2022 Song School
Registration for the 2022 Song School opened on Thursday, February 3rd, 2022 at 10am MT via our ticketing partner, See Tickets.
With her 2017 debut Shame, Americana songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Baiman emerged as a fearless voice of the American female experience. “Shame” was featured on NPR’s “Songs We Love”, called a “Rootsy Wake-up Call” by Folk Alley, and described by Vice’s “Noisey” as “flipping off authority one song at a time.”
On her new full-length album Cycles, Baiman has found a grittier musical medium for her signature unabashed and defiant songwriting, employing a majority-female team including co-producer Olivia Hally, known as the front woman of Indie-pop band Oh Pep!
Cycles is a collection of songs encompassing the many ways that we destroy and rebuild as people, as families, and as a country. Songs about the cycle of life inspired by the birth of a nephew and the loss of a grandmother, songs about internal mental cycles of ambition and self-doubt, the cycle of progress and regression in our country’s political journey, and the cycles of growth and reinvention that relationships take on. At times heartbreaking, at times celebratory, the album is a reflection of a lot of life experienced in a relatively short amount of time, a desire to hold fast to the people we love in the wake of so much uncertainty, and an exploration of the immense and unique strength of women in the face of adversity.
Originally from Chicago, Baiman moved to Nashville at eighteen, and has spent the last decade working as a musician in a wide variety of roles, from session musician (Molly Tuttle, Kelsey Waldon, Caroline Spence), to live sidewoman (Kacey Musgraves, Amy Ray), to bandmate and producer. Fiddle music was her first love, and she is known in the bluegrass and old time world for her work with progressive acoustic duo 10 String Symphony with fiddle player Christian Sedelmyer.
Her first solo album Shame, was produced by Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange, and established her role as part of a new generation of political songwriters. Since 2017, Baiman has toured her solo project internationally with appearances at the Kilkenny Roots Festival in Ireland, the Mullum Music Festival in Australia, and the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage in Washington, DC. She has also released a variety of small scale projects; her 2018 Free Dirt EP Thanksgiving, which read as a sort of epilogue to Shame, a duet project with singer Mike Wheeler, which is a more stripped down nod to her acoustic roots, and a 2020 single, Wrong Way Round, which shows more sonic experimentation and hints at musical direction of Cycles.
Inspired by the burgeoning grunge rock scene in Melbourne, Cycles was recorded in Australia in the glorified storage unit known as Purple Wayne Studios (Big Smoke) with engineer Alex O’Gorman (Angie McMahon). In addition to Hally on bass, piano and guitar, and Baiman on guitar, strings and banjo, other musicians include Melbourne drummer Bree Hartley, guitar players Cy Winstanley (Brandy Clarke) and Josh Oliver (Mandolin Orange), and guest vocalists Dan Parsons, Dan Watkins and Maggie Rigby (The Maes). The album was mixed by GRAMMY winning engineer Shani Gandhi, who is based in Nashville but originally from Australia as well.
A cliché has it that you have to beware of the quiet ones, because most of the time their voices speak sharper and with more range than the loudmouths. Every cliché, however, has a grain of truth in it, and so it’s fair to say that while County Cork singer-songwriter Mick Flannery is outwardly reserved, his songs are fluent in expressing layered aspects of the human condition, its flaws, triumphs, and general uncertainty.
An award-winning, double-platinum selling artist, Mick Flannery has not only released his self-titled sixth album (debuting at No. 1 in Ireland), but also oversaw the worldwide premiere of the stage musical, Evening Train (so named after his 2007 debut album). He began to write songs as a teenager in his home of Blarney, County Cork. As musical influences from albums by the likes of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits seeped into his creative DNA, Mick absorbed, learned and honed the craft that would send him on his way into the world. The path was smoothed somewhat when, at the age of 19, he became the first Irish songwriter to win the Nashville-based International Songwriting Competition. By the time he turned 21, he had signed to a major label and released his debut album.
Mary has requested that all students read her book, Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting, prior to taking her Song School class.
Mary Gauthier is a Grammy Nominated songwriter whose songs have been praised by Bob Dylan and recorded by Jimmy Buffett, Tim McGraw, Bobby Bare, Kathy Mattea, Bettye Lavette and more. Gauthier’s first nine albums presented extraordinary confessional songs, deeply personal, profoundly emotional pieces ranging from “I Drink,” a blunt accounting of addiction, to “March 11, 1962,” the day she was born — and relinquished to an orphanage — to “Worthy,” in which the singer finally understands she is deserving of love.
Maybe that’s where the confessional song cycle ends, for she has midwifed these eleven new songs on Rifles & Rosary Beads in careful collaboration with other souls whose struggle is urgent, immediate, and palpable. And none are about her.
Every day, on average, twenty-two veterans commit suicide. Each year seventy-four hundred current and former members of the United States Armed Services take their own lives.
Every day. That number does not include drug overdoses or car wrecks or any of the more inventive ways somebody might less obviously choose to die.
It seems trivial to suggest those lives might be saved — healed, even — by a song. By the process of writing a song.
And yet there is nothing trivial about Mary Gauthier’s tenth album, Rifles and Rosary Beads (Thirty Tigers), all eleven songs co-written with and for wounded veterans. Eleven of the nearly four hundred songs that highly accomplished songwriters have co-written as part of Darden Smith’s five-year-old SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.
None of the soldiers who have participated in the program have taken their own lives, and there’s nothing trivial about that. Something about writing that song — telling that story — is healing. What Smith calls post-traumatic-growth.
Each song on Rifles & Rosary Beads is a gut punch: deceptively simple and emotionally complex. From the opening “Soldiering On” (“What saves you in the battle/Can kill you at home”) to “Bullet Holes in the Sky” (“They thank me for my service/And wave their little flags/They genuflect on Sundays/And yes, they’d send us back”), while “Iraq” depicts the helpless horror of a female military mechanic being dehumanized and sexually harassed by fellow soldiers.
Courtney Hartman is a Colorado-born guitarist, singer, writer and producer best known for her work beneath the surface, writing and recording with artists throughout the folk community.
With the release of her newest album, Glade, Courtney takes us with her into a world of her own making, with songs about home and abiding; pulling out the marrow of what makes us good and what makes us kin. Written in the year following her return to a childhood home, the songs emanate from a place of quiet and sifting out. Although she brought in a handful of friends to contribute from a distance, for the most part, Glade was crafted alone in the dark morning hours.
Acoustic Guitar Magazine recognizes Courtney as a “distinctive guitar stylist… and a songwriter that delights and disturbs” while PopMatters calls her music “a delicate light glistening softly in the darkness.” Her debut album, Ready Reckoner, was written amidst a 500-mile walking pilgrimage and features collaborations with Bill Frisell, Anais Mitchell, Shazhad Ismaily and Sam Amidon.
In 2014 Courtney received a GRAMMY nomination for her work with folk quintet Della Mae and in 2017 she was nominated for Instrumentalist of the Year by the Americana Music Association. She will be touring throughout the fall and winter in support of her album, Glade..
The songs of Bonnie Hayes have always been extraordinary, from “Shelly’s Boyfriend”, the post-punk badgirl anthem that put her on the map to the authentic passion of “Have A Heart” and “Love Letter,” which restored Bonnie Raitt to superstardom with the multi-platinum, multi-Grammy-winning CD Nick of Time. Writing for artists as diverse as Bette Midler, Robert Cray, Adam Ant, David Crosby, Booker T and the MG’s, and Cher, Hayes has continued to craft songs one critic described as “sparkling clockwork mechanisms with a tendency to do the unexpected.”
On the new CD, Love In the Ruins, Bonnie infuses her barbed lyrics with her own unmistakable vocal style and adds a new fervor for crunchy guitars and incendiary drumming. The sum is ironic, literary, melodic, tragic, wild, honest, joyful music that also flat out ROCKS. Known for years as a keyboardist (she actually toured as a keyboard player/backing vocalist with such arena acts as Belinda Carlisle and Billy Idol), she turned to writing on guitar to stimulate the creative process. Bonnie’s personal reinvention is typical of her uncompromising attitude: “I reject the idea that music has to be either smart or kickass—-why not both?”
Famed for her kick-out-the-jams live show, Hayes has also enjoyed success as a recording artist and producer. In 1984, her pop/punk debut Good Clean Fun was released on seminal LA indie Slash Records to critical raves and national college airplay and in 1995, the Hayes-produced CD Steppin’ Out by the Gospel Hummingbirds was nominated for a Grammy. Her new CD marks a return to center stage for this exceptional songwriter.
Bonnie Hayes is a popular and experienced teacher with an original slant on writing songs that satisfy both artistic and commercial criteria. She teaches classes in various aspects of songwriting and popular music regularly. Her students have won prizes in the John Lennon songwriting contest, the WCSA songwriting contest, the Soulmaking contest, and others.
Pat Pattison is an author, clinician and Berklee Professor of Lyric Writing and Poetry whose students have composed for major artists and written number one songs. At Berklee, he developed the curriculum for the only songwriting major in the country. In addition to his four books, Songwriting Without Boundaries, Writing Better Lyrics, The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, and The Essential Guide to Rhyming, Pat has developed three online lyric writing courses, one on poetry, and one on creative writing available through Berkleemusic.com.
He has filmed a series of lectures and masterclasses, available through Songwork.com and has written over 50 articles for various magazines and blogs. Pat continues to present songwriting clinics across the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Several of his students have won Grammys, including John Mayer and Gillian Welch.
Paul Reisler is a composer, songwriter, recording artists, performer and teacher. He is the founder and artistic director of Kid Pan Alley, co-founder of Trapezoid, as well as his current bands, Paul Reisler & A Thousand Questions featuring Howard Levy, and Three Good Reasons. Over the past 40 years, he has performed in over 3,000 concerts, recorded close to three-dozen albums, written Aesop’s Fables for Orchestra and Narrator, music for theatre, dance and film, as well as the script and songs for two musicals—Bouncin’ and The Talented Clementine.
He’s written more songs than the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Stephen Foster combined—somewhere north of 3,500 compositions thanks in no small part to his army of 65,000 kid co-writers as well as his many adult collaborators. Artists including Sissy Spacek, Raul Malo, Darrell Scott, Cracker, Corey Harris, Jesse Winchester and many others have recorded
some of his songs.
At this stage of his life, he’s committed to inspiring the creativity of others through his songwriting workshops as well as through Kid Pan Alley. A few of the places he’s taught include Rocky Mountain Song School (26 years), Utah Song School, New Song Academy, Swannanoa Gathering, Augusta Workshop, Hollyhock, Kerrville, NSAI, Berklee College of Music, and he will be co-founding a new annual Songschool in Italy in April.
Steve Seskin is a successful songwriter who has written seven number one songs, including Grammy-nominated “Grown Men Don’t Cry,” recorded by Tim McGraw, and “Don’t Laugh at Me,” winner of NSAI Song of the Year and Music Row Magazine Song of the Year in 1999 as recorded by Mark Wills. His other #1 hits are “No Doubt About It” and “For a Change,” both recorded by Neal McCoy, “No Man’s Land” and “If You’ve Got Love,” both recorded by John Michael Montgomery, and “Daddy’s Money,” recorded by Ricochet.
Other chart toppers include “I Think About You,” recorded by Collin Raye, and “All I Need To Know,” recorded by Kenny Chesney. The video for Raye’s “I Think About You” single was named the Academy of Country Music’s Video of the Year in 1997, and the song and video were also given an award by the Tennessee Task Force Against Domestic Violence.
In 2014, 2018 and 2020, Steve was nominated to the NSAI Hall of Fame. Recent recordings of his songs include “Pictures,” by John Michael Montgomery, “We Shook Hands,” by Tebey, and “I’ll Always Be There For You,” by Brian McComas, “This Too Shall Pass,” by Sinclair and “Standing Still”, “Proof”, “Lift You Up” and “Electricity” by Seth Glier.
While Steve is best known for writing hits, he is also a successful performer and recording artist. His 20th album, Some Sunsets, released in 2014, is filled with inspiring, hopeful songs, and features Steve and the talented Julia Sinclair. “Don’t Laugh at Me” was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary and became the impetus for the Operation Respect/Don’t Laugh at Me project, a curriculum designed to teach tolerance in schools. This program has already been implemented in more than 20,000 schools across the country. Steve now enjoys performing at school assemblies in support of this program. The song is now available as a children’s book, Don’t Laugh At Me, which was featured on PBS’s Reading Rainbow in September 2002.
“Chicago Mike” Beck
“Chicago” Mike Beck is an ASCAP-award-winning songwriter and recording artist who has been touring full-time in the USA and Europe since 2001 as a solo performer and with his band Chicago Mike’s InterGalactic Brother & Sisterhood of Big Eyed Beans. Mike holds a residency several weeks each year at the historic Bright Angel Lodge on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and has toured Europe over 25 times, performing in Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Luxembourg.
In December 2015, Mike completed his first tour of Asia, performing shows in Japan and Thailand. He has personally brought over 30 musicians on their first overseas tours and coached hundreds more. His debut CD, released in 2002, has received radio airplay in the USA, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Transylvania, Romania, Macedonia and Japan.
In addition to his performing and recording endeavors, Mike is the founder of Access Film Music, an organization dedicated to helping independent recording artists expose their music to directors, producers and music supervisors working in film, television, video games and advertising. Since 2004, Access Film Music has presented showcases during Film Festival Week in Park City, Utah each year during the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals featuring platinum selling recording artists, hit songwriters, music legends as well as exceptional as-of-yet unknown artists. Access Film Music is also the Official Music Partner of the ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, France each Spring, where Access showcase events further their mission to connect music-makers with filmmakers on an international stage.
Mike has been on the faculty of the Planet Bluegrass Rocky Mountain SongSchool in Lyons, Colorado since 2005 and has been a featured speaker and mentor at numerous music industry events and educational institutions, including AmericanaFest in Nashville, Tennessee, South-by-Southwest in Austin, Texas, Folk Alliance International, and several other songwriting camps and retreats, music conferences and film festivals throughout North America and Europe. He has also presented his music business workshops at UCLA, Berklee College of Music in Boston and Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. He is a founding partner of Song Camp Italy, a songwriting retreat that takes place in Illasi, Italy, in the vineyard-covered hills about 30 minutes outside of Verona. Mike loves empowering and inspiring musicians to pursue their dreams and enjoys sharing practical ideas, methods and information to help make them real.
Ron Browning is internationally known as the “Voice Coach to the Stars.” Alison Krauss, the most celebrated Grammy Award winner (27 wins), recently praised him in the New York Times, USA Today, BBC News, the Tennessean, and The Sun in London, where she called him “a genius” after he saved her from a debilitating case of dysphonia and brought her back into excellent voice where singing felt effortless.This restored the confidence needed to finish her Windy City album, which won her 2 Grammy nominations. She was then able to move on with her singing career.Ron accompanied Alison Krauss on the Red Carpet for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in Madison Square Gardens.
Ron has been seen and heard on Entertainment Tonight, The Voice, Oprah Network, and BBC’s Simply Classics, to name a few.His clients include all levels of singers from beginners to award-winning celebrities in all genres of music.The National Association of Teachers of Singing has celebrated Ron in a lengthy tribute for “World Voice Day” in the Journal of Singing.He has had articles published by NATS, as well as The Voice Council in London, where he served as Artist in Residence two consecutive years.Other artists on his roster of clients include Wynonna, Amy Grant, Jamey Johnson, Patti LaBelle, John Hiatt, Lake Street Dive, Keb Mo, Carrie Underwood (Sound of Music Live NBC), Greta Van Fleet, Vanessa Carlton (Beautiful—the Carole King Musical in NYC), The Ace of Cups, Dailey and Vincent, RaeLynn, Chris Lane, Langhorne Slim, Steve Conn, and the international Broadway star, Pia Douwes, to name a few.He teaches privately in his Nashville studio and via Skype. Ron is also a songwriter and jazz pianist. His solo jazz piano CD, In a Sentimental Mood, is available on iTunes and CD Baby.
Interpreting life through music while integrating a vast composition of styles, Singer/Songwriter Jill Brzezicki (pronounced Brr-Zit-Ski) delves into her country and bluegrass roots in her third full-length release.
Darkness Falls delivers traditional bluegrass tracks alongside some of Jill’s best new original songs.
Jill attended the Colorado Contemporary Music College in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2004 and graduated with a diploma in performance and education.
Jill released her debut full length solo CD “Consequence of Truth” in 2007 and her second full length CD “The Horizon” in September, 2012. As a solo singer/songwriter Jill has enjoyed supporting local and nationally touring bands as well as headlining local and regional venues.
Attending and teaching at the Rocky Mountain Song School since 2007 has allowed Jill the opportunity to hone her skills and learn new techniques in playing, writing and performing.
Jenn Cleary is a folk-rock singer-songwriter from Boulder, Colorado, with many years’ experience performing on international stages. Highlight shows include Sundance Film Festivals and Colorado Rockies games. She has a range of song styles and performs bluesy acoustic solo shows as well as rockin’ shows with her full electric band. Jenn has four albums out, including her recently released first children’s album, which among other honors has won prestigious recognition from the 2021 NAPPA awards for being best in the music industry, as well as the 2021 Hot Diggity Award that signifies innovation, quality, entertainment, educational value and a commitment to excellence. Jenn has always included playful tunes in her output and her children’s album blends full-on fun with environmental and social consciousness.
Her songwriting for children is informed by a lifetime of assisting, educating, and raising them. She founded a non-profit that provided housing, schooling and medical care for Nepali children, and also started a K-12 private school in her community. She has been a foster parent and has three children of her own.
Jenn has taught in various arenas for over 30 years, including at The Living School, in Boulder, CO, from 2003 to 2011, and as an instructor for children and adults in guitar, singing, songwriting and performance for over 10 years.
Jenn is a 16 year veteran of Song School, where the high level of inspiring instruction continually spurs her to shape and improve her own teaching style.
Columbus, OH: Singer-songwriter guitar player RJ Cowdery is motivated by the best things in life: making people think, laugh, cry and feel. Fans tell her it’s uncanny the way her songs seem to take a peek directly into their lives. Much like the Midwestern Ohio landscape she calls home, her songs are stories of middle ground, and her tales are expressions of being in the midst of life. And RJ really plays hard; her unique, characteristic style is fingerpicking with a deep bass line. An injury to a finger on her left hand as a child resulted in Cowdery learning her own playing style out of necessity; this gave rise to the distinctive technique that’s earned Cowdery her rightful place at the folk table.
She has been a winner at the Kerrville New Folk contest in 2008 and the Mountain Stage New Song Contest in 2007, and won at Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist and Sisters Folk Festivals too. She’s played at venues like 30A, The Ark, The Bluebird, and Vancouver Island Folk Festival. Cowdery has worked with Don Dixon, Billy Crockett, and Amy Speace. She’s also received glowing press from No Depression, Country Standard Time, Making a Scene, The Alternate Root, WMOT, The Morton Report, Americana Highways, and many others.
Her 2019 release, What If This Is All There Is (GoosePie Music) was produced by Amy Speace and rerecorded and mixed by Thomm Jutz. Her all covers release Something Fine came out in 2015 on GoosePie Music and was produced, recorded and engineered by Matt Nakoa and Neale Eckstein. Her 2011 album was In This Light (Blue Rock Artists), produced by Billy Crockett recorded and engineered by Keith Gary. And her debut abum was 2008’s One More Door, out on GoosePie Music, and produced by Todd Burge.
Terri Delaney is a Minneapolis-based social worker turned booking agent turned trauma therapist. What started as a brief consulting gig for a local musician turned into a full-time music career. Terri founded Peppermint Booking Agency in 2000 and she received the National Association of Campus Activities award of “Agent of the Year” in 2005. She then re-focused her career onto trauma therapy and helping people heal using mind-body approaches. She still collaborates with her wife, contemporary folk musician Ellis, co-managing her record company Singing Crow Music.
Terri is a jane-of-all-trades, acting as vocal producer with Ellis in the studio and on-hand co-writer when needed, and teaching classes on time management, work/life balance, and nervous system regulation. Terri is known for her passionate commitment to helping artists reach their full potential and she is available for mentoring sessions during Song School.
There’s just something about Ellis. She is at once funny and wise, thoughtful and uninhibited, and her captivating voice is matched by her uplifting lyrics. She has appeared on A Prairie Home Companion four times and has been voted “most-wanted-to-return” performer at festivals including Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Moab Folk Festival, Kerrville, and Sisters Folk Festival. She has received hundreds of messages from strangers including, “you exude pure joy”, “I heard you and fell in love” and “I was stopped in my tracks by your music and captivating laugh” as well as “Yours is a voice we all need to hear.” Ellis is currently working on her tenth album, Ordinary Love, and will be showcasing many of those songs at her annual closing set on the Wildflower Stage the last day of Folks Festival. She is available for mentoring sessions and is interested in helping others to find their mission and artistic voice.
Rebecca Folsom is an award-winning songwriter, a national touring performer, a teacher, and a coach of transformational creativity. Dubbed “The Creativity Shaman” Rebecca has been coaching individuals and groups in transformational creativity for over 27 years. She offers a toolbox of simple and potent embodiment exercises, both traditional and non-traditional to help singers/writers/performers open streamlined vocal, songwriting, and performance flow.
Rebecca is a national touring artist with 27 years of experience on the road performing for audiences ranging from 1 to 2 ½ million people. Along with being a prolific songwriter, she is also a published author of two books, and a fine artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
Rebecca’s music is about liberation. Her agile voice traverses a four-octave range. KUNC describes her voice as “knock-you-to-your-knees.” The Daily Camera describes her music as “shining…with lush harmonies,” and Westword Magazine says, “Her songs hit like little earthquakes!” While her range is impressive, it’s the expression in her voice that rivets attention. She sings with both a simple storytelling purity along with a gritty blues prowess. Her voice pours from an inner spring, flowing with lilting tenderness to fully liberated, unbridled release.
Rebecca’s performances include Opryland, Red Rocks Amphitheater, and BBC Radio and Television, Kerrville Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and Planet Bluegrass’s own Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. Sanctuary, her most recent single released in 2020 was a semifinalist in the International Songwriting Competition ISC. Her songs have charted at #1 on the National Folk DJ Charts, #4 on the National Americana charts, and multiple times top 40 on the National Americana/Country charts.
“I am delighted to assist people in breaking down inner barriers, freeing themselves to live in the bullseye of their dreams.”
Connor Garvey is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Portland, Maine, with the amiable presence of an entertainer, the lyrical depth of a poet, and the enchantment of a storyteller. Garvey leaves audiences uplifted and inspired through a positive message delivered in a way The Portland Press Herald says “proves you can be optimistic and self-aware without being boring.”
This combination of songwriting and performance strength helped Garvey make his music scene start with numerous awards including being named winner of the Kerrville New Folk, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, Wildflower Art and Music Festival songwriting competitions, and being voted as Most Wanted artist at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. He has since gone on to perform around the country at many of the most notable folk/acoustic venues, festival stages, and teaching songwriting at some of the more distinguished song schools. After winning the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Singer Songwriter competition Connor has returned to perform both on the Main Stage and Wildflower Pavilion Stage as well as teach at the Song School (2016 & 2022).
While the pandemic brought a sharp drop in live performances, Connor dedicated his time to finishing an acoustic EP in 2020 that captured songs written aboard a cargo ship traveling from Maine to Iceland as an artist in residence as well as a full length album (Another End of a Year) being released this summer 2022. This journey across the Atlantic Ocean and the last few years were filled with loneliness, longing, excitement, adventure and challenge. Connor is re-emerging from the space of musical creation and capture to that of performance and connection. These were not lost years, these were years of growth. Now he’s ready to sing out!
Songwriter, recording artist, recovering attorney, coffee lover, and undeniable fan of the Oxford comma, Mark Gibson, will be joining us for his 12th Song School. In addition to teaching the “Taking Care of Business” workshop with Chicago Mike Beck, Mark will once again, (and much more importantly), be serving our morning coffee, tea, and pastries. After 25 years of legal practice, Mark abandoned the heat and humidity of the deep South and relocated to Colorado where he now spends his time enjoying the outdoors and writing and performing his songs along the western slope.
Vance Gilbert burst onto the singer/songwriter scene in the early 90’s when the buzz spread through the folk clubs of the Northeast about an ex-multicultural arts teacher who was knocking them dead at open mics. Word got out about this Philadelphia-area born and raised performer, and Shawn Colvin invited Gilbert to be a special guest on her 1992 Fat City tour. Gilbert took audiences across North America by storm. “With the voice of an angel, the wit of a devil, and the guitar playing of a god, it was enough to earn him that rarity: an encore for an opener” wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in its review of a show from that tour.
Gilbert’s three albums for the Rounder/Philo label - Edgewise (1994), Fugitives (1995), and Shaking Off Gravity (1998) - are all essential additions to the American singer-songwriter collection. With guests as varied as Tuck and Patti, Jonatha Brooke, Patty Larkin, Vinx, and Jane Siberry, all three albums found significant niches on NAC (New Adult Contemporary) and Non-Commercial A3 radio.
These discs were followed by the self-released Somerville Live (2000), lionized by the Boston Globe as the disc “young songwriters should study the way law students cram for bar exams,” and One Thru Fourteen (2002), a stylistically varied offering that New York’s Town and Village called “lively, eclectic, electrifying and transcending.” Gilbert followed with Side Of The Road (2003), a duo album with Ellis Paul, lauded as “haunting, artful, and lovely” by Boston Magazine and nominated for a 2004 Boston Music Award. Then came Unfamiliar Moon (2005). “The songwriter’s most compelling work; literate, heartfelt, rippling…emotionally resonant songs” raved the Boston Globe, placing the album in its Top 10 CDs of the year (#4). On Angels, Castles, Covers (2006), “Gilbert’s choice of an album of covers seems both fitting and fearless. …he displays his vocal virtuosity with some unexpected choices from the late 20th century songbook. From the sounds of Motown, through the R&B of Al Green to classic Joni Mitchell and Shawn Colvin…He makes each and every tune sound fresh and new,” writes Roberta Schwartz of FAME.
Gilbert then launched into a year and a half as support for George Carlin, leading up to the creation and recording of Up On Rockfield (2008), a landmark album noted for being written in the styles of some of his favorite songwriters. Of this disk Vintage Guitar proclaimed that “His fervor for composing is as powerful as a Colorado thunderstorm…accomplishing the seemingly impossible…Up On Rockfield should be on your must hear list.”
Who else would name their most recent album “Old White Men”, and actually have recorded a groundbreaking, heartbreaking title song to back it up? That’d be Vance Gilbert.
This latest release has received raves based solely on the material folks knew would be on it! The soul aching title cut, OLD WHITE MEN, the winsome BOY ON A TRAIN, and the comic tour de force MY BAD are present. The lonesome KING OF THE RAILS will leave a diagonal crease across the listener’s heart. DRAGONFLY WINGS is a delightful throwback to 70‘s pop. NO ONE CAN LOVE YOU LIKE MARY is an all acoustic life story punctuated by Billy Novick’s funky saxophones. The maddened rant of HELPLESS MAN is followed by the big hearted NEW YEAR’S EVE AT THE LION’S HEAD HOTEL - HOURLY RATES, a one-sided conversation between a prostitute and a policeman. Vance’s original YOU SHOULD BE HERE sounds like a refugee from the Rogers and Hart songbook and is just Vance and a classical guitar. GO and COME HERE MY LOVE are both solo snapshots of breathless points in time. The acapella BRAKEMAN’S SON is a small story of a search for big peace. Eleven killer songs, pared down to their living core, listener ready (OK, there’s a buried track. Listen for yourself…).
Dan Harris is a singer/songwriter and guitar builder based in Lafayette, CO. He grew up in a drafty farmhouse in southern Vermont, listening to The Grand Ol Opry and strumming along with an oversized guitar. Dan studied jazz and classical guitar in high school and college and has played in a variety of different bands and ensembles, from jazz big bands to flamenco dance groups and his current band, The Renegade Roosters, a bluegrass/old time group also based in Lafayette.
Dan also owns and operates Harris Guitars, Ltd, a small custom guitar shop in a tiny shed in his back yard. His music draws inspiration from the likes of Guy Clark, John Prine and Woody Guthrie, among others. He is currently working on his first album, due out the end of 2021.
JJ Jones is an internationally touring, Berklee-trained drummer and educator. She has performed with folk-pop darlings Girlyman, Canadian roots band Po’Girl (now Birds of Chicago), singer-songwriter Lucy Wainwright Roche, Egyptian revolutionary Ramy Essam, and LA’s riot-pop band WASI, among many, many others. As a writer and producer, she co-wrote a song with comedian Margaret Cho that was featured in her Showtime concert movie “psyCHO”, and one of JJ’s own projects, a kids’ music record under the name Django Jones, won a Parents’ Choice Gold award, one of the most prestigious honors in children’s music.
JJ is passionate about education: her mission is to empower women and girls through playing drums. She’s an instructor and band coach at girls and ladies rock camps across the U.S., is the Tech Editor of Tom Tom Magazine, the world’s only magazine dedicated to female drummers, and is the founder of EmpowerDrumming.com, a drum education and coaching company for women. This is her eleventh year teaching at song school!
Arthur Lee Land
Lyons Colorado based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Arthur Lee Land is known for his joy filled, innovative live performances, his mad guitar and live-looping skills, Arthur’s hands are full theses days writing, recording and performing with multiple projects. First as a solo artist, you have his unforgettable one-man act employing the Art of Live-Looping to create his Electro-Americana BAND of ONE featured in his last studio album release Cracked Open featuring songs co-written by his wife and songwriting partner, clairvoyant lyricist Carol Lee. In late 2014, Arthur replaced Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon in the veteran Colorado Americana Jam-Band Great American Taxi.
The Arthur Lee Land TRIO is crushing it live and gearing up for a new original studio album. The TRIO’s unique Grateful Dead Tribute: Twang Is Dead has been a festival favorite. On top of all that, Arthur has been bringing his melodic guitar skills touring with String Cheese Incident’s keyboardist’s solo project the Kyle Hollingsworth’s Band, as well as the Elephant Revival family side projects featuring Daniel Rodriguez and Bonnie Paine that also became folk rock icon Donovan’s band for a headline festival slot in 2016. Other fun projects find him teaming up with Brain McRae’s gogoLab and Tyler Grant’s band Grant Farm for the “GRANTful Dead Revue.” Arthur’s Art of Live-Looping Educational Outreach Programs have reached 50,000+ students in 27 states and he’s been an advocate for Reframing ADHD as the gift of the “HUNTER” Brain Wiring. Arthur has been a member of the Song School instructor staff since 2003.
Largely due to a visioning session in Ellis Delaney’s class at Song School, John Linn now teaches guitar and makes music full-time in Washington, D.C. His mission is to share the joys of creativity and musical living with his students and audiences. In his teaching practice, John especially enjoys the gentle exploration of music theory, creativity coaching and performance development.
As a performing songwriter, John’s music has been described as “songs for sinners and everyday angels.” Whether you hear stories of growing up on the prairies of the Midwest, of a coffeehouse flirtation, or of the sweet disappointments of love, John’s music will leave you with a sense of the depth and mystery of human experience, vibrating with its surprising joys and hidden tragedies.
John is an active member of the local arts scene in Washington, DC, performing as solo artist and as a founding member of the Americana band After the Flood, a folk-rock quintet. In 2017 he was named an Overall Winner of the Radioairplay.com Summer Song Contest for his song, “Mama,” and he is a two-time semi-finalist in the Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Competition. After the Flood’s eponymous debut album and John’s solo album, Illinois 14, were both released in 2016, each receiving national airplay and critical acclaim on folk radio, where John’s writing has been noted for its honesty and deep connection to traditional folk influences.
Rob is a musician, singer, actor, voice-over artist, playwright, director, videographer, and photographer. He’s built furniture and written 58 plays that at current count have been performed in 34 states and 4 continents. He’s released 3 independent CDs, performed on festival stages, and won awards as a playwright and an actor. His voice can be heard in independent films, commercial videos, and on a number of phone systems across the US. Rob refers to himself as “A Long-term Dilletante.”
Clare McLeod is an Assistant Professor in the Voice Department at Berklee College of Music. A Certified Master Teacher in Estill Voice Training, Clare also trained at the National Center for Voice and Speech, and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. In addition to teaching at Berklee, she presents voice clinics regularly in Los Angeles, Colorado and Austin and continues to study developments in the voice research field.
Bill Nash has been a musician all his life. He was a 5-year-old boy soprano, a 4th grade french hornist (played horn all through college), a 15-year-old beginning guitarist and then an 18-year-old guitar teacher, and a graduate of Bradley University’s School of Music, majoring in composition studying under the tutelage of Professor Dean Howard, and an almost master’s degree from time at the University of Colorado (just one semester short!). Bill began writing music and lyrics in his early teens and his roots are firmly embedded in what is now known as the singer/songwriter acoustic music genre. He has performed styles as diverse as rock ‘n roll, fusion, country, polka, folk, and even old-time western music, ala the Sons of the Pioneers.
Bill has 3 albums currently available, Mostly True Stories (1996), Runs With Scissors (1998), and Dreaming Again (2010), containing mostly original songs and a few cover tunes from some of his favorite songwriters. His songs range from love songs to heartbreak songs, from true stories to completely imaginative fabrications, from protest songs to environmental songs, and he even wrote a tribute song for Uncle Calvin’s Coffeehouse in Dallas (“… the best coffee and hugs in town!”), where he has been a volunteer almost every Friday night since 1993.
On “Runs With Scissors”, Bill was delighted to be joined by the likes of Dana Cooper (harmonica), Chris Gage (honky tonk piano), Marsha Webb (classical piano), Denny Allen (bass guitar and recording engineer), and Don Conoscenti (practically everything, from wailing guitars to drum set to flute to dumbeck to metal chair!), and a very special group of 6 lady singers he affectionately calls “The RollAides” (referenced from his song, “She Rolls”, for which they sang beautiful backup harmonies).
The new CD “Dreaming Again” was a 10 year effort, containing 12 songs previously unreleased! This album starts out with Bill’s newest instrumental “Night Ascent”, then cycles through favorites “Come Home, “When I Was in Love”, “Mirror Deep”, and many others. This CD was 10 years in the making due to Bill’s physical limitations, money issues, and then Tom Prasada Rao came along and said “Let’s finish this!”, and so it was! Also joining Bill on this CD were Pat Wictor (dobro), Chris Gage (guitar and accordian), TPR on a bunch of instruments, and Cary Cooper on background harmonies. These songs are among the best Bill has ever written, and it is sure to become a classic in the indie/folk music arena!
Bill has been invited to sing background harmony on mainstage at the Kerrville Folk Festival many times, with fine musicians from Anne Hills to Michael McNevin to Tom Prasada-Rao to Jana Stanfield to Albert & Gage to Josh White Jr to Jon Vezner to the Rhythm Angels, and was 1 of 4 invited singer/songwriters at the Dallas Campfire show hosted by Emilie Aronson on the Threadgill Theater stage at Kerrville in 1996.
Justin Roth is a nationally touring singer/songwriter, fingerstyle guitarist, and recording engineer/producer for independent artists at his home studio in Fort Collins, CO. His path to acoustic music was solidified at 17 when he heard innovative guitarist, Michael Hedges, and saw how the acoustic guitar was capable of creating such a huge sonic palette, much more than he had ever heard before. From that moment on, he knew it would be the root of his musical world. His use of alternate tunings, partial capos and his innovative two-hand tapping technique has been described as, ‘more than just an instrument, but an extension of himself.’ “Fans of Leo Kottke or Michael Hedges will find themselves right at home with [Roth’s] intricate guitar work…beautifully written lyrics.” - San Francisco Art Magazine
Justin has toured with John Gorka and David Wilcox, as well as opened for some of the finest singer/songwriters on the acoustic music scene, including Shawn Colvin, Martin Sexton, and Darrell Scott. Equally, his guitar playing has earned him shared stages with some of the greatest fingerstyle players of today, such as Tommy Emmanuel, Andy McKee and Pat Donohue.
Justin’s self-produced and fan-funded album, Now You Know, was voted as one of the Top 100 Folk Albums of 2011. Two songs from Now You Know have also been featured on the soap operas, The Young & The Restless and General Hospital. In late 2013, Justin wrote and released the single “Rise,” inspired by the Colorado floods, and donated 100% of the proceeds to flood relief.
Justin has attended Song School every year since 1997 and taught each year since 2003, as well as teaching at the Kerrville Folk Festival, Sisters Folk Festival, International Folk Alliance Conference. He is also available for individual online lessons or you can view his courses on www.JamPlay.com.
“Amy Speace has one of the richest and loveliest voices in the singer/songwriter genre and her songs are luxuriously smart…she’s profoundly personal yet also a bit mythic. The imagery and the careful use of language is stunning and more evocative of classical poetry than most contemporary Americana peers” – Craig Havighurst, author & host of Nashville’s “Music City Roots”. Baltimore born, NYC bred and Nashville based, Amy Speace has been making critical waves since Judy Collins discovered her in 2006, releasing “Songs For Bright Street” on Collins’ own Wildflower Records. A logical protégé to classic singers like Collins and Baez, Amy’s brand of folk comes with a bit of grit and soul.
Each release since her debut more personal, more crafted, her voice deepening with intimacy and authority. The critics followed with increasing notice. 2009’s “The Killer In Me” had NPR likening her to a younger Lucinda. 2013’s “How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat,” a song cycle conversation with Shakespeare’s characters, brought her national recognition with a feature on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and acclaim from famed rock critic Dave Marsh.
Her most recent release, 2015’s “That Kind Of Girl,” was lauded by The New York Times’s Jon Pareles and marked her 4th appearance on “Mountain Stage”. Judy Collins has recorded her songs, as well as the late Memphis Hall of Fame member Sid Selvidge and other folk and jazz artists. Just recently she released a trio record with Amber Rubarth and UK-based Emily Barker called Applewood Road, which got 5 star reviews in England including The Sunday London Times writing “a flawless set that has to be the most haunting release of the past year”.
But all this is not what she had planned. After graduating from Amherst College with a dual degree in English and Theater, she moved to NYC to study acting at The National Shakespeare Conservatory, fully intending on a career as a playwright, director and actress. She spent a few years doing just that: a member of a few classical repertory companies, a founding Artistic Director of Off-Off Broadway’s Five Points Theater Company – until a borrowed guitar and a spectacular break up led to her penning her first few songs. It was only a few years later that a demo of hers was brought to the attention of Judy Collins who was in search of talent for a fledgling record label.
Amy has taught performance and songwriting at Rocky Mountain Folks Fest Song School for over a decade and been on staff at The Kerrville Folk Festival Song School, Swannanoa Gathering, Sister’s Folk Festival & Americana Academy, Berklee College of Music (Summer Session), her own Songs From The Well Writing Retreats and is honored to work with Songwriting With Soldiers.
Moira Smiley has taught extensively around the world. Her subject is the singing voice and its ability to encompass an astounding range of expressive, linguistic, and stylistic colors. Moira seeks to guide her students in the discovery and development of flexibility within their own voice – both technically and artistically. She also focuses with students on creating a moving performance.
Moira has led vocal workshops and residencies at countless universities, colleges, high schools, conservatories, and musical organizations including the LA Master Chorale, Savannah Acoustic Music Seminar, Vancouver Youth Choir, Yale, and Oxford. Moira’s academic specialty is Early Music, and she has developed parallel experience with various folk traditions – especially early American, Irish, and Balkan vocal styles. By exploring the particularities of traditions, styles, and periods, she’s found something uniquely her own.
Do you have writer’s block? Need more energy during Song School? Want clarity on which workshops to choose from the many wonderful ones? Or just need some time to relax and re-group? Come experience Reiki and other energy modalities provided by Judith Wade.
Judith is a gentle intuitive channel for a variety of nurturing hands-on healing techniques including Reiki that balance the body, mind, and spirit. She is committed to integrity, creative expression, and authenticity and assisting you in freely expressing yourself.
What might you experience? If you are feeling overwhelmed, you will find a greater sense of peace. If you are working through emotions, you will move through them gentler and with support. If you are blocked, you will access what wants to surface. If you are tired, you will have a greater sense of renewal. If you don’t know what you need, you will find more clarity. If you want more prosperity, you will receive guidance for receiving. These changes can be accompanied by physical changes such as easier breathing, lower heart rate, and relief from pain.
Judith believes in the amazing transformation that energy work can provide just by being open to receiving it. She is a certified Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, Kundalini Reiki Master/Teacher, Pranic Healing Practitioner, and Integrated Energy Therapy Practitioner. She serves as a facilitator for intuitive healing energies and information assisting you on your path. Her newest healing modality provides assistance with letting go of limiting beliefs in all aspects of your life joined with empowering questions such as “What would it take to create greater possibilities today?”
Maggie Wing has been singing, playing, and writing songs since she was a kid growing up in Northern New Mexico. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area and taking a multi-decade detour into software engineering, she reconnected with her songwriting self at The Song School in 2012 and hasn’t looked back. Her debut album, Pictures of Birds (2016), garnered critical praise for its memorable stories and thoughtfully crafted lyrics. While she doesn’t write autobiographical songs, “each one comes from a feeling or an experience that I’ve had in my life,” she says. “I just hand the story over to a narrator who’s a lot braver — or a lot less lucky — than I’ve been.”
In recent years, Maggie has been a judge for numerous West Coast Songwriters competitions in the Bay Area. “The whole concept of judging art is pretty questionable,” she says, “but it’s reasonable to make some judgement calls about craft, so that’s what I tend to focus on.”
When she’s not reading, writing, or doing local gigs with her duo (Irish Twins), Maggie spends a lot of time listening to great songs and digging in to discover why they work so well. Although she’s a self-described “word nerd,” she’s also developed a deep interest in studying melody, thanks to ten years of attending Song School.
“Songwriting is the best,” she says. “I can’t think of a better subject for a lifelong learner. It’s like an ongoing mani/pedi for your brain — and your spirit.”
Her new album, Burn This Note, will be released later this year.