Fall Newsletter 2021 – Coming Next Summer

Dates for the 2022 workshops:

Mando & Banjo Week, June 26-July 2
Fiddle Week, June 26-July 2
Traditional Song Week, July 3-9
Celtic Week, July 10-16
Old-Time Week, July 17-23
Contemporary Folk Week, July 24-30
Guitar Week, July 24-30

We’re pleased and excited to announce that next summer’s workshops will be held in-person, when we will celebrate the Swannanoa Gathering’s 30th Anniversary. In order to stage an event that is safe and healthy for everyone, we will require that all attendees – students, staff and instructors – provide documentation, validated with a photo ID, that they are fully-vaccinated against COVID-19. By next summer ‘fully-vaccinated’ may also include a booster. With the recent release of a vaccine for children ages 5-11, all children attending must be vaccinated as well. Those with a medical or other exemption to the vaccine are encouraged to attend another year. Look for more information in our spring catalog.

One other unfortunate change to our programming  that COVID has made necessary is that we won’t be having any dances in the evenings next summer. Square, contra- and ceili dances involve contact with the other dancers on the dancefloor, and social distancing has made that impractical.

 Next year we’ll be featuring something new that may never be repeated. Multiple Grammy-winner and friend of the college Janis Ian will be offering her Master Class in Artistry during all five weeks of the Gathering and will be a regular member of the Contemporary Folk Week staff. This will be a rare opportunity to gain insight into what it means to be an artist from someone who has been at it for more than 50 years. 

The Swannanoa Gathering is structured around what we call an ‘open format’, which allows students to create their own curriculum and take as many classes as there are periods in the day. We require that students register for specific classes, but allow them to switch after the first day into another, open class if they find they have made an inappropriate choice. After this ‘settling-in’ period, we expect that students will remain in those classes, and we discourage dropping in and out of classes during the week. This structure allows students considerable flexibility, and is an essential element of our program’s character and appeal. Many of our classes may include musical notation or tablature, though in general, we emphasize learning by ear.

Classes usually have a maximum of 15 students. This summer, the college’s social distancing protocols may supersede our usual class limits depending on the size of the classrooms and whether they are located inside or outside. 

Many of our workshops fill up early and we expect that trend to continue as more of our programs approach their limits, and although our schedule of classes is not currently complete, pre-registrations are strongly encouraged. While it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get all the classes you want, pre-registration definitely gives you the best chance at doing so. Folks may register with a tuition deposit of $100 and may reserve housing without a deposit. The deadline for pre-registration is Feb. 7. Please note: If you transferred your 2020 or 2021 paid funds to 2022, you will be contacted by email before pre-registration opens, to confirm your plan to participate in 2022. You will then be automatically pre-registered. Funds cannot be transferred to 2023. Our tuition for 2022 will be the same as that of 2019, the last year we were able to gather in person. If you confirm your 2022 pre-registration, applicable monies will be applied as your deposit and that deposit is non-refundable. If your contact info has changed, please send us your updated info. Pre-registrants will be sent a class schedule as soon as it is ready and given priority in class assignments. Full payment is required by May 31 to guarantee a space. After that date, class reservations will be unconfirmed until we receive the balance. If we are holding a space for a student in a class that is full, and their balance is unpaid after May 31, we may release that space to another student.

At present, we are completing our staff selections for next year, but many of our instructors have already confirmed. The online version of this newsletter will be continually updated with the most current staff roster. One special feature of the 2022 workshops is Janis Ian’s Master Class in Artistry, which will be offered in all five of our weeks next summer. Here’s a peek at the 2022 lineup…

Fiddle Week, June 26-July 2, explores such fiddle styles as bluegrass, old-time, progressive, swing, blues/improv, Irish, Scottish, Canadian and more and will continue its integration with several features of Mando & Banjo Week. Coordinator Julia Weatherford’s staff currently includes our Master Music Maker and improv wildman Joe Craven, swing fiddler Evan Price, Irish fiddling great Colin Farrell, bluegrass fiddler Nate Lee of the Becky Buller Band, old-time fiddler Tricia Spencer, April Verch on Canadian fiddle styles, Scottish fiddler Jenna Moynihan, and progressive fiddler Alex Hargreaves. The program also includes bassist Kevin Kehrberg, and gypsy jazz guitarist Greg Ruby. 

Mando & Banjo Week, June 26-July 2, features classes in bluegrass, old-time, Celtic, swing/jazz, newgrass & more, as well as a few classes in guitar accompaniment. The program continues to be integrated with Fiddle Week through common jams and Band Sessions that encourage players in both programs to form bands that will work up a few tunes throughout the week. Mike Marshall heads up the mandolin staff, which also includes bluegrass greats John Reischman and Alan Bibey, progressive mandolinist Matt Flinner, swing mandolinist Don Stiernberg, classical master Caterina Lichtenberg, and guitarist Ed Dodson. The innovative Emory Lester returns after a brief hiatus, while David Benedict, from the IBMA award-winning bluegrass band Nine Mile joins the mandolin staff, and Conor Hearn does double duty on Irish mandolin/tenor banjo and guitar. Tony Trischka and Bill Evans will be instructing the bluegrass banjo players, and old-time pickers Paul Brown and Terri McMurray will teach clawhammer-style banjo. Famed luthier  Lynn Dudenbostel will once again be on hand to offer repair services.

Traditional Song Week, July 3-9, promotes a wide variety of traditional singing styles. For next year, Co-Coordinators Julee Glaub Weems and Matt Watroba welcome Irish singers Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh,  Cathy Jordan, and Dáithí Sproule, gospel choir leader Kathy Bullock, Master Music Maker and host of NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock, Fiona Ritchie, multi-talented Appalachian musician Josh Goforth, Riders in the Sky’s Ranger Doug, folk songwriter Anne Hills, mountain balladeer and National Heritage Award winner Sheila Kay Adams and Nashville guitarist Tim May. Special guests include Aoife Clancy and our Master Music Maker John McCutcheon returns to give a special presentation during the week. 

Celtic Week, July 10-16, introduces a new staff member in whistle player Sean Gavin, while welcoming back a few folks we haven’t seen in a while: fiddlers Brian Conway, Jeremy Kittel and whistle player Kathleen Conneely. Returning staff include fiddlers Gerry O’Connor, Mari Black, Katie McNally, Colin Farrell, Andrew Finn Magill and Caitlin Warbelow, singer Dave Curley, Chieftains guitarist Will MacMorran, bodhran player Anna Colliton, ballad singer Dáithí Sproule, Irish guitarist and singer John Doyle, Lúnasa’s Cillian Vallely and Kevin Crawford, guitarist Eamon O’Leary, Irish singer and flute player Nuala Kennedy, Celtic Week Host John Skelton, Dervish vocalist Cathy Jordan, harper/concertina player Gráinne Hambly, harper Billy Jackson, Scottish singer Ed Miller, fret wizard Robin Bullock, mandolin/tenor banjo instructor Dave Cory and accordionist John Whelan. Check our website for updates.

Old-Time Music & Dance Week, July 17-23, is one of the Gathering’s original programs and its oldest. For 2022, Coordinator Erynn Marshall has recriuited another great group of old-time multi-instrumentalists, featuring Phil Jamison, Greg & Jere Canote, Ron Pen, Eddie Bond, Mattias Thedens, Vivian Leva, Sheila Kay Adams, Nokosee Fields, Carol Elizabeth Jones, Paul Kovac, Riley Calcagno, Adam Tanner, Meredith McIntosh, Kenny Jackson, Whitt Mead, John Schwab, Amy Alvey, John Herrmann, Gordy Hinners, Rodney Sutton, Jane Rothfield, Brian Demarcus, Don Pedi, Paula Bradley, Ben Nelson, Becky Hill and John Hollandsworth. Guest Master Artists include Bruce Greene, Jim & Joyce Cauthen, Bob Herring and Bobby Taylor. Classes will include fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, autoharp, bass, clogging, dance calling, harmony singing, string band, shaped-note singing and more.

Contemporary Folk Week, July 24-30, offers an inspiring week of artist development for all acoustic performers. Classes include songwriting, performance, vocal coaching and more, taught by an outstanding lineup of seasoned professionals passionate about their art and equally passionate about inspiring others to develop their own unique gifts. Next year we welcome back Grammy-winners Janis Ian, and Jim Lauderdale, Master Music Makers Tom Paxton and Joe Craven, singer/songwriters John Gorka, Nora Jane Struthers, Cliff Eberhardt, Don Henry, Ellis Paul, David Wilcox, and Vance Gilbert. Singers Laurie MacAllister of Red Molly and Moira Smiley of Solas will serve as the vocal coaching staff.

Guitar Week, July 24-30, offers classes in fingerstyle and flatpicking guitar in a wide variety of styles.  Coordinator Greg Ruby brings back a number of old friends including Master Music Makers Al Petteway and Robin Bullock,  Celtic guitarists Steve Baughman, and Tony McManus, jazz guitarist Sean McGowan, bluegrass player Ed Dodson, Cory Seznec, whose influences range from New Orleans to Paris to Ethiopia, percussive fingerstylists Vicki Genfan and Christie Lenée, and blues players Steve James Mike Dowling and Scott Ainslie, New this year are Gypsy jazz guitarist Paul Mehling, and multi-instrumentalist Danny Knicely, and this year’s Luthier’s Exhibit will feature the guitars of master luthiers John Slobod (www.circaguitars.com),  Laurent Brondel (www.laurentbrondel.com), Gage Halland (www.hallandguitars.com) and Michael Bashkin (www.bashkinguitars.com), as well as a selection of amazing instruments from the inventory of Dream Guitars (www.dreamguitars.com) located in nearby Weaverville, NC.