Welcome to this year’s edition of our newsletter, the Postcard from Swannanoa. This summer the Gathering’s new Admin team welcomed our biggest group ever.
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 Socks in the Frying Pan, The Sharon Shannon Band, Dervish and the Alt. See the “P.S.” section for details on next spring’s Celtic Series.
Our vocal program, Traditional Song Week, got the summer started with a staff that included the Kingston Trio’s George Grove, Karl Scully of the Four Irish Tenors, bluegrass and old-time veteran Joe Newberry, New England balladeer Ed Trickett, Scottish singer Alan Reid, Irish ballad singer Len Graham, coordinator Julee Glaub Weems, Dervish vocalist Cathy Jordan, gospel singer Kathy Bullock, early country & honky-tonk specialist Mark Weems, multi-talented Appalachian musician Josh Goforth, Nashville guitarist Tim May, singer/storyteller Sheila Kay Adams and community singer Matt Watroba. Special guests included old-time artist Laura Boosinger and bluegrass banjoist Tony Ellis. Melissa Hyman offered a Dream-themed program for children during Traditional Song, Celtic, and Old-Time Weeks.
Celtic Week was bigger than ever and welcomed a number of new staff including fiddlers Mari Black, Alasdair White and Caitlin Warbelow, guitarist Owen Marshall, storyteller Maírtín de Cógáin, bodhran player Anna Colliton and multi-instrumentalist Dave Curley. They joined veteran fiddlers Martin Hayes, Liz Carroll, Andrew Finn Magill, Katie McNally, Liz Knowles and Manus McGuire, guitarists Eamon O’Leary, Robin Bullock and John Doyle, Nuala Kennedy on flute and voice, piper Kieran O’Hare, singers Len Graham, Ed Miller and Cathy Jordan, harpers Billy Jackson and Gráinne Hambly, whistle players Kathleen Conneely and Cillian Vallely, Lúnasa flute player Kevin Crawford, accordionist Damien Connolly, sean nós dancer Siobhan Butler and John Skelton again served as the Celtic Week Host.
Old-Time Music & Dance Week had another banner year under Coordinator Erynn Marshall’s leadership, with a lineup that included Eddie Bond, Jared Boyd, John Harrod, Alice Gerrard, Phil Jamison, Carol Elizabeth Jones, Kirk Sutphin, Bob Herring, John Hollandsworth, Carl Jones, Sheila Kay Adams, Bob Carlin, Howard Rains, Ellie Grace, Tricia Spencer, Karen Celia Heil, Joseph Decosimo, Cliff Hale, Ira Bernstein, Ben Nelson, Paul Kovac, Lightnin’ Wells, Luke Richardson, Kevin Kehrberg, folklorist and shape-note singer Ron Pen and dulcimer ace Don Pedi. This year’s Guest Master Artists were fiddler Roger Cooper, banjoists Lee Sexton and George Gibson, the New Southern Ramblers and dancer Thomas Maupin, accompanied by the irrepressible Daniel Rockwell.
New to Guitar Week this year were flatpicking veterans Russ Barenberg and Tim May, and percussive guitarist Preston Reed who joined slack-key master Patrick Landeza, blues guitarists Toby Walker, David Jacobs-Strain and Scott Ainslie, renowned fingerstylists Clive Carroll, Jamie Stillway, Mike Dowling, Tony McManus, Robin Bullock, Bill Cooley, Adam Rafferty, and coordinator Al Petteway. Jazz players Sean McGowan and Greg Ruby completed the teaching staff, while instrument repairman Randy Hughes diagnosed problems to complement our Luthiers Exhibit which featured instruments by master luthiers John Slobod, John Kinnaird, Tyler Robbins and Michael Bashkin along with selected inventory from Dream Guitars, a local shop specializing in high-end instruments.
Contemporary Folk Week welcomed newcomers John Gorka, Joe Craven and Nora Jane Struthers along with veteran staff members Tom Paxton, Kathy Mattea, Peter Mulvey, Vance Gilbert, Don Henry, Amy Speace, Ellis Paul, Jon Vezner, Cliff Eberhardt, Siobhan Quinn, and Camela Widad to the staff. Kim Richardson again acted as the Contemporary Folk Week Host.Sean McGowan and Greg Ruby completed the teaching staff, while instrument repairman Randy Hughes diagnosed problems to complement our Luthiers Exhibit which featured instruments by master luthiers John Slobod, John Kinnaird, Tyler Robbins and Michael Bashkin along with selected inventory from Dream Guitars, a local shop specializing in high-end instruments.
Fiddle Week partnered with Mando & Banjo Week, as 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 and bowmaker Roger Treat. Coordinator Julia Weatherford’s staff this year included bluegrass legend Byron Berline, Cajun master David Greely, jazz great Evan Price, Jeremy Kittel, old-time fiddlers Kilby Spencer, Kenny Jackson, Irish fiddler Liz Knowles, multi-stylist Darol Anger, Canadian fiddler Adrianna Ciccone, Andrea Hoag teaching Swedish fiddle, Brazilian choro fidAndrew Finn Magill, cellist Abby Newton, Nora Garver teaching beginners technique, progressive bluegrass fiddler John Mailander, guitarist Greg Ruby and bassist Ethan Jodziewicz.
Mando & Banjo Week continues to thrive with such powerhouse instructors as mandolinists Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg, bluegrass greats Alan Bibey, Emory Lester and John Reischman, jazz mandolinist Don Stiernberg, and Celtic mandolin/guitar player David Surette. New to the mandolin staff this year were choro player Tim Connell, blues player Steve James, and Mandolin for Dummies author Don Julin. The banjo staff was led by bluegrass masters Alan Munde and Bill Evans, with Paul Brown and Terri McMurray teaching the traditional old-time clawhammer banjo style. Ed Dodson taught guitar and led the daily bluegrass jam, while legendary mandolin builder Lynn Dudenbostel was again on-hand to offer repair work and bad puns.
Check out the “Coming Next Summer” section for a sneak preview of the 2019 lineup.