Emory Lester has been a notable fixture in the acoustic mandolin world for the past four decades, and is an innovator of mandolin technique and a renowned creative artist, multi-instrumentalist, and instructor. His large body of recorded work has placed him among the elite mandolinist of our time. The power and attack of his mandolin playing are unmatched, and his sound is infectious. He has inspired and influenced many of our current generation’s mandolin players, and pointed the way with his clean, clear, fast and efficient mandolin technique. Emory has performed across the U.S., Canada, Europe, U.K. and Czech Republic, with Clawgrass banjoist Mark Johnson, Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa, his own Emory Lester Set and Emory Lester & Jill Jones Band, as well as a roster of famous notables such as Del McCoury, Tony Rice, Steve Martin (on The David Letterman Show), Babik Reinhardt (son of Django), and recently Jim Hurst, to name a few. He has a long and impressive body of recorded works including two new releases, Acoustic Milestones 20 Years with Mark Johnson, and On Christmas Night, with special guest Jill Jones, as well as his At Dusk solo recording, all showcasing Emory’s musical creativity and skill. A sought-after instructor of mandolin, banjo and guitar, he has a world-wide roster of Skype students and has taught at many prestigious music camps and workshops in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the U.K. for the past 15 years.
Mike Marshall is one of the most accomplished and versatile mandolinists in the world today. Since 2011, Mike has taught hundreds of mandolinists from around the world through his Mike Marshall School of Mandolin online website. Mike is a living compendium of musical styles and has created some of the most adventurous and interesting instrumental music in America today. He seamlessly blends his American roots background with a deep understanding of European classical, American Jazz and Pop styles and Brazilian and other world musics. Mike cut his teeth on traditional American music in Florida, but by age 19 he was snatched up by the groundbreaking David Grisman Quintet to tour and record with jazz violin legend Stephane Grappelli. Since then, Mike produced over 40 of his own recordings on the Windham Hill, Sony Classical, Rounder, Sugar Hill, Compass and his own Adventure Music label and performed and recorded with Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Chris Thile, Hamilton De Holanda, Darol Anger, Joshua Bell, Mark O’Connor, Vasen and the Turtle Island Quartet. In 1995, after a trip to Brazil, Mike fell in love Brazilian choro music and went on to spearhead a renaissance for that style of music here in the U.S. with his group, Choro Famoso, which has released two CDs. Mike is currently the director of the American Music Seminar at the Savannah Music Festival, where each spring he hand-selects 15 of the hottest young acoustic musicians from all over the country to meet for a week-long intensive. In 2015, Mike was presented with the Gathering’s Master Music Maker award for lifetime achievement, and he has just launched his newest venture, the Global Mandolin Retreats, an exquisite mandolin gathering at fabulous locations around the world. Mike tours and records these days with his wife, German classical mandolin virtuoso Caterina Lichtenberg. Together these two are bridging their very different mandolin worlds into a cohesive whole while chasing after their two beautiful daughters Josefine and Pauline. They have three CDs on the Adventure Music label including one of Johann Sebastian Bach duets for Mandolin and Mandocello. Some of the groups that Mike helped found include The Montreux Band, The Modern Mandolin Quartet, New Grange, The Big Trio, Psychograss and the Mandolin Symposium, a seminar cofounded with David Grisman that ran for 12 years.
Bill has taught hundreds of thousands of banjo players of all levels from all over the world through his best-selling books and DVDs, hundreds of camp and workshop appearances and private lessons. His books Banjo For Dummies, Bluegrass Banjo For Dummies and Parking Lot Pickers Songbook: Banjo Edition, along with nine Homespun, Murphy Method and AcuTab DVD projects have set the modern standard for bluegrass banjo instruction. He has mentored professional players Chris Pandolfi, Greg Liszt, Wes Corbett and Jayme Stone among many others. Bill’s latest CD release is More Fine Times At Fletcher’s House with Norman & Nancy Blake, and his most recent DVD set is Licks-ercises for Bluegrass Banjo from Homespun. He has performed with David Bromberg, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Laurie Lewis, Jody Stecher, Hazel & Alice, Mike Seeger and many others in a career that now spans over four decades. He currently tours with his solo show, The Banjo in America, and he also appears with guitar flatpicking legend Dan Crary.
Since first hitting the professional scene in the early 1980’s, Alan has made a name for himself as one of the most creative and technically gifted mandolinists in bluegrass and acoustic music. He was an original member of such ground-breaking bands as The New Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out, BlueRidge and, for the last 9 years, Alan Bibey & Grasstowne. He was selected as Mandolin Performer Of The Year for 2007, 2009 and 2010 by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) and won Album of the Year in 2008. His IBMA awards include Instrumental Album of the Year in 2001, Album of the Year in 2006, and Recorded Event in 2012. He has had numerous #1 albums and songs, including Grasstowne’s latest, “Cold Dark Ground”, which he wrote with country great Mark Collie and Ronnie Bowman. His recent project, The Mandolin Chronicles, was nominated last year for 5 IBMA awards. 2004’s BlueRidge project, for which he wrote the title track, was nominated for a Grammy. He was included in the Mel Bay book, Greatest Mandolin Players of the Twentieth Century, and in 2004, the Gibson Company put into production the Alan Bibey Signature line of mandolins, reaffirming his status as one of the most influential mandolin players in bluegrass and acoustic music history.
Paul Brown has been hooked on traditional southern music since early childhood, when he started picking up songs his mother had learned as a kid in piedmont Virginia. Paul took up banjo at age ten and fiddle a bit later. His playing bears influences of the North Carolina and Virginia masters he sought out as a young adult, and he loves to share what he learned from these memorable players, and the styles and tunes he’s created himself. He also loves dancing and playing fiddle and banjo for square dances. Paul has appeared at camps and festivals around the U.S. since the early 1970s including many times at our Old-Time Week. He’s recorded and produced highly-regarded traditional music albums, and won numerous banjo and fiddle contests.
A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music and a virtuoso mandolinist with over twenty years professional performing experience, Tim Connell has created a sophisticated and original global style on the mandolin. Widely regarded as one of the top North American interpreters of the Brazilian choro style on the mandolin, Tim has his own unique voice on the instrument, described in a Mandolin Magazine feature story as “fiery and energetic, soulful and evocative.” He regularly tours Europe and North America in the international mandolin supergroup, The Ger Mandolin Orchestra and has been a featured guest artist at national conventions of the Classical Mandolin Society of America and the prestigious Mandolin Symposium. he performs with with his Brazilian choro duo, Rio Con Brio, the 1930’s-era swing quartet Stumptown Swing, world mandolin duo Mando Planet, Americana songsters The Old Yellers and guitar wizard Eric Skye. Currently an Adjunct Professor of Music at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR, Tim’s latest releases include June Apple, an album of bluegrass fiddle tunes with guitarist Eric Skye, and MandAlone, a collection of original solo mandolin arrangments including his popular arrangement of “Here Comes the Sun.”
A Juno-nominated and Grammy-award winning artist, John Reischman is one of the premier mandolinists of his generation, known for his work with his band, the Jaybirds, and his acclaimed solo albums, but he got his start in the late 1970s as an original member of the Tony Rice Unit with whom he helped define the “new acoustic music” movement. Influenced by Bill Monroe, but also by such adventurous players as Sam Bush, David Grisman, and jazz mandolinist Jethro Burns, Reischman performed during the 1980s with the seminal bluegrass band, The Good Ol’ Persons. In 1996, he won a Grammy as part of Todd Phillips’ all-star tribute album to Bill Monroe, and he’s collaborated with a remarkably wide range of artists, such as Kathy Kallick, Scott Nygaard, Tony Furtado, Chinese Music ensemble Red Chamber, and more. Long inspired by Latin American roots music, from Puerto Rican cuatro to Brazilian choro music, John’s been exploring this music and forging new compositions from these inspirations in his duo with Seattle master acoustic guitarist John Miller. In 2013, John released his third solo album, Walk Along John, a celebration of his long career, with old friends like fiddler Bruce Molsky, banjoist Tony Trischka, the Punch Brothers’ Chris Thile, bluegrass guitarist Kenny Smith, plus members of the Jaybirds, and new friends such as guitarist Eli West of The Deadly Gentlemen.
Don Stiernberg recently began his fifth decade as a working musician. Along the way he has been involved in many musical activities: performing, writing, recording, producing, and teaching, but is best known for his mandolin playing. Born and still based in Chicago, the mandolin found Don as he grew up “out in the woods” in the nearly-rural suburb of Wauconda, IL. Things came into focus both mandolin- and life-wise when his parents sent Don to study with Jethro Burns, famous comedian(Homer and Jethro) and the greatest mandolinist of his time. From the very first lesson, Burns was more than a teacher. He was a role model, hero, mentor, and friend, and Stiernberg was hooked and hooked bad on the mandolin. Currently, Don is regarded as a leading exponent of jazz mandolin style,and a respected teacher. The most recent of his nine recording projects is Good Numbers, a collection of standards and jazz tunes played by his working band, The Don Stiernberg Trio, which has performed coast to coast as well as in Germany and Brazil. In 2016, Don released three online video instructional courses for Soundslice.com and he also conveys his love of the mandolin and music at events such as The Mandolin Symposium(CA), The Swannanoa Gathering(NC), Django in June(MA), Mandolin and Guitar Camp North(MA),Steve Kaufman Acoustic Camp(TN), River of the West Mandolin Camp(OR), Cape Cod Mandolin Camp(MA), Ashokan Swing Week(NY), Accademia Internacionale di Mandolino(Italy), European Mandoline Akademy(Germany)and Momento Rio Bandolim(Brazil).
Caterina Lichtenberg is one of the premier classical mandolinists in the world today. As a featured soloist, Ms. Lichtenberg has performed with the New Century Orchestra under Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, the LA Guitar Quartet, the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester of Frankfurt under Diego Fasolis and the Aachen Chamber Orchestra. She has also performed with the Dresden Symphony Orchestra, the MDR Orchestra under Fabio Luisi, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra under Riccardo Chailly, the MDR Sinfonie Orchestra under Howard Arman, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Berlin and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Lorin Maazel. She’s also performed with Art Garfunkel on live German TV. Caterina currently holds the only position in the world for Classical Mandolin at the Music Conservatory in Cologne, Germany and also teaches online through ArtistWorks, where students can get personal feedback on their playing from Caterina through the company’s patented Video Exchange System. She has also been a juror and a sought-after lecturer/teacher at numerous events around the world including the European Plucked String Orchestra in Logroño (Spain) and Bologna (Italy), the International Mandolin Festival in Kobe (Japan), The International Mandolin Convention in Washington, Minneapolis and San Diego (USA), The Mandolin Symposium in Santa Cruz, California and she has been a part of the Swannanoa Gathering Mando & Banjo Week since its inception. Caterina also has published numerous instructional books and filmed two DVD instructional videos for Homespun Tapes. Caterina’s solo CDs are some of the most important recordings of classical mandolin music of our time and she continues to push the boundaries of her instrument and expand the mandolin repertoire. To date, Caterina has released 10 CDs under her own leadership in a variety of chamber music settings, five with guitarist Mirko Schrader. As a specialist on early period instruments, Caterina was invited to record on a 1775 mandolin from the Ferdinandeum Museum in Innsbruck, Austria. With her current musical partner, Mike Marshall she has recorded 3 CDs on the Adventure Music label. In 2017 Caterina and Mike Marshall launched their international mandolin educational event called the Global Mandolin Retreat. Caterina has performed at the Schleswig-Holstein Musikfestival in Germany with violinist Daniel Hope, The Rome Chamber Music Festival, The Carmel Bach Festival, the Savannah Music Festival , the Baroque Festival Santa Cruz, the Rockygrass, Grand Targhee and Wintergrass Bluegrass festivals, the Festival de Mandolins de Lunel France and the Arte International Mandolin Festival in Japan.
Terri McMurray has a sharp wit, a memorable smile and great chops on 5-string banjo, banjo uke, and guitar. Music drew her to the southern Appalachian mountains in 1982. She looked and listened hard during her many years around some of the great master traditional musicians in North Carolina and southern Virginia, and it shows in her playing. She co-founded the Old Hollow String Band and played for more than 20 years with the Toast String Stretchers, the most active band in the well-known metropolis of Toast, NC, between Round Peak and Mount Airy. She currently plays with Paul Brown in the Mountain Birch Duo. Terri is a well-loved teacher known for her engaging manner, patience and ability to work with students of all ages.
Alan Munde began his long career in bluegrass music with the 1968 recording of Poor Richard’s Almanac featuring Sam Bush and Wayne Stewart, followed by a grounding in traditional bluegrass music with IBMA Hall of Fame member Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys. In 1972, Alan joined his college picking friend Byron Berline in the progressive bluegrass group Country Gazette. Alan continued as the anchor of the group for 21 years. Along the way, he recorded many highly-regarded albums including Banjo Sandwich, the Festival Favorites series and he was featured on the 2001 IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year, Knee Deep in Bluegrass. His most recent recording is a duo CD with mandolin player Billy Bright entitled Bright Munde. Alan and Beth Mead-Sullivan have authored a new tab book of banjo arrangements entitled The Great American Banjo Songbook, published by Hal Leonard and featuring 70 songs from the golden era of American songwriting. He taught in the Bluegrass Music Program at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas for 20 years and has also published many instructional books for Mel Bay, instructional DVDs for Texas Music and Video, and participated in music workshops and camps in both America and Europe.
Don Julin, author of the best-selling Mandolin For Dummies, and founder of Mandolins Heal The World (www.mandolinshealtheworld.com) is regarded as one of the most eclectic mandolin players and top mandolin instructors on the scene today. The fiery bluegrass duo Billy Strings & Don Julin gained critical acclaim with non-stop touring and two independent recordings, Rock of Ages and Fiddle Tune X. They played hundreds of house concerts, club gigs and major festivals including DelFest, RockyGrass, Grey Fox, ROMP, Wintergrass, Pickathon, Wheatland, and more. Don has been a featured mandolin instructor at The Mandolin Symposium, Wheatland Music Camp, Rockygrass Academy, Wintergrass Mandolin Intensive, Jim Richter’s Mandolin Camp For The Rest Of Us, Midwest BanjoCamp, and others. His workshops, classes, and private lessons feature a hands-on approach focusing on developing good left- and right-hand skills, along with a dose of ear training and music theory. Don is passionate about the mandolin and believes that the prince of all stringed instruments can be used effectively in a variety of genres including jazz, pop, latin, funk, reggae, and of course, bluegrass.
One of New England’s premiere instrumentalists, David Surette is highly regarded for his work on the guitar (both flatpicked and fingerstyle), mandolin and bouzouki in a wide variety of settings. As a soloist, he is nationally-known as a top player of Celtic fingerstyle guitar, yet his diverse repertoire also includes original compositions, blues and ragtime, traditional American roots music, and folk music from a variety of traditions, all played with finesse, taste, and virtuosity. He has performed as a duo with his wife, singer Susie Burke, for over 20 years, recording several albums and building a reputation as one of New England’s top folk duos. Surette was a founding member of the Airdance band with fiddler Rodney Miller, with whom he recorded four albums and toured nationally. He has also released five solo recordings – his most recent is Return to Kemper, a collection of original and traditional solo guitar pieces from 1990-2011. David is an accomplished and gifted teacher who has taught at workshops and camps throughout the U.S. and the U.K. He is folk music coordinator at the Concord (NH) Community Music School, and artistic director of their March Mandolin Festival. He has authored a book of Celtic fingerstyle guitar arrangements for Mel Bay Publications, and is a regular contributor to Acoustic Guitar and Strings magazines.
Best known as a blues guitar monster, and a long-time instructor in our Guitar Week, Steve James found his first mandolin in a pawnshop in Johnson City, Tennessee and, inspired by string wizard Yank Rachell, taught himself to play a blues in the key of G. “About fifteen years later”, he relates, “I ran into Howard Armstrong who showed me how to play another song!” Some more years and several keys later, Steve has created print and video instruction programs on blues mandolin for String Letter and Homespun and has followed a directive from Yank Rachell who told him: “You got a good guitar and a good mandolin, you can go all over the world!”
Ed was the lead guitarist and singer for Wood & Steel, a bluegrass band based in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. 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.
Among many players, Lynn’s intruments are some of the most highly prized, and he is usually listed among that rareified group of the very best luthiers. Inspired by the vintage Martin guitars and Gibson mandolins of the 1920’s and 1930’s, Lynn became a full-time luthier in 1997 and continues to build traditional-style guitars and mandolins in his shop in Maryville, TN. This is Lynn’s seventh year as our luthier-in-residence, offering repair services throughout the week.