BIOS AND WORKSHOP DESCRIPTIONS, SATURDAY OCTOBER 8TH 9 AM - 4 PM WITH LUNCH AND BREAK TBD, AND SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9TH 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Betty Vornbrock: Intermediate Old Time Fiddle
Betty is an accomplished fiddler in several different traditional styles. Her first love is that of the Appalachian Mountains, and has focused on the tunes of West Virginia, Kentucky, and the Blue Ridge since the late '70's. Her classes concentrate on the diversity of these regions and players to help students develop their own sound.
For the most part her Old-Time influences include West Virginia fiddlers Wilson Douglas, Melvin Wine, Sarah Singleton, and Burl and Edn Hammons; Kentucky fiddlers J.P. Fraley, Ed Haley, Clyde Davenport, and Snake Chapman; and, close to her home in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, Ralph Blizard, Tommy Jarrell, Emmett Lundy, and Henry Reed.
From one-day workshops to week-long fiddle classes, Betty has enjoyed teaching at private homes, Augusta Heritage Workshops, Cowan Creek Mountain Music Week, Blue Ridge Old Time Music Week (Mars Hill), and Chestnut Creek School of the Arts. She also teaches private lessons, and is on faculty of a valued after-school program in Galax, VA – Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM).
Betty and her band, the Reed Island Rounders, hit the festival circuit each summer, and have taken honors at Galax, Mount Airy, Clifftop, Glenville, Fiddler's Grove, and many of the other fiddlers' conventions. The band loves to play for square dances and contras, festivals, and house concerts. The Rounders have produced 3 CDs as a band; Betty joined J.P. Fraley on their twin fiddle CD “Side by Side”; and she has a few collaborations with others over the years.
Please visit: www.reedisland.com/RIR/rounders.htm
Intermediate Fiddle Class Description: Rhythm, drive and phrasing are essential elements to Old-Time fiddling, no matter what style you prefer. Our class will focus on these through bowing and rhythm exercises, and learning tunes that use different approaches. These would be drawn from the repertoire of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Blue Ridge styles, to help you develop drive, texture, and feeling in your fiddling. Do you love to play, but feel you aren’t getting the most out of the tunes? This class is for you!
Intermediate students should be able to learn a tune by ear. Betty will not be supplying written music, but I will break tunes down to learn each part, and will demonstrate how the bow can not only move your feet – it can move your heart. We might also explore non-standard tunings. I welcome tune suggestions. If you have one you'd particularly like to learn, we'll try to fit it in.
Kirk Sutphin: Intermediate Old Time Banjo
Kirk hails from the North Carolina Piedmont, and started young capturing the music and fiddle styles of the area through visits with Tommy Jarrell and Lonnie Austin, and digging further back to Emmett Lundy and Taylor Kimble. Versatile as well on the banjo, Kirk offers the clawhammer sounds of Jarrell and Wade Ward, and the finger-picking styles of Frank Jenkins and Charlie Poole. He has toured and taught internationally for many renowned festivals and music camps, and was part of the acclaimed Masters of the Banjo tour in 1993.
Class Description: Recently dubbed the “Swiss Army Knife of banjo players”, Kirk has a complete toolbox of vintage banjo styles. If you’re interested in the clawhammer rhythm-plus-melody styles of Wade Ward, Kyle Creed, and Tommy Jarrell, Kirk will help you unlock those mysteries. If you’re curious about the 2- or 3-finger styles of Frank and Oscar Jenkins or Charlie Poole, these will be explored as well.
As an intermediate player, you should be able to learn tunes by ear. Kirk will guide you through your choice of styles with humor, history, and of course his amazing talent.
Billy Cornett: Backup Guitar for Old Time Tunes
Kentucky native Billy was exposed to a variety of country musicians & early Bluegrass greats, through his musical roots. After moving to Virginia in 1989, he decided to teach himself fiddle and guitar. He & Betty met in 1990 at a local jam session, and he’s concentrated on playing back-up guitar to her fiddling ever since.
Class Description: Billy says: “First I will call it an intermediate level workshop. Each participant should have a basic knowledge of the guitar and know all the common chords for the keys used most in old time music. These keys are A, D, G, C, and perhaps F. Don't worry if you maybe are not real comfortable with a few of the chords, I will help you with these. The workshop I teach would be called Back UP Guitar. We will go over the basic rhythm style that suits old time music. I will teach bass runs and how to develop your own. I will show ways to give the music drive, and how to avoid things that get the way of quality back up. We will have a fiddler in the class to play lead on some basic tunes and we will all learn some basic bass runs that fit many old time tunes. Our goal in playing back up is to make the fiddler smile and never make the fiddler frown.”
Hilary Dirlam: Stand Up Bass for Old Time Tunes Workshop Hilary is highly accomplished in a wide variety of music styles on many instruments, and is an organizer of the Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week at Mars Hill College in Mars Hill NC, and was one of the founders of the Old Time Herald music journal. Hilary Dirlam found her 1950s Kay upright bass in a Vermont pawnshop in 1973 and has been playing it ever since. While she enjoys playing other kinds of music – American standards, jazz, ragtime and some R and B, old-time music remains her favorite.
Bass Workshop description: We will begin with the bass “basics” in the workshop – tuning, getting a good sound from the strings, and how to look to the guitar player as a guide for which strings to play. After this groundwork, we’ll move on to tricks for finding a few notes on the fingerboard with the left hand. Each session with the bass will include a chance for students to back up a melody player and accompanying guitar. Adding a tiny bit of theory to this on the ground experience will leave you able to play bass in old-time jams comfortably and even have fun! Although participants are encouraged to bring an upright bass if they have one or can borrow one, there will be bass or two or three basses for students to use during the sessions. Knowing the I-IV-V progressions in the keys typically played in Old Time music, and being able to learn by ear, wold be helpful, but not required. Work on timing, chord changes and runs, as well as playing with focus and reserve will be emphasized.
ON SUNDAY, Participants in the Fiddle and Banjo Workshops will have the choice to join together for the following, for either or both options, depending on interests:
Betty and Kirk enjoy the challenges of twin fiddling. In general this means two fiddles playing at the same time, sometimes unison, and sometimes with a harmony line, or a backup rhythm. It has been a little-emphasized feature of many vintage string bands and folks fiddling styles, but can be a very satisfying challenge when you have two of more fiddlers around. Betty is a master of harmony and of complementing the lead fiddler, having played duets with J.P Fraley, western swing styles, other folk fiddling, and now with Kirk following the old string band sounds. This class will give you tricks to finding the harmony lines, following the lead’s phrasing and dynamics, shoring up the rhythm, and blending your sounds.
Playing Waltzes on the banjo in Duet with Fiddle:
Many banjoists avoid playing along with waltzes, two steps, or slow tempos. Some feel it would require learning a new style, or might lean away from the old time sounds. But there is a long tradition of having tunes of all types for dances or performances, and having skills to play them makes those situations so much more fun!
Kirk is a master of finding just the right rhythm and dynamics for the slower tempos. He uses clawhammer, 2- or 3-finger styles, and enjoys playing the melody, as well. If you’d like to add these to your toolbox, Betty and Kirk will lead you through some beautiful tunes to get you there.
On SUNDAY, Guitar and Bass players will continue with Billy and Hilary, and will have an opportunity to play in small ensembles with banjo and fiddle players during the early afternoon session, depending on interests.
LATER SUNDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING, time To Be Determined:
Workshop participants will have an opportunity to form and play with small ensembles including fiddle, banjo, guitar and bass. In addition, we may go down to Chico Feo outdoor bar/restaurant on Folly and take turns playing on stage in our small ensembles - depending on on interest and weather permitting.
COST: $150 for the weekend, includes Workshop, coffee, drinks and snacks. Does not include accommodations or meals.