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.
It takes a mix of skill and luck to tend a garden well, but it’s impossible without a certain amount of kindness tended. While the cyclical nature of gardening seems inherent, in some ways, Heynderickx is just beginning. Her debut album, named I Need to Start a Garden out of a search for calm through these waves of uncertainty and upheaval, is out now via Mama Bird Recording Co.
For the empathetic singer/songwriter, the reasons for seeking such acceptance and understanding stem from a life of paradoxes. Heynderickx grew up in a religious household in Oregon, closely identifying with her Filipino roots, but also straddling multiple cultural identities. Now residing in Portland, her faith is not overt, but her introspection and continued struggle for self-actualization are easily accessible and relatable.
Likewise, the tracks on I Need to Start a Garden reflect these seemingly disparate elements. Through soft acoustic guitar picking and deftly accented trombone sighs, Heynderickx’s music immediately recalls folk music of the ’60s and ’70s mixed with a love of jazz radio. But Heynderickx’s singing—her vocals that range from sultry to operatic—belie a tenacity in her soul.
It’s a balance then, between exposing and protecting herself on I Need to Start a Garden. Heynderickx vacillates between powerlessness (opener “No Face”) and empowerment (lead single “Oom Sha La La”). But her generosity of spirit remains the constant throughout the whole album.
You can hear that exceptional care in “Jo”, as she whispers, “You tended your garden like heaven and hell / and you built the birds houses to see if it helped at all.” Aware of the birds, the garden, and anyone listening acutely, Heynderickx’s music serves as an invitation for all to join her. Because the beauty of a garden is that, while it’s often started for deeply personal reasons, its bounty is best consumed and shared with others.
I Need to Start a Garden was produced, engineered and mixed by Zak Kimball at Nomah Studios in Portland, Oregon. Haley Heynderickx co-produced the album. It was mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic Mastering in Portland. The record features Lily Breshears (Bass, Keys, Backing Vocals), Denzel Mendoza (Trombone, Backing Vocals), Phillip Rogers (Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals) and Tim Sweeney (Upright Bass).
The Associated Press named Mary Gauthier as one of the best songwriters of her generation. Her songs have been recorded by dozens of artists, including Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, and Candi Staton, Amy Helm and Bettye Lavette and Mike Farris, and have also appeared in Film and Television, most recently on the ABC hit show Nashville, HBO’s Banshee, and Masterpiece Theater’s Case Histories. She was awarded New Artist of the year by The Americana Music Association in 2005, and has released 10 studio albums.
Her current release is Rifles and Rosary Beadsco-written with wounded combat veterans over the last four years via SongwritingWith:Soldiers. Her third album, Filth and Fire was named Best Independent CD of the year by the New York Times. Her following 3 records were listed in both the LA Times and NY Times top three releases of the year. Her record Mercy Now was named in the top 5 records of the decade by No Depression magazine.
Mary tours the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and the UK, performing an average of 175 dates a year, and has appeared dozens on NPR radio (US), BBC radio (UK), CBC radio (Canada), and ABC radio (AU). Her short stories have been published in several books and magazines, including the book Amplified, released by Random House. She is a regular performer on the Grand Ole Opry, and currently resides in Nashville, TN. She’s often been called a writer’s writer, and that thrills her to no end.
Patty Larkin grew up in a musical family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After graduation from the University of Oregon, she moved to Boston and devoted herself to music, busking on the streets of Cambridge and studying jazz guitar at Berklee College of Music and with Boston area jazz guitarists where she soon joined the ranks of top shelf guitarists. With eleven studio albums and two live recordings under her belt, Patty mines the intersections of poetry and song with her upcoming innovative 14th release, “Bird in a Cage.” The recording puts poems from ten notable poets to song. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music and was honored by Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino with “Patty Larkin Appreciation Day” in recognition of her philanthropic contributions to non-profit organizations.
The Small Glories
Canadian folk heroine & Juno award winner Cara Luft is that rare artist steeped in folk and traditional roots music almost from birth, yet willing to alter the fabric, stretch the boundaries and fearlessly bend genres and styles. Luft, an original member of harmony sweethearts The Wailin’ Jennys and whose parents were folksingers influenced by the great activist Pete Seeger, knows that sometimes a song is all you need to bring people together. But often, it is more. “(Seeger) was the king of uniting people through singing,” Luft says. “There’s so much animosity and divisiveness in our world these days… as artists, part of our job is to somehow create unity.”
Cara is now half of roots powerhouse duo The Small Glories with JD Edwards, a musical tour-de-force partnership planted on the Canadian Prairies. Their highly anticipated sophomore album “Assiniboine & the Red” comes out June 28 on Compass/Red House Records.
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 songwriter/singer 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. “Don’t Laugh at Me” was also 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 kindness, respect and 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. In 2007, Steve started Kids Write Songs and these days spends 80 days a year in schools writing songs with students. Go to kidswritesongs.org for more info. He has also been very busy writing songs this year with Seth Glier who recorded 3 songs they wrote together on his new record “If I COuld CHange One Thing” as well as the song “This Too Shall Pass” with Sinclair an amazing new pop artist on Drive records. In 2015, he also released “Some Sunsets”, his first new recording in ten years. Produced by Julia Sinclair it features her talents on all the instumrnats except percussion which was handled by the legendary Roy Wooten AKA Future Man.
Ysaÿe M. Barnwell, Ph.D. MSPH, is a commissioned composer, arranger, author, actress and former member of the African American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. She is a vocalist with a range of over three octaves and appears on more than twenty-five recordings with Sweet Honey as well as other artists. Trained as a violinist for 15 years beginning at the age of 2 1/2, she holds degrees in speech pathology (BS, MSEd), cranio-facial studies (Ph.D.) and public health (MSPH).
She was a professor at Howard University College of Dentistry for over a decade, and over the following 8 years developed training programs in Child Protection at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center, and administered community-based health programs at Gallaudet University, all in Washington DC. For almost thirty years, and on three continents, Barnwell has led the workshop Building a Vocal Community - Singing In the African American Tradition, which utilizes oral tradition, an African world view and African American history, values, cultural and vocal traditions to build communities of song among singers and non-singers alike. Her pedagogy is highly respected among musicians, educators, health workers, activists, organizers, and members of the corporate and non-profit sectors.
Madison House, Inc.
Adam Bauer started booking bands for the Good Music Agency back in 1996, based in Seattle Washington. He focused on buying talent for colleges, casinos, and clubs on the West Coast.In 1999 he packed up and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to join Fleming, Tamulevich & Associates. He later went on to helm what became Fleming Artists for over six years until he left to join Madison House in the fall of 2016.
Adam brought his clients and many co-workers with him to Madison House, where he currently directs a branch office based in Ann Arbor. Adam has represented many of the same clients for close to two decades, names such as Colin Hay, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Choir!Choir!Choir!, Willie Nile, The Verve Pipe, The Posies, Mike and the Mechanics, and many more.The Boulder-based Madison House, which has offices in Ann Arbor, Nashville, and Toronto, boasts a diverse roster of artists across all genres that include Bassnectar, String Cheese Incident, and The Revivalists. In addition to booking, the company also works in presenting, and has produced events such as Forest Hills in NYC, Vertex Festival in Colorado, and Electric Forest in Michigan.
Adam flies under the radar of major agencies and has made a conscious decision to work in the independent world as opposed to large behemoths. While many peers started in mailrooms, he dove immediately into booking performing artists on a straight commission basis. Eventually many colleges went out in search of greener pastures, but Adam continued to work hard to hone his craft. Now, he specializes in building artists as well as re-establishing their careers. This includes pairing artists with the right venues and proper presenters who respect the unique artistry his clients present to their audiences.Adam continues to be driven by hard work and commitment to his clients, as well as fair and ethical treatment of promoters and venue owners.Most importantly Adam has a fantastic sense of humor, after all this is the music business.
“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, videogames and advertising. The 17th annual Access Film Music Showcase will take place during Film Festival Week in Park City, Utah January 27 - February 2, 2020. Access Film Music is also the Official Music Partner of the ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, France each Spring, where Access showcase events have helped further their mission to connect music-makers with filmmakers.
Mike has been on the faculty of the renown 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. These include AmericanaFest in Nashville, Tennessee, South-by-Southwest in Austin, Texas, Folk Alliance International, many other songwriting retreats, music conferences and film festivals throughout North America and Europe, as well as UCLA, Berklee College of Music in Boston and Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. He loves empowering and inspiring musicians to pursue their dreams and enjoys sharing practical ideas, methods and information to help make them real.
Mai is a singer-songwriter-cellist-guitarist from California. She writes songs from the heart and loves to collaborate. As a solo artist, she has received songwriting awards from the Kerrville, Telluride, and Rocky Mountain Folks Festivals. As a collaborator, she’s worked with various artists including Raining Jane, Jason Mraz, Adam Cohen, Sara Bareilles, Willy Porter. In 2016 she had the honor of playing on Leonard Cohen’s album “You Want It Darker.”
Along with her bandmates of 15 years (Raining Jane) she co-wrote Jason Mraz’s chart-topping album “Yes!” (2014) as well as his 2018 hit single “Have It All.” Most recently, she’s been touring the world with Mraz in venues ranging from coffee shops to Royal Albert Hall.
Mai is driven by a love of songwriting, and a dedication to support others in the creative process. In 2010 she helped start the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles, a non-profit dedicated to empowering girls through music, where she teaches songwriting and serves as Art Director year-round. She has also led songwriting workshops at the Song School in Colorado, Rain City Rock in Seattle, and The Americana Song Academy in Sisters, Oregon.
Whether performing, writing, or mentoring, Mai brings a combination of strength and vulnerability to her work. Her songs often speak of the pursuit of finding the light inside the dark –a theme that was magnified in her own life when she became a breast cancer survivor. She is currently working on a book about that experience and the insights that came through it, and hopes her story will inspire and encourage others on their creative paths.
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.
Ohio’s Rj Cowdery has solidified her place in the world of performing singer-songwriters, garnering accolades at major performing songwriter contests across America. (Kerrville New Folk, Rocky Mountain Folks Fest, Sisters Folk Festival…) She plays guitar like she means it, stringing chords together and developing melodies built like a proverbial brick house, then pours over it all with a voice like butter.
Her unpretentious style will draw you in and keep you there. Her lyrics are sincere and plainspoken as if she’s peeked inside your life and leaves you wondering how she knew that about you.
Since making her leap of faith to become a full time working artist a little over ten years ago, after three decades of writing, she hasn’t looked back. Her new recording, What If This Is All There Is, produced by Amy Speace has been causing a commotion all over the place.
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.
The Small Glories
JD Edwards is half of roots powerhouse duo The Small Glories with Cara Loft, a musical tour-de-force partnership planted on the Canadian Prairies. With a truly original voice and a knack for crafting amazing songs, JD is able to capture every listener with an honest and uniquely personal touch. From gentle and melodic to fierce and powerful JD’s voice has a sound that embraces diversity as a strength.
JD’s eclectic songwriting style draws from a wide variety of musical experiences, honing a loud and gritty repertoire heavily influenced by Country, Blues, R & B, and Soul. Delivered with a contagious optimism and energy, each performance JD is able to draw in audiences with a real sense of musical purity.
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.
Introducing Oliver Esposito: Songwriter. Singer. Multi-instrumentalist. 18 years old. It should be no surprise that in 2018, folk music at its finest is being made by a teenager. Esposito’s music is an acoustic mixture of folk, classical, bluegrass, an unsurprising blend considering the company this young artist has been keeping. In 2012, Amos Lee, in his headlining set at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, introduced 12-year old Oliver to the stage to join his band. “In that instant, the lives of everyone in attendance changed for the better,” wrote The Huffington Post about that appearance. Since childhood, Esposito has shared the stage with a veritable who’s who of the folk/bluegrass community, including David Grisman, Tim O’Brien, Chris Thile.
“I’ve had the great privilege to play with some incredible musicians in my life. Rarely have I come across one who is both virtuosic and profoundly raw and soulful at the same time. I don’t think many people are given either, let alone both. Oliver’s got it.” says Langhorne Slim. “It’s mind blowing to watch, spiritually elevating to play along with, and damn exciting to see what this incredible human has in store for us all.”
Esposito’s latest EP, “Ghosts Underneath My Skin” was recorded and produced by Neilson Hubbard (Mary Gauthier, Kim Richey, Amy Speace) in Nashville, TN, with contributions by Will Kimbrough (Emmylou Harris) on guitars, Kira Small (Garth Brooks, Martina McBride) on keyboards and vocals, Eamon McLoughlin (The Grand Ole Opry band) on fiddle. Recorded mostly live in a few days, these 6 songs touch on issues ranging from gun violence to the refugee situation to growing up queer in America. Yet, this is no pedantic collection of political folk songs. The record grooves, excites, rocks and fills with memorable melodic hooks.
Brave. Bold. Simple. By Track 3, we know we are listening to someone deeply committed to truth-telling. “Breathe” begins as a poem, a tumble of words over mandolin, guitar and piano, until they break into melody “and when I finally spoke those words…it felt like coming up for air. For the first time in 16 years, I can breathe.” It is one of the most direct statements of self from any songwriter, any artist, at any age, and it is exhilarating.
A Colorado native currently living in Boulder, Esposito’s unique approach to schooling has allowed them to pursue what they love from an early age. Homeschooled until high school, they began piano, voice and guitar at age five and mandolin at age eight. Esposito currently attends Berklee College of Music in Boston.
“Oliver is a brilliant young songwriter whose music moves me. Give a listen, you’ll be glad you did.” – Mary Gauthier
“Ghosts Underneath My Skin” is an audacious debut from a voice well beyond Esposito’s years. We would do well to listen and follow as they shine a flashlight in the dark.
-Amy Speace, Nashville, TN. April 2018
Rebecca Folsom’s music is about liberation. Rebecca’s world-class voice traverses a near-four-octave range. KUNC radio describes it 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 is a unique artist who brings both a pure vocal quality reminiscent of old Appalachia and a gritty blues prowess. Her voice pours from an inner spring, flowing with lilting tenderness to fully liberated, unbridled release.
Her poetic songs crack open any safely locked away vulnerability, inviting you to embrace life with all of its joy, sorrow, passion, and love.
Dubbed “The Creativity Shaman” Rebecca has been coaching individuals and groups for over 25 years. She offers an effective toolbox of simple and potent, embodiment exercises, both traditional and non traditional. Rebecca inspires whole system transformation. She facilitates waking up potent, streamlined creative flow. Rebecca is a national touring artist with 25 years of experience on the road performing for audiences ranging from 50 to 2 ½ million people. She is also a published author of two books, a fine artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and shows her work in galleries.
Rebecca’s performances include Opryland, Red Rocks Amphitheater, and BBC Radio and Television. Her songs 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 help people to break down barriers, to free themselves to live authentically and with confidence that the bulls eye of their dreams is possible and valuable beyond measure.”
Songwriter, recording artist, barrister and barista, Mark Gibson, will be joining us for his eleventh Song School. In addition to co-teaching “Chicago Mike” Beck’s Taking Care of Business workshop, Mark will once again (and more importantly) be providing our morning coffee. After 25 years of law practice, Mark recently abandoned the heat and humidity of the deep south and relocated to Colorado. He spent the past winter guiding snowmobile tours in Vail and polishing up a collection of new songs to be recorded this fall. Mark is a frequent speaker on legal and business topics, and most recently brought his expertise to the 2018 AmericanaFest Continuing Legal Education Conference in Nashville.
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…).
John Prine meets Steve Earl, with a Vermont authenticity… On a cold winter night the coyotes would cry from way up in the hills as the midnite train blew its whistle farther on up the Connecticut River valley. I could feel the wind coming through the windows in the drafty farmhouse we grew up in. The coyotes were there most of the time, howling at the train whistle. There wasn’t much else to do on nights like that other than play my guitar, and scribble songs on little scraps of paper. I did alot of fishing in the river back then too.
And spent days on end rummaging around in the forest, looking for a cool tree with a cool bird whistling the afternoon away, or maybe a deer, or a trout from the little stream about a mile back in.
On Sundays I was pulled away from my lonely little utopia in the woods and streams and taken to church. My family was very religious and church music rang out loud and clear from our household as far back I can remember. I can also remember sitting on my dads lap, at a very early age, before the coyotes, learning to hold a pick, strum the strings and sing “Hey Good Looking” together.
Once, in the third grade, we went on a school trip to hear Dizzy Gillespie play trumpet and give a talk on the history of jazz. I’ll never forget the way that music made me feel, or how his cheeks would blow up into balloons when he was belting out once cool lick after another.
This is where my music comes from, it started a journey that has taken me to some fun and interesting, and sometimes dark and heart wrenching, places. I listen to and love the music of John Hartford, Woody Guthrie, Del McCoury, Tim Obrien, piles and piles of bluegrass, and of course all of my fellow musician friends in my area.
My latest project involves playing guitar in a newly formed old time/new time string band called the Renegade Roosters. We have Jason Lowery on clawhammer banjo and vocals and Jay Allen playing upright bass.
When not performing or writing music I teach private lessons on guitar and mandolin. I’m also an instrument builder and have a small shop where I repair stringed instruments and build mandolins and guitars.
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.Having discovered so much of that joy in Lyons, John is especially glad to be returning to teach at the Song School again in 2019.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.
Unfazed by what a typical pop artist today is “supposed” to look like and how the typical pop artist is “supposed” to sound, Heather Mae, an award-winning songwriter whose evocative vocals and rhythmic piano style call to mind artists like Stevie Nicks and Sara Bareilles, creates intoxicating music that tackles complex topics surrounding mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, self-love, racial injustice, social inequality, and women’s rights. Inspired by her own personal experiences and identities - a queer, plus size woman living with Bipolar Disorder - and those of her multifaceted fans with whom she has forged connections throughout her many years of touring across the United States, Mae crafts powerful lyrics and unforgettable music about life’s moments—from the quietly chaotic to the explosive.
In 2016, after an eight-month period of silence to recover from vocal nodules, Mae made a vow: she would dedicate her career to solely write music that made the world a better place. Her independently-released debut EP I AM ENOUGH, which reached #58 on iTunes Pop Album charts, was her announcement to the world. Mae, who was dubbed “the new queer Adele” by L-Mag, envelopes her audience with a message of hope.
Her newest project, GLIMMER, is a collection of nine songs supporting one central theme:” Feel To Heal.” Within the grooves of the new album, Mae wrestles with the complexities of existing as a human with mental illness. From her #MeToo-inspired feminist anthem “Warrior,” featuring a choir of 100+ female vocalists, to “You Are My Favorite”, a love song written for her wife inspired by her own wedding vows which will surely be the 2019 wedding soundtrack for LGBTQ+ couples, Mae shows she’s nothing less than a powerhouse. She has examined her struggle with Bipolar Disorder from every angle in order to create her most sonically adventurous set of recordings yet—and to remind us that we aren’t alone.
Heather Mae has opened for Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls), Holly Near, Tom Paxton, Crys Matthews, Tom Goss, Danielle Ate the Sandwich, and Rebecca Loebe, and will participate in the Singing OUT LGBTQ Pride Tour which launches on June 1st in Decatur, GA, followed by a 30-day national tour. She will be hitting the road again in October for the Official GLIMMER Tour. Tour dates can be found here.
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 is a 17-year veteran of the Rocky Mountain Song school and has been a guitarist for the past 39 years, with 35 years of teaching experience under his belt. He has been mentoring guitar students at the Song School for the past 6 years, in a one on one basis under his canopy. He teaches fingerstyle guitar technique (mostly three finger Travis style) and also instructs students on the use of altered tunings, capo use, assorted other guitar techniques and music theory.
More recently, he has been working on cutting edge guitar technique, using cut capos, multiple cut capos, altered tunings, and altered tunings with multiple capos. One of his songs even uses 4 capos, in DADGAD tuning, and each capo is critical to performing the song. He also works with songwriters on polishing their melodies, chord choices in their songs, and honing their musical ideas.
Bonnie Paine was born in Tahlequah Oklahoma, the capital of the cherokee nation and end of the Trail of Tears, where she grew up playing music with her sisters. She began on drum kit, then guitar, hand drums, flute, washboard, vocals, cello and musical saw. She is a founding member and songwriter of internationally touring Colorado band Elephant Revival and continues to travel far and wide to learn about music from around the world that inspires her songwriting.
Emily Ann Peterson
In 2013, Emily Ann Peterson was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological hand tremor, which forever altered her two-decade livelihood as a cellist, string-arranger, and cello teacher. Refusing to lose her life’s love of musical expression, in an act of neurological defiance she accepted an award of a 6-week artist residency to write new music in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
“My grief broke through a creative glass ceiling I never knew existed.” says Peterson. She returned from the mountains with an armful of songs, some of which fans can now find on her self-titled EP release from 2014. While touring the US, her interactions with new audiences prompted a question, “If they say I’m brave, then why does this still feel like fear?”
Thus began her research which spanned 2 years of interviewing everyday heroes in pursuit of the true meaning of bravery. These conversations led to Peterson’s discovery of the 12 ingredients of bravery, which are reflected in the brazenly honest guidance of her bestselling self-help memoir, Bare Naked Bravery: How to Be Creatively Courageous. By practicing the concepts in her book, readers are able to fully “show up” in the world — learning to cope with medical conditions, breakups, divorce, depression, and a multitude of other challenges.
Her long-awaited, debut full-length folk-pop album, Covered in Clover, releases in July 2019. Emily Ann Peterson co-produced the album with Gary Mula, former owner of the Dutchman and Calleye studio — an early rehearsal space for grunge legends Nirvana and Mudhoney. She called upon other members of her musical family in Seattle, WA — including Eric Howk of Portugal. The Man (Atlantic), Andrew Vait of the band SISTERS (Tender Loving Empire), Jess Alldredge (Gospel Song/Tooth & Nail), Alina To of Passenger String Quartet, and Scott Morning (Origin). Together they tracked 9 songs in a historic burlesque venue, The Columbia City Theater — the perfect setting for a choir of horns, sweeping symphonic references, and melodies that only a former cellist could compose.
Since recording Covered in Clover, Peterson relocated from the Pacific Northwest to Nashville, TN and has also found a home as a teaching artist and consultant. Fortune500 companies, executives, and tech startups seek out her expertise in creative courage, entrepreneurship, and growth strategy. Fans and audience members can find a place to belong online in The School of Bravery, a learning lab for life, career, and creativity. The school was founded by Peterson in 2018 and teaches students how to prepare, launch, and recover from their own seasons of bravery.
Emily Ann Peterson is a TEDx speaker and an alumnus of the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University. She currently holds or has held membership in the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Rock Orchestra, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (The Grammys), and the Suzuki Association of the Americas. As a collaborative recording artist, performer, string-arranger, and songwriter she has had the honor of working with Sera Cahoone (Sub Pop), Anaïs Mitchell, Shelby Earl, Shannon Stephens (Asthmatic Kitty), The Portland Cello Project, Rosie Thomas (Sub Pop), David Bazan (Barsuk), Karin Stevens Dance, Barcelona (Universal), and many others.
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 #1 ranked soap opera The Young & The Restless reaching over 5 millions viewers worldwide. 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.
In 1991, Alan started the folk music listserv, and later organized the first Internet Quartet Songwriters Showcase, a tour that took 24 songwriters to 11 cities in the Northeast in a total of 66 concerts. Alan has written for several music magazines including Dirty Linen and Sing Out! and has taught seminars on the internet for musicians at national and regional Folk Alliance conferences, the Kerrville Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Christine Lavin’s Martha’s Vineyard Singer Songwriter Retreat, and of course, our own Song School.
“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.
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?”
“Judith not only has magical hands, she also brings a gift for floating my body and mind to the most peaceful places. I always leave her ‘sanctuary’ feeling physically and spiritually elevated. Thank you Judith for everything you do!” — Annie Wenz, Song School Instructor and Music Artist