Our Master Music Maker Tony Trischka is perhaps the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. In his 40-plus years as a consummate banjo artist, his stylings have inspired generations of bluegrass and acoustic musicians. His technical and conceptual advances opened the way for such players as Bela Fleck and Alison Brown and his recordings with them and others, including Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley and Pete Seeger are part of every banjo-lover’s musical reference. Tony was a member of a number of influential groups including the Down City Ramblers, Country Cooking, Country Granola, and Breakfast Special. He was the musical leader for the Broadway show, The Robber Bridegroom, and worked on the soundtrack for Driving Miss Daisy. He has appeared on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, From Our Front Porch, and other radio shows, and recently produced Steve Martin’s Grammy-nominated Rare Bird Alert, which features performances by Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks. His 2007 release, Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, featured appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Alison Brown and more, was nominated for a Grammy and won three IBMA awards including Banjo Player of the Year for Tony. His recent recording, Territory, was named Best Americana Album at the Independent Music Awards. Tony is the musical director and associate producer of the documentary, Give Me the Banjo, which aired on PBS and has been released on DVD. He has created numerous instructional books, DVDs, CDs and the groundbreaking Tony Trischka School of Banjo, that is the online banjo home for students from around the world. Tony was also recently one of 50 recipients to receive a fellowship from United States Artists, a privately endowed organization that annually awards grants to participants in all of the arts, including music, dance, visual artists, and literature. Recent releases include Great Big World, featuring Steve Martin, John Goodman, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Noam Pikelny and many others, the seasonal Of A Winter’s Night, and This Favored Land, which will be released later this year.
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. Some of the groups that Mike helped found include The Montreux Band, The Modern Mandolin Quartet, New Grange, The Big Trio and Psychograss. Mike cut his teeth on traditional American music in Florida, but by age 19 he was snatched up by the David Grisman Quintet to tour and record with 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 labels 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 around the world to meet for a week-long intensive workshop. 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 Mandolin World 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 the two have bridged 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, and their latest, entitled Third Journey, is a romp through their many musical worlds.
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 instruction is practical, down-to-earth and designed for the adult learner at any level, whether it be “how Earl & J.D. did it” or the latest in progressive melodic & single-string techniques. His books Banjo For Dummies and Bluegrass Banjo For Dummies along with nine Homespun, Murphy Method and AcuTab DVD projects have set the modern standard for bluegrass banjo instruction. He hosts a popular online banjo course at Peghead Nation and has taught at almost every bluegrass camp in the world, in addition to hosting his own events in California and New Mexico. His own mentors include Sonny Osborne, J. D. Crowe, Ben Eldridge, Bill Emerson and Bill Keith and in turn, he has helped many young professional players, including Chris Pandolfi, Wes Corbett and Jayme Stone. These days, he tours with his solo show The Banjo in America and regularly performs with guitarist Dan Crary and fellow banjoist Alan Munde. His latest recording is Songs That Are Mostly Older Than Us, recorded with fiddler Fletcher Bright and acoustic icons Norman & Nancy Blake.
Since first hitting the professional scene in the early 1980’s, Alan has made a name for himself as one of the most 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 10 years, Alan Bibey & Grasstowne. He was selected as Mandolin Performer Of The Year for 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2018 by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA). His IBMA awards include Instrumental Album Of The Year, Album Of The Year and Recorded Event Of The Year, just to name a few. Alan Bibey & Grasstowne have had over ten #1 bluegrass songs including four from their latest bluegrass project, Grasstowne 4. Their latest bluegrass gospel single, “Gonna Rise & Shine” was #1 for seven weeks and in the top three for over 20 weeks! His recent project with Wayne Benson, The Mandolin Chronicles, was nominated 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 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 tours nationally in duos with a variety of artists including Cesar Garabini, Don Julin and Brian Moran. In his hometown of Portland Oregon, he leads the 1930’s-era swing quartet Stumptown Swing and performs frequently with Americana songsters The Old Yellers and guitar wizard Eric Skye. 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.” Tim teaches at acoustic music camps around the country including The Swannanoa Gathering, Kaufman Kamp, Django in June, California Coast Music Camp, Walker Creek, River of the West and Wintergrass Academy. He has been a featured guest artist at national conventions of the Classical Mandolin Society of America and the Mandolin Symposium.
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 work with Seattle master acoustic guitarist John Miller. John’s third solo album, Walk Along John, is 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, the 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 has released four online video instructional courses for Soundslice.com and he also conveys his love of the mandolin and music at events such as Marshall Mandolin Summit(MI), Alan Bibey Mandolin Camp(SC), The Mandolin Symposium(CA), Great Lakes Mandolin Camp(MI), The Swannanoa Gathering(NC), Django in June(MA), Mandolin 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 German live 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, she 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 Mandolin World Retreats. 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.
Grammy-nominated mandolinist Matt Flinner has made a career out of playing acoustic music in new ways. Whether it’s with his own Matt Flinner Trio or with the Frank Vignola Quartet, Phillips, Grier & Flinner, Darrell Scott, Steve Martin, the Ying Quartet, Leftover Salmon or the Modern Mandolin Quartet, Flinner’s style and compositional ability have established him as one of the most accomplished and musically diverse mandolinists in the world. Originally a banjo prodigy who was playing bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens, Flinner later took up the mandolin, won the National Banjo Competition in Winfield, KS in 1990, and won the mandolin award there the following year. Matt now tours regularly with the Matt Flinner Trio, which is known for its off-the-cuff compositional daring, writing music the same day it’s performed on most of their shows. He also tours regularly with the Modern Mandolin Quartet, which was nominated for three Grammy awards for their CD, Americana in 2013. Matt’s compositions have been performed by the Ying Quartet, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, the Expedition Quintet and the Modern Mandolin Quartet.
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.
David Surette is highly regarded throughout New England and beyond for his work on the mandolin, guitar (both flatpicked and fingerstyle), and cittern; Sing Out! magazine calls him “A master player of fretted instruments; The Green Mandolin is a Celtic mandolin recording tour-de-force.” His diverse repertoire includes Celtic and New England tunes, original compositions, blues and ragtime, traditional American roots music, and folk music from a variety of traditions. With his wife, singer Susie Burke, the duo have performed regularly together for more than 30 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 critically-acclaimed solo CDs; his most recent release, Waiting For The Sun, is a duo recording with Susie. In addition, Surette is a gifted teacher, having taught at numerous workshops, camps, and festivals throughout the US, and in the UK and Italy. He is folk music coordinator at the Concord (NH) Community Music School, and artistic director of their March Mandolin Festival, now in its 17th year.
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 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.
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.