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 12 years, Alan Bibey & Grasstowne. He has been voted Mandolin Performer Of The Year five times, including 2018 and 2019, by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA). His IBMA awards include 2019’s Mandolin Player Of The Year, 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 bluegrass Gospel single ,“Gonna Rise & Shine,” has been #1 twelve times and in the top ten for 34 weeks, and their latest single “When Jesus Swings The Wrecking Ball” has been in the top ten for the last 50 weeks! His BlueRidge project, Side By Side, 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.
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 has 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, Väsen and the Turtle Island Quartet. In 1995, after a trip to Brazil, Mike fell in love with 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 to create 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.
Emory Lester has been a notable fixture in the acoustic mandolin world for the past four decades, and is an innovator of mandolin technique and a renowned creative artist, multi-instrumentalist, and instructor. His large body of recorded work has placed him among the elite mandolinists of our time. He has inspired and influenced many of our current generation’s mandolin players, and pointed the way with his clean, clear, fast and efficient mandolin technique. Emory has performed across the U.S., Canada, Europe, U.K. and Czech Republic, with ‘clawgrass’ banjoist Mark Johnson, Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa, and his own Emory Lester Set, as well as a roster of famous notables such as Del McCoury, Tony Rice, Steve Martin (on The David Letterman Show), Babik Reinhardt (son of Django), and Jim Hurst, to name a few. He has a long and impressive body of recordings including nine solo albums, all of which showcase Emory’s skills as a composer, arranger and creative multi-instrumentalist. A sought-after instructor of mandolin, banjo and guitar, he has a world-wide roster of online students and has taught at many prestigious music camps and workshops in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the U.K. for more than 25 years.
Don Stiernberg has been a professional musician for nearly 50 years. Along the way he has been involved in performing,writing, recording, producing,and teaching, but is best known for his mandolin playing. His path was set very early on as he grew up north of Chicago. Emulating his older brother, he experimented with playing various stringed instruments, finally settling on the mandolin. Things got serious when an ad played on the radio:”Study mandolin with the great Jethro Burns” At his first lesson he discovered what he wanted to do: play the mandolin, be a musician, and try to be as cool as Jethro! Within a few short years he was playing professionally, first in a bluegrass band with his brother, later standing right next to his hero in The Jethro Burns Quartet. There was no turning back, and thanks to encouragement and mentorship from his family and hero he is still out there trying to achieve those early goals. Don is regarded as a leading exponent of jazz mandolin style, and a respected teacher. In June of 2020 his tenth recording project Straight Ahead by the Don Stiernberg Quartet, was released and quickly garnered praise in The Chicago Tribune as one of the “Best Jazz Recordings of 2020”. He has four online instructional courses for mandolinists at Soundslice.com, and the book Jazz Mandolin Appetizers is available from Mel Bay. In person, Don teaches at mandolin-focused camps and events from coast to coast and abroad, and covers the same territory performing at clubs, festivals, and concert halls with his own group. There’s more of the same on the horizon: a dedicated pursuit of “the good notes”to share with audiences, listeners, and students.
Caterina Lichtenberg is one of the premier classical mandolinists in the world today. In 2020 her CD Solo was nominated for an OpusKlassik Award (The most prestigious award for classical music in Germany), along with YoYoMa, Daniel Hope and Daniel Barenboin. 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, and with Art Garfunkel on live German 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 the ArtistWorks video exchange system where students can get personal feedback on their playing from Caterina from 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 company. Her 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, Caterina has released ten CDs under her own leadership in a variety of chamber music settings, and 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 three CDs on the Adventure Music label. They have performed at the Schleswick-Holstein Festival in Germany with violinist Daniel Hope, The Rome Chamber Music Festival with Edgar Meyer, The Carmel Bach Festival, the Rockygrass, Grand Targhee and Wintergrass Bluegrass festivals, the Savannah Music Festival, The Festival de Mandolins de Lunel France and the Baroque Festival in Santa Cruz, CA. In 2017, Caterina and Mike launched their own mandolin educational event called the Mandolin World Retreat. This exquisite gathering of mandolin students and teachers meets in Napa Valley, California, Sicily Italy, and on a South African Safari.
In a remarkably short time, Nashville native Casey Campbell has become one of the most influential young voices in bluegrass mandolin. His performing and recording resume includes gigs with bluegrass legends Bryan Sutton, Del McCoury, Mac Wiseman, Jim Lauderdale, David Grier, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Chris Stapleton, John Oates, Mac Wiseman, Vince Gill, Dierks Bentley, Roland White, Jim Lauderdale, Noam Pikelny, Becky Buller, and many more. Winner of the prestigious Momentum Award for Instrumentalist of the Year from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 2017, Campbell currently records and performs with various artists in and around Nashville, TN.
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.
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.
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 ispired 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. He was the musical leader for the Broadway show, The Robber Bridegroom, and worked on the off-Broadway 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 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, included appearances by Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Alison Brown and more, was nominated for a Grammy. He has also won three IBMA awards including Banjo Player of the Year. Tony made his Grand Ole Opry debut in August of 2019, and his 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 home for banjo students from around the world. Tony was also 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 Tony‘s latest album, Shall We Hope, a Civil War-based saga.
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.
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 two popular online banjo courses 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, Alan Munde, 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 The Hard Road Trio. His latest recordings are Prime Time, recorded with Dan Crary and Wally Barnick, and The Banjo in America, a DVD/CD set from Old-Time Tiki Parlour recordings.
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 acoustic guitar master John Miller. John’s fourth solo album, New Time & Old Acoustic, is a celebration of his long career, with friends like bassist Todd Phillips, banjoist Allison deGroot, the Punch Brothers’ Chris Eldridge, guitarist Molly Tuttle, plus members of the Jaybirds and Fiddler Trent Freeman.
Conor Hearn is a stylistically diverse guitar player and instructor specializing in accompaniment of traditional Irish and Scottish fiddle playing. Hailing from the Irish music communities of Washington D.C. and Maryland, he grew up playing fiddle and guitar in trad. Irish music sessions. While working on his B.A in English Literature and a minor in Music at Tufts University, Conor started working as a professional guitarist with a panoply of trad. music groups and projects taking shape in the Boston area folk music scene. He has since performed on programs like Brian O’Donovan’s Celtic Sojourn and teaches guitar at music festivals such as the Swannanoa Gathering and Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp. A versatile sideman, Conor tours with groups like the traditional duo, Rakish, and the Afro-Celtic-Funk band, Soulsha, and has performed with such renowned fiddle icons as Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas and tours with Irish music legend John Whelan. Conor makes his home in Medford, MA where he performs and teaches regularly.
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 ninth year as our luthier-in-residence, offering repair services throughout the week.
Janis Ian keeps a sign above her workspace that guides her after more than five decades as a revered songwriter who dares to say what no one else w ill. “Do not be held hostage by your legacy.” When you’ve written, starting at age 14, some of pop music’s most evergreen songs – “Society’s Child,” “At Seventeen,” “Jesse,” and “Stars,” among them – it’s no wonder she’d need a reminder to shake free of expectations. Now, at 71, Ian is embracing a new milestone: the art of the farewell. Calling The Light at the End of the Line her “last solo studio album”, it bookends a kaleidoscopic catalog that began with her 1967 self-titled debut. Her first album of new material in 15 years, Light also sets the stage for her final North American tour in 2022. These 12 new songs present intimate portraits of getting older but wiser: (“I’m Still Standing”), knowing when to stand up and not take any more crap: (“Resist”), celebrating life’s fleeting beauty: (“Swannanoa”), paying homage to a lifelong influence and that artist’s own demons: (“Nina,” as in Simone). Ian is at her most primal as a vocalist here. Every note, every cadence, every beat is in the perfect place. If The Light at the End of the Line ends up being Ian’s swan song, it’s as graceful an exit as fans could want. She’s always cut through to the heart of things, striking a universal chord as timely then as it is today. We’re still having the same conversations around race and racism that she ignited in 1966’s “Society’s Child,” her teenage ode to a white woman who brings home a black boyfriend. And in the age of social media, 1975’s “At Seventeen” is more resonant than ever as a meditation on feeling isolated and ostracized. She has been a regular columnist for two national magazines, and ringleader of a lively online fan community. She’s dabbled in science-fiction short stories and for the past thirty-plus years devoted much of her time and effort to her philanthropic endeavors, the Pearl Foundation and the Better Times Project. If there has been any common thread, it’s this: Ian has always been down for the ride. “The journey has always been more interesting to me than wherever I end up,” she says, which brings us back to that sign above her desk. “The idea of not being held hostage by your legacy lets you move forward. You have to acknowledge them, but you don’t have to stay there. And I never have.”