Podunk Bluegrass University

 

Podunk University is a set of seven beginner classes for adults and teens who want to get the right start, or review the fundamentals. These classes are hands-on, intensive learning experiences, taught in a small group setting (between 3 and 9 students per class). The classes will be held at the festival on Saturday, 10:30 – 12:30 pm. The cost for two hours of instruction is only $40. All you need to do is bring is an instrument, a chair and an earnest desire to learn!

The classes will be held at various locations throughout the festival, usually at the instructor’s own campsite. To find your specific class location please plan to attend either the Podunk University Meet & Greet at 8:30 PM at the Workshop Stage on Friday or Saturday at 10 AM at the Podunk University tent at the corner of Lions & Manchester streets.

Pre-payment is recommended as class size is limited but not required. Additionally, you can sign up when entering the festival or at the Meet & Greet. See the FAQ’s, email Mary Maguire or call Mary at (508) 901-9907 for details.

 

Podunk University Instructors

Class size is limited, don’t be shutout, sign up NOW!

Rick Brodsky ~ Bass

Rick Brodsky is a multi-instrumentalist who has played within numerous musical genres over the past 30 years. Rick has played bass on tour for Jonathan Edwards for many years. He has studied with jazz bassists Dave Ruffels, Phil Bowler, and Doug Weiss. Rick is a regular on the Connecticut/New York bluegrass scene and has also played bass for numerous regional bluegrass bands with luminaries such as Stacy Phillips, Ben Freed, Jon Sholle, as well as his son, Korey Brodsky. You can hear Rick’s bass playing on several of Ben Freed’s highly acclaimed banjo albums and more recently on Korey Brodsky’s new album featured on Sirius Radio. Rick has also played for years on a popular local live-theater radio show where he has shared the stage with Peter Yarrow, Tom Chapin, Livingston Taylor, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and many more. 

This bluegrass bass class will be geared toward  beginners who have never played bass before and advanced beginners looking to solidify their basic skills. We will explore fundamental techniques, used by beginners and pros, which are essential to good, solid bluegrass bass playing. Emphasis will be given to proper posture, holding the bass, and both right and left hand technique, so you develop great tone while avoiding repetitive strain injuries. We will not get heavily into theory, but we will cover theoretical “language” that bluegrassers use so you can communicate and understand what happens in a jam or band setting. Next we will introduce fun, effective exercises to develop solid timing while simultaneously identifying good note choices. Finally, we will discuss a written handout of ideas for practicing, including a daily bluegrass bass workout. Students will leave with a blueprint for a good foundation in playing bluegrass bass with strategies for continued growth.

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Richard Neal ~ Banjo

Richard Neal works as a producer, recording engineer, studio/performing musician, songwriter, recording artist, and teacher.

A shortlist of recent recording credits includes the Discovery Channel (Penn & Teller) and PBS (Roadtrip Nation). He produced Chris Berardo and the Desberardos CD “Ignoring All the Warning Signs” which reached #4 on a Sirius/XM radio Americana chart.

Richard’s songs have been recorded by other artists, and 2016 saw the release of a new collection of recordings, “A Step Up”, produced with Rex Fowler of Aztec Two-Step. He has taught songwriting at the college level and conducted songwriting workshops on the festival circuit.

Richard has performed with Orchestra New England, soprano Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, and the Nutopians. His band won the 2010 Podunk Bluegrass Festival band competition and has performed at the Grey Fox, Podunk, Joe Val, and Strawberry Park bluegrass festivals among others. In Newtown, CT’s Flagpole Radio Cafe Richard has accompanied Peter Yarrow, Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin, Jonathan Edwards, Vanese Thomas, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Guy Davis, and more. He is also honored to be a member of the bands led by youthful bluegrass virtuosi Korey Brodsky and G Rockwell.

Richard also acts as Master of Ceremonies for a variety of concert events, including the Clearwater Festival, and hosted Bridgeport, CT’s Bluegrass & Beer series.

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MARY MAGUIRE
(the Mary Maguire Band) ~ Harmony and lead singing

Mary Maguire, long-time soloist, song-writer, and lead singer with several northeast bands, is known for her warm and welcoming ways. She enthusiastically presents her popular bluegrass harmony and lead singing workshops at Grey Fox, Pemi Valley, Joe Val, Ossipee Valley, Podunk, and Thomas Point Beach bluegrass festivals.

A guest on many other Northeast musicians’ recordings, Mary’s own six albums reflect her unique sound and ease with folk, bluegrass, western swing and jazz.

She always has fun with students of all ages, specializing in getting beginner guitarists and singers happily on their way and inspiring intermediate students to new levels of musicianship. Mary also privately teaches piano, voice, guitar, music theory, ‘presenting your song in-a-jam’, and provides performing band consultations.

Some of Mary’s originals being performed by the Mary Maguire Band were captured adeptly by videographer Steve Ide (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0apB8nk4so)

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Sofia Chiarandini ~ Fiddle

Sofía Chiarandini is a musician based out of Connecticut. She has been playing violin since age five, and currently studies with Grammy award winner Stacy Phillips of New Haven, CT. She studies voice with Sarah Tolar, and has studied classical violin with Juliet Kurtzman, both of New York City. Sofía also has been playing double bass since she was nine, and studies with Domenick Fiore of Orefield, PA who has been an inspiration for Sofía to diversify and study jazz as well as classical music.

Sofía started playing music using the Suzuki method to lay a solid foundation of technique for classical violin. Since then, she has branched out to perform in bluegrass, jazz, folk, and rock genres with Too Blue, The Korey Brodsky Band, Boulevard Swing Trio, The Town Hall band, other ensembles, and solo. In these acts she has played violin, double bass, mandolin, piano, lead and harmony vocals, and has sung a capella. She has also worked as a studio musician on recordings for Newtown Youth Voices, Jim Allyn, Korey Brodsky, and others. Most recently, she was accepted to the Berklee College of Music on scholarship, which she will attend beginning in the fall of 2017. Other honors she has received include the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival scholarship to the Mark O’Connor summer program at Berklee College of Music, and the 2014 Bob Christopher scholarship.

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Korey Brodsky ~ Mandolin

15 year old Korey Brodsky who played guitar in the IBMA 2013 Youth All-Star band at the Awards Show in Raleigh, NC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeHWEDANRG4 He won 1st place in the adult guitar category (the first junior ever to win adult) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAmEmQ9Mz9U and 3rd place in adult mandolin at the 2013 Roxbury Pickin and Fiddlin contest. Korey has been playing since 3 years old and has studied with Michael Daves, Jim Hurst, Steve Kaufman, Jim Allyn, and Betsy Rome. Korey has performed with Bill Keith, James King, Tom Chapin, and Jonathan Edwards.

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Betsey Rome ~ Guitar

Guitar instruction will be given by Betsy Rome who is well-known for her flatpicked guitar as a member of “Too Blue”, one of the most respected regional bands in NY & CT. Betsy has taught bluegrass guitar and mandolin classes at Thomas Point Beach, Joe Val, Podunk, BenFest and Grey Fox Bluegrass Festivals. Noted for her rock-solid rhythm and inventive leads, her contest ribbons include Roxbury CT, the Pizza Hut International Bluegrass Showdown, the Best Accompanist award at the AZ State Fiddle Contest, and the Four Corners Festival in Wickenberg, AZ. Most recently Betsy won 2nd place in guitar at Roxbury in July 2017.

Betsy plays with a direct, highly effective approach. She’s not flashy, but that’s her strength. Clever, insightful intros, outros, solos and backup parts flow from her guitar like a blue mountain brook rollicking downstream. Everything about her playing is catchy and infectious, the sign of a total pro.” (Dan Miller, Flatpicking Guitar Magazine feature article).

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Below are ten questions and answers about Podunk’s Bluegrass University:

Q. What is The Bluegrass University?
A. Seven beginner classes, each two and a half hours of hands-on instruction, for adults and teens. The classes are taught on Saturday at the festival from 2 until 4:30 pm, and the cost is $35.

Q. Who are the teachers and who are the students?
A. See www.thebluegrassuniversity.com for class descriptions and teacher bios. Although each teacher will be addressing different topics, all teachers will be gearing their classes towards beginners and beginner/intermediate musicians. These classes are geared towards those who want to get the right start or review the fundamentals.

Q. Can I take more than one class?
A. No, unfortunately all of the classes are held at the same time on Saturday from 2 until 4:30 pm. But all of the teachers have additional availability, and we recommended you ask the teacher about other options, such as a private lesson at another time.

Q. Where will the classes be held?
A. The classes will be held at various locations throughout the festival, usually at the instructor’s own campsite.

Q. How do I find the specific class location?
A. Come meet your teacher at the Bluegrass University Preview at 6 pm on Friday and/or the Meet & Greet at 1 pm on Saturday. Then be sure to arrive no later than 1:45 pm on Saturday so you can go with your teacher to the class location.

Q. What are the Bluegrass University Preview and Bluegrass University Meet & Greet?
A. Hour-long sessions meant to introduce you to the Bluegrass University instructors and their classes. Please stop by and say hello, and we can answer any questions you may have.

Q. What do I need to bring?
A. You need to bring an instrument and a chair, preferably a folding (armless) chair. You should also bring $35 in cash or check made out to your instructor.

Q. Do I need to preregister?
A. No, you can walk up as late as 1:45 pm on Saturday, but class size is limited and preregistration is encouraged; see above for contact information of Tony Watt.

Q. What are the limits on class size?
A. The class size is limited to 3 students minimum and 9 students maximum. The maximum class size ensures that every student gets a small group learning environment. Unfortunately teachers may not be able to offer the class if there are less than 3 students. In that case, we highly recommended you ask your teacher about other options, such as a private lesson at the festival.

Q. Can I record the class?
A. Yes, you are welcome to make an audio recording of your class, provided you agree not to post it on the internet or share it widely. Video recording is not allowed without explicit permission from your teacher. Some teachers may even record the class for you and send you a copy later.

Podunk University is a set of seven beginner classes for adults and teens who want to get the right start, or review the fundamentals. These classes are hands-on, intensive learning experiences, taught in a small group setting (between 3 and 9 students per class). The classes will be held at the festival on Saturday, 10:30 – 12:30 pm. The cost for two hours of instruction is only $40. All you need to do is bring is an instrument, a chair and an earnest desire to learn!

The classes will be held at various locations throughout the festival, usually at the instructor’s own campsite. To find your specific class location please plan to attend the Podunk University Preview at the artist merchandise area near the main stage on Friday at 5:15 pm and/or at the Podunk University Meet & Greet At Workshop Stage on Saturday at 10:00am. Classes will immediately follow the Meet & Greet.

Pre-payment is recommended as class size is limited but not required. Additionally, you can sign up when entering the festival or at the Meet & Greet. See the FAQ’s, email Mary Maguire or call Mary at (508) 901-9907 for details.