Pete Wernick, Dr. Banjo, has been conducting Jam Camps around the country since his first one at Merlefest in 1999. In 2010 he began training other teachers to use the techniques of learning by ear and playing together in a structured setting to gain skill and confidence. Heidi Olson is a Wernick Method certified jam teacher, who often assists at his Jam Camp at Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival. Here at Delaware Valley, Heidi held a three session Jam Class to introduce novice and beginning pickers to the skills and joys of jamming. About twenty people showed up for these useful and supportive sessions, which were fun to sit in on.
Sierra Hull is campaigning on behalf of her new Rounder album called Weighted Mind to be released in 2016. At first the songs, seemingly simple, spare, featuring Sierra's masterful mandolin and a voice that has matured to the point where her singing weaves around her instrumentation to sound like a duet. She's working, essentially with a bass player as a duo, with longtime musical partner Justin Moses coming in on banjo and guitar on some songs. This week she had a guest bass, Andrew Small, a classically trained double bass player currently pursuing a Master's degree at Yale School of Music. Sierra's approach has moved away from bluegrass, yet she reminds us all, during her set, that she keeps at least one foot in bluegrass while she's learning where she's going, who she is both musically and personally. If the journey is more important than arrival at a destination, then Sierra Hull's on quite a trip, and it's a joy to be on board with her.
How does a top rank band stay together for more than twenty years with only one change of personnel, and he came back? Well, it seems they don't spend a great deal of time together except when they perform. They travel separately to gigs, stay in separate rooms, even separate hotels, and maintain a sense of themselves while always performing as a unit. Seems to work for them. Through the years Blue Highway has won countless awards for their instrumental work, their singing, and songwriting. Their current CD may feature more Shawn Lane songs than usual, but I haven't counted. They're constantly honing their humor, which has become a central part of their appeal. It's always good to see Blue Highway in the lineup.
Happy Harry Stinson
"Cousin" Kenny Vaughn
Kenny Vaughn & Family on Brief Break from the Stage
Carl Goldstein, Marty Stuart & Ryan Paisley Backstage