Workshops & Hosted Jams


2018 Workshop Schedule

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



Old-Time Fiddle Tunes & Bowing
by David Bragger

This workshop is for all levels! The objective is to get the fiddler playing some incredible tunes with a focus on rhythm and interchangeable variations.  I’ll be drawing from a vast repertoire of Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina fiddle tunes that are rhythmic and easy to grasp. As always, my workshops emphasize the key ingredient to old-time fiddle: Bowing!! All workshop attendees will receive audio files of the tunes with phrase by phrase instruction.

Freestyle Flatfooting
by Ruth Alpert and Rebecca Stout

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. I will start by teaching you some basic steps to get you going, and then we will focus on playing the tune with our feet!

Old-Time Banjo Workshop

Old-Time Mandolin
with Pat MacSwyney

The workshop will be geared for both novice and seasoned mandolin players alike. We will focus on applying fiddle-friendly ornament and chording to a few classic Old-Time fiddle tunes.


2017 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 5 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!

Led Jam Sessions

Old-Time Jam
Hosted by Skillet Licorice

Old-Time Jam
Hosted by Andy Denes

Old-Time Jam
hosted by Jordan Ruyle and Allegra Yellin

Old-Time Jam
hosted by Jim Mueller

Beginners Old-Time Jam
hosted by Susan Platz (last year's Adv. Fiddle winner)



Meet our talented performers, teachers and jam hosts

Brad Leftwich Brad has long been the gold standard for traditional old-time fiddling, and he is a highly regarded banjo player and singer as well. He grew up in Oklahoma in a family with at least three generations of old-time musicians, and learned directly from such legendary masters as Tommy Jarrell, Melvin Wine, Violet Hensley, and the Hammonds family. In his nearly 40 years as a performer, he has released 12 feature recordings to stellar reviews, appeared on dozens of anthologies, and created teaching materials that define the genre. He has entertained at the White House, backed up Doc Watson on stage, and counts the late Buck Owens and John Hartford among his admirers. Brad also plays with Alice Gerrard and Tom Sauber in the band Tom, Brad & Alice. For more about Brad, go to

Linda Higginbotham Linda is from a family of musicians and colorful characters with deep roots in the pioneer heritage of Indiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas. She learned to play guitar from her father, a Tin Pan Alley songwriter, and was introduced to old-time music as a teenager in New York by Miles Krassen. She moved to Bloomington, Indiana, in the early 1970s where she helped start an active community based on old-time music and dance. She began playing clawhammer banjo and banjo ukulele after meeting Brad, and together they spent many hours visiting and learning from older musicians in the Appalachians and Ozarks. The pair collaborated throughout the 1980s as Leftwich & Higginbotham, and in the 1990s with the Humdingers. They now play together as a duo and in the Hogwire Stringband. She is widely known for her part in popularizing the banjo uke in old-time music. “If you are alive, Linda will make you want to get up and dance” (Don Stevens, All Music Guide).

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!

Maxine Gerber (Plaid Strangers)  Maxine (banjo, guitar, vocals) has been a top tier favorite banjo player and taste maker for decades, and musical nucleus at the yearly Appalachian String Band Festival in West Virginia. With her banjo/fiddle obsession, and knowledge amassed from visits in her youth to the older generation of master players, she has nurtured several generations of up-and-coming musicians. Her distinctive, rhythmic and supportive banjo style brings out the best in whomever she accompanies. In Plaid Strangers, Max accidentally finds herself in a performing duo after teaming up with Karen to win both the fiddle and banjo contests last year at the Santa Barbara Old Time Fiddlers’ Festival (2017).​

Karen Heil (Plaid Strangers) Karen (fiddle, guitar, vocals) is an intense and soulful fiddler, who is also known for her powerful guitar playing and singing in the Bucking Mules. More than a decade ago, Karen began ​making​ ​pilgrimages to southern fiddlers’ conventions and visiting the​ region's master musicians, thus firing up her passion for old-time fiddle music. Karen, in addition to her work in the Bucking Mules, performs in the Bay Area, plays square dances, and has a thriving teaching practice. She has been on the staff of some of the best traditional music camps around the U.S. and internationally, teaching both guitar and fiddle. 

Have More Fun Stringband is an old-time string band based out of Los Angeles.

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, festival artistic director, teaches old-time fiddle, banjo and mandolin to students of all ages and levels. He is also the host of the Old Time Tiki Parlour which produces concerts, workshops, CDs and films by the best old-time musicians alive, including Kirk Sutphin, Dan Gellert, Bruce Molsky, Paul Brown, Bob Carlin, Eric & Suzy Thompson, Mike Compton, Joe Newberry, Scott Prouty, etc. David is in high demand as a fiddle teacher at festivals and has private students in 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.

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.

Rebecca Stout began clogging as a child in Cordele, Georgia, as part of the community mountain-style clogging group The Dixieland Cloggers. She went on to spend the next three decades developing and fine-tuning her unique “Tennessee Shuffle” style of free-form flatfoot and buck dance, inspired by friends, relations, masters and mentors throughout Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. Today, Rebecca teaches and performs traditional Appalachian dance with a focus on dance as a percussive instrument, while encouraging students to develop their own personal style. More info is HERE.

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.