October 6-10, 2021
We're planning on being in-person so stay tuned and mark your calendar!
Jim Kweskin, Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, Kristina Olsen, Mary Flower
Want to see these fabulous musicians in action? A pandemic silver lining is you can watch the concert from October 2020 on our YouTube channel:Watch the Concert
Link to the 2020 video archive page
Mary Flower’s immense fingerstyle guitar and lap-slide prowess is soulful and meter-perfect, a deft blend of the inventive, the dexterous and the mesmerizing. Her supple honey-and-whiskey voice provides the perfect melodic accompaniment to each song’s story.
An internationally known and award-winning picker, singer/songwriter and teacher, the Midwest native relocated from Denver to the vibrant Portland, Oregon music scene in in 2004. She continues to please crowds and critics at folk festivals, teaching seminars and concert stages domestically and abroad, including Merlefest, Kerrville, King Biscuit, Prairie Home Companion and the Vancouver Folk Festival, among many.
A finalist in 2000 and 2002 at the National Finger Picking Guitar Championship, a nominee in 2008, 2012 and 2016 for a Blues Foundation Blues Music Award, and many times a Cascade Blues Assn. Muddy Award winner, Flower embodies a luscious and lusty mix of rootsy, acoustic-blues guitar and vocal styles that span a number of idioms – from Piedmont to the Mississippi Delta, with stops in ragtime, swing, folk and hot jazz.
Flower’s 11 recordings, including her four for Memphis’ famed Yellow Dog Records — Bywater Dance, Instrumental Breakdown, Bridges and Misery Loves Company — show a deep command of and love for folk and blues string music. For Flower, it’s never about re-creation. Her dedication to the art form is a vital contribution to America’s music.
"Flower is a renowned guitar instructor, teaching at music camps and festivals, offering lessons via Skype, and frequently crafting articles and tips as a regular contributor to Acoustic Guitar. But she cannot be narrowly defined. Livin’ with the Blues Again showcases her talents as a complete artist, deeply versed in an array of vernacular styles for which she demonstrates an abiding love that underlies her quietly jaw-dropping technique. She may not sing with the soulful grit and urgency of Rory Block, Maria Muldaur, or Bonnie Raitt, but her stylistic range is broader, approaching that of David Bromberg or Ry Cooder. What fun for those who don’t know her music to discover her here." —Acoustic Guitar Magazine
In the 1960s Jim Kweskin led the groundbreaking Jug Band, admired and imitated by everyone from folk and blues musicians to rockers like the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Grateful Dead. They had Janis Joplin (with Big Brother & The Holding Company) and Linda Ronstadt (with The Stone Ponys) as opening acts. Bob Dylan co-billed with Kweskin in Greenwich village.
Kweskin's band played blues and ragtime, good time jazz and novelties, reaching back to the roots of American music: field recordings from the Library of Congress and the rural artists reissued in the 1950s on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. Kweskin played alongside masters like Mississippi John Hurt, Sippie Wallace, Maybelle Carter, and Clayton McMichen, artists who grew up in times and places where this music was an integral part of their communities.
Since this auspicious start, Kweskin continues to break ground with his incredible guitar work and vocals, while keeping American music traditions vibrant. He has toured and recorded with long-time friends and collaborators (among them, Jug Band co-founders Geoff Muldaur, Maria Muldaur, and Bill Keith) as well as newer faces in the folk world (Samoa Wilson, Meredith Axelrod, Juli Crockett).
As Kweskin says,“We are the elders now, whether we want to be or not. And we like a lot of different styles, and play a lot of different things, but we feel like we have a duty to introduce younger people to this music, to keep the tradition alive.”
"The rock historian Ed Ward went so far as to place the Kweskin Band alongside the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Byrds as that period's most influential groups."
— Alex Ward, The New York Times
"Kweskin virtually single-handedly created what was a significant musical genre in the USA in the early 1960s...” — Iain Patience, Elmore Magazine
Fun fact: In the 1970s, Kweskin recorded some vocals for the popular children's TV show Sesame Street, most notably, "Ladybugs' Picnic."
Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes
Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes was born and raised in Gravel Hill, Arkansas, and moved to Louisiana in 1987 to work in the Jean Lafitte National Park’s Barataria Preserve. Since 1999, he has been an interpretive park ranger and archivist for the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.
Barnes plays accordion, harmonica, piano, rub board, talking drum and more. Combining a love of Delta blues, zydeco, and West African music, he founded Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots in 1991 to create music inspired by Afro-Louisiana and his travels playing music around the world. They’ve put out six albums and played in more than 30 countries, from Europe to Africa to Central America. Once the National Park Service was nice enough to grant him a two-month sabbatical so he could accompany Paul Simon and Sting on tour.
In 2010, after participating in the culture of music and parading in New Orleans for many years, he began working on documentary photography projects. He is currently working on an album that is a culmination of the past two decades of his musical journey, as well as a book on music education with traditional jazz musicians in New Orleans, in partnership with the Neighborhood Story Project.
“Bruce is without doubt the best-known zydeco bandleader who calls New Orleans home.” — Scott Aiges, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation
Fun fact: After college, had a brief career in professional football with the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs.
Kristina Olsen is a powerfully engaging multi-instrumentalist with a blues raw velvet voice, brilliant guitar skills (on acoustic and steel-body slide guitar) and a fine way of crafting a song, from hilarious tales of love-gone-wrong to seriously compelling songs of rare insight and compassion.
Raised in the musically fertile San Francisco of the 1960s, where she was exposed to blues, psychedelic rock, folk, and a variety of other styles, Olsen is as comfortable with a self-penned acoustic ballad as she is with a gritty, classic blues tune by Robert Johnson. Olsen plays guitar and piano, but also plays 13 other instruments, most of which can be heard on her various recordings, which feature well-known traditional songs and blues as well as her own compositions.
"To begin with the songs, they are those wonderful gems of song writing which don’t rely on any particular genre for their beginnings. Olsen builds melodies, not styles. She can wind them into unpredictable combinations which then become lovely melodies or she can deliver them in straight lines which become jazz- or blues-oriented pieces. Her guitar stylings are wide, ranging from delicate, complicated runs to aggressive direct blues runs. She’s a sharp guitarist, able to provide herself with both the rhythm and lead pieces she needs to give her songs solid solo support. As a storyteller, Olsen is similarly wonderful, mixing earthy observations about herself and those around with the occasional comment about society’s various shortcomings. Most of all, though, Olsen is funny, noting those things which innocently point out where she and all of us provide material for comic relief. She’s talented, funny, and observant, and consequently she becomes the witty friend who shares her life with you, not preaching to you or insisting on our praise to maintain the friendship." — Roots & Reel
"Olsen is an eclectic artist worthy of much more acclaim." — Los Angeles Times
Fun fact: Won the New Folk contest at the Kerrville [Texas] Folk Festival in 1985.
Class Descriptions from 2020 -Will be updated for 2021 soon
Bruce Sunpie Barnes
Life Accordion to Sunpie, Introduction - We will discuss who and what is Sunpie and the difference between the genres of music know as zydeco and blues. How are these musical styles similar, yet not quite the same.
Zydeco vs Blues Shuffles - we will explore the examples of shuffles in zydeco and blues using songs like Tous les Temps son Temps in Eb and Key to the Highway in C.
Two-steps and One-steps - what are the rhythmic bass patterns that help to create the Louisiana Two-step and One-step.
Creole Waltz - we learn to play accompanying parts for the Creole Waltz.
Harmonica Blues - playing the blues with a harmonica player in mind. How to accompany songs such as Big Boss Man and Troubling Mind.
Playing Mambo rhythms - while accompanying accordion and harmonica.
Slide Guitar - Come learn the seductive sound of the slide guitar! We'll focus mostly on blues and mostly on slide played in open tunings. Slide guitar is a great class to take when your left hand fingers are sore, no calluses needed! You don't need any previous experience playing slide, but you do need fundamental knowledge of the guitar.
More Advanced Slide Technique (continuing from previous slide class) - We’ll look at right hand muting in depth, and altered tunings. For students who have already been playing slide guitar.
Guitar Soloing for people with no clue: (Level 2-4) - Do you freeze up when someone says 'take it!' Do you have no clue how to go from playing chords to playing single note leads? Do you worry that your guitar playing friends will start to talk behind your back? Come to this class and learn how to dazzle those same nay sayers with your new skills. We'll start with building a solo out of just a few notes in a safe and un-terrifying way with just enough theory to have some comprehension but not too much to confuse.
Groove, Grunt and Gimme (Level 3) - Hidden treasures stolen from jazz, funk, and soul to make your blues irresistibly sexy! Dig a groove so deep you don't know how to climb out of it yourself! Put some grunt behind your right hand to make your blues shout gimme gimme more!! You should be competent at fingerpicking and know basic chord and some barre chords and be able to make chord changes in time for this class.
Fretting Away Your Time or Practice Makes Perfect - Practicing techniques for your fretted instrument. How to get the best workout in the limited amount of time you have to play. We’ll do practicing together of scales, intervals and arpeggios, and investigate all aspects of a practice session, such as how to break down a difficult piece into manageable chunks and how to create a scheduling round robin to work though all the modules you want to touch on.
Get to know Kristina Olsen - Jokes and anecdotes from a life spent playing music all over the world.
Three finger picking - I’ll break this down for beginners and work my way though some of my tunes and arrangements.
Songs & Sources - I’ll take a song I do and start by playing about 30 seconds of the recording I learned it from. (Examples - Wreck Of The Tenn. Gravy Train by Uncle Dave, Eight More Miles To Louisville by Grandpa Jones and Merle Travis, Blues In The Bottle by Prince Albert Hunt and also The Holy Moly Rounders which is where I learned it. I then talk about why I chose to learn it, how I play it and how I arranged it to fit my picking.
Who is Jim Kweskin? Get to know Jim Kweskin whose career is quite the story.
The Gospel Guitar of Rev. Gary Davis - This class will explore the gospel guitar fingerpicking of the prolific and legendary Gary Davis. Davis’ challenging rhythms and moving melodic chord voicings up the neck were piano-like and inventive. This should be an advanced class but I’ll try to present the songs in an easier way and then in Gary’s way! Tab reading very helpful.
Lap slide guitar (level 1) - Bring your dobro-like instruments, action raised for lap style playing, as well as some form of steel tone bar (not a bottleneck slide). This is a basics class in open D major for players new to the instrument.
Lap slide class (level 2) - We will take a more advanced look at playing both as a back up player and solo player. Class will learn how to get around the neck using hammer-ons, pull offs, turnarounds, false harmonics and more.
Piedmont Blues guitar favorites - In this workshop Mary will honor the masters who played this great feel good, fingerpicking guitar style. She will demonstrate a few favorite tunes from the players who had a “band in the hand” approach, where the right hand simultaneously picked the melody, rhythm and alternating bass. Advanced beginners to intermediate players welcome.
The Wimmin Had It First - This will be a guitar and repertoire class from the early country and classic blues women where we’ll pay tribute to the ones who started it all…Mamie, Minnie, Bessie, Sippie and more. We’ll have the lyrics and share the singing, talk a little history and work on guitar accompaniment. They don’t write ‘em like they used to and we’ll delve into this century old song bag of humor, love gone wrong and double entendres. Levels: Advanced beginning and up. Ability to read tab helpful and audio recording encouraged.
My sordid past: How I got to this point and where am I? Who knows where this class will go. Expect Q and A.