Instructors

Instructors

Instructors

We’re excited to announce the 2020 RockyGrass Academy faculty! All RockyGrass Academy tickets go on sale Thursday, December 5 at 9am MST.

Guitar Instructors

Rick Faris, 2020 RockyGrass Academy Guitar Instrutor

Rick Faris

Special Consensus

Rick is known in the world of bluegrass music as an award-winning guitar player. Born in Illinois, raised in Arkansas and Missouri, Rick and his family moved to Kansas in 1991, and he started playing with the Faris Family Bluegrass Band in 1998. Although guitar was his first instrument (he began playing when he was 7 years old), Rick also plays dobro, banjo and mandolin. The Faris Family band toured extensively throughout the USA and Canada and was awarded Traditional Bluegrass Group of the Year, Instrumental Group of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year and Entertaining Group of the Year several times by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA).

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Evan Murphy - 2020 RockyGrass Academy guitar instructor

Evan Murphy

Mile Twelve

Evan Murphy was raised in Milton, MA. He received his degree in music from Boston College and spent several years after graduating in New York City where he studied bluegrass guitar with Grammy-Nominated artists Michael Daves and Chris Eldridge. When Evan moved back to Boston in 2014 he cofounded Mile Twelve alongside some of the musicians who inspire him most. He now plays full time with them and teaches privately from his home in South Boston. Evan was featured at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Songwriter Showcase in 2018 and was nominated for a momentum award as Vocalist of the Year.

Avril Smith -  2020 RockyGrass Academy guitar instructor

Avril Smith

Della Mae

Avril Smith is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and is widely recognized as a highly accomplished electric and acoustic guitarist and mandolin player. Avril’s mastery of a wide range of styles makes her a sought-after on-stage and studio performer. She has been featured in Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and has reviewed guitars for Acoustic Guitar Magazine. Avril has played with Emmylou Harris, Steve Martin, Pete Seeger, Hazel Dickens, Tom Morello, the Indigo Girls, Jill Sobule, Darol Anger, Dar Williams, and John Kadlecik, among others.

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One more guitar instructor still to be announced…

Mandolin Instructors

David Benedict - 2020 RockyGrass Academy mandolin instructor

David Benedict

Mile Twelve

After graduating with a mandolin music performance degree and spending a 3-year stint in Nashville touring and recording with acclaimed bass player Missy Raines, David was looking for the next chapter in his musical career. So in 2017, he made the move to Boston to join the bluegrass band Mile Twelve. The group quickly gained notice after the release of their debut album Onwards, receiving the 2017 IBMA Band Momentum Award and touring extensively around the US, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. David also claimed the 2018 IBMA Momentum Award for Instrumentalist of the Year. These opportunities have contributed to the development of David’s own artistic voice as an instrumentalist and composer, which is showcased in this new solo record.

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Nick Dumas, 2020 RockyGrass Academy mandolin instructor

Nick Dumas

Special Consensus

Nick grew up in Brier, Washington, and was introduced to bluegrass music at a very young age by his dobro-playing grandfather. He often listened to his grandfather’s country gospel band rehearse and was so inspired by the fiddle player that he started learning to play the violin in his school orchestra class when he was 12 years old. Nick soon began taking private fiddle lessons and then joined the family band The Three Generations, formed by his grandfather, his mother and his aunt.

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Jenni Lyn Gardner - 2020 RockyGrass Academy mandolin instructor

Jenni Lyn Gardner

Della Mae

Born and raised in South Carolina, the bluegrass songstress knew she’d be Nashville ­bound from her early childhood days. The artist credits her musical family, beginning with her banjo ­playing grandmother, for instilling in her a passion for music and a love of bluegrass when she was just five years old. She was raised proper on the genre greats­ Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, JD Crowe, Larry Sparks, Alison Krauss, Blue Highway, Tony Rice… the list goes on. Says Sam Bush: ““In this day and age it’s refreshing to hear an artist whose music comes straight from the heart. Jenni Lyn Gardner is undoubtedly such, with one foot planted deep in tradition and the other bound for uncharted territory.”

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Banjo Instructors

BB Bowness - 2020 RockyGrass Academy banjo instructor

BB Bowness

Mile Twelve

Native New Zealander, Catherine (BB) Bowness started playing the banjo at the age of 12 after hearing a friend play the beverly hillbillies theme song. A few years later, BB received the Frank Winter memorial award at the Auckland Folk Festival allowing her to travel to the USA, where she studied with banjo players Tony Trischka, Alan Munde and Noam Pikelny. In 2009, she became the first banjo player accepted to the New Zealand School of Music, graduating in 2011 with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Perfomance. BB was selected to attend the 2013 Savannah Acoustic Music Seminar, studying with world-class artists such as Julian Lage, Mike Marshall and Darol Anger.

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Greg Cahill, 2020 RockyGrass Academy banjo instructor

Greg Cahill

Special Consensus

Chicago born and bred, Greg has been playing bluegrass banjo since the early 1970s. He co-founded The Special Consensus in Chicago in 1975 and has continued to tour nationally and internationally with the band ever since. In 1984, he created the Traditional American Music (TAM) Program to introduce students of all ages to bluegrass music. He has appeared on all 19 of The Special Consensus recordings, on numerous recordings by other artists and on many national television and radio commercial jingles.

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Tony Trischka, 2020 RockyGrass Academy banjo instructor

Tony Trischka

Early in 2019, the banjo virtuoso, songwriter and educator Tony Trischka celebrated his 70th birthday with a surprise party at the Public Theater, in Lower Manhattan, a reasonable jaunt from his home in New Jersey. Naturally for an artist NPR has referred to as “the great banjo liberationist,” the well-wishers included musicians like Béla Fleck, the premier banjoist to emerge in the past four decades, and the comic genius Steve Martin, the banjo’s unofficial celebrity ambassador, whom Trischka calls “a wonderful player.” At center of the fete—including, all told, “about 80 people I love,” says Trischka—was an unassumingly brilliant, kindhearted fellow who just so happens to stand among the most influential figures in American roots music.

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Fiddle Instructors

Bronwyn Keith-Hynes - 2020 RockyGrass Academy fiddle instructor

Bronwyn Keith-Hynes

Mile Twelve

Bronwyn Keith‐Hynes is a Boston-based bluegrass fiddler originally from Charlottesville, Virginia. She began playing fiddle at the age of three and grew up playing Cape Breton and Irish traditional music, before becoming enamoured with bluegrass music as a teenager. Accepted on a scholarship to attend the American Roots Music Program at Berklee College of Music at age 16, she graduated in 2012 with a Professional Diploma in Violin Performance. Bronwyn is fast gaining recognition for her fiddling across bluegrass and acoustic music circles. She has performed with Peter Rowan, Darol Anger, The Milk Carton Kids, Anais Mitchell, The Deadly Gentlemen and Tony Trischka, among others.

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Kimber Ludiker - 2020 RockyGrass Academy fiddle instructor

Kimber Ludiker

Della Mae

Born of fiddle playing parents in Spokane, WA, Kimber Ludiker is a 5th generation fiddle player who started learning on the lap of her grandfather at age 3. With 11 combined family National Fiddle Championships, Kimber holds 3 herself. In 2009, Kimber founded all-female bluegrass/Americana stringband “Della Mae”. They were IBMA’s Emerging Artists of the Year in 2013, GRAMMY Nominees in 2014 for their debut album on Rounder Records, named by Rolling Stone as 10 bands to watch for in 2015, and have traveled with the US Department of State to 15 countries spreading peace and understanding through music.

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Bruce Molsky, 2020 RockyGrass Academy fiddle instructor

Bruce Molsky

Bruce Molsky is “one of America’s premier fiddling talents” (Mother Jones) and a twiceGrammy-nominated artist on fiddle, banjo, guitar and song. He has dug into the deepest reaches of mountain music, while growing his own unique voice. Bruce holds a stage as few other musicians can. His skill at performing a deep and varied repertoire and a reverence for the past, combined with a relaxed, conversational wit, draws listeners in as if they were sitting on the front porch of Carnegie Hall. The result has landed him in collaborations with some of the most highly respected players in the world, from roots to rock.

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Dobro Instructors

Greg Booth, 2020 RockyGrass Academy dobro instructor

Greg Booth

Greg Booth’s (dobro, banjo, vocals) path to the dobro was a winding road that started with the banjo — and lessons from banjo legend Bill Emerson. After a few years, Greg’s ambition turned to the pedal steel guitar and the last frontier, Alaska. A thriving music scene during the oil boom of the ’70s and ’80s gave him the chance to play as much as 7 nights a week (for 7 hours a night) for many years. That much time playing diverse music forged a style that is uniquely his own. When Greg finally picked up the dobro, he hit the ground running, winning the RockyGrass dobro competition after playing the instrument just one year.

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Sally Van Meter, 2020 RockyGrass Academy dobro instructor

Sally Van Meter

Since 1977, Sally’s slide guitar work has gained respect and recognition among peers and audiences for her commitment to staying true to playing music with heart and soul. She is well-known for her performances & recorded works ranging from solo work to collaborations with artists such as Led Kaapana, Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, Cyril Pahinui, Jerry Douglas, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Alison Brown, Taj Mahal, Peter Rowan & the Rowan Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Tony Rice, Kathy Kallick, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Gerry O’Beirne, Maura O’Connell, the inimitable Leftover Salmon and more.

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Bass Instructors

Dan Eubanks, 2020 RockyGrass Academy bass instructor

Dan Eubanks

Special Consensus

Dan grew up in Crystal City and St. Louis, Missouri, and his grandparents began taking him to bluegrass festivals at a very young age in the 1970s. He began playing music on drums, then banjo and guitar, and eventually electric bass at age 12. Dan played in country and rock bands throughout high school and attended college on a music scholarship. His study of jazz bass playing eventually led him to the upright bass and a very diverse musical education that included study of nearly all styles of American music and procurement of a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies from Webster University in St. Louis.

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Nate Sabat - 2020 RockyGrass Academy bass instructor

Nate Sabat

Mile Twelve

Nate Sabat is a bassist, vocalist, songwriter, and arranger currently based in New York City. A native New-Yorker, he attended LaGuardia High School as a vocal principal and went on to study upright bass at the Berklee College of Music. He has performed on stages throughout Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States. With his ability to pay close attention to detail and quickly internalize musical form and feeling, Nate has become an in-demand sideman both on stage and in the studio. He has worked with artists such as fiddle maestro Darol Anger, banjo legend Tony Trischka, bassist/composer Bruno Raberg, gypsy-jazz musicians Albert Bello and Oriol Saña, Canadian rock band Fish & Bird and singer-songwriter Jenny Ritter.

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Vickie Vaughn - 2020 RockyGrass Academy bass instructor

Vickie Vaughn

Della Mae

Vickie Vaughn started singing when she was knee-high to a grasshopper. At the age of 9, she was hired as a background vocalist at the Kentucky Opry in Draffenville, KY, where she grew to love Classic Country and Bluegrass. At sixteen she challenged herself to learn stand-up bass and after graduating high school she moved to Nashville, TN to study Commercial Voice at Belmont University. In 2010 she released her 4-song EP, which features acclaimed pickers and longtime friends Josh Williams and Clayton Campbell performing three Vickie Vaughn originals and Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind.” Touring fulltime, Vickie plays bass and sings with Della Mae and Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike and HanaLena, but she still finds time to pursue her solo career with her best friends.

Songwriting Instructor

Celia Woodsmith - 2020 RockyGrass Academy songwriting instructor

Celia Woodsmith

Della Mae

Celia Woodsmith is a GRAMMY Nominated performer, vocalist, and songwriter. The daughter of the Vermont based poet Sybil Smith she is influenced by artists such as John Prine, Janis Joplin and Mahalia Jackson. Over time, and without any formal training Celia molded her own vocal style and has been hailed by the Boston Globe as “Unvarnished and intimate (…) but then sounds like she’s about to part the Dead Sea”. Woodsmith’s performances can be described as “one of a kind: gritty, muscular, folksy and intimate sometimes all at once” (Bluegrass Situation) Not confined by genre she is as comfortable playing Bill Monroe as she is singing an old jazz standard, or a Led Zeppelin rocker.

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Vocals Instructor

Michael Daves, 2020 RockyGrass Academy guitar instructor

Michael Daves

Michael Daves was born in 1977 in the southern empire of Atlanta, Georgia. Soon after, he began to make loud noises, so his loving parents put music instruments in front of him. It was a good plan. He grew up in that grand tradition of staying up late & singing real loud. Although he’s since moved north, the humid south remains in heart and sinus cavities. Heralded as “a leading light of the New York bluegrass scene” by the New York Times, Daves has garnered attention for his work with Chris Thile, Steve Martin, Tony Trischka, and Rosanne Cash in addition to his solo performances.

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Bands-in-Residence

Della Mae, 2020 RockyGrass Academy band-in-residence

Della Mae

Jenni Lyn Gardner, Kimber Ludiker, Avril Smith, Vickie Vaughn, Celia Woodsmith

Della Mae is a GRAMMY-nominated, Nashville-based, all-female string band made up of lead vocalist/guitarist Celia Woodsmith, 2-time national champion fiddle player Kimber Ludiker, and mandolinist Jenni Lyn Gardner. Hailing from across North America, and reared in diverse musical styles, they are one of the most charismatic and engaging roots bands touring today. They have traveled to over 30 countries spreading peace and understanding through music. Their mission as a band is to showcase top female musicians, and to improve opportunities for women and girls through advocacy, mentorship, programming, and performance.

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Mile Twelve - 2020 RockyGrass Academy band-in-residence

Mile Twelve

David Benedict, Catherine “BB” Bowness, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Evan Murphy, Nate Sabat

Although their sound is rooted in traditional bluegrass, Mile Twelve surveys a broader landscape on their newest album, City on a Hill. All five band members bring their own influences and observations into the music, resulting in a project that feels contemporary, thoughtfully crafted, and relevant. City on a Hill follows multiple IBMA Momentum Awards, presented by the International Bluegrass Music Association to emerging bluegrass artists. Mile Twelve won the band category in 2017, shortly before releasing their debut album, Onwards. The following year, Keith-Hynes and Benedict secured IBMA Momentum Awards in instrumental categories, while the band earned two major IBMA Award nominations for Emerging Artist and Instrumental Performance of the Year in 2018.

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Special Consensus, 2020 RockyGrass Academy band-in-residence

Special Consensus

Greg Cahill, Nick Dumas, Dan Eubanks, Rick Faris

The Special Consensus is a bluegrass band that has achieved a contemporary sound in their four decades of performing, making their music a modern classic. Band leader and founder Greg Cahill is a recipient of the prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and Special Consensus has received five awards from the IBMA and two Grammy nominations.

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Kids Camp Instructors

Instructors

Justin Hoffenberg

Long Road Home

Originally from Northern Illinois, Justin Hoffenberg currently makes his home in Boulder, CO. Growing up in a musical household, he attended many concerts as a child and was drawn towards music. At 10 years old Justin joined his 5th grade orchestra, where he played the violin for one year before beginning Suzuki lessons, which he pursued until graduating high school. The summer between 5th and 6th grade proved a fateful one, as a family friend recommended attending the Rockygrass festival in Lyons, CO, as well as the camp that precedes it. Justin ventured to the camp not knowing anything about Bluegrass, but was immensely changed by the experience.

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Instructors

Phoebe Hunt

Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers

Like all troubadours, singer-songwriter Phoebe Hunt is a rambler. Recent years have seen the Texas native relocate from Austin to Nashville to her current residence in Brooklyn. This wanderlust is evident in the variety of projects she is a part of, moving in and out of multiple styles and genres of music with an effortless grace. You may find her performing completely solo, with her violin and her voice, drawing you into her memorizing vortex, or surrounded by a group of young musicians from all around the world as a part of The One Village Music Project, playing songs written and recorded at a program that Phoebe initiated out of her desire to play her role in healing the world with music.

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Instructors

Dominick Leslie

Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers | Hawktail

Colorado native Dominick Leslie has been around live music all his life, having attended his first bluegrass festival when he was just five months old. Growing up he was surrounded by music, listening to and jamming with his dad’s bluegrass band, and thanks to his Dad’s influence, he has been playing instruments since he was old enough to hold one. At the age of four, Dominick acquired a ukulele tuned like the bottom four strings of a guitar, igniting a deep passion for music that still burns brightly. Dominick’s abilities progressed rapidly on guitar, fiddle and mandolin, but eventually the mandolin became his obsession and demanded his total focus.

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Instructors

Gina Marie Leslie

Colorado-raised songstress Gina Marie Leslie is a longtime RockyGrass Academy student, now living in New Orleans. Born into a family of musicians, she grew up in a culture of jamming that uplifts all players involved and creates a welcoming atmosphere. A multi-instrumentalist (guitar, fiddle, bass, voice, ukulele) and songwriter, Gina has the tools to guide a musician at any level to feel the joy and beauty of connection through music. She plays with Damn Gina, The Bad Bad Leslie’s, Mean Gina Jazz Band, and as a side musician for other projects.

OMGina.com

Instructors

Brad Murphey

“Murph” first fell in love with bluegrass music while living in Chicago and immediately started studying it with the great Czech guitar player Slavek Hanzlik as well as Don Stiernberg and Greg Cahill. After living in Chicago he moved to Colorado and founded the band Slipstream which performed at many notable festivals such as Grey Fox in New York. He then toured the country performing with Nashville singer/songwriter Rorey Carroll and has performed with such bluegrass luminaries as Noam Pikelny, Matt Flinner, the Infamous Stringdusters, Crooked Still, Darol Anger as well as many others and has been an endorsed artist for Elixir Guitar Strings for 14 years. Currently Murph is living in Shanghai, China, performing with mandolin virtuoso Tom Peng and teaching guitar lessons while exploring as much of Asia as possible.

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Instructors

Leslie Ziegler

Hailing from both Michigan and West Virginia, Leslie has been studying the upright bass since she was just a little girl. As she got older she decided to further her music education at Western Michigan University where she focused on Music Education. While in college, Leslie also toured the midwest with the many orchestras and string ensembles she represented. Outside the classroom, Leslie immersed herself in Kalamazoo’s local music scene where she discovered her deep love for Bluegrass and folk music.

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Instrument Building Instructors

Instructors

Michael Hornick

Shanti Guitars

Michael Hornick is the builder of Shanti Guitars. After building his first guitar in 1985, he worked at Santa Cruz Guitar Company, and presently works alone in his shop in Missoula, Montana, building about twelve instruments a year. Michael has built the first place guitar prize for the nationally recognized Telluride Troubadour contest from its inception in 1991, and helped design the original mandolin and mandola kits.

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Instructors

Brody Klemer

Brody has been apprenticing under Michael Hornick since March of 2012. Under Michael’s tutelage, Brody is primarily assisting with the guitar building process at the RockyGrass Academy. He has also recently completed his first full-size guitar under Michael’s wing.

Instructors

Chuck Midgley

Chuck has known Michael Hornick since 1992, owns a Shanti guitar, and has assisted Michael with the mando building class since 2002. Each year Chuck produces a mandolin while assisting other students with theirs. In his other life, he is a master mechanic building hot rods in California.

Instructors

Dan Roberts

Daniel Roberts Stringworks

Dan Roberts began his instrument making career with Flatiron Banjo and Mandolin Company in Bozeman, MT. He was production manager for Gibson Montana Division before moving to California as luthier and production manager for Santa Cruz Guitar Company. Dan lived in Santa Cruz for 6 years before moving back to Montana to work for Santa Cruz out of his own shop. There he built the SCGC archtops, did new model design and some prototypes, and was the warranty repairman, service manager, and production manager with the help of an on-site shop foreman.

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Instructors

Ian Szymanski

Ian has been going to music festivals since he was a wee lad which helped foster his love for music. At the RockyGrass Academy, he built his first instrument, a mandolin when he was eleven, then a guitar a few years later. He currently is apprenticing with Dan Roberts in Bozeman, MT, learning the art of lutherie.

Instructors

Bobby Wintringham

San Juan Mandolins

Bobby Wintringham is returning for his sixth year as an instructor at the Academy’s mandolin building experience. He is a full time luthier building San Juan Mandolins in his shop in Dolores, Colorado. Says Bobby, “The only thing more rewarding than building instruments is being able to share that knowledge with others.”

SanJuanMandolins.com