October 13-16, 2016

During this workshop quilters, basket makers and painters pursue their arts in a beautiful, encouraging atmosphere while others fully immerse themselves in old-time music, their days and nights filled with classes taught by master musicians, jam sessions, concerts and group performances. Classes include...

Banjo I | Banjo IIBasket Making | Fiddle I | Fiddle II |  Flatfoot Dancing | Gee's Bend Quilting | Guitar Mandolin | Old Time Repertoire | Oil Painting | Ukulele | Mini Classes

Participants register for one class that includes six in-depth sessions in that discipline. Afternoon band labs give participants a chance to form a string band and work up a performance, take part in group singing, or begin to learn to play an instrument new to them, such as harmonica, ukulele or bass. Instructors for those mini-classes will provide a few loaner instruments.

We are also thrilled to host a temporary exhibition, Banjos: Africa to the New World, which will be on display during the entire workshop. Admission to the exhibit is included in registration. 

Check-in for Old Time Music & Crafts begins at 4 p.m. on October 13. The workshop ends after lunch on October 16. 

Temporary Exhibition:
Banjos: From Africa to the New World

Presented by Bob and Lelaini Thornburg

This collection of twenty instruments and related slave era music makers, features two dozen reproduction/replica banjos representing the instrument’s roots in Africa, the New World and its evolution in the pre-Civil War, Minstrel, and pre-factory eras. The instruments span a period of over 300 years, illustrating much of the history of the banjo. This is a great opportunity to learn more about a beloved instrument in Appalachian music.

Bob Thornburg is an expert instrument maker who has made guitars and banjos for more than 30 years. He hand crafts each banjo, replicating the sound, look, and feel of the origins and eras. He also acknowledges the demands of modern musicians when making his replica and contemporary banjos, making sure they are easier to play and hear than the original instruments.

Banjo I
Jim Holland

Banjo I will help the 1st or 2nd year banjo student build on clawhammer or "rapping" styles common to old-time music.  The class will primarily remain in double C tuning (gCGCD).  Students will learn one or two traditional banjo tunes by class end focusing on the basic lick and simple melody, while exploring other important banjo tunes containing essential elements for future learning.  Some discussion and demonstration will include intonation and tuning, basic tune structures for breakdowns, reels and slower pieces, brushes, pull-offs and hammer-ons, positions on the neck, other tunings, playing with others, and capo usage.  A discussion of banjo setup, selection and related equipment will aid students as they seek their sound, within their budget.  

Class Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Jim Holland comes from two families of Alabama old-time musicians wielding fiddles, banjos, and guitar. Jim’s father, with others, encouraged his neighbor musicians to “bring their music out of the kitchen” organizing several old-time contests in the early 1960’s, culminating in the Tennessee Valley Old-time Fiddlers Convention (TVOTFC). Jim is a regular at regional and national old-time competitions, receiving awards at Uncle Dave Macon Days, The Appalachian String Band Festival, The Berkeley Old-time Music Convention, and of course his hometown competition, the TVOTFC. Recent sharing opportunities included workshops at Breakin’ Up Winter (Lebanon, TN), The Folk School of Chattanooga, University of Alabama School of Music, and the Alabama Folk School.

Banjo II
Brett Riggs

Come join us for an exploration of clawhammer banjo techniques that give us the distinctive old Galax-Round Peak banjo sounds of the southern Blue Ridge region. We’ll learn tunes from players like Kyle Creed, Fred Cockerham, and Tommy Jarrell as a way to put the banjo licks together into real music that works for band or solo playing. This Banjo II workshops will emphasize listening, learning, and playing by ear, so bring along a recording device to capture some tunes for later review. Brett will also bring along some sound files from his favorite old time musicians.

Class Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Brett Riggs has a long and checkered musical history. He picked up fretless banjo as a teenager from a musician who was stranded by a snowstorm, then went on to hang out with older musicians in the Round Peak area and learn from their examples. In the early ‘80s, Brett and his musical partner and better half, Pan, joined forces with Mike and Marcia Bryant as the New Dixie Entertainers, a stringband that played the mid-South for twenty years.  You can hear Brett’s playing with the band on “Maybelle Rag” (Yodel-Ay-Hee ‎– 014) and solo on “Banjo Gathering.”

Basket Making: Weaving An Authentic Appalachian White Oak Egg Basket
Sue Williams

This class will teach weaving an oak basket.  Students will scrape, trim and size weavers as they weave the basket. Due to time constraints, the basket rims, ribs, ties, and initial weaving will be set up so the student will be ready to weave. Each student should finish a 7-inch White Oak Egg Basket. A slide show showing a standing White Oak Tree including break down of each step required until the basket is finished will be shown. An example set of baskets made up in stages to show how the basket goes together will be available for student viewing.  

An additional supply fee of $50 will be collected by the instructor at the beginning of the class. 

Class Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Completed 7 inch White Oak  Egg Basket.JPG

Sue Williams has been making baskets for over 40 years and White Oak Baskets 30 years.  She has won best of show as well as grand champion at such places as the Tennessee State Fair and the Cannon County White Oak Fair.  She has been teaching White Oak Basketry at the University of Tennessee Clyde York 4-H Training Center first as an apprentice teacher and for the past 10 years as master teacher.  She has taught at the Cannon County Arts Center as well private classes in several other venues. 

Fiddle I
Greg Canote

So you've got some tunes under your belt and you're moving right along. In Fiddle I, we'll start by revisiting some of the basics. How do we arrange various body parts so we don't hurt ourselves? How do we check our intonation? How do we learn tunes?

Then we'll tackle the big one! THE BOW!!!! Specifically, how do we become the bosses of our bows? We'll have fun covering all this in the context of some really great tunes. Bring a working fiddle and bow, and your milking machine, (smart phone).

Class Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Greg Canote has spent most of his musical life singing and playing fiddle with his twin brother Jere as The Canote Brothers. He has played hundreds of square dances with his brother and with dance icon Sandy Bradley (Small Wonder String Band).  For thirteen years, Greg and Jere were the happy musical side-kicks on National Public Radio’s “Sandy Bradley’s Potluck” out of Seattle, and the two have led a successful ongoing string band workshop since 1983. 
Greg has been on staff at many festivals and workshops, including the Swannanoa Gathering, Augusta Heritage Workshop, Mars Hill Blue Ridge Old-Time Week, Pinewoods, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, NimbleFingers, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, and American Banjo Camp.

Fiddle II
Mike Bryant

In this class, we'll learn tunes that explore the world of cross tunings for the fiddle. We’ll also work on various bowing patterns that will enhance the tunes.

Class Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Mike Bryant has been playing old-time fiddle for more than 30 years. He has won many awards for fiddling, most notably at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia. He has taught fiddle classes at Swannanoa and Augusta and also enjoys teaching individuals at home in Tennessee.  For 22 years he played with the award winning old time band The New Dixie Entertainers.  His repertoire includes archaic Appalachian tunes as well as blues and rags on the fiddle. 

Flatfoot Dancing
Phil Jamison

Flatfooting is a traditional style of Appalachian step dance for individual dancers that involves percussive footwork. While some dancers perform memorized sequences of steps, others are more and freeform in their movements (“doing their own thing”). In this class, students will become familiar with the basic movements that are shared by traditional dancers, and they will be encouraged to develop their own personal style. Participants will also have the opportunity to try calling out the dance figures, and callers will have the opportunity to expand their repertoire and receive feedback to improve their calling skills.

As part of this class, we will also explore the Southern square dance tradition, and we will dance a variety of Southern squares and big circle sets as danced at local dance venues in eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, West Virginia, and western North Carolina. This class is for dancers of all levels; no prior experience is required. Wear smooth, hard-soled shoes (preferably leather) and no taps please.

Class Level: Beginner to Advanced

Phil Jamison is nationally-known as a flatfoot dancer, dance caller, and old-time musician. He has called dances, performed, and taught at music festivals and dance events throughout the U.S. and overseas since the early 1970s, including more than thirty years as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers. His flatfoot dancing was featured in the film, Songcatcher, for which he also served as Traditional Dance consultant. Over the last thirty years, Phil has done extensive research in the area of Appalachian dance, and his recently-published book Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics: Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance (University of Illinois Press, 2015) tells the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia. Phil teaches mathematics as well as Appalachian music and dance at Warren Wilson College, in Asheville, North Carolina, where he also coordinates the Old-Time Music and Dance Week at the Swannanoa Gathering. For more information, visit his website at www.philjamison.com

Gee's Bend Quilting
China Pettway & Mary Ann Pettway

In this mixed-level class Mary Ann and China will set you free with beautifully colored fabric strips and your imagination. They will teach block cutting and assist with hand stitching and machine-stitching if needed. This class will focus on the basics including how to blend color and how to create different patterns and styles, particularly of the Gee's Bend tradition. They will discuss how to go from colors, to blocks, to finished quilt. Singing and storytelling included! Depending on your skill level, you will go home with some quilt blocks or a full pattern and many good memories.

Class Level: Beginner to Advanced

Mary Ann Pettway is currently the manager of the Gee's Bend quilters collective. She made her first quilt for the collective in the summer of 2005. The seventh of 12 children, Mary Ann Pettway was born and raised in Gee's Bend. She has one married daughter and two grandsons. After graduating high school in 1975, Mary Ann took college bookkeeping and accounting classes before working in a sewing factory for 20 years.

Pettway is one of the lead singers of the Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church and became involved with quilting after hearing about the trips the quilters of the community went on. "Before I started back to quilting, I was with (friend) Sabrina's grandmother Arlonzia a lot and heard about these trips they would go on (to other cities through The Quilts of Gee's Bend traveling exhibition.) So I told her, "I'm tired of hearing how good of a time y'all are having. I want to start having a good time too." So she told me, "Well then start quilting!" And she is, thankfully, still quilting today. For more information about the Gee's Bend collective go to www.quiltsofgeesbend.com.

One of Gee's Bend's leading gospel singers, China Pettway is one of the few locals who attended college and returned to live in the community. China was taught by her mother, Leola, how to quilt at the young age of eleven. "We had to quilt until 10 at night. Then, she would let us stop and get to bed. That was every evening except Saturday and Sunday. I made my first quilt, it was a 'Star.' And I still have it." Now a home-health worker, Pettway enjoys working with the elderly. "I love my patients and I think they are the most sweet and beautiful people you can meet." Singing is Pettway's hobby.

Susie Coleman

This friendly course focuses on becoming a rock solid, reliable Old Time rhythm guitarist, featuring exercises to build hand strength and muscle memory for both the chording hand and the strumming hand. In addition to learning multiple new tunes every session, students will study timing fundamentals, alternating bass and other simple bass note patterns, how to navigate bass notes in square and crooked tunes, and how to understand the Nashville Number System. All students will receive a complimentary spiral-bound copy of the Pegram Jam Chord Chart Book and a TranspoSlide©, a little gadget Susie created that de-mystifies the Number System.

Class Prerequisites: We will work with first-position open chords only. Students should be familiar with most major chord shapes -- A, D, E, G, C, F, B7 -- and minor shapes -- Am, Em, Dm. Students should be able to strum smoothly and have developed sufficient callouses and hand strength to play for several hours at a time. If you haven’t yet mastered using simple bass notes, this is your class!

Students to Bring: Guitar, in tune, with fresh strings; tuner; picks (medium-heavy); capo; extra strings; music stand; pen or pencil; a recording device if you have one. iPhones, iPads, etc. are welcome.

Class Level: Beginner to Intermediate 

susie coleman2.jpg

Susie Coleman is a lifelong musician and rhythm guitar player. She is co-author and publisher of the “PegramJam Chord Chart Book”, a popular fiddle tune reference manual for Old Time rhythm players in use throughout the world. Susie has eight first place singing awards from the annual Old Time Singing competition at Middle Tennessee’s Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree, two from the Indiana State Folksinging contest, and top honors at Uncle Dave Macon Days and other regional music competitions. In addition to giving beginner guitar and singing lessons, Susie is a web and graphics designer, and lives in Pegram, Tennessee. She has authored a series of songbooks for women – “Fabulous Folksongs Every Girl Should Know” – and shares her love of music through her website www.folkslingers.com.

Mandolin For All: The Best of Both Worlds
Tim Avalon

This will be a class of mixed abilities—advanced beginners to more experienced players.  Newer players will learn how to properly hold a pick, make chords and play in rhythm, while more advanced players will learn chords and melodies. Rhythm styles such as reels and waltzes will also be covered. A good time will be had by all!

Advanced players should come to class with some knowledge of scales. Remember to bring: picks, pencils (no ink), recording device (recommended but not required).

Class Level: Advanced Beginner to Advanced

Composer, performer and music teacher, Tim Avalon is a master of folk tradition. For over thirty years, he has taught at the Avalon School for Stringed Instruments, inspiring students of all ages. He was awarded the state championship at the Mississippi State Fair for two consecutive years in mandolin, and was named Mississippi Folk Artist of the Year in 2000. Tim has published a collection of Irish and Old Time Fiddle Tunes as well as Mississippi Echoes: Traditional Fiddle Tunes of Mississippi, a compilation of tunes played by Mississippi fiddlers from the 1920’s and 30’s. He is a member of the Mississippi Old-Time Music Society.

Old Time Repertoire
Erynn Marshall & Carl Jones

This class is currently sold out. Register for another class or send a message to folkschool@campmcdowell.com to be added to the waiting list. 

In this repertoire class, Carl and Erynn will play several of their favorite southern fiddle and banjo tunes at slow and faster tempos. Bluesy mandolin led numbers and an original tune or two will be added to the mix. All instruments are welcome in this class. We will form an all-star stringband--having fun playing tunes from West Virginia, Round Peak, Mississippi and everything in-between. Chord options for unusual tunes and different rhythmic approaches for a variety of instruments will be explored.  Repertoire will be taught quickly by ear during the workshop. Music/chord sheets will be provided to take home. Recording devices are recommended. You are invited to join this group of merry music makers! 

Class Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones are old-time musicians and inspired tunesmiths from Galax, Virginia. They are married - in life and music. Southern song-duets and powerful fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo tunes comprise their diverse sets. Erynn and Carl play with ease, spontaneity and vitality. While rooted in the traditional sounds of older players, this duo stays true to their own muse by composing new, tradition-rooted music. Their original tunes and songs are played by many musicians around the world. Carl’s song, "Last Time on the Road," was featured on the Grammy-award winning album “Unleashed” by the Nashville Bluegrass Band.

Instrumentally, Marshall and Jones have won many awards for their playing including Erynn’s 1st place fiddle win at Clifftop and Carl’s 3rd place fingerpicking-guitar win at Winfield - both premier festivals in the United States. In 2015 they released "Sweet memories...never leave," their 12th CD between them. For more information on Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones please visit www.dittyville.com

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Whatever is Lovely--an introduction to oil painting
Dorothy Dixon

Instruction will be given regarding materials, composition, image selection, and editing, color, drawing and oil painting.  This class will take you from your selected image to your own completed original oil painting.  Oil painting as a spiritual enrichment tool will also be covered. 

Students should bring images or photographs of things you wish to paint. Old clothes or a painting apron are recommended.

An additional supply fee of $30 will be collected by the instructor at the beginning of the class. 

Class Level: Beginner

Dorothy Dixon is a lifelong artist, who is finally painting and teaching full-time after careers as a registered nurse and attorney. Dorothy studied for five years with a French Impressionist painter. She has written an oil painting book titled "Whatever is Lovely." She leads oil painting workshops, typically at churches or at church camps. 

Jere Canote

This class is currently sold out. Register for another class or send a message to folkschool@campmcdowell.com to be added to the waiting list. 

What's that persistent strumming sound heard at every jam these days? It's the sound of the ukulele! We'll review the basic chords in the fiddle tune keys of A, C, D, and G. We'll explore right hand strumming techniques, including the Triplet, the blues Shuffle, and the  "freight train" rhythm. We'll work on hearing the chord changes, and we'll play a lot, on songs from the Old-time, Novelty, and Jug Band repertoire.  We'll play some simple melodies, Learn some up the neck chords, and also take a look at old time banjo techniques (clawhammer and finger-picking). Bring a working ukulele or banjo-uke tuned GCEA. Word sheets provided. 

Class Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Note: Ukulele beginners are invited to attend the afternoon mini-classes taught by Charlie Hartness.


Jere Canote has spent most of his musical life singing and playing music with his twin brother Greg as The Canote Brothers. He has played hundreds of square dances with his brother and with dance icon Sandy Bradley (Small Wonder String Band).  For thirteen years, Greg and Jere were the happy musical side-kicks on National Public Radio’s “Sandy Bradley’s Potluck” out of Seattle, and the two have led a successful ongoing string band workshop since 1983. 
Jere has been on staff at many festivals and workshops, including the Swannanoa Gathering, Augusta Heritage Workshop, Mars Hill Blue Ridge Old-Time Week, Pinewoods, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Nimble Fingers, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, and American Banjo Camp. He is also a builder of instruments in the banjo family--open backed 5 string Banjos minstrel banjos, banjo-guitars, and banjo-ukes (using both standard banjo construction, and his unique "neck-through" body design).

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Mini Classes

(available during the afternoon to any and all)

Band Lab, mick kinney

Bass, Kathy Hinkle

Harmonica, Jamie Finley

Ukulele, Charlie Hartness

Singing, Ann Whitley

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