GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance

Instructor Bios


Instructor Bios

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Exploring World Rhythm, Fun With Percussion

Nery Arevalo brings decades of workshop and live performance experience to Grassroots Culture Camp this year. He is a percussionist raised in Cambridge, MA and an immigrant from El Salvador, Central America. He started playing drums at an early age and attended Elma Lewis School Of Fine Arts. Babatunde Olatunge (Nigerian drummer, educator, social activist and recording artist) was the drummer in residency at the school during this time and also Nery's mentor. Nery's professional musical journey started with the James Montgomery Blues Band from Boston. He later went on to become part of NPR'S Mountain Stage band for the next 5 years. He has played with the likes of The Bob Thompson Unit, The Horse Flies, Donna The Buffalo, Sherry Belafonte, Lanzallamas, Morikeba Kouyate, Nag Champayons, and Manhattan Transfer.

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Cajun Rhythym Guitar, Electric Bass

Philippe Billeaudeaux was born in Lafayette, LA on July 31, 1985. He learned folk standards as a teenager with his aunt and uncle while also playing with rock bands in the area. Philippe joined the progressive Cajun group Feufollet at age 23 and has recorded 4 releases with the band including their Grammy nominated album En Couleurs. Along with Feufollet, Billeaudeaux has toured and recorded with the Lil' Band of Gold, Dr. John, Cedric Watson, and many other Louisiana artists. The bassist is also a member of the long time Lafayette-based experimental rock group the Amazing Nuns.

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Intermediate Old Time Fiddle, Singing for Adults

When Claire was offered the opportunity to learn the violin in elementary school, it was a no brainer for the eager eight-year old.  She already knew she loved making music from her passion for singing, which had begun around age four when she would record herself "singing on the radio" on a cassette recorder.  Claire dove into the violin without inhibition, even presenting her teacher with little songs she had written for the class to play. Her love of playing took her through her school years and on to the State University of New York at Fredonia, where she continued her classical studies.  Eventually, Claire grew tired of the rigorous, cookie-cutter ways of the classical world and sought out other opportunities. She immersed herself in bluegrass, folk and old-timey music and found that she loved how free and pure the music seemed to be. She joined up with friends in school to form an Irish rock group and eventually was introduced to members of Driftwood by a mutual friend in 2008.  Today, Claire continues to write, perform and travel with Driftwood full time.

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SingSong for Children

Lori Burke is an award-winning singer/songwriter from northwest Pennsylvania. She’s a freelance songwriter for Sesame Street and a member of the Sesame Alumni group. Her viral parody of Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" currently has 443,000 views on You Tube and has gained the attention of The Huffington Post and the Today Show. Lori has written and performed music for over 15 years with the Tiger Maple String Band, as a solo artist, and has created a successful children’s concert series at local parks and libraries. She has accompanied artists such as Jim Avett and has opened for Emmy Award winning actor Tony Hale. Lori has written and released 2 independent CDs (Hold On & You Are Loved), and is working on her first children’s book. Lori is currently in her 8th year teaching preschool music. She lives with her husband, 2 kids, and 2 lovable bulldogs in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.

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Songwriting,The Poetry of Writing Song Lyrics

Barb Carbon is a folk/roots-rock musical artist from Georgia, USA. She performs as a solo act, as well as with her musical partner, Arrie Bozeman, in the band The Ain’t Sisters. Carbon’s influences are rooted in the beautifully raw, gritty sounds of Shovels and Rope, The Avett Brothers, and Lucinda Williams, and the earnest, inspired songwriting of Patty Griffin, The Indigo Girls, and Brandi Carlile, among others. Barb makes music that is as accessible as it is personal. A masterful poet, Carbon is able to strip away the layers of her own experience, exposing the nerve and laying her finger on the emotional essence of our shared struggles and hopes. Playfully exploring genres, she delivers her art dressed with a punk rock edge, an Alt-country drawl, or the trappings of kick drum-driven Americana, but at the core of her diverse catalogue beats the heart of folk music, which has always existed for the same reason - to tell our truth. Carbon’s forthcoming debut album, The Fighter, is due out in early summer 2019. Marrow, the debut record from The Ain’t Sisters, was released November 23, 2018, and is available on the band website

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Banjo Yuke

Jeff’s a co-founding member of the bands, The Horse Flies and Boy with a Fish, and has been playing banjo uke since 1984. He loves simple, steady, flowing rhythm and drone and likes the uke for supporting fiddle tunes as well as writing more contemporary songs. He’s taught at lots of different festivals, fiddle and music camps, and dance camp weekends, and he’s written music, sung, and recorded by Natalie Merchant; used by Oliver Stone in his film, Any Given Sunday; used by MTV’s Rock the Vote; and more. With his wife, Judy Hyman, and sometimes The Horse Flies, he’s created music for or contributed music to over 20 feature and documentary films. More info at:,,

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Beginning Fiddle, Improvisation, Songwriting

Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Oliver Bates Craven is a Nashville-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. The oldest song of a folk-singing preacher, his diverse musical upbringing included a family band, a decade of classical violin lessons, and ultimately skipping football practice to teach himself guitar holed up in his room with Hendrix records. Oliver has spent the last ten years as a professional musician, and from intimately crowded folk clubs to sold-out festivals, has found himself on North American and European stages more than a thousand times. A founding member of the revered band The Stray Birds, he has collaborated with such artists as The Wood Brothers, Keller Williams and Mandolin Orange, and has worked in studios with producers such as Dan Knobler (Lake Street Dive, Rodney Crowell) and Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Levon Helm). Stepping out of the band dynamic squarely to the center of the stage, he finds a voice and a style more uniquely his own. Critic Michael T. Baker remarks, “Oliver is like if J.J. Cale and Bonnie Raitt had a son.” A poignant writer with soulful and powerful vocal instrumental deliveries, accompanied by a dynamic sense of performance that honors nuance and originality, his musicality is one of a seemingly effortless focus, and a clearly impassioned and tangible joy.

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Anusara Elements Yoga

Hilary believes that movement is an inherent form of inquiry; a way to ask the deepest questions about who we are.  She was brought to yoga by her mother and grandmother when she was ten. These women and her teachers Amy Abelson, Rachel Bush and Denise Hatch inspire her to offer yoga as a liberation practice. Hilary began her formal training in the Sivananda tradition and has since become a licensed Anusara Elements Teacher. She completed her Anusara Teacher Training and Immersion at Lakshmi Living Arts. Her classes invite awe at the complexity and beauty of the human body and softness in the seat of the heart. Poetry and science inform her understanding of body science and spirit alike.

Hilary offers - Anusara Elements Yoga - Anusara is a heart-centered, alignment-based practice that blends physicality with story, the body with spirit and attitude with action. This class will be medium-paced and mindfully designed to cultivate awareness. Use the body as a terrain to explore universal principles and better know yourself.

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Beginning Old Time Guitar

Best known for bass playing in old time music, my first love has always been the guitar. Chordal color is important tome and I've employed it in tunes I've written that have gone on to be well known favorites. With forty years of work in old time rhythm sections, I've developed a distinctive style with an emphasis on smooth solid rhythm. My approach is to lay down a blanket of sound for the fiddle and banjo to dance around on top of. Years of teaching experience on bass and in band labs, now applied to guitar, promises to make make this a very productive and fun class. Some of the basics we'll talk about and learn in this class are the 4 main keys, the chords of those keys, how to make them, and substitutions where appropriate. We'll also talk about different ways to walk from chord to chord, guitar runs(whether and where to use them) and the importance of right hand rhythm. We'll learn guitar chords to tunes and you will have a chance to play them along with a fiddler.

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Electric Telecaster Guitar (developing lines, country stylings), Improvisation

Thomas Bryan Eaton has been honing his skills as a musician since he first fell in love with sound at the ripe old age of 3. That fateful Christmas, he got an old gray walkman with a record button on it that set his imagination running into a wild world of sonic explorations that continue to this day. Thomas can often be seen coaxing sweet sounds out of a telecaster or pedal steel, working his melodious magic while singing his own songs or chiming in on harmony vocals when called for. Behind the scenes, there’s even more. An avid songwriter with a lifetime love of the recording process; there’s never a dull moment at Thomas’ home studio. Whether it’s demoing a new honky tonk tune, twisting knobs for an avant-garde synth noise experiment or mixing a freshly cut live band rock ’n’ roll track, there’s always something happening. Thomas is also an avid music educator, having taught private lessons for 15+ years and at various music camps around the country, notably as a staff member of Augusta Heritage Center’s “Classic Country Week” for 9 years now. While mostly on the road as a featured member of Miss Tess & the Talkbacks, Thomas can also be found fronting his own band, Hobson’s Choice; as well as lending his talents to J.P. Harris, Kristina Murray, Western Centuries & more.

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The Business of Getting Your Band Out There

Mollie Farr, singer and songwriter from Nashville, TN, grew up singing in jazz ensembles and in the theater. She graduated from the New College of Florida with a degree in Music and French language. After writing her thesis on the ethnomusicological tradition of the accordion in southwest Louisiana, Mollie began working with Ann Savoy to compile, transcribe, and translate her upcoming book on the subject. Now Mollie is working on her debut record  in addition to running her own booking and management company, Lost Buffalo Artists. Mollie has taught singing/culture classes at Virginia Key culture camp as well as at Blackpot camp in Lafayette, LA and has shared the stage with artists such as Donna the Buffalo, Richie Stearns, and the Duhks.



Creole/Zydeco Accordion

Accordionist Preston Frank has been laying down his blazing bayou boogie and fearless yet traditional Louisiana zydeco for decades. His trademark swamp groove is a combination of zydeco, funk and soul, cooking up a smooth, flowing Creole sound that makes you start to move. The jumping rhythms and festival vibes rest in this hands while his fingers work magic on the diatonic accordion. Firmly planted in his musical roots for almost 50 years, Preston Frank remains an important force in preserving traditional zydeco and Creole French music.



Scrubboard, Cajun and Zydeco 2-Step

Sally Freund has been dancing and festival teaching for 30 years. Her style is easy and her classes are about connecting and moving to the beat so you can be nothing but happy when your dancing. She keeps close traditional ties with Louisiana where the heart of Cajun and Zydeco pulses and brings that joy back north.



Finger Picking Style Banjo, Songwriting, Singing Duets

Musician – Composer – Actor
A founding member of the Hotmud Family, a twenty-four year veteran of Rhythm in Shoes and a 2010, Ohio Heritage Fellow, Rick Good is recognized and respected for his driving banjo, swinging guitar, heartfelt singing and crafty songwriting. With his wife and long-time collaborator, Sharon Leahy, Rick has made a life of creating critically acclaimed performance art, rooted in American traditions. He currently plays regularly with three fine bands: ShoeFly, Good & Young and the Red Clay Ramblers.

Writing songs and composing music since his early teens, Rick’s first CD of all original songs, Nova Town, was released in 1997, followed a few years later by a full-length theatrical production of the same name with a script he also wrote. In addition to Nova Town, his original music written for theater includes Rambleshoe (with Jack Herrick of the RED CLAY RAMBLERS) and Banjo Dance, for RHYTHM IN SHOES; The Dayton Stories Project: And That’s My Story for the HUMAN RACE THEATER COMPANY, and several productions for MAD RIVER THEATER WORKS and the ZOOT THEATER COMPANY. Rick’s music also appears in the films, Dream Catcher (Ed Radke, 1999) and Gravel (Steve Bognar, 2003).

Heritage Award
Early in the afternoon of July 4, 2010, at the Cityfolk Festival in Dayton, Ohio, the Ohio Arts Council presented Rick with the 2010, Ohio Heritage Fellowship. In honor of lifelong achievements that have had a lasting positive impact on the excellence, vitality and public appreciation of the folk and traditional arts in Ohio. The award recognizes Rick’s 40 year career as a musician, actor, writer, educator and advocate of America’s musical roots, including his work with the Hotmud Family and Rhythm in Shoes. Later that evening, Rhythm in Shoes closed the Festival with the last performance of their twenty-three year run.

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Flatpicking Guitar

Bobby Henrie's early days as an astounding child prodigy shaped his talent and love of eclecticism which includes most traditional music from old-time country to rockabilly and swing. As a guitarist with an unorthodox (flipped, lefty) technique, he can rip through a heady brew of raw roots rock, blistering flatpicking, smoking blues or smooth jazz. His vocal style is heartfelt, well honed and true to the style whether it's tough rocking or sultry swing. Bobby holds a degree in Jazz Guitar from SUNY Geneseo and is adept at writing material with a classic yet contemporary flair. He's played and competed at many prestigious festivals including Galax (Virginia) and Union Grove (North Carolina) Fiddler's Conventions, Winfield (Kansas) Guitar Festival, Wheatland and Berkshire Bluegrass festivals. In addition to the Goners, Bobby plays in the bluegrass bands, Cornerstone & Paris Texas. He is a original member of the Gypsy Jazz band - The Djangoners - and continues to perform with his 4 brothers in the Henrie Brothers StringBand that formed in 1974. Bobby recently launched a solo project to celebrate one of his guitar idols - Doc Watson - with an album dedicated to him titled "Doc Rememberances".


Advanced Old Time Fiddle

For decades Judy has taught at music camps throughout the U.S.; she is honored to be returning to GrassRoots Culture Camp. With roots in Appalachian fiddle music, classical violin, and modern rock, Judy is a co-founding member of alt-trad band, The Horse Flies, who toured extensively in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and recorded many albums, including releases on MCA and Rounder Records. Judy also composes music for film and received an Emmy Award for her score for the documentary “The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine”. Judy toured and recorded with the remarkable Natalie Merchant several times, appearing on Merchant’s albums, The House Carpenter’s Daughter, Leave Your Sleep, and Retrospective. A project emotionally special to Judy is Late Last Summer, an album of her original waltzes, which she recorded with her dad, jazz pianist/composer Dick Hyman. Judy has been featured in Electronic Musician Magazine and several times in Fiddler Magazine. She was included as one of 20 master fiddlers in a booklet/cd set celebrating Fiddler Magazine’s 20th anniversary. This year she was commissioned to create a new waltz to celebrate Fiddler Magazine’s 25th anniversary.

Teaching Approach: In each of Judy’s classes you’ll learn a tune (or two?). Judy will teach the basic notes and then focus on bowings for achieving the danceable rhythm and fluid sound characteristic of old-time Appalachian music. You’ll also learn about alternate tunings, phrasing, and ornamentation. The tunes and techniques will be broken down and clearly taught so that you can learn by ear. Be sure to bring an electronic tuner, a recording device, and extra strings. 

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Intermediate/Advanced Cajun Fiddle, Honky Tonk/Country Band Lab
Songwriting, Triangle, Cajun Song

Kelli Jones is a Louisiana transplant hailing originally from Raleigh, NC. During her thirteen years in the Lafayette area she has quickly become a veritable force in the local music scene and today she is an internationally acclaimed fiddler, singer and songwriter. Performing regularly with the Cajun trio T'Monde, as a duo with her longtime musical accomplice Joel Savoy, and also as the fiddle player and songwriting force in the genre-bending, yet Cajun-rooted band, Feufollet. She has appeared on countless Louisiana recordings. Kelli has also been touring as a a singer and fiddle player with the Alabama-based singer songwriter John Paul White (formerly of The Civil Wars).



Choreography, Ashtanga Yoga, Singing Duets

“Union is the heart of my work. The rhythm of breath, the power of intention, practicing and teaching, seeking strength, flexibility, balance, the joy of connection, the authority of truth; this fuels each day of discovery and challenges me to reach for the heavens. I am thankful to the many teachers that have shared their knowledge and wisdom. I am grateful especially to the generous laughers I have known, for they remind me not to take life too seriously. “

Sharon Leahy is a dancer, choreographer, musician, teacher and director. From 1987 to 2010, Sharon created a body of award-winning, critically acclaimed work for RHYTHM IN SHOES, the dance and music company she co-directed with her husband, Rick Good. With a diverse and talented group of performing artists, Sharon brought to life a vision for dance/theater/music as one entity capable of expressing the joys and woes of contemporary life with the vocabulary of traditional forms.

Themes of her work have included: time, sacred space, forgotten myths and histories, home, family, pretense, relationship and death. She has worked extensively with physical comedy, created historically accurate recreations of vaudeville, and choreographed musical theater and entertainments from the professional to the high school level.

Sharon has taught dance and choreography at the University of Dayton, where she spent six years as an Artist in Residence. There she facilitated cross-department collaborations using dance and theater to explore and explain science, literature, religion, education, world culture, painting and social trends. She also developed a teacher-training program for education students, integrating movement education into the classroom.

Sharon has created original dance/theater works for the dance ensemble at the University of Dayton, as well as Wright State University, Antioch College, the University of Akron and Williams College. She has taught master classes at numerous colleges and universities throughout the country. Influenced by the work of Ann Bogart and the SITI COMPANY, with whom she studied both Suzuki and Viewpoints techniques, Sharon’s natural instinct for directing has developed into a dynamic, lively and introspective style of physical theater where vision meets invention.

Notable among recent projects is her first Dance for Camera film, Carry it on…, mask productions of The Pearl and The Tragedy of Hansel & Gretel for the ZOOT THEATER COMPANY and, for the HUMAN RACE THEATER COMPANY, Brother Wolf, a retelling of the Beowulf legend. With an eye towards universal themes both social and cultural, Sharon’s original work is produced with fearless conviction and a refined eye for details. The results can be provoking, soothing, disturbing and entertaining.

NEA Choreography Fellow – 1991, 1992-94, 1995, 1997
Ohio Arts Council Choreography Fellow – 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996
Culture Works Opus Award for Artistic Excellence – 1996
Ruth St. Denis Creative Choreography Award – 1983

Wheatland Music Organization – Carry it on… Project
Jacob’s Pillow
National Endowment for the Arts
New England Foundation for the Arts National Dance Project
Ohio Arts Council
Dayton Foundation
Miriam Rosenthal Foundation
Cultureworks Dayton
Mathile Foundation
Dayton Centennial of Flight Celebration

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Flatpicking Guitar

Aaron Lipp (guitar/banjo/mandolin/bass/organ/harmonica/dobro/vocals) has been pursuing old time and bluegrass music for years locally after an eight year stint touring across the world as a multi-instrumentalist and singer spanning several genres.

Aaron is from Naples, NY and has been a professional musician since age 16. From performing on stage, recording in the studio and teaching lessons, he has found his place in music . Throughout a multitude of different genre adventures and instrumentation, he has found home in traditional Appalachian old time music, classic bluegrass sounds, and the blues - all fused into a new sound of the next generation, while paying tribute to the traditions of our ancestors.

Aaron grew up in a musical family and began playing piano at age four.  Throughout childhood, he picked up other instruments such as drums, bass, guitar, trumpet, organ, harmonica, and more. Coming from a musical family he was surrounded by all types of music from a very young age. From folk and bluegrass to rock and blues, these early years were the foundation of a long musical journey. Later in May 2006, Aaron joined Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, a local Rochester Original Roots Reggae and Dub band. He played a multitude of instruments for the group including Rhodes, Clavinet, Hammond B3 Organ, slide guitar, harmonica, wurlitzer, lap steel, guitar, and banjo. In a span of six years. During this era, Panda put out two live albums - "Live Up! Vol.1 & 2", and two studio albums - "In These Times" & "Country." Giant Panda toured constantly all over the country logging nearly half a million miles on the road. Panda later released "Steady" and "Bright Days" which feature Aaron on many instruments and harmony vocals. Throughout these years on the road and little time at home, Aaron dove heavily into Old Time and Bluegrass music, learning the traditional practices of clawhammer banjo, bottleneck slide guitar, dobro, flatpicking guitar, blues harp, old time fiddle and upright bass.  Sacred steel music on the Hammond Organ and Lap Steel guitar was heavy in motion for the next musical touring adventure.

In March 2013, Aaron began touring with internationally renowned pedal-steel funk/soul guitarist Robert Randolph & The Family Band playing Hammond B3 Organ, Keyboards, Guitar and sang backup vocals for the group. During this time, he shared the stage with Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Anders Osbourne, The Slide Brothers, and more as well as performing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, and the Kelly and Michael show. The group toured through Europe in early summer 2013 as well as a heavily scheduled album release tour of "Lickety Split" on the mainland United States.

Since early winter 2013, Aaron has taken an extended hiatus from touring to pursue several musical projects as well as diverse original songwriting. He has been the frontman and principal songwriter of the local group The Cabin Killers who have performed at many regional venues and festivals.  Aaron also spends time working on several Bluegrass and Old Time musical projects with members of The Henrie Brothers. He can be found playing regionally with bands such as The Cabin Killers, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, The Campbell Brothers, Axis Armada, Richie Stearns & Rosie Newton, South Hill Cider String Band, The Prickers and The Henrie Brothers, just to name a few.

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Jennie Lowe is a prominent songwriter and performer with a formidable catalog of original work under her belt. She has toured internationally while earning high esteem for her unique songwriting style and performances. Jennie firmly believes that every one has an inherent ability to create music and looks forward to sharing her process with others. She is currently working on her fifth solo album.

"When Jen sends me a song to soak in, it tends to stick around for days after just one listening. The woman is haunted by song and she exercises them little devils by singin' the hell out of ‘em... what's left is angelic and tends to stick around here for days stuck floating just above.”Howe Gelb

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Born in the heart of Texas and raised in Ithaca, troubadour and avid street performer from the subway of nyc to street corners in Mexico, to the bars and cantinas of the desert. Blending styles of Mariachi, Flamenco, Country, and the Blues to make songs that are uniquely American.

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Honky Tonk/Country Band Lab
Everything you want to know about drums for non-drummers and drummers

Nashville based drummer Matt Meyer grew up in Secaucus, New Jersey with a steady diet of jazz, rock & roll, and country & western. He was also one of Joe Morello’s youngest students. In 2007 Matt graduated with a Bachelors degree in jazz performance from the New England Conservatory where he studied with Billy Hart, Bob Moses and Gary Chaffee. Meyer has performed on the Grand Ole Opry, Conan O'Brien and countless venues all over the world. His resume includes: Pokey LaFarge, Marty Stuart, Doug Kershaw, Rachael Price, Miss Tess, The Cactus Blossoms, Joel Savoy, Caleb Klauder, Anais Mitchell, White Hinterland, J.P Harris and Victoria Bergsman.  Vic-Firth & Reunion Blues endorsed artisan.

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Intermediate/Advanced Old Time Guitar, Honky Tonk/Country Band Lab, Songwriting

Jim Miller began singing and performing at the age of 7 as a member of the Saskatoon Boys Choir. The group recorded two albums and toured Canada’s Prairie Provinces by bus, singing their little hearts out. Jim added guitar to his skill set at age 9 and perfected harmonies by singing cowboy songs with his mom at home. His tool box complete, Jim joined Donna the Buffalo30 years later to tour the US in a bus even older than the one in Saskatoon. Whether singing Broadway hits as a tiny choir boy or jamming with DTB, traditional music forms – bluegrass, old time, cajun, and zydeco – have formed a common thread throughout his musical life. In 2016, closing in on his Golden Years, Jim’s music took a strange turn; he became a songwriter. His original songs can be heard on two records by his current project, Western Centuries (watch for them at Grassroots 2020). Jim also studies butterflies and moths, the insect order Lepidoptera, and is writing a major textbook on them for Cambridge University Press.

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Although a college graduate trained in classical music, when Tara Nevins became captivated by the more elemental sounds of traditional music and embraced a somewhat bohemian lifestyle to follow its calling, her parents approved and supported her decision. Tara fell in love with fiddle music and turned in that direction right after college. She started going to fiddle conventions in the south where she met and became part of a movement, a community of young folks from East and West who traveled far and wide to emerge themselves in Old Time String band music. She left classic violin far behind and dove head first in to the Old Time music world, playing her fiddle and winning contests at fiddle conventions such as the Mt. Airy Fiddle Convention and Galax Fiddle Convention, in North Carolina and Virginia.

Before Donna the Buffalo, Nevins co-founded The Heartbeats, an all-female old-time band. Playing hard driving fiddle tunes and semi pop songs and arrangements, The Heartbeats stood front and center in the beginning of the all girl bands so prevalent today. Together for ten years, they still get together occasionally. Now Nevins, co founder and twenty-five year veteran of Donna the Buffalo, touring the United States, Europe and the Caribbean, sharing stages with too many artists to name but for example Jim Lauderdale, Peter Rowan, JohnPaul Jones, Levon Helm, Larry Campbell, Keller Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Anders Osborne, Bill Kreutzman, Nikki Bluhm, the Wood Brothers, just to name a few, travels and lives on the road touring town to town city to city playing original songs and music penned over the years with fellow band originator Jeb Puryear. Tara has also recored two solo albums, “Mule To Ride”, and “Wood and Stone”. Tara produced Mule To Ride and Larry Campbell produced Wood and Stone both for Sugar Hill records. A multi-instrumentalist, she moves between fiddle, accordion, guitar and scrub board in Donna The Buffalo. Tara continues today playing Old Time fiddle, traveling to fiddle conventions, and writing songs for and touring with Donna The Buffalo.

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Cindy Overstreet

Swing Dance

Cindy Overstreet has been teaching & performing partner dancing since 1989, almost 30 years now, including swing, lindy hop, west coast swing, Latin, salsa and ballroom.

*She has taught and performed regionally including Rochester, Endicott, Syracuse, Saratoga, Ottawa and Montreal at festivals and dance schools.

*She was voted Ithaca’s Best Dance Teacher 1999 by the Ithaca Times’ Readers Poll. She was artistic director of the swing performance team the ExtravaDancers from 1990 to 1993, and has choreographed for high school musicals and swing dance performance teams.

*She studied dance in college and has continued learning about many different dance and movement styles including Belly dancing, Tai chi, Sufi whirling, Modern, and Jazz. She is a certified DansKinetics (TM) instructor which is a movement and exercise form that focuses on centered and aware movement.
Cindy’s teaching style emphasizes having fun and enjoying the dance, the music and each other as we learn together.

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SingSong for Children, Songwriting

Amy received her Bachelors degree in Vocal Music Education at Ithaca College and has since then taught music classes and led singing workshops in schools, in camps, and at festivals, both at home and abroad. She currently teaches at the Trumansburg Montessori School, and leads SingSong music classes to young children at several schools and camps in the area. Amy has explored music far and wide, and brings that to her workshops, along with incorporating the whole body as your instrument. From world music to country music, from singing and chanting to moving and dancing, Amy will offer a variety of fun and simple techniques to help free your voice in a comfortable and welcome environment. She currently is the singer and co-songwriter in the band Laila Belle, who will be performing at the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival.



Guitar, The Art of Reading Your Musical Partner, Songwriting

Jeb grew up in Brooktondale, NY surrounded by music of all kinds. Most prominent was Old-Time Stringband music. Influenced by The Correction Stringband and The Highwoods Stringband, Jeb learned to play the fiddle at a very young age. His brothers learned to play banjo, guitar and mandolin and together they formed The Bubba George Stringband. Traveling to fiddle festivals in the south Jeb met Tara Nevins and Jim Miller, fellow Old -Time Stringband musicians. As time and years would have it the relationship between them all led to an evolution in to new territory- electric music and songwriting. Jeb took up the electric guitar, teaching himself and developing his unique style in which he plays and grooves, picks and jams with his fingers, without the use of a pick. He and Tara started writing songs and it was then that Donna The Buffalo was born. Here now 25 years later Donna The Buffalo has become a major force in the world of Americana Music. Touring the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean, Donna The Buffalo has shared stages with an endless list of artists such as Peter Rowan, Jim Lauderdale, The Wood Brothers, The Duhks, The Avett Brothers, Emmy Lou Harris, Merle Haggard, Rickie Lee Jones, Los Lobos, Joh Paul Jones, Bela Fleck, Tommy Emanuel, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Anders Osborne to name only a few.

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Intermediate/Advanced Cello

Over his nearly four-decade career, Hank Roberts has forged a compelling original voice as a cellist and composer, encompassing abstract improvisation and soulful folk melodies, intricate new-music compositions and vigorous rock songs.

Hank has been a part of the Fingerlakes Grassroots Festival for the past 25 years.

“There’s a wisdom and patience and catholicity in this record (‘Green’). ‘It’s all one song,’ goes the hip musician’s cliché, but Mr. Roberts walks that walk.”  Ben Ratliff, NY Times

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Native Americana, Songwriting

Keith Secola is an icon and ambassador of Native music. He is one of the most influential artists in the field today. Rising from the grassroots of North America, he is a songwriter of the people. Critics have dubbed him as the Native versions of both Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. NDN Kars (Indian cars), his most popular song is considered the contemporary Native American anthem, achieving legendary status and earning him a well deserved cult following. It has been the number one requested song on tribal radio since the 1992. In 2011, he joined the ranks of Jimmy Hendrix, Hank Williams, Crystal Gale, and Richie Valens, and was inducted into the Native Music Hall of Fame.

Born in 1957 in Cook, Minnesota, Secola is affiliated with the Anishinabe tribe. He graduated from Mesabi Community College with a degree in Public Service in 1979, and completed a BA in American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota in 1982. He is married and has two children Secola is an accomplished artist, garnering awards and accolades as a musician, a singer, a songwriter, a composer and a producer. He is highly skilled with the guitar, flute, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, and piano, and has played in venues from the halls of the Chicago Urban Indian Centre, to the walls of the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He has also performed at the Olympic Games in Atlanta 1996 and Salt Lake City 2002, and toured Europe several times. Released a four albums with European record company in the 90, songs charted throughout Europe. Did concert dates with Towns Van Zant and Nirvana. Among his numerous appearances he has graced the stages of the Rockslide Festival in Denmark, the Grand Opening Gala of the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, The Kennedy Center and the SXSW in Austin, TX, and is a staple at the Grassroots Festival in Upstate New York, North Carolina and Florida.

A seven-time Native American Music Award winner, Secola has earned NAMMYs not only for his music, but also his abilities as a producer, to include The Best Linguistic Recording for producing ANISHINABEMOIN (2007). A well respected musician, he has worked with music legends such as Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead. Secola has also teamed with academics like author Dr. Tom Venum of the Smithsonian Folklife Institute, collaborating on the CD, AMERICAN WARRIORS: SONGS FOR INDIAN VETERANS, and with elders such as Karen Drift, a speaker of Anishenabemoin.



Cajun Accordion, Intermediate/Advanced Pedal Steel, Cajun Song, Songwriting

Chris Stafford is a musician and producer/recording engineer based in Lafayette, LA. He is a three time grammy nominee, playing on albums with ‪Feufollet‬, ‪Cedric Watson‬ et Bijou Creole, and Racines. As a session musician he has contributed to recording sessions with Dr. John, Charlelie Couture, and many others. Stafford has engineered many albums by a variety of artists such as Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Boubacar Traoré, The Revelers and others. He operates Staffland Studio, a recording studio in Lafayette, LA, and is a founding member of the progressive Cajun band ‪Feufollet‬ with whom he has toured around the United States, France, Canada, Mexico, and England.



Intermediate/Advanced Clawhammer Banjo

He’s been described as one of the major innovators of 5-string banjo playing, a wonderfully idiosyncratic musician. Fellow musician Tony Trischka calls him“a transcendentally clawhammering force of nature” and Bela Fleck says simply, "Richie is a wonderful musician. I love his mantra-groove spooky-banjo style." For Natalie Merchant, it’s his ability to blend traditional technique and repertoire with contemporary and original material that sets him apart: says Natalie, “I have been amazed by Richie Stearns’ musicianship…the banjo in his hands can bd plaintive sounds I have ever heard.”

A founding member of the neo traditional alternative rock band THE HORSE FLIES, he’s toured extensively over the last three decades, recording eight albums with The Horse Flies, including releases on MCA and Rounder Records. (The Horse Flies have been featured on MTV, Prairie Home Companion, All Things Considered, World Café and Mountain Stage, and have been written about in Rolling Stone, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and other major publications.)

The list of musicians Richie’s recorded, toured, and performed with is long and diverse: among them, jazz guitarist BILL FRISELL, Malian bluesman VIEUX FARKA TOURE, North Indian Gypsy band MUSAFIR, Tibetan singer YUNGCHEN LLAMO, pop legend LINDA RONSTADT, country and bluegrass musicians (including PETER ROWAN, VASSAR CLEMENTS, TONY TRISCHKA, and JIM LAUDERDALE), Cajun groups (Michael Doucet & BEAUSOLEIL, REDSTICK RAMBLERS), Celtic bands (DE DANNAN, John Doyle of SOLAS) and Australia’s KASEY CHAMBERS as well as SAMITE of Uganda and South African Afro-pop star JOHNNY CLEGG.

Three major long-term musical collaborations involve NATALIE MERCHANT (three recordings and multiple tours), BELA FLECK (workshop presentations and performances on concert stages throughout the US) and folk hero PETE SEEGER, who recently invited Richie to score original music for an album that will feature Pete telling his life story over a music background. (Over the past two decades, Richie’s performed with or for Pete on numerous occasions.) Past performances and recordings also include work with a wide variety of other musicians, including DAVID BYRNE, BILLY BRAGG & WILCO, OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW, JOAN BAEZ, and the Tuvan throat-singers, the ALASH ENSEMBLE.

In addition to his ongoing tenure with THE HORSE FLIES, Richie’s best known for his current work with his own EVIL CITY STRING BAND (repertoire based in the world of old time and country music, with some originals) and the improvisational trio TI TI CHICKAPEA, which includes critically acclaimed cellist HANK ROBERTS and respected violinist ERIC ACETO. (Their music, while rooted in tradition, involves a wide range of improvisation and musical experimentation.) He’s a founding member of the roots rock outfit, DONNA THE BUFFALO.


Clogging, Texas 2-Step, Passionate for Possums, Youth Clogging

Rodney Sutton has been performing and teaching traditional Appalachian step-dance for over 40 years. Since September of 2015, a memes of Rodney flat-footing called “the Techno Family” has been seen by over 100 million folks from around the world on FaceBook. Rodney prides himself on being able to teach anyone Appalachian Clogging steps that will turn you into your own percussive dancer and allow you to be a foot drummer to any kind of music!



Beginning Upright Bass, Honky Tonk/Country Band Lab

With a decade’s worth of US & European tours and multiple full length releases under her belt, Miss Tess has proven to be one of the more interesting acts on the blossoming Americana scene. Her eclectic taste steeped in her deep well of musical knowledge results in her own timeless sound that continues to fascinate music lovers. On her new release Baby, We All Know, Tess continues to explore her own personal crossroads of American roots music with eleven diverse and finely crafted original songs. Heightened by Tess’ prowess on her Weymann archtop guitar, she is accompanied by a top-notch band, featuring guitar & pedal steel ace and co-conspirator Thomas Bryan Eaton.

Miss Tess has won fans from New York City to New Orleans and Alabama to Alaska. Over the years she has shared the stage with the likes of Lake Street Dive, NRBQ, The Holmes Brothers, Eilen Jewell, and Todd Snider. Her band has graced stages at Blissfest, Cayamo, Clearwater Jazz Holiday, Floydfest, Ossippee Valley Music Festival, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, Burlington Jazz Festival, Green River Festival, Red Wing Roots, Shakori Hills, and more. Miss Tess’s music has been heard from coast to coast on taste maker programs such as XM/Sirius’s The Loft, NPR’s Folk Alley, Santa Cruz’s KPIG and Boston’s WUMB and Baby, We All Know lived in the top 20 on the Americana Charts for six weeks.

Miss Tess grew up in Maryland, where she took piano lessons at an early age. She went to college in Baltimore, intending to be a graphic artist. While there, she dabbled in guitar, but it wasn't until the end of her studies that she began taking it seriously. Once she became more interested in becoming a musician, she started studying jazz and writing songs, and put together her first band. Having grown up listening to her parents' bands playing big band swing, folk, country and dixieland music, rootsy styles came naturally to her.

After a move to Boston, Miss Tess took a few classes at Berklee College of Music and formed a new band with a few fellow jazz students. Miss Tess quickly established herself as a songwriter and performer in the storied Boston music scene, playing regularly at local clubs. Over four years she won a Boston Music Award, and was nominated several other times in the Folk and Jazz categories of the BMAs, as well as the New England Music Awards. Miss Tess later moved to Brooklyn for a 5 year stint in the big city, followed by a move to Nashville, where she is currently based. She has since developed her sound to include more classic country, rockabilly and vintage rock 'n' roll, all combining into her ever-developing sense of self and eclectic taste in American roots music.  "Nashville meets chic." –Village Voice

"I don’t know of anyone else right now touring in the Americana scene that has such an eclectic, jazzy, old school and interesting vibe. There’s an authenticity present in Miss Tess’ music. It is not contrived, not too far a stretch for the skeptical imagination. She is real. And she is rare."  –No Depression

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Mandolin, Songwriting

David Via (rhymes with sky) is the winner of the 2009 Mountain Stage/American Folk Alliance Songwriters Contest, and has picked u p the Merlefest Chris Austin songwriter prize three times. David Via is one of those guys whose name bluegrass fans may recognize, but without necessarily being familiar with his music. Unless you follow the jamgrass scene, where Via is a hero, or the cult of acoustic/bluegrass songwriters where he also has a very strong following". Bluegrass B. "He is also one of the best songwriters in the business." Bluegrass Unlimited"David Via is one of the best home grown songwriters in modern bluegrass. Tim O'Brien "Via's intriguing approach to old-time string music. The sound of his music is inarguably rooted in old-time bluegrass, so much so that one can almost hear the mountain leaves rustle, feel the freshly plowed earth and smell the smoke that emits from countless chimneys on cold mountain nights..What separates Via from his bluegrass contemporaries is the way he writes his songs. His lyrics and song forms break from tradition, not in a jarring manner, but in a subtle way that carries the listener to some place new without even knowing they are on a journey. It's bluegrass, with a strong country-blues undertone, and an overtallegiance to the working-man's folk music produced by the likes of the late Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash". Winston Salem Journal

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Art in an Hour

I paint in 3 or 4 styles and landscapes are my primary subject matter. I have been painting for years. I have painted about 400 pictures, sold 100, given 100 away including some to Shakori Side-to-side charity. I recently had a show at the Kirby Gallery in Roxboro, NC and have an upcoming show at the Mebane Art Center. I taught an art class at Shakori Hills last summer and am teaching 2 or 3 classes there this year. I recently retired from Verizon Comm. after 35 years. More details about my style, subject matter and shows can be seen on my web site: Check out my self-published art book on the site.

This acrylic painting class will be a "paint this picture" class similar to the Shakori classes. I will have 3 or 4 scenes for students to chose from. However, if a student wants to paint a scene on site, ie. the dance tent, that would be good. This class can be as structured or not depending on what people want to do. Class will be a minimum of 1 hr. for 3 days in a row. This will be plenty of time to finish a painting. I will provide all materials. If students have easels they would like to use that would be good. My plan is to work on picnic tables in the shade. You can call or text Gail or me with any questions or concerns.

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Beginning Clawhammer Banjo

Brian's mom and dad both played guitar and sang, and Brian had his first professional jobs starting at age six, first as a member of the Grammy award-winning Maryland Boy Choir, then as a member of the famed Peabody Institute's Chamber Choir. It was during this time his parents gave him his first guitar lessons. But it was only after he discovered the banjo as a teenager, he'd found his passion. In 1996, he began to study with Mike Munford, Bill Keith, and Reed Martin at the age of 14 and soon he was proficient enough on both banjo and guitar to play in bands and begin teaching others.

Brian was enrolled in a Technology Magnet Program in High School, where he spent half his time on regular curriculum and the other half learning audio recording techniques and record label operations under the mentorship of Tom Mindte at Patuxent Music, a Washington D.C. based American roots music company. He continued to perform, playing in his father's band and also with the High School's official Bluegrass band, while teaching banjo at Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe outside of Baltimore on the side. After graduating, Patuxent offered him his first full-time job as an executive at the label, and engineer for the recording company. After two years of service with them, Brian decided to pursue a college degree in the music business and he received a scholarship from Tom for continuing on with his musical path.

At Middle Tennessee State University where Brian attained candidacy and graduated from their acclaimed Recording Industry program, he first started fiddling under the encouragement of Paul F. Wells of the Center for Popular Music. Studying and practicing for hours a day, on the side of completing coursework for his degree, he eventually led the department's official band. Also around this time, he began work as a Folklorist and Archivist under the leadership of Bobby Fulcher for the State of Tennessee's Folklife Project, digitizing, field recording and collecting rare rural music from musicians of the state. With this job, he met and was taken in as a family member by the legendary banjo and fiddle player Clyde Davenport, whom Brian dearly attributes his fiddling style and techniques to. Upon finishing his degree, he rambled and lived around the traditional music hotbeds of Nashville, Knoxville, Boone and Asheville. At each stop he joined highly regarded string bands, collected music, and played concerts, festivals and dances throughout the Southeast. He has also been on numerous trips as an American banjo and fiddle ambassador to the countries of China, India, United Kingdom, Ireland, Bulgaria, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Holland and most recently to his ancestral homeland of Latvia for their 100th-year celebration.

His first CD, Old Time Music Party, was released in 2013 by Patuxent. Accompanied by a group of stellar musicians, the CD quickly received widespread national and international radio airplay—and raves from journalists and some of the finest Old Time musicians playing today. No Depression said, “Young East Coast fiddler/banjo player Brian Vollmer just picks the hell out of a bunch of great Southern old-time tunes.” Banjo Newsletter added, “a great old-time recording that honors the past while staying up to date with younger musicians who will carry on the tradition; in good hands for years to come.” Old Time Herald affirms, "Recommended." The album has had such an impact on the Old Time music community that one can always hear some of the more unusual and archaic tunes that Brian composed for the album being played at jam sessions at prestigious fiddler conventions all over the world.

In the last handful of years, Brian moved from the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina to Upstate New York. There he met and married his life partner, touring musician Claire Byrne of Driftwood, during an apprenticeship for banjo and fiddle set-up, repair and restoration in Ithaca. While studying at Selin & Harris Violins, he continued playing and teaching his music from the south with the locals, and also had a popular traditional music radio show on WRFI (click here for archived shows). After spending two beautiful seasons in that gorgeous town, and meeting and making music with his now wife, Winter came. With the foreign frigid climate, sleeping on the shop's floor for months, he found that Claire's home and being with her was what he really wanted in life. That Spring he officially brought his stored possessions from the South to the North to their indefinite home in Binghamton, NY where she is from. Brian & Claire continue to perform locally together, now as The Vollmers and are also in the string band Wildcat Creek playing their fiddles together.

Brian is currently involved in several other musical projects in the Central New York region as well, including performing part-time with The Gerry Jarcia String Band, The Barnyard Saints, and Nate "The Great" Marshall. He hosts and leads a public acoustic jam and square dance band, and he teaches private lessons and workshops, including the Hands-On American Folk Music & Instrument Program.

The muse is still working magic. In addition to playing and teaching, he works on instruments in his home violin and banjo shop.

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Intermediate/Advanced Upright Bass

Brian Williams plays the upright bass in a style heavily influenced by early rock'n'roll & country music; his playing blends the rhythms of blues, bluegrass, dixieland and swing. Brian launched his musical career in 1972 playing guitar and banjo with the SwampRoot String Band but eventually switched his focus to upright bass and toured extensively for 10 years with the legendary John Mooney Blues Band sharing the bill with national acts; Muddy Waters, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, Paul Butterfield, Asleep at the Wheel. He quickly gained recognition as a player with deep respect for traditional styles as well as a unique slap-style bass technique.

Brian joined Bobby Henrie & the Goners playing Roots R’n’R, Rockabilly and Swing for more than 3 decades in honky tonks, dance halls and festivals coast-to-coast. Throughout the '90s, he was on faculty at Centrum's summer music camps in Port Townsend, WA. conducting workshops on rhythmic upright bass techniques.

In addition to the Goners, Brian currently performs with the Djangoners, a Gypsy jazz band playing in the tradition of Django Reinhardt's famous "Hot Club of France”, the Bossa Nova Bradley Brothers, Busted Valentines (beatnik spoken word jazz ensemble), Red, Fred & Weems (acoustic blues trio) and the Ruff Alley Rounders (old-time sringband). Coined the "Top cat on the bottom end" by music critic Frank DeBlase, Brian is often the 'first call' when a bassist with deep traditional roots is needed for touring, concerts or recording sessions.

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Creole Fiddle a la Preston Frank

Growing up with Juilliard-educated professional classical musician parents, it wasn’t a surprise that Kevin Wimmer grew up to be a musician, but the route he took was certainly unexpected. After winding up with old-time music connoisseur Ray Alden as his high school math teacher at New York’s Stuyvesant High, Kevin was hipped to bands from the burgeoning old-time music scene of the era, including the Chicken Chokers and the Highwoods Stringband. The bluegrass bug caught him in college (where he also played in the Gamelan orchestra and studied Ghanaian drumming), but it wasn’t until he first heard Dewey Balfa perform at the Escoheag Cajun and Bluegrass Festival that he found his musical home. Eventually, Kevin made his way to Louisiana to live in Dewey’s outdoor kitchen shed and study his fiddle playing up close, as well as the fiddling of Creole and Cajun legends like Canray Fontenot, Dennis McGee, and Carlton Frank. He went on to found traditional Cajun music band Balfa Toujours with Dewey’s daughters, Christine and Nelda, and Dirk Powell. Over the years, he also played and recorded with Queen Ida and the Bon Temps Zydeco Band, the Red Stick Ramblers, Bois-Sec Ardoin, and Racines, with whom he received a Grammy nomination. He is currently the fiddler for Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys and Orchestre Royale. Kevin is also an active teacher, both with private students and as an instructor in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s traditional music program. He’s also a frequent face as a staff instructor at music camps around the country, including Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camp, Augusta Heritage Center Camp, the Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week, and Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. This will be his third time teaching at GrassRoots Culture Camp, though he’s been to nearly all of the festivals (including the very first one).