next expression and object to make music with, he is a musical madman with anything that has strings attached – or not: violin, mandolin, tin can, bedpan, cookie tin, tenor guitar/banjo, mouth bow, canjoe, cuatro, berimbau, balalaika, boot ‘n lace and double-necked whatever. Joe has created music and sound effects for commercials, soundtracks, computer games and contributions to several Grammy-nominated projects. He has presented at numerous schools, universities and the American String Teacher’s Association, is a keynote clinician at Wintergrass in Seattle, Executive Director of RiverTunes in California and a coast-to-coast emcee at a variety of music festivals, including DelFest and Telluride Bluegrass. No matter who he’s connecting with – a community workshop in Costa Rica, a university lecture in Washington, jamming with Gnawa musicians in Morocco or on stage in front of thousands of school kids in Scotland, he’s at home and loving every minute. “Everything Joe touches turns to music,” says mandolinist David Grisman, with whom Joe played for almost 17 years.
A native of New Orleans, cellist Malcolm Parson has been hailed as “the most creative cellist of his generation.” According to Grammy Award-winner Eugene Friesen, “He is that rare player with feet planted firmly in classical music and the music of our time while possessing perfect intonation, fluent technique and stylistic versatility.” Currently a member of Turtle Island Quartet and The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Malcolm has shared the stage with musicians and bands such as Jim Lauderdale, Della Mae, Del McCoury, Old Crow Medicine Show, Marcus Mumford, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Ron Carter, Paquito D’Rivera, Patrice Rushen, Toshi Reagon, Cyrus Chestnut, Terri Lynn Carrington, and Dave Liebman as well as performing at major festivals such as Northsea Jazz Fest, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, and Stutggart Jazz Fest. He plays a Montagnana model cello made by Jay Haide as a part of their a l’ancienne series.
A native of Grayson County, VA, Eddie Bond has been performing old-time music since he was a child. Growing up with music on both sides of his family, he was steeped in the musical traditions of the Blue Ridge at an early age. All four of his great-grandfathers were old-time banjo players, and he was raised by his grandmother, who was a singer and guitar player. Eddie is now one of the region’s most respected old-time fiddlers, and he has won first place on fiddle, banjo, and autoharp at the Galax Old-Time Fiddlers Convention. Since 2001, he has been the fiddler and lead singer for the New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters, one of Virginia’s best-known old-time string bands, and he has performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the National Folk Festival, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the Montana Folk Festival, the Berkeley Old Time Music Festival and the Gainsborough (England) Old-Time Festival, and he has carried his music to Ireland, Scotland, and Australia. In 2015, Eddie’s band once again took first place at the Galax (VA) Fiddlers Convention.
Paul was born at an early age — at the age of zero, to be exact — in Chicago. He grew up in Bellingham, Washington, just north of Seattle. At 9 he began studying the violin, and before long he was exploring popular music. Bluegrass, old time fiddling, western swing, country, traditional jazz, swing and bebop were all fascinating to him. After studying jazz violin with the pioneering Joe Venuti, he spent many years working in the bands of Merle Haggard, Asleep at the Wheel, Larry Gatlin, Loretta Lynn and many others. In 1996 he heard 84-year-old Mexican folk violinist Juan Reynoso and was mesmerized. Before long he was traveling to Guerrero and Michoacán states and studying with Juan and a dozen other violinists. Now, 3000 recorded hours and 800 Finale transcriptions later, he is very much looking forward to teaching this remarkable music at Swannanoa.
Matt has provided masterful fiddle work for some of the best-known names in country, bluegrass, and old-time music including John Hartford, Jerry Douglas, Patty Loveless, Suzy Bogguss, Maura O’Connell, John Oates, Mike Snider, Ray Price, Kevin Costner, Charlie Daniels, Jimmy Martin, Marty Stuart, Uncle Josh Graves, Kenny Baker, The Indigo Girls, Norman and Nancy Blake and Doc Watson. He has also performed with The Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, The Nashville Bluegrass Band, The Nashville Chamber Orchestra, and the Nashville Opera. Matt was the staff fiddler for the Grand Ole Opry from 2014-15. He has been an instructor at Mark O’Connor’s Fiddle Camp, at The International Fiddle School, and has led clinics at The New England Conservatory, Wichita State University, and elsewhere. In addition, since 2006, Matt has presented educational seminars in conjunction with the Nashville Symphony and the Country Music Hall of Fame, entitled “Is It Fiddle or Violin?” He fronts The Driven Bow, a nine-piece fiddle ensemble including some of Nashville’s finest fiddlers and maintains an active schedule lending his talents on fiddle, mandolin, old time banjo and guitar to numerous recording projects.
As a bassist in both jazz and traditional music, Kevin Kehrberg has toured nationally and internationally, including Canada, Japan, and U.S. State Department tours of Kyrgyzstan and Ecuador. He has performed with Howard Alden, Slide Hampton, Roger Humphries and Jean Ritchie among others, and is a sought-after sideman and session artist. He has taught at many workshops and clinics, including the Swannanoa Gathering and the Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. Kevin also actively records and performs as a backup guitarist for old-time fiddlers. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology and is a member of the music faculty at Warren Wilson College.
Emily Schaad has been playing and teaching music for nearly her whole life. With a background in classical music and public school music education, she first came to North Carolina to learn from well-known fiddle masters and earn an MA in Appalachian Studies. She is known for a complex and powerful fiddling style, and has taken first place in numerous stringband and fiddle contests, including the Appalachian Stringband Festival in Clifftop, WV. Emily currently performs with the old-time string band Old Buck, conducts youth orchestras, teaches fiddle and violin, and is working toward a doctorate in Music Education. www.oldbuckmusic.com
Laura Lengnick is well known for a contra dance fiddling style that powers a danceable groove while staying solidly grounded in the New England tradition. Drawing on a large repertoire of old and new tunes from the Northern, Southern and Celtic traditions, Laura has played with many of the best dance musicians in the country and is widely respected for her ability to add sparkle and drive to any musical combination. She has more than 20 years of experience teaching fiddlers of all ages and skill levels, but particularly enjoys teaching fiddle to adult beginners (she was one, so she understands the challenges!) and to recovering classical violinists looking to discover their inner fiddler. Laura has taught workshops in dance fiddling and dance ensemble playing across the U.S. and in Europe, has published articles about the art of playing for contra dances, and is an accomplished band leader. Laura’s nationally-acclaimed band, Laura and the Lava Lamps, helped to shape modern contra dance music through their innovative CD Primordial Groove released in 2001. Laura regularly plays contra dances in the Asheville region and beyond with Hot Sonata, Good and Plenty, and Curious George. Laura is also a fine singer of classic swing, traditional folk, southern gospel and Americana, and she loves singing just about anything a capella.
Laura Risk grew up in the thriving San Francisco Scottish fiddle scene of the 1980s and 90s, learning her craft from acclaimed fiddler Alasdair Fraser. Says The Living Tradition, “Laura plays in a powerful, percussive style, with tight control and beautiful tone but bursting with energy and passion, turning reels into romps and slow airs into soul-searches.” Laura performs and teaches internationally when she is not home in Montreal, Québéc, teaching at McGill University or researching Québécois traditional music, jazz violinist Ginger Smock, or the diffusion of the “chop!” Laura is a co-author of The Glengarry Collection: The Highland Fiddle Music of Aonghas Grant and was recently awarded a Prix Mnémo for her co-production of the community CD Douglastown: Music and Song from the Gaspé Coast. Known as a inspirational teacher, Laura has taught fiddling at numerous summer camps and was an Instructor of Fiddling for five years at Wellesley College. She created and taught the undergraduate course “Fiddling and Beyond: Musical Traditions from the British Isles to North America” at McGill University, and currently teaches a “Strings Techniques” course for music teachers. She also teaches fiddling to youth in the greater Montreal area through the Encore!Sistema Québec program. Laura is thrilled to be returning to Swannanoa again this year!
Seattle-based guitarist and composer Greg Ruby performs and writes in many styles of vintage jazz. Described as “truly hot jazz” by Vintage Guitar magazine, his CD, Look Both Ways, reached #1 on the Roots Music Review’s jazz chart. Greg leads The Greg Ruby Quartet, a Hot Club jazz group dedicated to all-original compositions. He collaborates with New York and New Orleans musicians in The Rhythm Runners, a Prohibition-era dance band, and plays Valse musette and European café jazz with the Bric-a-brac Trio. Greg is a former member of the venerable group Pearl Django, and has performed at the esteemed Django Reinhardt Festival in Samois sur Seine, France. Leading his own groups, he performs at swing dances, concert halls and festivals. As a respected music instructor, he teaches at schools, camps and clinics and has authored the Pearl Django Play-Along Book Vol.1 and the Oscar Aleman Play-Along Book. Recently, he has received funding from 4Culture’s Heritage and Arts Projects to investigate, record and republish the nearly lost compositions of Seattle’s 1920s jazz pioneer Frank D. Waldron. Greg holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, WA.
Liz Knowles has brought her distinctive sound – the fire and finesse of Irish fiddle music combined with the tonal richness of the classical violin – to countless venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall, Broadway, and the Kennedy Center, l’Olympia in Paris, and theatres and festivals from Shanghai to São Paulo to Sarawak. A virtuosic and versatile performer, Liz was the fiddler for Riverdance and soloist on the soundtrack for the film Michael Collins. She has performed with such diverse artists as The New York Pops, Don Henley, Rachel Barton, Marcus Roberts, Steve Reich, Liz Carroll, Cherish the Ladies, and most recently, with actress Fiona Shaw in collaboration for a special performance for the Kennedy Center’s Ireland Festival 100. Her career today combines the roles of performer, composer, arranger, and producer in theatrical and recording projects and she is highly regarded as a teacher for music camps and workshops. Today, she most regularly performs with her trio, Open the Door for Three, the all-star fiddle ensemble String Sisters, and as a member of a new and exciting project, the Martin Hayes Quartet.
Fiddle Week Coordinator Julia Weatherford has been a full-time artist/musician for as long as anyone can remember. She is veteran performer on both cello and fiddle with notable performing groups that range from The Asheville Symphony to the world fusion Akira Satake Band to the contra dance band Far Horizons. In the contra dance world, Julia is known as a driving old-time fiddler and grooving cellist with bands such as Firefly, and Sugar High. She has toured internationally as a dance musician and taught and performed at Berea’s Christmas Country Dance School, Folkmoot International, Pinewoods Camp, The LEAF, and The CDSS Centennial Tour. Currently she performs regionally with StrathSpan and The Free Range Ensemble. Julia was the Artistic Director of the legendary Black Mountain Festival for many years, and has also been the Swannanoa Gathering Logistics Coordinator since 2005.