Workshop Information

Yoga with Sundari Birdsal:  A classical musician turned bluegrass fiddler, Sundari Birdsall (RYT 200) teaches hatha yoga and emphasizes deep breathing and self-reflection. Her 60-minute classes will include centering and postures suitable for all levels. Calming fiddle tunes will be played during final relaxation. Please bring water and a yoga mat or towel.

David Davis (Warrior River Boys), Monroe technique mandolin:  David Davis is recognized as one of the foremost practitioners of the Monroe mandolin technique. His interest in old-time and bluegrass music grew organically from a musical family, both his father and grandfather were players and singers. His uncle, Cleo Davis, was Bill Monroe’s original Blue Grass Boy.

FY5, The Way These Things Go:  A discussion and performance with the members of FY5 on approaches to writing and arranging original material. FY5 is known for their arrangements that enhance the story of the song while remaining rooted in the traditions of bluegrass and country music. They will also discuss live performance considerations, condenser mics, tube amps, vinyl, bandannas and so much more.

Feinberg Brothers, Brother Duets:  Traditional brother duets are the backbone of bluegrass music. The Feinberg Brothers have immersed themselves in the music of several of these acts over the years. These include The Monroe Brothers, The Delmore Brothers, The Louvin Brothers, The Stanley Brothers, Jim & Jesse, and The Osborne Brothers. When siblings sing together from early childhood, singing and harmony become second nature. There is an internal trust and confidence that naturally occurs between siblings from a very young age. During this workshop Patrick will take over the guitar duties while Rourke switches over to play the mandolin.

Dale and Darcy Band, Band dynamics and keeping the Ju Ju alive:  The Dale and Darcy Band, a Bluegrass, Roots, Americana trio/quartet, have been playing together for over 10 years and between the three of them have about 100 years of experience playing gigs in New England. As a trio, they sing and play twin fiddles, tenor banjo, mandolin, penny whistle and guitar. They will talk about band dynamics, instrument arrangements, band logistics and answer any questions you have about forming, playing and keeping a band together.

How are we doing?  Join some of the folks that brought you this festival for donuts and coffee and let us know what you think about our first year at our new site. What are we doing right, but more importantly what can we do better? Help us make Podunk the best festival it can be.

Neil Rossi, Irish Fiddle For Novices:  The various Celtic fiddle traditions share some bowing and noting techniques (and often even share repertoire!) but there are many distinct stylistic differences, sometimes even within the same country. We’ll touch on some of the common techniques in bowing and ornamentation that make Irish styles sound so different from bluegrass, jazz and classical. We’ll focus primarily on bowing techniques and the common ornamentation tricks in the noting hand. Neil Rossi is an award-winning fiddler and teacher. He also plays tenor banjo, 5-string banjo, mandolin, and guitar he has played throughout New England. He is a member of the Dale and Darcy Band.

Red Molly, Vocal Harmonies:  Red Molly combines the forces of three songwriters with unique character and style, and has inspired countless female trios since forming in 2004. They are known and loved for their exquisite 3-part vocal harmonies, with arrangements—sometimes simple, sometimes intricate but always lovely—that lay bare a passion for vocal blend. In this workshop, Red Molly will use their own songs, as well as other popular music examples, to demonstrate a variety of vocal harmony techniques. This is a chance to see behind the scenes how this band creates their beautiful sound.

Sav On Bass, (Unspoken Tradition): What can we say? Our own Sav Sankaran, local hero, bass player extraordinaire shares his experiences and nuances of playing the upright. Sav will answer your questions and perhaps share a secret or two.

David Davis (Warrior River Boys), Monroe Mandolin Technique:  Alabama native and member of The Alabama Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, David Davis has traveled and preformed as frontman for the David Davis and the Warrior River Boys since 1984. He is recognized as one of the foremost practitioners of the Monroe mandolin technique. His interest in old-time and bluegrass music grew organically as both his father and grandfather were players and singers. His uncle, Cleo Davis, was Bill Monroe’s original Blue Grass Boy.

Mike Munford (Dirty Kitchen), Banjo:  Mike does a casual workshop. He’ll play a few licks and then you take over. Bring your questions and Mike will do the rest.

Planet Zydeco with Michelle Kaminsky, Intro to Zydeco dance:  Michelle Kaminsky from Rhode Island, has been in love with Cajun and Zydeco music and dance for about 30 years! She is passionate about getting folks off the sidelines and onto the dance floor having a great time! Her lighthearted teaching style is just the ticket to make it happen. No partner needed! Michelle will also be playing some fiddle with Planet Zydeco after the dance workshop.

Caleb Cox (Nothin’ Fancy), Guitar:  Teaching and explaining the part that a guitar plays in a bluegrass band setting. We’ll go over things like rhythm techniques, Dynamics, timing, and color/transition chords, while also touching on some lead.

Damn Tall Buildings, Talk about performance:  A workshop focusing on live performance will talk about many things, including finding the right sound setup and stage plot for your group, the importance of your ‘set’ and the flow of your performance, as well as stage banter and ways to fill spaces without losing momentum. We will also talk about our history as a touring group, and some of the experiences that shaped our live performance (2016 Podunk Band Competition!).

Wernick Method Bluegrass Jamming Camp Taught by David Benway using the Wernick Method Assisted by Amanda Benway:  All bluegrass instruments welcome. No jamming experience necessary. You will be jamming the first class! Friendly, encouraging, knowledgeable teaching. Music reading not needed or used. Easy 2- and 3-chord songs, slow speeds.

Kat Wallace & David Sasso, Arranging:  Kat Wallace and David Sasso met playing with New Haven string band, Five in the Chamber. Their shared background in classical music and affinity for all things trad brought them together to form an intimate and virtuosic duo.
In this workshop Kat and David dive into the process and execution of arranging tunes and songs for duo (fiddle and mandolin family), drawing on their shared background in classical music and other traditions outside of bluegrass. Using staple tunes, traditional songs, and original material from their new debut album, Stuff of Stars, Kat and David will showcase tools such as reharmonization, varying textures, “breakdowns,” and rhythm back up, going beyond the standard solo trading format for a more thoughtful and innovative through, composed piece.

Art Schatz (Beantown Buckaroos), Western Swing Fiddle:  Art Schatz, fiddler with The Beantown Buckaroos, will teach a classic Bob Wills western swing fiddle tune, like Rose of San Antone or Faded Love. Bob Wills was “the King of Western Swing” and one of the originators of this jazzy style of southwestern music. Bring your fiddle (mandolin and other instruments welcome also) and add a western swing classic to your repertoire. Art will be joined by other Buckaroos including guitar ace Marshall Racowsky for full western swing effect. Art and Marshall teach western swing workshops together at Fiddle Hell in Westford, MA every November.   Art Schatz has been a mainstay country and bluegrass fiddler on the Boston acoustic music scene for more than 30 years. Art currently plays and sings with the Beantown Buckaroos (Western Swing), the Foggy Mountain Consort (Renaissance-Bluegrass fusion), and the Squeezebox Stompers (Cajun/Zydeco). He teaches fiddle in Cambridge, MA and regularly leads workshops at the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, Fiddle Hell, and Lowell Fiddle Contest.

Accordion with Stroker (Beantown Buckaroos). Yes accordion, it works!:  Accordionist for The Beantown Buckaroos, Stroker will discuss the role of the accordion in American roots music, including how to play in various genres, how to accompany others, jam etiquette, accordion care, accordion players to check out, and all things accordion.  A band will be on hand to help demonstrate ensemble playing for accordion in various genres, and how you can use accordion to add depth and color to your band.  Not a musician?  A good part of this workshop will focus on how to listen to music, particularly how the various instruments support each other.  Expect to hear some bluegrass, Tex-Mex, Western swing, blues, country, Cajun, zydeco, or whatever else strikes our fancy,or yours.

Jeff Horton and Mary Maguire, Harmony 101:  Are you mystified by harmony? Have trouble finding your parts? Jeff and Mary have been teaching Harmony workshops for 18 years at Podunk and a few other music festivals. Harmony basics and techniques have never been more fun! Bring your voices and ears. Come sing along and learn how it all works! Ever in demand as one solid bluegrass bassist and powerfully soulful singer, Jeff Horton was a founding member of the Neon Valley Boys, a 6-year veteran of Northern Lights, and now plays with Wide Open Spaces. Mary Maguire is, hands down, one of the Northeast’s most engaging and talented singers of contemporary folk, bluegrass, and swing, Mary was a founding member of Sweet, Hot & Sassy!

Alice Jenkins and Jeff Horton, Making the Most of Your Voice:  Jeff and Alice once again present their workshop about your voice. How does the voice work? How can I sing with more strength? How can I hold notes longer? What about pitch and tone? Diction? Emotion? Alice Jenkins has a Master’s Degree in vocal performance. Jeff has been singing all his life and is recognized as one of the top bluegrass singers in New England. Together, they will demonstrate and teach about the human voice. You will be singing, breathing, and singing some more in this hands-on (voice-on?) workshop.

Claire Lynch, Song Production for Studio and Live Stage:  We’ll take a song in its “bare bones” form and talk about how to produce it for live stage and also for studio. We’ll also explore studio production tricks and whether they can or cannot / should or should not be replicated in your live show. Feel free to bring a song for consideration, be our guinea pig!!

Chris Sexton (Nothin’ Fancy), Fiddle Techniques:  Chris will be reviewing essential techniques of fiddling. Specifically, he will be emphasizing bow control for better tone and the shape of the left hand to improve intonation. It is essentially an informal group lesson.

Pretty Saro, Expanding the Bluegrass Groove:  Get ready to groove, baby! This hands-on workshop will explore a variety of ways to expand on traditional bluegrass grooves that we all know and love. Pickers will explore new groove concepts from inside and bluegrass that can bring new energy and excitement to any jam session or band arrangement. They will discuss a variety of concepts such as emphasizing important downbeats, flipping into (& out of) half-time grooves, and utilizing the power of groupings of three. All instruments and skill levels are welcome, prior knowledge of traditional bluegrass grooves is recommended.

Frank Solivan (Dirty Kitchen), Mandolin:  A hands-on mandolin clinic, touching on traditional bluegrass songs, fiddle tunes, swing standards and country classics. An in-depth study of rhythm fundamentals, chords, scales, arpeggios, and use of fingering patterns to mentally map your fretboard. Students will use tools that are presented to build musical solos, learn and play faster, improve tone and enhance the tunes they already know. Whether you are a rank beginner or advanced player, you’ll walk away with ways to approach your mandolin. Suggestion: Bring a recording device for future reference.

Jack Jolie, Bluegrass Jamming Etiquette:  New to the pickin’ scene and feeling like you need some inside knowledge? This will be what you’re longing to know about. How to handle yourself at a jam session. Jack has been pickin’ Bluegrass for 43 years and will share his insight and experience. Are you that banjo player that breaks up and jam and don’t understand why? We’ll bluntly tell you the unspoken rules…

Stan Wilemon (Warrior River Boys), Songwriting:  Stan will share with you the benefit of his years of writing and creative talents. He is an accomplished songwriter having written many songs, some of which have been recorded by David Davis & The Warrior River Boys. Songs include the very popular “It’s Just An Old Body” and “Willow Valley” both co written by Stan’s brother, Harlon Wilemon, and “Lonesome Cry Of The Whippoorwill” co written by Donny Hyatt. Other artists that have recorded Stan’s songs include the Church Sisters , the Gary Waldrep Band, the Wells Family, the Wright Sisters, the Larry Gillis Band, and many more. Stan comes from a musical family and attributes his musical and songwriting skills to this more than anything else. Stan is very serious about his music and works very hard to accomplish his goals.