Blue Sky Folk Festival Music Workshops

2018 Workshops

Song Writing for Kids     Noon – 12:45 pm   Room 1

For age 8 and above. Sheela Das, artistic director for Creative Concepts in Music, will help kids write their own songs. Ukuleles will be used to develop the music. Bring your ideas and instruments! We will perform our songs at the end of the session.


Learn to Sing and Harmonize With Others     Noon – 12:45 pm  Room 2

Jim Koenig is a vocalist extraordinaire. He is a director of the Tower City Chorus and a second-generation barbershop quartet singer. He is also a professional vocal teacher.  The Tower City Chorus is a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society as the Cleveland West Suburban Chapter.

 


Effective Backup Guitar Tips     Noon – 12:45 pm   Room 3

Gain insights about backing up others and doing it well, in this workshop by Bob Sandham. Over the years Bob has played acoustic, electric, and pedal steel guitars in rock, country, blues, and pop settings, as well as continuing in the folk vein.

 


Clawhammer Banjo Techniques     Noon – 12:45 pm   Small tent

We’re thrilled that the one and only Doug Unger will host a clawhammer banjo workshop at Blue Sky Folk Fest with Paul Kovac. Doug is an accomplished musician, artist, Ohio Arts Council grants and fellowships recipient, master instrument builder, storyteller, and joke teller. Don’t miss this one!


Old-Time Jam, with Ken Roby and friends      Noon – 12:45 pm   Big tent

Unlock the arcane language of an Old Time jam session with Ken Roby and friends. Join the jam circle, or just watch and listen as they pass down tunes in the traditional way. All old time musicians of all skill levels welcome.


Blues Guitar     1 pm – 1:45 pm   Room 1
Cleveland native Bob Frank spent 18 years as the leader of the Hotfoot Quartet, touring throughout North America and recording several albums. As a sideman he has worked with Robert Lockwood, Wallace Coleman, fiddler Howard Armstrong, the Falls City Ramblers, and British bluesman Long John Baldry. During the day Bob works through Young Audiences, performing traditional American music assembly programs for children. He has done over 3,000 of these programs in schools throughout the United States. Bob is also one of the founders of the Cleveland Blues Society.

Rhythm & Roots Lead Guitar     1 pm – 1:45 pm   Room 2

Learn to understand the relationship between rhythm section and lead guitar in this workshop led by Kevin T. Richards. Kevin is highly regarded in the local roots music scene and has shared stages with Mac Martin, John Hammon, Jorma Kaukonen, Howard Armstrong, and local blues legend Robert Lockwood Jr. He fronts the band the Spyder Stompers (Americana) and is a member of Hot Djang (gypsy jazz/swing). Kevin is the founder and executive director of The Fairmount School of Music. Passionate about bringing American roots music into the Cleveland schools, he is also the founder of Roots of American Music, a non-profit organization that teaches American history through the Blues, Bluegrass, Folk and Jazz. He also teaches private guitar lessons in all styles.

 


Fingerpicking for Those Who Only Strum the Guitar     1 pm – 1:45 pm   Room 3

Now a member of the band Long Road, Bob Sandham began playing guitar in the early ‘60s, when his mother brought home a used instrument and connected him with a neighbor, Cleveland folk music legend Dick Wedler, for some instruction. Wedler supplied him with records by Bob Gibson, Tom Paxton and Phil Ochs, and Bob was immediately hooked on folk music. Over the years he has played acoustic, electric, and pedal steel guitars in rock, country, blues, and pop settings, as well as continuing in the folk vein.

In the 1970s, Bob played with legendary Ohio singer-songwriters Alex Bevan, John Bassette and Pat Daily, and others in the region, and spent much time recording and performing in concerts, clubs and coffee houses and on radio and TV. In 2006, he joined Bevan and bassist Paul Hamman in a reunion concert at the Kent Stage, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Bevan’s Springboard album.


Three-Finger Style Banjo     1 pm – 1:45 pm   Small tent

Paul Kovac has taught at many music camps, recently including Midwest Banjo Camp and Swannanoa Gathering. He coordinated Bluegrass Week at the Augusta Heritage Center for a decade, performed with Bill Monroe, Chubby Wise and Mac Wiseman among others, and sings and plays most of the bluegrass instruments. A Chardon native, Paul Kovac is active in recording and producing music, has played on countless albums, and considers himself a working folk musician.


Hammered Dulcimer for All     1 pm – 1:45 pm   Big tent
A trained musician, Dennis Bowers started playing dulcimer nine years ago as a way to combine his affection for woodworking and music. Dennis was a second-place winner at the 2014 Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival competition in Winfield, Kansas. With his wife Kaja Jensen, Dennis is part of the duo Denja, a popular folk duo in Northeast Ohio who specializes in Celtic and American traditional tunes, with a bit of jazz sensibility.

Video


Fiddle Workshop     2 pm – 2:45 pm   Room 1

Reed Simon of Hot Djang

Reed Simon

This is jazz violin oriented towards Joe Venuti and the roots of American jazz as it influenced Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Reed Simon has worked with many of Cleveland’s top jazz musicians and national artists including guitarist Tony Mattolla, vibraphonist Gary Burton and as a special guest on a Duke Ellington program at Severance Hall.

Brad Smedley of Hot Djang

Brad Smedley

Brad Smedley has played music most of his life, starting with piano at age five years and moving to saxophone in junior high. After discovering Bob Dylan, he took up the guitar and focused on folk, bluegrass and country music.

 

 


Song Lyrics Writing     2 pm – 2:45 pm   Room 2

J. Scott Franklin of the band Lost State of Franklin has written nearly 1,000 songs and has authored poetry books, children books and joke books. He writes: “If I said I played music because I had to…that’d be the partial truth.  I write words because I have to.  I write songs, poems, paragraphs and fill up napkins and paper bags with words because I have to.  Music has naturally been the best way to filter those words into the world.” Scott will perform on the main stage today with Michael Bay.

 


Who Plays Next, and How?  Acoustic Music and Percussion Tips     2 pm – 2:45 pm   Room 3

Learn a cohesive way to blend acoustic instruments and how to play well with others. Learn how and when to take a break, to noodle, doodle and improv.

Anthony Taddeo‘s versatility as a musician has led him to record on more than 20 albums with an array of musicians and genres. Anthony teaches drums and percussion at Cuyahoga Community College. He is an active composer and arranger for projects in New York City and Cleveland. He is currently endorsed by Out of the Drawer Percussion as a performing artist.

Bill Lestock is a multi instrumentalist and has been playing music in NE Ohio for several decades. Bill and Anthony are performing on the main stage today in the Bill Lestock Trio.


The Five Things Every Guitar Player Should Know     2 pm – 2:45 pm   Small tent

Beginners to experts will cherish every word, and yes, you can record it! A Chardon native, workshop leader Paul Kovac is active in recording and producing music, has played on countless albums, and considers himself a working folk musician.

 


Community Sing     2 pm – 2:45 pm   Big tent

This workshop will give you the opportunity to experience the power of song and community singing as well as give you the tools to start a singing tradition in your community. Song choice, song leading, and best practices will be modeled for the purpose of reminding us that singing is way too important to be left just to the professionals! The community sing will be led by Matt Watroba who is also emceeing and performing on the Blue Sky Main Stage today.

The History of the Banjo    2 pm – 2:45 pm   Doug Unger Tent
Doug Unger will chart the banjo’s evolution from Africa to the Western world, spanning two centuries. Doug is an accomplished musician, artist, Ohio Arts Council grants and fellowships recipient, master instrument builder, storyteller, and joke teller. Thanks to blogger Brad Kramer and Glory-Beaming Banjo for the photo.

Rhythm and Groove     3 pm – 3:45 pm   Room 1

Rhythm is at the center of all music and dance. Having a strong internal rhythm is vital to making music with others and for audiences. In this workshop by percussionist Anthony Taddeo, learn exercises and techniques (regardless of instrument) to improve your rhythm, groove and improvisation! Anthony will also be performing on the main stage today with the Bill Lestock Trio.


Melody Writing     3 pm – 3:45 pm   Room 2

J. Scott Franklin is the winner of the 2013 Frank Brown International Songwriter Festival Contest. He is a frequent performer in the Mississippi Songwriters Festival. Scott grew up on the border of North Carolina and Virginia, then attended high school in Cleveland and college at Bowling Green.  He was raised on down home American music and grew up to travel the world as a jazz trumpet player. His longing for the roots music on which he was raised and a new-found love for poetry meshed with jazz, and he transitioned into a jazz beat poet and finally the frontman for Lost State of Franklin. He will be performing on the main stage today with Michael Bay.


Ukulele Madness (Beginner/Intermediate)     3 pm – 3:45 pm   Room 3

Bring your own ukulele or borrow one of Sheela’s to learn lots of chords, strumming patterns, and songs. All ages welcome! Sheela Das directs Creative Concepts in Music and is the member of an Ohio Arts Council Touring band. She has created numerous commissioned performances and workshops for festivals and Cleveland based arts organizations serving senior citizens, youth and disabled adults since 2007.


Mandolin Workshop     3 pm – 3:45 pm   Small tent

Bill Lestock will teach mandolin techniques and a different approach of playing. This includes mandolin as a solo instrument, compositions consisting of crosspicking, using a slide and playing with a new approach to a very old instrument. Bill is a multi instrumentalist and has been playing music in NE Ohio for several decades. His band The Bill Lestock Trio features his mandolin compositions, a variety of something new and different in folk music to the area. The Bill Lestock Trio will also perform on the main stage today.


Irish Fiddle Workshop     3 pm – 3:45 pm   Big tent
Samantha McNamara is a violin and viola teacher and performer with her studio, McNamara Strings, located on the south side of Cleveland. Besides classical music, Samantha enjoys the fiddle, specializing in traditional Irish music. She has performed in Indianapolis with her band Edge of Erin, and also with the popular Indy based band Ennis Clare. She competed with the Indianapolis Ceili band in the 2011 and the 2012 Midwest Fleadh Cheoil. In 2011 she traveled to Ireland to attend the South Sligo Summer School to further her knowledge of Irish music.

The Versatile Harmonica of Blues and Old-Time, with Bob Frank and Dave Rice     4 pm – 4:45 pm   Room 1

Bob Frank of Blue Lunch got the blues bug when he heard artists such as Muddy Waters and Paul Butterfield on the first few “Blues Bag” programs on WRUW-FM. He went out and bought a harmonica, and played in various bands through high school. While in college in Boston, he was able to accompany David Bromberg and Vassar Clements on his harmonica. In 1975 he began playing in bluegrass bands, continuing for about 20 years. Bob also enjoys solo work and writes his own music.

Dave Rice

David Rice grew up in Oklahoma and moved to the Cleveland, Ohio area in 1981. It was here that his passion for the harmonica’s role in Old Time music was ignited by hearing recordings of harmonica players Dr. Humphrey Bate and De Ford Bailey. Through the experience of playing in several local area dance bands throughout the 80’s and 90’s and the assimilation of the styles of many different traditional players, most of whom are fiddlers, he has developed an approach to harmonica playing that is both rhythmic and melodic. He is also a luthier on staff at Family Learning Center for Music in Twinsburg.


Basic Improvisation for Guitar Players     4 pm – 4:45 pm   Room 2

Learn fill-ins, runs and riffs from Michael Bay. Michael is a highly respected influence in the Northeast Ohio music community, best known in the jazz and blues scene in Cleveland and as guitarist in the Bad Boys of Blues. Michael’s career has included being a guest guitarist on numerous CD’s, in live performances, and special events with artists both local and international. Michael will also be on the main stage today with J. Scott Franklin.

Video           Website

 

 


All Things Banjo     4 pm – 4:45 pm   Room 3

Come ready to play or learn from Mark Olitsky. All questions and levels welcome. Mark  has taught claw hammer banjo in Cleveland for the last 25 years and has participated in workshops in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and California. He has been featured in The Old-Time Herald, Banjo Newsletter and Bluegrass Unlimited and represented old-time banjo in the 2009 First Voice film project showcasing Ohio roots musicians. He also won the 2012 Cuyahoga County Seth Rosenberg prize for performing arts. He has recorded with various string-bands, including jimmyjohnnyjoe with fiddler Joe Thrift, Bad Dog, and Killer Grits with Freighthoppers’s fiddler David Bass.


 

Old-Time Slow Jam, with Laura Lewis and friends     4 pm – 4:45 pm   Small tent

This is an Old Time Jam, just at slower tempos to be helpful for all.


Irish Seisiun, with Samantha McNamara     4 pm – 4:45 pm   Big tent

Samantha McNamara

Samantha McNamara

Join Samantha McNamara as she leads a traditional seisiun. Bring your instrument and play along, offer your favorite set of tunes, or sit back and enjoy listening to a great mix of Irish music. Samantha is a violin and viola teacher and performer with her studio, McNamara Strings, located on the south side of Cleveland. Besides classical music, Samantha enjoys the fiddle, specializing in traditional Irish music.

 


 

 

 

 

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