Fall Newsletter 2016 - Recap
Welcome to this year’s edition of our newsletter, the Postcard from Swannanoa. This summer featured a record attendance for our 25th Anniversary and we celebrated by giving everyone commemorative t-shirts emblazoned with a special Anniversary logo, and a party at the end of each week featuring some complimentary adult beverages, an ice sculpture of our logo executed by our own Amy McCuin and her husband Shawn, and a big anniversary cake. Some long-time attendees got free tuition and housing in appreciation of their loyalty, and we ackowledged a record eight long-time staff members with our award for lifetime achievement, the Master Music Maker Award.
Our spring Celtic Series, a part of the Mainstage Concerts at Asheville’s Diana Wortham Theatre, presents some of the world’s finest Celtic artists, and last year featured concerts by Altan, Lúnasa with Tim O’Brien, Dervish and Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill. See the P.S. section for details on next spring’s Celtic Series.
This summer we had a full house despite the loss of our principal dorm, Sunderland, to renovations. Half the building now has new bathrooms and the other half will get new bathrooms in the summer of 2017, and we’re pleased to report that Sunderland will be back online (yay!) for next summer’s 25th Anniversary festivities.
We experienced a tent destroyed by a microburst weather event, an additional concert during Celtic Week, a wedding, a gourd banjo raffle, and a rare ‘blue moon’ – altogether an exciting and memorable summer.
Our vocal program, Traditional Song Week, got things started in a big way with the return, after 23 years, of Grammy winner Tim O’Brien who was joined by Prairie Home Companion regulars Robin & Linda Williams, Riders in the Sky’s Ranger Doug, Irish ballad singer Len Graham, coordinator Julee Glaub Weems, Altan singer and guitarist Dáithí Sproule, gospel singer Kathy Bullock, early country & honky-tonk specialist Mark Weems, Irish singer Cathy Jordan, singer/songwriter David Roth, multi-talented Appalachian musician Josh Goforth, Nashville guitarist Tim May, Scottish balladeer Alan Reid, and singer/storyteller Sheila Kay Adams. Radio host Matt Watroba traced the history of American roots music and Melissa Hyman offered an Ancient Egypt-themed program for children during Traditional Song, Celtic, and Old-Time Weeks.
Our biggest program ever, Celtic Week, welcomed new staffer Siobhan Butler teaching sean nós dance, who joined a returning ‘phalanx of fiddlers’ including Martin Hayes, Liz Carroll, Kevin Burke, Brian McNeill, Liz Knowles, Andrew Finn Magill, Kimberley Fraser, Rose Flanagan and Laura Risk, vocalist Cathie Ryan, and guitarist Alan Murray. We also welcomed back guitarist/singer John Doyle, mandolinist Marla Fibish, accordion master John Whelan, singer and flute player Nuala Kennedy, percussionist Matthew Olwell, Scottish singers Alan Reid and Ed Miller, guitarist Eamon O’Leary, harpers Billy Jackson and Gráinne Hambly, pipes and whistle players Kieran O’Hare and Cillian Vallely, Lúnasa flute player Kevin Crawford, multi-instrumentalist Robin Bullock, and Irish singer Len Graham. John Skelton once again served as Celtic Week Host. Martin Hayes, Liz Carroll and John Doyle all received Master Music Maker Awards.
Old-Time Music & Dance Week was once again our second largest program, and featured the retirement of founding coordinator Phil Jamison, and the passing of the coordinator’s mantle to Erynn Marshall. Phil received a chair made by the college’s fine woodworking crew in appreciation of his service. Many long-time staff returned for the ‘Big 25th’ including Bruce Molsky, Earl White, Alice Gerrard, Eddie Bond, Brad Leftwich, Carol Elizabeth Jones, Paul Brown, Meredith McIntosh, Sheila Kay Adams, John Hollandsworth, Tom Sauber, Carl Jones, Paul Kovac, Terri McMurray, John Herrmann, Ellie Grace, Gordy Hinners, John Lilly, Rodney Sutton, Ben Nelson, folklorist and shape-note singer Ron Pen and dulcimer ace Don Pedi. New this year was banjo player Jared Boyd. This year’s Guest Master Artists were the Green Grass Cloggers, celebrating their 45th year as a group, ballad singer Bobby McMillon, the New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters, banjo player Lee Sexton, dancer Thomas Maupin, accompanied by the irrepressible Daniel Rockwell and Ginny Hawker & Tracy Schwarz who received a Master Music Maker Award.
New to Guitar Week this year was renowned fingerstylist Peppino D’Agostino, who joined veterans Pat Donohue, Pete Kennedy, ukulele master Gerald Ross, Steve James, Del Rey, coordinator Al Petteway, Paul Asbell, Scott Ainslie, Sean McGowan, Greg Ruby, Josh Goforth, Celtic fingerstylist Tony McManus, percussive guitarist Vicki Genfan, Muriel Anderson and clawhammer evangelist Steve Baughman. The week also featured demonstrations from instrument repairman Randy Hughes and daily displays of the guitars of master luthiers Gerald Sheppard, Michael Bashkin, Dave McCubbin and John Slobod, along with selected inventory from Dream Guitars, a local shop specializing in high-end instruments. Long-time instructor Robin Bullock received a Master Music Maker Award for many years of service.
Contemporary Folk Week welcomed veteran staff members Kathy Mattea, Jim Lauderdale, Don Henry, Amy Speace, Ellis Paul, Peter Mulvey, Jon Vezner, Sara Hickman, Danny Ellis, Siobhan Quinn, coordinator David Roth and Ray Chesna on staff. The close partnership with our Guitar Week program continued as many took classes in each program, and the programs combined to make up our largest group of students.
Fiddle Week continued its pairing with Mando & Banjo Week, and the two programs combined jams and band sessions, and members of both staffs performed in the staff concerts over three nights. This year’s Luthier’s Exhibit featured violinmaker Joe Thrift, bowmaker Roger Treat, Will Kimble of Kimble mandolins and the folks from Northfield Mandolins. Coordinator Julia Weatherford’s star-studded staff included master contradance fiddler Rodney Miller, Beausoleil’s Cajun master and National Heritage Award winner Michael Doucet, Swedish fiddler Andrea Hoag, old-time fiddlers Greg Canote and Erynn Marshall, jazz player Matt Glaser, Irish fiddler Liz Knowles, multi-stylist Alex Hargreaves, Lisa Ornstein teaching Quebecois fiddle, Brazilian choro fiddle player Andrew Finn Magill, innovative cellist Ben Sollee, Laura Lengnick teaching beginners technique, bluegrass fiddler Matt Combs, Scottish fiddler Laura Risk, guitarist Greg Ruby, and bassist Kevin Kehrberg. Improvisational wild man Joe Craven received a Master Music Maker Award.
Mando & Banjo Week, brought an amazing summer to a close with another staff of musical heavyweights that included legendary banjo innovator Tony Trischka and bluegrass masters Alan Munde and Bill Evans. They were joined by clawhammer players Jere Canote and Duhks frontman Leonard Podolak. The mandolin staff featured new staff member Alan Bibey, international virtuosi Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg, joined by bluegrass greats Emory Lester and John Reischman, jazz mandolinist Don Stiernberg, and the eclectic styles of Matt Flinner. Robin Bullock filled in on Irish mandolin for the ailing David Surette, Adam Tanner taught old-time and beginning mandolin, while Ed Dodson taught guitar and led the daily bluegrass jam. Legendary mandolin builder Lynn Dudenbostel was again on-hand to offer repair work. Master Music Maker Awards went to Mike Marshall and Tony Trischka, who have been the centerpiece of the program since its founding.
Check out the Coming Next Summer section for a sneak preview of the 2016 lineup.