Acclaimed guitarist and composer Clive Carroll has created a sound world all his own, with a signature blend of warmth and humour that belies his dazzling technical skill. His masterful compositions feature influences mined from the delicate cadences of Elizabethan lute classics, the imaginative eccentricity of Frank Zappa, visionary classical composers such as Bartok and Ligeti, and hints of jazz and Delta blues. Clive made his musical debut at age two as a banjo-strumming cowboy singing nursery rhymes, and went on to earn a 1st Class Honours Degree in Composition and Guitar from London’s famed Trinity College of Music. He has worked with such guitar greats as John Williams, Ralph Towner, Tommy Emmanuel, Xuefei Yang, and John Renbourn, as well as pop icon, Madonna. Acoustic Guitar magazine calls Clive, “Probably the best and most original young acoustic guitarist/composer in Britain”, and Total Guitar magazine included him in their “Top 10 Acoustic Guitarists of All-Time”. His latest solo CD, The Furthest Tree, has been called “sensational instrumental music that knows no boundaries.”
Sean combines many diverse musical influences with unconventional techniques to create a broad palette of textures for solo fingerstyle jazz guitar. His first recording, River Coffee, won the Best Independent Release of the Year Award (2002) from Acoustic Guitar magazine and music from the recording has been published in Japan’s Acoustic Guitar magazine and Mel Bay’s Master Anthology of Fingerstyle Guitar, Vol. 3. His subsequent recordings, Indigo, and Sphere: the Music of Thelonious Monk offer compelling portraits of jazz standards performed on solo electric archtop guitar. Sphere was named one of Acoustic Guitar magazine’s “Essential Albums of 2011”, and Sean was featured on the Summer 2012 cover of Fingerstyle 360 magazine. Recent recordings include Thanksgiving & Christmas Tidings, a collection of seasonal hymns and carols arranged for solo guitar, and My Fair Lady, a collection of songs from Lerner & Loewe’s masterpiece. Sean has performed at such festivals as the Novi Sad International Jazz Festival in Serbia, the Healdsburg Guitar Festival in Napa Valley, Copper Mountain Guitar Town, the Newport Guitar Festival, and the Chet Atkins CAAS Convention. He has also collaborated with several dance and improv companies, as well as with jazz and acoustic musicians throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Sean is an avid arts educator and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Music and the Guitar Program Director at the University of Colorado, Denver. He conducts workshops at colleges throughout the country, incorporating a a holistic approach to playing to prevent injuries. He is also a contributing editor and educational advisor for Acoustic Guitar magazine, and the author of the Stringletter book/DVD instructional projects, The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist, Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials and Holiday Songs for Fingerstyle, as well as Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Survival Guide and Walking Bass & Comping for Jazz Guitar, both available at TrueFire.com.
“An exciting young player who, despite a plethora of influences, now sounds like nobody but himself” proclaims The Fretboard Journal about New York City-based guitarist Grant Gordy. In recent years, Gordy has emerged as a major voice on the American ‘acoustic music’ scene, and become one of the most highly-regarded young instrumentalists of his generation. Having served for six years as guitarist with the legendary David Grisman, he’s also worked alongside such musical luminaries as Darol Anger, Edgar Meyer, and Steve Martin. In myriad collaborative capacities he’s performed all over North America, Europe and in India. Gordy’s instructional skills have been sought by hundreds of private students and by camps such as Rockygrass Academy, Steve Kaufman Kamp, Haapavesi in Finland and Sore Fingers in the UK. He has received attention from international music periodicals such as Acoustic Guitar magazine, Japanese bluegrass publication Moonshiner, Just Jazz Guitar, Flatpicking Guitar magazine and No Depression, who describe Grant as: “a special musician… While a bluegrass musician at heart, Grant’s incredible breadth of harmonic and rhythmic knowledge from jazz gives him a strikingly singular voice on the guitar; one that is worth giving your attention.”
Yasmin Williams is an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist with an unorthodox, modern style of playing. She grew up in northern Virginia and was introduced to the guitar after playing the video game, Guitar Hero 2. She uses a combination of fingerstyle and lap-tapping guitar techniques, with percussive sounds to play melody, bass, and drum parts all at the same time, creating sophisticated and intricate compositions that have raised the bar of what is possible to play on the acoustic guitar. Yasmin graduated from New York University with a degree in Music Theory and Composition. Her debut album, Unwind, released in 2018, has received favorable reviews by NPR Music, Acoustic Guitar magazine, Vintage Guitar magazine and other publications, and has charted highly on iTunes, Amazon Music, and the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Yasmin has performed at the Kennedy Center, Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, WUSA9 Great Day Washington and other venues and television shows.
A French-American musician based in Paris, Cory began learning fingerstyle guitar and clawhammer banjo during his adolescence in the US. This led to numerous encounters with some of the great fingerstyle guitarists, exploring the rich repertoire of American blues, folk, jazz and gospel, but trips to Africa and the discovery of native fingerstyle techniques changed everything. His style became more and more syncopated, polyrhythmic, and cross-pollinated, and his approach less and less academic. After a decade of touring with the roots group Groanbox, he moved to Ethiopia for three and a half years, collaborating with myriad artists, creating the bands MistO-MistO and Damakase, which mixed Ethiopian music with other African styles. He’s worked on a documentary on some of the few remaining omutibo-style guitar players in western Kenya, and has begun a collaboration with Senegalese musician Amadou Diagne. He’s released two solo recordings and recorded three instructional videos for Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop.
When master fiddler Vassar Clements heard Grammy-winning Mike Dowling play guitar, he did the sensible thing. He hired him. Mike was the guitarist in Vassar’s first touring band and recorded with him and many other artists, including Jethro Burns and Joe Venuti, before embarking on a solo career. Mike’s songs have been recorded such artists as Del McCoury Band, Tim O’Brien, and Kathy Mattea, and has he’s recorded ten critically-acclaimed roots-based albums on his Wind River Guitar label. David Chamberlain, host of Sagebrush Boogie on WRFG-FM Atlanta, called his most recent CD, Tracks, “One of the best recordings I have ever heard.” Mike currently lives in Mexico and continues to tour and teach at music camps throughout the U.S. and abroad.
To find a unique voice on so ubiquitous an instrument as the acoustic guitar is quite an achievement. To do so within a centuries-old idiom where the instrument has no real history is truly remarkable. In little over ten years as a professional musician, Tony McManus has come to be recognized throughout the world as a leading guitarist in Celtic music. In Tony’s hands, the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music. His 2002 recording, Ceol More, was Acoustic Guitar’s “Critic’s Album of the Year” and named “Album of the Year” by the Live Ireland Awards. He is a regular performer at the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville, and has appeared at guitar festivals in Soave and Pescantina, Italy; Frankston, Australia; Issoudun, France; Kirkmichael, Scotland; Bath and Kent, England; Bochum and Osnabrueck, Germany and five of Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamps in Maryville, TN. Born in Scotland with strong Irish roots, he now lives in Canada and travels the world performing in numerous combinations, including intimate solo performances and various duos with friends Alain Genty, Bruce Molsky, and Alasdair Fraser, to the quartet, Men of Steel, with fellow guitarists Dan Crary, Beppe Gambetta and Don Ross.
Ranked among the “100 Greatest Acoustic Guitarists” by DigitalDreamDoor.com, Robin Bullock has been hailed as “one of the best folk instrumentalists in the business” by Sing Out! magazine, “breathtaking” by Guitar Player magazine and a “Celtic guitar god” by Baltimore City Paper. His honors include Editor’s Pick and Player’s Choice Awards from Acoustic Guitar magazine, the Association for Independent Music’s prestigious INDIE Award (with the world-music trio Helicon), multiple Washington Area Music Association WAMMIE Awards, a Governor’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council, a bronze medal at the National Mandolin Championships in Winfield, KS and the Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award. Robin maintains a busy international touring schedule, performing solo, with Guitar Week colleague Steve Baughman, and with four-time National Scottish Harp Champion Sue Richards. He’s also played several hundred concerts as a sideman with Grammy Award-winning folk legend Tom Paxton, including four “Together at Last” tours with Tom’s fellow Grammy-winner Janis Ian. Robin’s discography of nearly two dozen solo, collaborative and group CDs includes the first volume of the Bach Cello Suites on solo mandolin; The Carolan Collection, a compilation of the legendary Irish bard’s compositions, sales of which benefit North Carolina animal rescue organizations; and most recently, his debut duo CD with harp champion Sue Richards, Highland Ramble. Robin co-hosts the monthly Carolina Celtic concert series in Black Mountain, NC, leads the annual Robinwood Guitar Retreat in Sharpsburg, MD, and teaches guitar and mandolin anywhere in the world via Skype. 2020 marks the twenty-fifth consecutive Swannanoa Gathering for Robin, now a proud resident of nearby Black Mountain.
Gerald Ross is comfortable with just about every type of “roots” music there is, from western swing, bluegrass, Hawaiian, blues, jug band music, jazz standards, Tin Pan Alley, New Orleans rhythms to boogie-woogie, and he plays it all on guitar, lap steel, Dobro and ukulele. He’s performed in concert with Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Doc Watson, Johnny Gimble, Riders In The Sky, Brownie McGhee and many others. Gerald won the Solo Artist Category of the 1993 WEMU Jazz Competition and has appeared many times on A Prairie Home Companion. These days, Gerald is one of America’s best-known performers, entertainers and advocates for the ukulele. He’s released six ukulele CDs, published instructional materials, and is very much in demand as a music festival instructor.
Gonzalo Bergara has emerged as a virtuoso composer and lead guitarist, mixing a cascade of arpeggios with the sounds of Paris and his native Argentina, to forge his own style of progressive Gypsy Jazz. Gonzalo began playing professionally at age 16 in Buenos Aires. By 17 he was already fronting his own blues trio on national television. Gonzalo has toured worldwide with the John Jorgenson Quintet, as well as performed and recorded with hundreds of artists including Tim Hausser from Manhattan Transfer, Sylvie Vartan, Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks, Howard Alden and more. His touring resumé includes Croatia, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Hungary, Argentina, Brazil, England, Scotland and the U.S., with notable appearances at the Playboy Jazz Fest, Sweet & Hot Jazz Fest, The Montreal Jazz Fest, Django Reinhardt Fest (Germany), Suev Guitar Fest (Italy), Merle Fest, Strawberry Fest, most Django-style Fests in the US and countless more.
One of digitaldreamdoor.com’s “Top 100 Acoustic Guitarists”, Steve is a Rounder Records recording artist and a pioneering Celtic and old-time fingerstyle guitarist and banjo player. He produced and plays on the landmark Banjo Gathering double CD, which was recently described by Bluegrass Unlimited as “a momentous undertaking and a ‘must’ addition to any serious collection of old-time music.” He is the author of five guitar books by Mel Bay Publications, a DVD on clawhammer technique called The Power of Claw, and appears on the Rounder Records Celtic Fingerstyle Guitar series. His recordings have made the “Editor’s Pick” list at Acoustic Guitar magazine three times and his book, Gospel Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar, was released in 2019 by Stringletter Media. One recent project is the Zen Banjo DVD, produced with Rev. Heng Sure, Director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, who will be assisting Steve in his “Music, Meditation & Performance” class.
Since moving to Portland, Oregon in 2002, Jamie Stillway has quietly been making her mark in the world of fingerstyle guitar. She has become an in-demand instructor, having taught at the Healdsburg Guitar Festival, California Coast Music Camp, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and Peghead Nation’s online course, Advanced Fingerstyle Workshop. Stillway has toured nationally and internationally, and is an endorsing artist for Stevens Guitars of Munich, the Santa Cruz Guitar Company, and Shubb capos. She has self-released 3 albums of original compositions, the most recent of which is a collection of solo pieces recorded live in the studio. Jazz Times magazine notes, “Mixing up genres without pretension, the nimble Stillway moves freely with wit and creative restlessness.” Additionally, a transcription of one of Stillway’s compositions was recently published in Acoustic Guitar, and she has also become a contributing author for the magazine. “One of the best fingerstyle guitarists around today.” – Fretboard Journal.
Steve James’ original style and repertoire are influenced by the recordings of, and direct experience with, early masters of the blues-inflected plain statement that has shaped American guitar music for well over a century. His latest instructional offering is a method/songbook from Stringletter Publishing, entitled Roots and Blues Fingerstyle Guitar Explorations. On the mandolin, inspired by pioneer string syncopators like Yank Rachell and Howard Armstrong , he’s also explored the bluesy, rhythmically powerful sound that shaped the music of these and other roots music originals and has created print and video lessons for Stringletter and Homespun. Steve has also been a regular part of Guitar Week since the inception of the program.
David Jacobs-Strain is a fierce slide guitar player and song poet from Oregon. He is known for both his virtuosity and spirit of emotional abandon. David displays a range that ties him to his own generation and to guitar-slinger troubadours like Robert Johnson and Jackson Browne. He tours nationally with harmonica player and singer Bob Beach, and recently the duo earned an Official Showcase at the 2020 Folk Alliance International Conference in New Orleans. David also performs on the west coast with Christopher Worth and with his own band. He performs at festivals and teaches at guitar and blues camps around the country and is often the “sideman of choice” for instructors at the Swannanoa Gathering.
One of our instructors who consistently receives rave reviews regardless of what he’s teaching, Scott brings a wealth of musical and historical experience with him into the classroom and takes the community of the Swannanoa Gathering to heart. Coming of age during the Civil Rights era and the protests against the Vietnam War, Scott continues to have a deep reverence for cross-cultural exchange and a commitment to social justice. He is the author of Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads and video teacher on the instructional DVD, Robert Johnson: Signature Licks. With six solo recordings to his credit, Scott’s award-winning The Last Shot Got Him has garnered strong reviews here and in Europe.
Al Petteway is no stranger to Guitar Week. As its Coordinator from 1997-2018, he saw it grow from a staff of ﬁve instructors to one of the world’s largest and most successful music camps. His many awards include a Grammy, an Indie, fifty Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards), Silver and Bronze medals in Acoustic Guitar’s “Player’s Choice Awards” and the Gathering’s own Master Music Maker award for lifetime achievement. As an “on-call” sideman for the world famous DC venue The Birchmere, he played with a dazzling array of acoustic musicians including jazz mandolinist Jethro Burns, bluegrass legends Peter Rowan, Mike Auldridge, John Starling, Jimmy Arnold & Phil Rosenthal, singer-songwriters Tom Paxton, Cheryl Wheeler, Jonathan Edwards and more. One of his heroes, John Renbourn, encouraged him to record his first album of original fingerstyle compositions and his discography now includes twenty recordings. His original music has been featured in a number of PBS documentaries by Ken Burns, most notably the Emmy-Award-winning The National Parks-America’s Best Idea, which features Al’s guitar playing throughout and one of his compositions as the film’s main theme music. Al and his partner in life and music, Amy White are also nature photographers and contributors to the National Geographic Image Collection where Al worked as a picture editor for many years.
Guitar Week Coordinator Greg Ruby, began playing swing and early jazz music as a busker 25 years ago. Called “Seattle’s premier hot jazz guitarist” by Earshot Jazz magazine, he has worked and performed with Hot Club Sandwich, Pearl Django, The Hot Club of San Francisco, Andy Stein, Dan Hicks, John Jorgenson, Frank Vignola, Howard Alden and The Tacoma Symphony Orchestra as well as leading numerous groups under his own name. During his tenure with the venerable Hot Club ensemble Pearl Django, his rock-solid rhythm guitar propelled the group through multiple recordings and their debut performance at the legendary Festival Django Reinhardt in Samois-sur-seine, France. His 2010 recording of original compositions in the Hot Club tradition, Look Both Ways, reached #1 on the Roots Music Review radio chart. In 2016, he was awarded arts, heritage and cultural funding for Syncopated Classic, a recording of the lost compositions of 1920’s Seattle jazz icon Frank D. Waldron which was awarded the “Northwest Jazz Recording of the Year”. His current ensemble, The Greg Ruby Six, performs the music of swing-era guitar legend Oscar Alemán and has just released its first CD, Just a Little Swing. Greg’s compositions have been heard on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, Freakanomics and the documentary When Seattle Invented the Future. He has taught at the Django in June, Millwood Blues Week, DjangoFest NW and published the Pearl Django Play-Along Book Vol.1, Frank D. Waldron: Seattle’s Syncopated Classic, the Oscar Alemán Play-Along Songbook Vol. 1 and has written for Acoustic Guitar magazine.
Ed was the lead guitarist and singer for Wood & Steel, a bluegrass band based in the Piedmont region of North Carolina that featured the legendary Snuffy Smith on banjo and The Dukes of Drive’s Joey Lemons on mandolin. Bluegrass Unlimited called their 2007 release, Poor Boy, “a masterpiece of hard-driving bluegrass.” Tony Rice calls their music, “Bluegrass, in one of its most pure, unfiltered forms; played by good musicians.” Wood & Steel’s music was featured nationally in Home & Garden Television’s 2002 special, Barns Revisited, and Ed has recorded three albums with mandolin player/builder Skip Kelley, including their 2010 release, Hopped That Train and…Gone. Ed is an accomplished songwriter, and a powerful rhythm and lead player with a deep abiding love of traditional music.
Ten Grammy nominations in eight different categories. Three Grammys, in three different categories, almost forty years apart. What does that mean? “Either I don’t do anything well for very long, or I bore easily.” Janis Ian wrote her first song at 12, was published at 13, made a record at 14, had a hit at 15, and was a has-been at 16. It’s been uphill ever since. Her writer’s catalogue includes “Stars”, recorded by artists as diverse as Mel Torme, Glen Campbell, and Nina Simone; “Society’s Child,” which provoked the burning of a radio station and the firing of DJs who played it, “Jesse”, and the seminal “At Seventeen”, recorded most recently by Celine Dion. The musical guest on the very first Saturday Night Live, her list of interests includes technology (her article “The Internet Debacle” was cited in the Grokster and Napster cases), science fiction (nine short stories published in the field, with “Prayerville” adapted for theatre by Sci-Fest LA), children’s books (The Tiny Mouse was a Kirkus Children’s Book of the Year), and her own life (her autobiography, Society’s Child, was starred by Publisher’s Weekly and her narration of it won her another Grammy, for “Best Spoken Word”). A favorite guitarist of the late Chet Atkins, she was also the first female player to have a signature acoustic guitar by a major company (Santa Cruz.) She truly believes artists should know about everything, without limitation, and she hopes passing on some of her own hard-earned knowledge will help others avoid her mistakes – or at least, not care as much about them. We are delighted to welcome Janis back for her fifth Swannanoa Gathering.
Randy Hughes has earned a reputation throughout the southeast as the kind of instrument repairman to whom you could entrust your priceless vintage guitar without a second thought. A superb luthier with a thriving repair business, Randy first came to Guitar Week to inspect and adjust students’ instruments and share his vast store of maintenance tips. An exceptional guitarist, he taught fingerstyle jazz at the Gathering for two years. Randy will be here after lunch several days during the week to examine and evaluate the playing condition of participants’ instruments.