Preston Reed is “widely thought of as the world’s most gifted guitarist” writes Total Guitar. A ground-breaking innovator, Reed revolutionized the way the acoustic guitar is played with his integrated percussive style, influencing players such as Andy McKee and Jon Gomm and directly teaching many including Kaki King and Ed Sheeran. He has inspired generations of musicians and enchanted audiences the world over. His long teaching experience over the decades ranges from his own week-long workshops in Scotland, to masterclasses at colleges and performing arts schools such as Berklee College of Music. His 1994 instructional video, The Guitar Of Preston Reed: Expanding The Realm Of Acoustic Playing continues to set today’s and tomorrow’s top players on the path to developing their own musical voices on the instrument. “Spectacular… the best one-man show this reviewer has seen since Bruce Springsteen… A terrific performer” – The Irish Independent.
Adam Rafferty plays solo fingerstyle guitar versions of songs ranging from the Great American Songbook, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Chick Corea as well as his own original compositions. His guitar videos on YouTube have gotten over 17 million views. He’s played at concerts and festivals worldwide in the USA, Austria, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Serbia, Russia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Scotland, and Bermuda. Not only does Adam tour extensively but he is a dedicated guitar teacher. He has published five instructional DVDs, two books and is currently busy with his own online guitar school. Check out his online guitar school at his website & and www.studywithadam.com
Sean McGowan is a fingerstyle jazz guitarist who combines many diverse musical influences with unconventional techniques to create a broad palette of textures within his compositions and arrangements for solo 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. His most 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. As a soloist, Sean has performed at several festivals including 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 earned a DMA in Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and conducts workshops at colleges throughout the country. As a strong advocate for injury prevention and health education for musicians, his workshops incorporate a holistic approach to playing. 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
Seattle-based guitarist and composer Greg Ruby plays diverse styles of vintage jazz. Described as “truly hot jazz” by Vintage Guitar magazine, his CD, Look Both Ways, celebrating the 100th birthday of guitarist Django Reinhardt and featuring 12 original compositions, reached #1 on the Roots Music Review’s jazz chart. He leads The Greg Ruby Quartet, a Hot Club jazz group dedicated to all-original compositions; records and tours with New York and New Orleans musicians in Greg Ruby & the Rhythm Runners, a Prohibition-era dance band; plays Valse musette and European café jazz with the Bric-a-brac Trio; and is currently creating a project to perform the compositions and arrangements of 1930’s swing guitarist, Oscar Alemán. Greg plays at swing dances, concert halls and festivals including: the French Quarter Festival, Lindy Focus, the Earshot Jazz Festival and the Django Reinhardt Festival. As a respected music instructor, he teaches at schools, camps and clinics and has authored the Pearl Django Play-Along Book Vol.1, the Oscar Alemán Play-Along Book, and Frank D. Waldron: Seattle’s Syncopated Classic, which unearthed, recorded and celebrated the lost compositions from 1924 by the eminent Seattle jazz icon Frank D. Waldron. Greg holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, WA and has been a Swannanoa Gathering instructor since 2012.
Flatpicking guitarist Tim May has been working in the Nashville area for over 30 years as a sideman, session player, band member and performer. He has toured with Patty Loveless, John Cowan, Eddie Rabbitt and Rodney Dillard and regularly performs with Mike Snider on the Grand Ole Opry. Tim was the solo guitarist on Charlie Daniels’ recording of “I’ll Fly Away,” which was nominated for the Best Country Instrumental Performance Grammy in 2005. The Nashville Scene selected Tim as Best Instrumentalist in their 2012 Reader’s Choice Poll. He is co-author of the eight-volume book/CD course, Flatpicking Essentials, The Guitar Player’s Practical Guide to Scales and Arpeggios, The Mandolin Player’s Practical Guide to Scales and Arpeggios, The Flatpicker’s Guide to Old-Time Music and The Flatpicker’s Guide to Irish Music. He and his wife Gretchen are owners’ of the Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee.
Our Guitar Week Coordinator, Al Petteway is a recipient of The Swannanoa Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award and is a Grammy and Indie Award-winning guitarist who has performed, toured and recorded with many of acoustic music’s best-known artists including Jethro Burns, Peter Rowan, Jonathan Edwards, Tom Paxton, Debi Smith, Cheryl Wheeler, Bonnie Rideout, Maggie Sansone and many more. In addition, he was an on-call backup and session musician in the Washington, D.C. area for many years. Al’s compositions and arrangements for acoustic fingerstyle guitar are strongly influenced by his love of Celtic, Appalachian, folk, and blues styles. His music is featured on dozens of CDs and on the soundtracks of documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, most notably the Emmy-winning PBS series, The National Parks-America’s Best Idea. Al was voted one of the “Top Fifty Acoustic Guitarists of All Time” by the readers of Acoustic Guitar magazine where he also won Silver and Bronze medals for Celtic and Fingerstyle guitar in the magazine’s Player’s Choice Awards. In 2018, Acoustic Guitar’s readers included Al as one of the “top-rated guitar camp instructors.” To date, Al has released eleven solo albums and nine duo albums with his wife Amy White.
Guitar phenomenon Clive Carroll’s masterful compositions, coupled with his versatility and unparalleled technical virtuosity, have rendered him one of today’s most admired and respected guitarists. He earned a 1st Class Honours Degree in Composition and Guitar from the famed Trinity College of Music in London, all the while balancing his classical work with forays into the world of the steel-string guitar. A chance meeting with the late John Renbourn changed the course of Clive’s musical career and the two toured the U.K. and North America together, with Renbourn encouraging Clive to release his first solo album in 2000. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, touring solo around the world and alongside lauded guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. Clive has also composed music for major films and has been awarded an array of awards and accolades, such as inclusion in Total Guitar magazine’s “Top 10 Acoustic Guitarists of All Time”. Clive’s newest CD, The Furthest Tree, is already being hailed as some of his finest work to date.
David Jacobs-Strain is a virtuosic slide guitar player and a storyteller who brilliantly brings the rich roots of slide guitar to the millennial generation with an eclectic styling that melds blues, folk, rock and indie pop into a tasty Americana brew inflected with accents of funk and reggae. He’s a six-foot-two Jewish blues singer from Oregon, a Stanford drop-out in a trucker hat, and a Left Coast poet; one part Leo Kottke, one part Ken Kesey, and one part Robert Johnson. He’s recorded seven albums, including his latest, Live From the Left Coast, a collaboration with harmonica legend Bob Beach. David has performed at the Newport Folk Festival, MerleFest, the Strawberry Music Festival, the Montreal International Jazz Fest, and toured with artists as diverse as Lucinda Williams, Etta James, Bob Weir, and Boz Scaggs. He also performs with his amplified string band, The Crunk Mountain Boys.
“In what is surely one of the longest and musically richest partnerships in Nashville, Bill Cooley has been playing guitar in Kathy Mattea’s band for 25 years.” So wrote the dean of Nashville’s music critics, Robert K. Oermann, 3 years ago. As Kathy and Bill start their 28th year together, they are out on the road with the Acoustic Living Room Tour: just the two of them onstage, playing new songs they worked up at their regular thursday afternoon rehearsals, as well as her classic hits and requests. Meanwhile, Bill released his fourth solo CD, In Search of Home, which made the Editor’s List for Best Music of 2016 in Premier Guitar magazine. Andy Ellis wrote: “With impeccable technique, he drapes precisely articulated melodies over inventive bass lines and gorgeous counterpoint…if you’ve been craving inspiring fingerstyle guitar work, you’ll find it here.” As a composer and arranger, Cooley is every bit as talented, offering strong melodies and thoughtful arrangements that toss up small surprises to keep the ear engaged. Originally from Santa Barbara, CA, he moved to Nashville in 1985. A dozen years later he was called “one of Nashville’s most respected sidemen” by Guitar Player magazine. In addition to his work with Kathy Mattea, he has toured and recorded with Merle Haggard, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson and Hal Ketchum. As a writer, his songs have been recorded by Kathy and Reba, among others. As an arranger, Bill played an important role on Kathy’s last five albums: Joy for Christmas Day, Right Out of Nowhere, Coal, Calling Me Home and a new one, slated for release in 2018. Bill has also taught privately for years, and has led workshops at Berklee School of Music and North House Folk School, among others.
From bottleneck blues to classic swing, Mike Dowling is versatile, masterful, and difficult to pigeonhole. When the late, great Vassar Clements heard him play guitar back in 1975 he did the sensible thing. He hired him. Mike was the guitarist in Vassar’s first touring band and Clements called him simply, “One of the finest guitarists there is, anywhere.” Before embarking on a solo performance and teaching career, Mike also worked and recorded with mandolinist Jethro Burns and jazz great Joe Venuti. Since 1996, Mike has made his home in northwestern Wyoming where he and his wife started Wind River Guitar and began to host students who travel from around the world for the opportunity to study with Mike. His instructional material is available from Homespun Tapes and Acoustic Music Resource. Mike is an authorized ambassador for National Reso-phonic Guitars and shares a Grammy with ten of his fingerpicking peers for their solo acoustic arrangements of Henry Mancini tunes..
When Patrick Landeza became the first mainland-based artist to win the Nã Hōkū Hanohano award in 2013, he told the audience that “being born and raised on the mainland never made me any less Hawaiian.” Having initially learned slack-key from family, Landeza later apprenticed with slack-key legend Raymond Kāne and was mentored by slack-key masters Cyril Pahinui, George Kuo, and Dennis Kamakahi. Landeza has taught slack-key in classes and music camps nationwide, as well as having lessons published in Acoustic Guitar magazine. He authored a children’s book, Danny’s Hawaiian Journey, and has partnered with Kala Ukulele to provide cultural education through ukulele lessons in grade school classes. Patrick’s efforts and enthusiasm have not gone unrecognized. Aside from the Nā Hōkū Hanohano award, he also became the youngest recipient of the Kapalakiko Aloha Spirit award at the age of 34. In 2011, he won the Hawaiian Music Award, and in 2012 he shared his music and aloha spirit with an audience at Carnegie Hall. In 2017, Patrick will be releasing his latest slack-key offering Ho`oman`o (to remember) along with his book, From the Island of Berkeley, CA and ending the year with his film documentary entitled Aloha Everywhere: The Story of Patrick Landeza, telling the story of his journey and discovery of cultural identity through slack-key guitar and Hawaiian music. Patrick also has a successful clothing line called “Aloha Everywhere,” a fruit jam company, Kanikapila Jams, and a jewelry line, Patrick Landeza Designs’ hand crafted earrings and bracelets. Patrick is in his 19th year in education and teaches at Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, CA.
Toby Walker has been hailed as an internationally-acclaimed roots music fingerstyle guitar wizard who has toured the US, England, Wales, France, Germany, Belgium and Holland. He has been featured in the New York Times, the London Sunday Times, the London BBC, Sirius-XM radio and was the 1st Place recipient of the International Blues Challenge Award (Solo division) awarded by the Blues Foundation in Memphis TN. Walker blends the styles of blues, ragtime, country, bluegrass, rock and old time jazz into his own unique style. Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna and the Jefferson Airplane says “Flat out… you have to hear this great musician… I’m blown away,” and Jorma has employed Walker to teach at his famous Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp for six years. In 2010, Walker won the NY Music Award for ‘Best Instrumental CD,’ sharing honors with other winners Mariah Carey, Rufus Wainwright Judy Collins and more, and is a member of the NY Blues Hall Of Fame. Walker has recently released three instructional guitar DVD’s for Homespun Tapes to rave reviews, and his latest CD, What You See Is What You Get, has been hailed as a shining success in the genre of traditional blues recordings. Carnegie Hall acknowledged his talents by hiring him to augment and teach in their “American Roots” program aimed at honor-level middle school students. His passion for blues, rags, folk, and other traditional American music drove him to leave an apartment crammed full of recordings, books and instruments for the Mississippi Delta, Virginia and the Carolinas where he tracked down some of the more obscure but immensely talented music makers of an earlier era. He learned directly from Eugene Powell, James “Son” Thomas, Etta Baker, and R.L Burnside, among others. www.littletobywalker.com.
Hailed as a “Celtic guitar god” by the Baltimore City Paper and a recipient of the Swannanoa Gathering’s Master Master Music Maker award, Robin Bullock’s virtuosity on guitar, cittern and mandolin blends the ancient melodies of the Celtic lands, their vigorous Appalachian descendants, and the timeless masterworks of the Baroque and Renaissance eras into one powerful musical vision. Robin’s honors also 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, and a bronze medal at the National Mandolin Championships in Winfield, Kansas. He maintains a busy international touring schedule, performing solo, in Celtic duos with guitarist Steve Baughman and Irish singer Aoife Clancy, and as sideman with Grammy Award-winning folk legend Tom Paxton, including Tom’s 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015 “Together at Last” tours with fellow Grammy winner Janis Ian. Robin’s fifteen solo and collaborative CDs include his most recent, volume one of the first-ever complete recording of the Bach Cello Suites on solo mandolin, and 2016’s The Carolan Collection, a compilation of the legendary Irish bard’s compositions, sales of which benefit North Carolina animal rescue organizations. 2017 marks the twenty-third consecutive Swannanoa Gathering for Robin, now a proud resident of nearby Black Mountain.
Grammy-nominated acoustic guitarist and composer Russ Barenberg is known for his melodic playing, beautiful tone and memorable instrumental compositions. Long at the creative forefront of the acoustic music scene, he has collaborated with many of its finest artists, including Alison Krauss, James Taylor, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Emmy Lou Harris, Maura O’Connell, Jesse Winchester and Tim O’Brien. Russ’s most recent album, When At Last, earned Russ a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance and was nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrumental Album of the Year. Russ has also recorded with legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden and with actor and Grammy-winning banjo player, Steve Martin. His playing has graced numerous film soundtracks, most notably Ken Burns’ documentary, The Civil War and the 2010 release, Get Low, starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray. Since 1995, he has been a member of the house band as well as a featured performer on the acclaimed BBC television programs, The Transatlantic Sessions, which feature collaborative performances by top musicians from America and the British Isles.
Scott Ainslie is a traditional acoustic blues singer, guitarist, historian and songwriter with personal roots in the Civil Rights era and a longstanding affection for cross-cultural exchange. A musician all his life, Ainslie took up guitar after hearing Virginia bluesman John Jackson play a couple of songs in the middle of one of Mike Seeger’s concerts in Alexandria, VA in 1967. A Phi Beta Kappa and honors graduate of Washington & Lee University, Ainslie also studied with elder musicians on both sides of the color line in the old-time southern Appalachian fiddle and banjo traditions, as well as with black gospel and blues musicians. He transcribed, wrote and published a book on Delta Blues legend Robert Johnson, Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads (Hal Leonard, 1992), and has an instructional DVD on Johnson’s guitar work, Robert Johnson’s Guitar Techniques (Hal Leonard, 1997) and in 2014 released his sixth solo CD, The Last Shot Got Him. Ainslie maintains an active recording, performing, and teaching schedule that carries him around the country, to Canada, and to Europe. He has received numerous awards and grants for his work documenting and presenting traditional music, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Folklife Section of the North Carolina Arts Council.
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.
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.
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 in 2001 to inspect and adjust students’ instruments and share his vast store of maintenance tips. He is also an exceptional guitarist and 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.