Workshop Schedule (subject to change)
10:30-11:30 - Old-Time Banjo with Bruce Molsky We’ll dig into right hand clawhammer banjo techniques, from simple frailing and drop thumb to different kinds of rolls, and left hand moves as well. We’ll see how they’re used to create melody, move chords and get that all-important rhythmic pulse under the music. You’ll come out with a few more tunes as well as some general ideas about picking up tunes out of the air and setting them on your instrument. All levels are welcome! If you have just a few tunes under your belt or a lot, you should find some useful techniques and resources to help elevate your playing. Participants are free to film or record any parts of the lessons. We ask that you do not post recordings on social media. (Workshop Area A)
10:30-11:30 - Philosophy of the Back-up Guitar with Howard Rains Howard will teach his approach to back-up guitar and will discuss his thoughts on the role of the guitar player in old-time music. Although his approach is rooted in the midwestern back-up style, it is applicable to backing up all styles of American fiddling. The boom-chuck, bass runs and chord choices will be discussed as well as how to listen for the fiddler’s style and how to make one’s playing fit within that style. (Workshop Area B)
11:45-12:45 - Old-Time Mandolin with Pat Mac Swyney Surf’s Up! Pat will teach traditional dance tunes from California. We will learn a few traditional melodies collected in the early 20th century; a polka from Los Angeles, a varsovianna from Ventura & a breakdown from Fresno. You’ll also walk away with the salsa recipe that Pat’s orphaned Irish grandfather grew up eating in Santa Barbara in the 1920s. (Workshop B)
Tricia will teach her approach to old time fiddle built upon the shortcuts her grandma, Iona Spencer showed her when she was young. These are things every fiddler should know but maybe haven’t picked up along the way. This chord-based approach teaches seconding first and then how to find fiddle tunes in the shapes. All levels. (Workshop A)
Hosted Jam Schedule (subject to change)
10:00-11:00 - Old-Time Jam with Smoke Holler (Jam Tent)
Get your old-time groove on with Smoke Holler. Bust out your instruments and let’s jam!
Why do WV fiddle tunes sound so different from old time tunes of other states and areas? Maybe by the end of this short hour's worth we will know a little more than at the start. I lived most of my younger days there and formed a deep attachment to the local music. I would like to go through as many tunes as time permits, in several keys and tunings. For this reason it won't be your usual play-your favorites jam, but I hope you will like what you hear. Bring your instrument to play along when you can. We'll visit Melvin Wine, Ernie Carpenter, Israel Welch, Wilson Douglas, Ward Jarvis, Dave Bing, Lee Triplett, Ed Haley, the Hammonses, and maybe a Kentucky tune or too (hard to resist not playing those). (Jam Tent)
Meet our INSTRUCTORS & JAM HOSTS
BRUCE MOLSKY--Grammy-nominated and described as “an absolute master” (No Depression), Bruce Molsky transports audiences to another time and place, with his authentic and personal interpretations of rarities from the Southern Appalachian songbook and other musical traditions from around the globe. Best known for his work on the fiddle, Bruce’s banjo, guitar and his distinctive, powerful vocals also resonate with listeners. His combination of technical virtuosity and relaxed conversational wit makes a concert hall feel like an intimate front porch gathering. Bruce's take on tradition has landed him in collaborations with some of the world's most highly respected players from roots to rock. He is a special guest on legend rocker Mark Knopfler’s recent CD, “Tracker.” His 1865 Songs of Hope & Home with Anonymous 4, was on Billboard’s top 10 for weeks. Along with Andy Irvine & Dònal Lunny, Bruce is a founding member of the supergroup Mozaik, with three recordings. You can see Bruce on the BBC TV “Transatlantic Sessions” with Aly Bain and Jerry Douglas, and on “David Holt’s State of Music” on PBS. He stays active touring and recording with longtime collaborators Darol Anger, Tony Trischka and his trio Molsky’s Mountain Drifters,’ with Allison de Groot and Reed Stutz.
RAFE STEFANINI--Rafe Stefanini is a world-renowned musician and luthier: an old-time banjo player, fiddler, guitarist, singer, teacher, violin maker, and restorer. Stefanini has been at the forefront of the revival of traditional music from the rural south for over thirty years. Along with Dirk Powell and Bruce Molsky he has performed with a trio called the L-7s. He also recorded and performed with Bruce Molsky and guitarist Beverly Smith in Big Hoedown. He performs with his wife Nikki and daughter Clelia (who plays fiddle, guitar, double bass, and ukulele) as “Nine Pound Hammer.” Rafe and Clelia’s project with John Doyle, John Herrmann, and Eamon O’Leary, The Immigrant Band, released a new album in the summer of 2016. Rafe also recorded the critically-acclaimed fiddle & banjo duet CD Holy Smoke! with David Bragger. Stefanini has performed on A Prairie Home Companion, at the Grand Ole Opry, and at the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention. He has performed throughout the United States as well as in Finland, Germany, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.
HOWARD RAINS is an artist, fiddler, singer, and guitar player from Texas now living in Kansas. His twin obsessions are music and painting. He is the fourth generation to play on the same fiddle that was made for his great-grandfather and learned to play the guitar from his dad. The New York Times has said, “Rains has established himself as an authority on old Texas-style fiddling.” Howard has learned his music from friends, family, mentors, old recordings and rare manuscripts. As much known for his painting as his fiddling, Howard's work has been collected by the Library of Congress and has focused much of his painting on his unique watercolor style.
TRICIA SPENCER is a Kansas fiddler who grew up on her family’s farm learning the tradition of old-time fiddling knee to knee from her grandpa and grandma, Vernon and Iona Spencer. In her youth, she and her family traveled to fiddler’s conventions throughout the midwest where she learned from master fiddlers like Pete McMahan, Cyril Stinnett, Violet Hensley, Vesta Johnson, Lyman Enloe, Dwight Lamb, Amos Chase and Lucy Pierce. Tricia is known for her unique approach to seconding on the fiddle and is a teacher, artist, composer and multi-instrumentalist.
SUSAN PLATZ-- Originally from Illinois, Susan has been singing and playing the violin all her life. She holds a degree in music from Lawrence University where she focused on early Baroque opera and Renaissance choral music. After dabbling in various folk traditions, she discovered old-time fiddle at one of David Bragger’s workshops and became immediately obsessed. She has spent the last decade studying old-time music with her mentor, David, and has been invited to teach and perform fiddle duets across the US and abroad. Susan also plays in the acclaimed Los Angeles-based old-time string band Sausage Grinder. She is a two-time winner of the Santa Barbara Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention and has served as Director’s Assistant in the UCLA Old-Time String Band Ensemble. A powerful singer, Susan has delved into the world of old-time singing traditions, with a particular passion for the old-time country yodeling of Jimmie Rodgers and Riley Puckett.
PAT MAC SWYNEY grew up in Chicago and Los Angeles listening to his mother’s Dubliners and Bing Crosby records. Pat began playing traditional music in 1982 and currently lives on the windswept steppes of north Los Angeles County where he plays Trad. Jazz with The Swing Riots Quirktette; Balkan with Nevenka & Orkestar Pečurka; Irish with The Dirty Mickeys; & Old-Time with Sausage Grinder. Pat holds a degree in Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara and has subsequently never worked outside the music and food service industries.
RUTH ALPERT has been flatfooting for 45 years. She has taught workshops, danced with Old Time Appalachian string bands, busked (street performed) in various cities in at least 6 states, is a two-time National Champion in Senior Buck Dancing, 2013/2014, and won Grand Champion at Clifftop festival in 2019. Currently, Ruth is the percussionist with The Honeysuckle Possums, an all-female Santa Barbara string band playing original and traditional music.
JIM MUELLER attended his first Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention in 1976 and has been a regular attendee ever since. Jim's been influenced by many fiddlers over the decades, including Tom Sauber, Pete Sutherland, Alan Jabbour, Ralph Blizard, Bruce Molsky, and many others. In fact, Jim feels that he's been influenced by everyone that has ever shared a tune with him. Jim performed with the Growling Old Geezers, For Old Times’ Sake, and the Rosin Sniffers. That said, his favorite musical partner his my wife, Amber.
HARRY LIEDSTRAND has been playing the violin since the age of 4 and old-time fiddle since the mid 1960’s. He learned his first fiddle tunes from legendary musicians in California’s San Joaquin Valley like Kenny Hall, Ron Hughey, and Otis Pierce. He has traveled around the country collecting tunes from fiddle greats like Tommy Jarrell and Burl Hammons. His performance of fiddle tunes is energetic and inspired. His wife CINDY LIEDSTRAND accompanies him on guitar. Join Harry and Cindy for a jam session of some of their favorite fiddle tunes from this year’s Clifftop Festival in West Virginia.
JOE WACK has worn several occupational labels in his life, including painter, carpenter, treenware carver, and character designer in animation (23 seasons of the Simpsons). He has hosted the Audubon Old Time jam in Debs Park, LA, for fifteen years. Now he is retired, finally having won the time to play more music, pull weeds, and tell others his diverse and well-seasoned opinions. He has played guitar, clawhammer banjo, and violin ever since his teens (not that you would know it). Joe is grateful that he will be assisted in this West Virginia jam by the able guitar playing of Laura Osborn, a fine musician from Glendale, CA.
SMOKE HOLLER - Smoke Holler is an Old-Time Stringband based out of Los Angeles, CA. Smoke Holler has been bringing their hard driving dance tunes, crooked gems, and sweet harmonies to audiences for years, (formerly as members of “Have More Fun Stringband”). The band’s high energy music draws its roots in the rich traditional fiddling cultures from Appalachia across the Midwest to the West Coast – while imprinting a proper California vibe into the whole mix.
STRING BEAN SERENADERS Take five string band musicians from the Monterey Bay area, add a combined 150 years of experience, stir in a mix of Southern traditional old time fiddle tunes, ferment for a few years and you’ve got a farmer’s market band called the String Bean Serenaders. The tunes we play range from Fresno to the hills of northern Georgia and from languid waltzes to foot-stomping rags. Barbara Cameron and Marta Lynch play double fiddles, Craig Mitchell plays 5 and 6 string banjos, Greg Meyer plays a sparkling mandolin, and Andy Cameron keeps us steady with guitar and banjo-uke.
Meet our Artistic Director
David Bragger is a performer, recording artist and instructor of old-time music on fiddle and banjo. He teaches private lessons in-person and online.
David has written articles and been featured in Strings Magazine, Banjo Newsletter, Fiddler Magazine and other publications.
David is the director of the UCLA Old-Time String Band Ensemble and the artistic director of the Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Festival. David is also the founder of the critically acclaimed old-time music record label Tiki Parlour Recordings where he produces, records and films many of today's greatest traditional musicians.
David is also a wildly popular workshop instructor and performer at national and international music festivals, including the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, FOAOTMAD (UK), Pickathon, Mars Hill Blue Rige Week, Rocky Mountain Old-Time Music Festival, the Portland Old-Time Music Gathering, the Berkeley Old-Time Music Convention, the Santa Barbara Old-Time Fiddlers’ Convention, the Topanga Banjo & Fiddle Festival, the Los Angeles Old-Time Social and more.