Workshops & Hosted Jams


2019 Workshop Schedule (Subject to Change)

All workshops are included in your admission.
Thank you to our expert panel of teachers!

Music from New Mexico with Paul Rangell and Emily Abbink          Learn a few lively tunes from New Mexico, learned from the masters - Cleofes Ortiz, Alfredo Vigil, Gregorio Ruiz, and Antonia Apodaca. All instruments are welcome - guitar, fiddles, mandolins, accordions, banjos, concertina and bass.  Chord charts will be provided - but no written sheet music. Learn a polka, a cuadrilla,un chotis, y un valse de Nuevo Mexico.

Old-Time Fiddle Tunes of Marcus Martin with Rafe Stefanini                                                      Rafe, one of the great living old-time fiddle masters, will teach an all-level workshop that will explore and deconstruct fiddle tunes from Marcus Martin's mysterious and beautiful repertoire. Come prepared to learn and bring any form of recording device you prefer as the teaching will be by ear and repetition.

Freestyle Flatfooting Workshop with Ruth Alpert
Flatfooting, Buck Dancing and Clogging are related, but different styles, of foot percussion. Freestyle flatfooting is improvised, in which every dancer finds their own expression. We will start by teaching you some basic steps to get you going, and then we will focus on playing the tune with our feet!

12:45-1:45 (Barn)
Old-Time Singing with Suzy Thompson & Frannie Leopold            Learn some unusual and fun songs from the old-time harmony singing tradition!  This is the kind of music that came before bluegrass, and it follows different (and fewer!) rules. Leave your inhibitions at home; you don’t have to have a “good” voice to enjoy singing these songs.   Frannie and Suzy are both experienced singing teachers; they’ve taught (together and separately) at many camps including Voiceworks, Lark In the Morning and Walker Creek.  They have been singing buddies for over 40 years.

Old-Time Guitar with Eric Thompson

Eric will explore rhythms, runs, and melodic breaks for old-time guitar songs and tunes, drawing on ideas from Maybelle Carter, Riley Puckett and Doc Watson.

Old-Time Banjo with Barry Southern                                                            Barry will explore bum-dittying, drop-thumbing and the drive of clawhammer banjo. He'll discuss alternate tunings and teach a fun tune filled with tricks to set you on your way to better technique.

Old-Time Fiddle with Jason Cade                                                            This workshop will explore expressive ideas and techniques that can reveal and enhance the beauty and enjoyment of southern old-time music while holding true to tradition. We will focus on making our tunes more compelling with phrasing, bowing, articulation, subtle variation, dynamics, and, above all, listening. All skill levels are welcome—mastery of these ideas and tools is a life-long pursuit for most of us—although participants should have basic facility with their instruments and ideally will know at least a few common fiddle tunes.

Playing with Others -- All Instruments with Rob McMaken
Making great music may ultimately depend more on how well the musicians listen to each other than anything else. Â The goal of this workshop is for participants to walk away with their ears more open and with a fresh approach to playing with others and finding pleasure in listening. There will be exercises, demonstrations, music making, and listening In this workshop.


Art Rosenbaum has been playing the 5-string banjo for over 65 years, and learned first-hand from old-time traditional players in the Appalachians and elsewhere. In 1968 Oak Publications published "Old-Time Mountain Banjo," the first instruction book devoted entirely to traditional picking styles and tunings. His most recent book/ 2 -DVD project is "The Art Rosenbaum Old-Time Banjo Book."  In workshops Art will focus on several picking styles and tunings in a way that can be helpful to beginners and experienced players. Although he'll touch on "clawhammer," down-stroke picking, Art will give the basics of up-picking, thumb and index lead two-finger styles, and pre-bluegrass three-finger styles. He'll discuss "noting" versus "chording," show a few different tunings, and have something to say about singing to banjo. This is a lot for one hour, bring your banjo, your recording device, your questions, and enthusiasm.

2019 Jam at the Festival

At the heart of any great old-time festival is the jamming! Fiddles, banjos, guitars, mandolins, washtub basses, and other stringed instruments are picked, plucked, strummed and banged on in jams that vary in size, from 2 to 25 people!

Musicians are free to start old-time jams anywhere around the grounds. Additionally, there will be assigned areas for jams too. This year we’ll even have 4 hosted jams for musicians and beginners who are just breaking into the world of playing with others OR who simply want to meet new folks to make old-time music with!

Hosted Jam Sessions

Old-Time Jam
Hosted by Andy Denes

Old-Time Jam-West Virginia Tunes
hosted by Joe Wack

Old-Time Jam
hosted by Jim Mueller

Old-Time Beginner's Jam (Contest Stage Area)
hosted by Susan Platz & Pat MacSwyney of Sausage Grinder




Meet our talented performers, teachers and jam hosts

Rafe Stefanini is an old-time banjo player, fiddler, guitarist, singer, teacher and violin maker. He was born in Italy and grew up in Bologna. He first visited the United States in the late 1970s and came to live in the U.S. in 1983. He has performed with the Clelia Stefanini, Wildcats, , The Rockinghams and L-7s. He has also performed with Bruce Molsky and guitarist Beverly Smith in at the old-time supergroup Big Hoedown. Most recently, he recorded the fiddle and banjo duet album Holy Smoke! with our festival director David Bragger on Tiki Parlour Recordings.

Todalo Shakers The Todalo Shakers play vintage jug band party  blues and old time rags & stomps which sound like they are lifted right out of 1928 in Memphis, Tennessee.  The band features lots of harmony vocal arrangements, making for a rich and funky palette of vocal blends and a great feeling of camaraderie; the exuberance and fondness that the musicians feel for their material and for each other is unmistakable. Mix in hot ragtime tunes on fiddle and mandolin plus virtuoso bass slap solos, and the party really gets going!

Jim & Jamie Fox hail from Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, Montana - home of the Aaniih and Nakoda tribes.  Under the wing of local fiddler Fatty Morin, the Fox's learned the tunes and tradition by joining house sessions and sitting next to him at the local dances.  Jamie will be joined by her Dad on guitar and are excited to present their tunes and style on a stage together.

Métis fiddle music is a mixture of Celtic, French, and Native American cultures. Jamie and her family have been fortunate to play with master traditional Métis fiddlers Jimmie LaRocque and Mike Page of the Turtle Mountain reservation, Johnny Arcand of Saskatoon, and Fatty Morin in Montana. Those old-style, traditional-lineage players firmly root The Fox's in the Métis tradition deep into the 19th century. Coming from within the tradition themselves, they represent the continuance of this generation maintaining a style and repertoire that dates back to the fur trade era of the 17th century and the first generation of European and Aboriginal mixing in the upper reaches of the North American continent.

The Horsenecks  The Horsenecks play hard-hitting and heartfelt Old Time and classic Bluegrass music. Their sound is centered around the pairing of the signature rhythmic Appalachian fiddle style of Oregonian Gabrielle Macrae, (the Macrae Sisters, Hook & Anchor) and the driving yet subtle three-finger banjo playing of Liverpudlian Barry Southern (Tramp Attack, The Loose Moose Stringband.) Gabrielle's playing style is the result of being raised in the Old Time music hotbed of Portland, OR and being exposed to the fiddle traditions of the Southeast through years of traveling to festivals and learning from some of the greatest players in the genre.  Barry's banjo playing ranges from thrilling and high-octane to moody and captivating. Harmony singing and thoughtful song writing bring this Old Time band to the stage with an exciting and varied set of upbeat foot-stompers, new takes on old standards, original compositions and heartfelt harmony singing. Since meeting at a music festival in 2012, Macrae and Southern have been performing, touring and teaching together at venues, festivals, dive bars and back yards across the country and in the UK and Ireland.  They received critical acclaim for their first two albums, 'The Horsenecks' (2016) and 'Fiddlehead' (2018) . 

Hog-Eyed Man Athens, GA's Hog-eyed Man explores a treasure-trove of traditional music from the pre-radio era, when ghosts of Scots-Irish tunes mingled with distinctly American sounds. Fiddler Jason Cade and multi-instrumentalist Rob McMaken are at the helm, often joined on stage (and on their most recent recordings) by a community of oldtime music friends. The last guardians of 19th century solo fiddle traditions from the Southern Appalachians played with a wild and lyrical earthiness that still resonates with anyone who appreciates authentic tradition and unvarnished musical expression. Though some of their repertoire would become smoothed out and incorporated into the modern oldtime and bluegrass canons, many of the more asymmetrical tunes and nuanced aesthetics of the earlier masters were left behind. Hog-eyed Man takes listeners on a soulful journey, rooted in community and tradition, stretching back into this forgotten past while simultaneously reaching forward to oldtime music’s alternate future.

Skillet Licorice Skillet Licorice is the latest project from San Francisco Bay Area roots-music luminaries Elise Engelberg and Matt Knoth. The duo’s talents are showcased beautifully on their new self-titled CD which draws on their diverse experiences playing in numerous string bands over the years in a dizzying array of folk genres. Whether they’re playing hot fiddle breakdowns, slinky blues, sparkling banjo breaks, ragtime or dreamy waltzes the duo displays an impressive command of styles and techniques that comes from deep study and loving dedication to America’s folk traditions. With the help of their talented friends they’ve put together an incredible repertoire that is essentially traditional, yet with a modern approach that is anything but a clinical archival music. Skillet Licorice is hot, sweet, and just a bit greasy!

SLO County Stumblers play red hot old time fiddle tunes along the Central Coast of California. Band members are Casy Meikle: fiddle, Daniel Bohlman: banjo, Stuart Mason: guitar, and Jerry James: bass fiddle

Eric Thompson took up the guitar as a teenager in Palo Alto, California in the early 1960’s, at a time when very few folk guitarists were playing more than basic rhythm guitar. Among his earliest bands were the Black Mountain Boys (with Jerry Garcia and David Nelson) and Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions. He soon became nationally known as an exceptional lead flatpicker, winning the World Championship Cup at Union Grove. Since that time he’s been in many bands – the Spare Change Boys, the Graineog Celidh Band, the Blue Flame Stringband, the Backwoods Band, Kleptograss, Guitars Without Borders – and recorded innumerable albums, both solo recordings and as a support player.

Suzy Thompson Some 40 years ago, Suzy Thompson inflicted on her mother and father just about every aspirational parent’s worst nightmare. Though she had been accepted to Yale, the folk-music-besotted teenager left her Connecticut home, boarded a Green Tortoise bus and headed to Berkeley, where she knew exactly one person. She not only ended up staying, she’s played a central role in turning the city into an extraordinarily vibrant nexus for an intersecting array of American roots music traditions. A powerful fiddler, skilled guitarist, and beguilingly blues-inflected vocalist, she’s an invaluable force as a player, bandleader, and inveterate organizer responsible for the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention.

Jim Mueller has been playing the fiddle since 1977 and is primarily interested in Southern fiddle styles. He plays fiddle with the Growling Old Geezers String Band, and For Old TimesÕ Sake. He has performed and taught at dances and festivals throughout California and the United States, including the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington, the Swannanoa Gathering, in Asheville, North Carolina, and the Lark in the Morning Summer Music Celebration. In his spare time, Jim is a Professor of Mathematics at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

David Bragger, our festival artistic director, is the old-time fiddle and banjo guru of Los Angeles. He directs the UCLA Old-Time String Band Ensemble and is the founder of the Old-Time Tiki Parlour, which produces CDs, videos, concerts and workshops by the best old-time musicians alive. David is in high demand as a fiddle teacher at festivals and has private students on four continents! He is renowned for his ability to break down tunes and bowing with ease and clarity. David also plays banjo, fiddle and mandolin in the old-time stringband Sausage Grinder and in several local dance bands.

Emily Abbink & Paul Rangell (The Seabright Serenaders)  - play social music from the old world and new. They favor the ballo liscio tunes brought by Italian immigrants to San Francisco, along with the traditional music gleaned from Southwestern fiddlers. The duo performs weekly on mandolin/violin and guitar in cafes, restaurants, farmers markets, and private events in Santa Cruz, CA. They also sharpen their trade with their two sons in the Rhythm Rangellers, a fiddle based band specializing in jigs, stomps, waltzes and bustdowns from New Mexico, Ireland, the American south, Arizona desert, and California. Paul & Emily are founding members of the infamous roots band, Bayou Seco, and have performed in Canada, France, England, Burma and Hawaii. In 2015 and 2018, they enjoyed two extended artist residencies in Venice, Italy to research and refine their music - busking forty times as permitted artisti di strada. They self-produced two CDs, Tuesday Nights (2012) and Noche Azul (2014). More information can be found on their website

Susan Platz is a powerful fiddler from Illinois who now resides in Los Angeles. She fiddles and sings for the old-time band Sausage Grinder with her bandmate David Bragger, our artistic director. She is especially fond of harmonizing and playing fiddle duets. Her debut CD of fiddle duets with David Bragger is expected later this year.

Pat MacSwyney is a Los Angeles based multi instrumentalist who plays Old-Time with The DEAD ROOSTER Memorial String Band; Traditional Jazz with The SWING RIOTS Quirktette; and Balkan with the eastern European women’s choir NEVENKA.

Ruth Alpert has been flatfooting for 35 years. She has taught workshops, danced with old-time Appalachian string bands, busked (street performed) in various cities in at least 6 states, and is a two time National Champion in Senior Buck Dancing, 2013 and 2014. Currently, Ruth is the percussion section of The Honeysuckle Possums, an all-female string band playing original and traditional music.

Andy Denes has played old-time music since the Folk Music Revival of the 60s. He starting out playing mandolin because his orthodontist nixed the trumpet.  Andy is a fixture in the SoCal jam scene.  He jams as often as possible and hope to travel to more festivals nationwide.  In the last few years, he's developed a compact tablature for mandolin.

Joe Wack began playing old time on the banjo and guitar in the early 70's of the last century, picking up fiddle along the way.  A career as a character designer in animation has not succeeded in derailing his interest in playing his home state's music.  He continues to play in various groups and leads a monthly jam.  With his two bandmates, he produced an album of fiddle tunes in 2013, Yew Pine Melodies.