GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance

Instructor Bios

Instructor bios



Rosie Newton is a talented fiddler and singer who was raised in a musical family, and found her musical inspirations by attending music parties and fiddle camps at a young age. She tours internationally in a duo with Richie Stearns called Richie and Rosie, with The Duhks, Louisiana legend Preston Frank, Kristin Andreassen, her mother’s Scottish band, Ferintosh, and The Pearly Snaps. Rosie has taught fiddle at the Sunshine Coast School of Celtic music, the Taylor Music Festival, Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, and Black Pot Camp.


From Ithaca, NY, land of lakes, gorges, waterfalls and colleges, Judy brings a wide range of experience to the project of teaching Appalachian old-time fiddling.  She came to fiddle music in 1973 from a classical music background, and loves and has learned from the playing of both older and younger fiddlers who put rhythmic bowing and drive at the center of their music.

She’s a founding member of The Horse Flies, who have toured extensively in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and recorded 8 albums (including releases on MCA and Rounder Records).  She composes music for film/television/ multi-media, and received an Emmy Award for her score for The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine.   She has toured with pop singer Natalie Merchant several times; is the fiddler on Merchant’s album The House Carpenter's Daughter and also appears on Merchant’s Leave Your Sleep. Judy has been featured for her composing in Electronic Musician Magazine and twice for her playing in Fiddler Magazine, which also included her in their 20th anniversary CD/Book set “Fiddlers 20: Tunes from Twenty Master Fiddlers”. In 2012 she released an album of her original waltzes, Late Last Summer, with her dad, pianist Dick Hyman.

Judy has taught at many traditional music programs around the U.S. and is thrilled to be included in GrassRoots Culture Camp.

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. 
Oona Grady grew up in the rich musical community of Ithaca, NY, and has been been listening to and playing music as long as she can remember.  She began her musical studies on violin with Jan Butler and Kirsten Marshall at the Suzuki school Ithaca Talent Education, and soon after added Irish fiddle with Ed McGowan.  

As a teenager she gradually shifted her focus from classical to Irish music when she began traveling to New York City, where she won the regional Fleadh Cheoil, and to Ireland to compete in the final Fleadh (the Fleadh is colloquially known as the All Ireland, a highly respected Irish music competition and festival).  At the same time, her musical experiences were expanded by regularly attending world class music events in her own back yard-- such as the Fingerlakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, where she began performing with her cousin, flutist Marie De Mott Grady, in various Irish music ensembles.

At eighteen, she decided to pursue a "Diploma in Irish Traditional Music" at University College Cork (UCC), Ireland.  While attending UCC she received the Donal “Doc” Gleeson Award for performance excellence, made many long lasting musical friendships, and traveled to Spain and the Isle of Man to perform with the UCC Irish Traditional Music Society (of which she was an active committee member).  She graduated with honors from UCC with a Diploma in Irish Traditional Music ('05) and a Bachelor of Music ('08).

She returned home to Ithaca in 2009 and began performing regularly in the region with her Irish band The Grady Girls.  While back in Ithaca, she was inspired and encouraged by many local musicians to branch out into playing other types of music on the fiddle (especially Old Time and Cajun) and also began playing the upright bass.  These new musical adventures lead to many performance opportunities, projects, and band formations, including playing with: The Evil City String Band, Home Remedy, the Bouvin Lovers, and Luke G & the Candyhearts.

Recently relocated to Saratoga Springs, she is fast making local musical connections and continues to explore new musical styles.  She has added the electric bass to her repertoire, and has an Irish traditional guitar/fiddle/vocals duo with Saratoga Springs musician James Gascoyne called Drank the Gold (self titled debut album out May 2016).  Stay tuned for more!

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 first time teaching at a GrassRoots camp, though he’s been to nearly all of the festivals (including the very first).

Courtney Granger, great-nephew of the great Balfa Brothers, plays fiddle with his family band Balfa Toujours, Ray Abshire, and Grammy nominated Cajun group Pine Leaf boys. He also has a deep love and appreciation for Classic Country music and great admiration for the greats, like George Jones and Merle Haggard. In October of 2016 he released his debut Country album, Beneath Still Waters on the Valcour Records label.


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
be the most soulful and 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.

Mac Benford has been a leading figure in the preservation and performance of traditional Appalachian stringband music for nearly half a century – most notably as a member of the now-legendary Highwoods Stringband. He is a highly acclaimed master and teacher of several traditional banjo styles, which he learned directly from the older generation of old-time players.

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. He began to study with Mike Munford, Bill Keith, and Reed Martin (all master banjo players) at the age of 14 and soon he was proficient enough on both banjo and guitar to play in bands and begin teaching others.

At Middle Tennessee State University where Brian graduated from the Music Business program, he first started fiddling. Afterward, he lived in Nashville, Knoxville, then Asheville. At each stop he joined highly regarded string bands, and played dances and festivals throughout the Southeast. He also continued learning from recognized masters, including Tim Wilson, and Clyde Davenport.

His first CD, Old Time Music Party, was released in 2013 by Patuxent Music, of Rockville, Maryland. Accompanied by a group of stellar musicians, the CD has quickly received widespread national and international radio airplay—and raves from journalists and some of the finest old-time musicians playing today. No Depression says, “Young East Coast fiddler/banjo player Brian Vollmer just picks the hell out of a bunch of great Southern old-time tunes.” Banjo Newsletter adds, “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."

In the past three years, Brian moved from the mountains of North Carolina to Ithaca, New York, another town with a thriving traditional music scene. More recently, he has moved to Binghamton, New York, where he plays in the duo, Brian and Claire, with his fiancee, Claire Byrne of Driftwood. He performs with Wildcat Creek and is the organizer of the seasonal melodic harmony choir, The Parlor City Serenaders. Also, be on the lookout for his Binghamton Super Group: Compass Rose w/ Matt & Claire Byrne, Bess Greenberg, Jackie Colombo & Joe Alston of Milkweed, Martin Shamoonpour and Paul Koanui.


Jeb grew up in Brooktondale, NY surrounded by music of all kinds.  Most prominent was Old-Time Strinband music.  Influenced by The Correction Stringboard 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.

Jeff’s a co-founding member of the bands, The Horse Flies and Boy with a Fish, and has been playing old-time backup guitar since 1972. He loves simple, solid, strongly rhythmic backup with occasional runs that don’t break the flow. I.e., he’s a proponent of KISS – “keep it simple stupid,” or maybe that should be, “keep it simple AND stupid.” He’s taught at over 30 different festivals and fiddle and music camps, schools, and weekends, and he’s been written about for his back-up guitar playing in Acoustic Guitar Magazine. He’s also written songs and 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. And, 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. For more info: – – –

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. You may have seen him performing with Robert Randolph & The Family Band, The Cabin Killers, The Campbell Brothers, Richie Stearns & Rosie Newton, Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, Donna The Buffalo, Bobby Henrie, The Rigs, or his latest projects Outland County and Home Remedy. Aaron regularly writes songs, melodies and adapts old traditional tunes into new and unique arrangements.
His love for old-time and bluegrass music continues to grow, and is an integral part of a creative musical lifestyle.

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".

Christine Balfa is one of the most respected and revered Cajun rhythm guitarists and singers. She is an inspired musician, fueled by her passion for her culture and the Balfa family legacy. Christine grew up watching and playing alongside her father Dewey and has since become a mainstay in Cajun music in the band Balfa Toujours as well as Bonsoir, Catin. Christine is also a gifted French speaker, writer of Cajun songs and a teacher of music and French at the Acadiana Renaissance  Academy. She is also the  founder of the Louisiana Folk Roots organization. She loves most hanging out with her daughters, Amelia and Sophie, out on Bayou Teche.



Guitar back up  -  (see GUITAR & FIDDLE)

Christine Balfa - Cajun
Jeb Puryear - Zydeco
Bobby Henrie - Swing
Aaron Lip -Bluegrass
Jeff Claus - Old Time
Kevin Wimmer on Fiddle


Jeb Puryear (see GUITAR)
Hank Roberts (see IMPROVISATION)


When Joey Arcuri chose the upright bass in 4th grade, little did he know he would later make it his career. Studying with Dr. Nicholas Walker at Ithaca College, Joey completed a bachelor of music degree, which gave him the tools he needed to be a working bassist. Freelancing for a few years led him to meet Driftwood. Joey Arcuri is currently the full time upright bassist of Driftwood, a folk rock quartet based out of Binghamton. Touring down the east coast with Driftwood and freelancing jazz gigs in between, Joey Arcuri plays a pivotal role in the Central New York music scene.

One of the most respected bass players in Old Time music today, June’s knowledge on bass also extends to Country, Honky Tonk, Western Swing, Cajun and backing up singer songwriters. A the founding members of the Heartbeats, with Tara Nevins, Rose Sinclair and Beverly Smith, and later playing with The Renegades, The Freight Hoppers and The Horseflies, she has performed across the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and parts of Europe. She has taught bass at music camps including Ashoken southern week, Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, The Swannanoa Gathering,  Augusta Heritage and Blackpot Camp as well as appearing on E Town, Mountain Stage and A Prairie Home Companion. Currently she can be found playing either bass or drums with Cajun bands Krewe de la Rue or Yankee Chank, or with Paula Bradley’s Honky Tonk, Jump Blues band The Twangbusters. She also does violin family bow rehair and restoration for several music stores and in her home shop in Massachusetts.

The Ithaca based multi-instrumentalist and producer known as Angelo Peters has made a name for himself as a mover and shaker within the world of instrumental dance music. As bandleader and bassist for Big Mean Sound Machine, he has been a part of every show and produced all of the band’s records to date. Angelo has also toured with Donna the Buffalo, Kevin Kinsella, Jsan and the Analogue Sons and collaborated with many more. He received his bachelors degree from Ithaca College in anthropology with a concentration in musicology and in 2014 was awarded the title of Musical MVP of Ithaca by the Ithaca Journal.


David Via,Via (rhymes with sky) is the winner of the 2009 Mountain Stage/American Folk Alliance Songwriters Contest, and has picked up 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 Blog. 

"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 overt allegiance to the working-man's folk music produced by the likes of the late Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash". Winston Salem Journal


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.

Ryan Brunet is the accordion player for Balfa Toujours and Ryan and The Malefacteurs
Through constant practicing and listening to Nathan Abshire recordings around the clock as an adolescent, Brunet learned his accordion well. He’s one of the cleanest, most precise players to come along recently, nailing notes and runs without any overplaying or annoying valve clicking.



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

Immersed in the traditions of jazz, acoustic folk and blues, electrified rock and experimental music, Eric has been active as a session player, touring musician and designer of musical instruments for over 40 years.

Born to a family that has produced several generations of artists and musicians in Rochester New York, Eric attended art school at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Nazareth College, where he learned to combine his natural musicianship with an uncanny affinity for wood and sculptural form. While playing music during his college years, his dissatisfaction with the amplified violins of the time led him to experiment with the design and construction of his own instruments.Years of development and evolution have allowed Eric to produce instruments of exceptional quality. His violins, mandolins and guitars are today in increasing demand by discerning musicians around the world, artists such as Jean Luc Ponty, Darol Anger, Zach Brock, Matt Glaser, Tommy Malone , Jerry Goodman, Ritchie Havens, Ricardo Ramirez, Tara Nevins, Judy Hyman, David Torn and many many others (see

Primarily a self-taught musician, he advanced his violin technique under the tutelage of concert violinist Rolfe Sokol. Some of his musical projects have included work with British guitar virtuoso Martin Simpson, cellist Hank Roberts and banjo player Richie Stearns, Doug Robinson, the Mectapus band, the Scott B. Adams Acoustic Ensemble, the Burns Sisters Band, the Eric Aceto Quartet, Kevin Kinsella, Rockwood Ferry, the Gypsy Swing Bands, The Djangoners, and Djug Django.


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 2017.

Singing Workshop for Adults - With Amy Puryear, Alicia Aubin, and Mollie Farr
All are welcome and encouraged to join this singing workshop.  Whether you are most comfortable singing in the shower, driving in your car, or if you have sung in bands and graced the stage, but never studied vocal techniques formally.  This workshop is sure to offer new and valuable information, in a comfortable, supportive and open setting.  We will be singing simple songs and chants, ranging from world music to country music. Beginning with correct breathing, posture and vocal techniques and using our whole body as our instrument. The class will progress to learning songs together, singing with your true voice and harmonizing with others. Amy, Alicia and Mollie have been singing for as long as they can remember.  They are looking forward to sharing their varied experiences and styles with you!  (Amy sings with Laila Belle, Alicia plays trombone with Big Mean Sound Machine, Mollie frequently joins Donna the Buffalo on harmonies.)

SingSong Music Workshop for Children - With Amy Puryear and Alicia Aubin
SingSong is a fun-filled workshop for children of all ages, and parents too!.  We will be singing, clapping, stomping and moving, while learning many simple songs and chants.  Some songs that we all know and love, but mostly new songs from many different countries and in many languages.  We will explore using our whole bodies as instruments, doing simple vocal exercises, finding the steady beat and incorporating rhythms into our songs, as well as having fun with singing and dancing in a circle together. Amy and Alicia are excited to bring their songs and experiences together for this special Culture Camp singing workshop for kids!  (Amy sings with Laila Belle and Alicia plays trombone with Big Mean Sound Machine.)

Alicia Aubin is a music educator, vocalist, and trombonist currently based out of Ithaca, NY. Originally from Rhode Island, Alicia was recognized very early for her outstanding teaching and performing abilities. She continued to develop these skills while attaining her Bachelors degrees from Ithaca College in Music Education and Trombone Performance. Alicia has received many awards, has toured around the globe including China and Russia, and has had many notable performances in the US including Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Alicia performs regularly as principal trombonist in the afro-funk band, Big Mean Sound Machine. Since 2006, Alicia has also held various teaching positions in Colorado and New York. In 2014, she started a music and movement program for young children and adults teaching singing and beat comprehension. Alicia is passionate about bringing music to people of all ages. Particularly, Alicia is a strong believer that music education is integral in human development and fosters a lifelong love for the arts.

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.



Jim has been singing and playing American traditional and country music on guitar and banjo for over 30 years, but his recording career dates back even further. At the age of 8 years old he sang soprano and toured the Canadian prairies with the Saskatoon Boys Choir. Their vinyl album, recorded in 1961, included such hits as "They Call the Wind Mariah" and "Oklahoma."  After taking a 30-year break from the pressures of touring, Jim co-founded the New York based roots rock band Donna the Buffalo and hit the road again. He toured with DTB for 15 years, performing in theaters across North America and on the stages of festivals such asBonnaroo, Rhythm & Roots, and Telluride. His favorite performance during that era was a set with DTB and Peter Rowan on the main stage at Merlefest that went on so long, the angry sound crew eventually pulled the plug and shut off the stage lights; the music only got better… In addition to recording five CDs with DTB, Jim has recorded with Tim O’Brien, Jim Lauderdale, Ginny Hawker, Dirk Powell, and Tara Nevins. In addition to performing and recording with Red Dog Run, he writes books about moths and butterflies, performs in Western Centuries ( with Cahalen Morrison and Ethan Lawton, and tours with Louisiana icon Preston Frank in Big Daddy Zydeco.





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-seven 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 scrubboard 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.

Jennie Lowe Stearns 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





Trevor fell in love with the power of music as a child listening to the alarm clock radio in his bedroom. Raised home schooled on a farm he had plenty of room for his imagination to run wild. He began to play  acoustic guitar at the age of 15 and almost immediately began to have his own song ideas. Inspired by the Indy punk do it yourself attitude and by the accessible old-time music scene of Ithaca New York. Trevor has always been interested in the unlikely heroes of self taught creativity as well as the timeless classics of Americana. He released a solo album and has been the lead songwriter for the groups who you are and the sunny weather.

Maddy Walsh, lead singer and songwriter of Ithaca, NY based moxy rock band The Blind Spots, holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from SUNY Binghamton and a MA in the same field (concentration in poetry and
creative nonfiction) from CSU Sacramento. She has released one solo Folk/Americana album and three Indie Pop Rock albums with The Blind Spots, which can be found on the band's website, Her
poetry and essays have have appeared in various literary publications and compilations, and her piece "Placer County Jail" was named a notable in the Best American Essays 2013; more of this work can be found at She spends a good part of the year touring the country with The Blind Spots, finding her greatest joy in music and in motion... as well as in yoga, human interaction, red wine, thrift shopping, and dogs.

Lora Pendleton is a singer-songwriter that relocated to  Trumansburg, NY from Asheville,NC in 2011. Her songs have a definitive folk rock flavor, mixed with a dash of pop and a hint of rock n roll. Her melodies and lyrics are infused with the vibration of poetry, nature, and the intricacies of life experiences.  Lora's love for songwriting comes from a love of studying other artists and meditating on imagery, and poetic ideas.  Lora is a solo performer and also an upright bass player that collaborates and performs with other artists in Trumansburg as well as Asheville, NC

Lydia Garrison is a songwriter who writes and performs on the fiddle, banjo and guitar. She grew up playing Old Time music, and was steeped in local Ithaca music and Cajun and Zydeco music from a young age. Lydia has performed her songs at many festivals in the US and Europe.
She plays with Home Remedy, the Turtle Duhks, and JoyRide. 





DAVID VIA (see Mandolin)

Mason Via is a talented young musician/singer/songwriter out of Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC, who is on his rise to stardom. Originally from Danbury, NC, Mason has been playing acoustic guitar since the age of 12. Mason grew up going to fiddlers conventions and festivals, being taught by his father, notable bluegrass musician David Via. Also being taught by accomplished musicians Rex Mcgee, Ryan Cavanagh, and Clay Jones. In May of 2015 Mason released his first studio album, "Up, Up, Up", which contains 11 original compositions. Mason recorded this CD at the studio of one of Ben Fold's past touring guitarists, Britt Uzzell (*see music page for more information*). Mason's lyrics are considered by many to be the driving force behind his band's music, and his vocals back up the deep emotion that his lyrics possess. You can find Mason touring solo, with his father(David Via), with the Mason Via Band(Funk/Americana), or with his bluegrass side projects.bluegrass side projects.

Native Americana

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.


Emmett Scott received a degree in jazz studies from Ithaca College, and still resides in Ithaca. He is a member of Big Mean Sound Machine, for whom he plays keyboards and synths as well as for other Ithaca based band Dreamt. He has studied with such pianists as Paul Sullivan and Nick Weiser, and in his spare time Emmett is a teacher, accompanist, and synth enthusiast.  


Andrew Klein has been playing drums and percussion for over 25 years beginning at the tender age of 3.  He's spent the past 15 years of that time crafting his teaching experience and opening the minds of budding drummers young and old all over the northeastern U.S.  Andrew draws on a diverse and eclectic musical background to express his creativity and is lately interested in exploring traditional and nontraditional non-western rhythms through his own playing.  Much of his time is devoted to playing drums for Afrobeat-funk-dance party behemoth Big Mean Sound Machine, of which Andrew is a founding member.  Currently, he's working on an educational book of Afrobeat drum set rhythms and concepts.  Andrew makes his home in New York City where he teaches drums to a devoted and growing crowd of tomorrow's great musicians and seasoned veterans alike.  Learn more about him and his music at and


Leah is based in Ithaca, NY, her hometown, and currently draws musical inspiration from the continuous stream of Irish musicians and dancers passing through town, and their old time neighbors, exploring the links between different genres of traditional music.






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.

This year marks forty-five years since Rodney first danced with the Green Grass Cloggers and forty-six since he was told he would “never make a clogger”! Over the years, he has shared his love of clogging and flatfooting by teaching workshops for beginners and experienced dancers at camps around the country, so that no one else will be told, or led to believe, that they cannot “make a clogger.” These days Rodney is known mostly for his smooth flatfooting. He is also a caller, musician, storyteller, a veteran of the early days of the Green Grass Cloggers, and co-founder of the Fiddle Puppets (now known as Footworks). Over the years, he has traveled all across the US and in the British Isles, performing and teaching clogging, and calling square and contra dances. Rodney also produces, stage manages and emcees festivals and concerts. He currently is the Director of Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music Concerts in Boone, North Carolina.

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!

KURT LICHTMANN (with teaching partner Kristi Sullivan) 
In addition to being an Ithaca College graduate (M.M. Ed. '82) Kurt has studied personally with numerous top stars in swing dance and latin dance, and competes regionally. He continues to take workshops, private lessons, and to research partner dance. is a vast resource of dance styles.

Ithaca Dance, named Reader's Choice 2016 (Ithaca Journal) is celebrating its 20th teaching year, offering Latin Dance, Swing Dance, Ballroom Dance, and Wedding Dance, in downtown Ithaca, and in full semester courses at Ithaca College. Ithaca Dance's "Wedding Dance DVD" has been Amazon's #1 seller in the genre for over 6 years.

Bobbie Henrie & The Goners:  This great band plays a lot of uptempo rockabilly and swing, so fast Lindy aka 6 count Lindy will get you rockin through most of their repertoire.

Los Texmaniacs:  These guys play a wide mix of styles, from ballads to cha cha to rock, but their ethnic staple is Cumbia, a music and dance greatly loved in Mexico, originating in Colombia. Cumbia is a bouncy, and uses a lot of swing moves.


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.  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 me with any questions or concerns.  John---703-336-3472 or   


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. Taught by Hilary Davis

Sacred Geometry Yoga - Mental presence accompanied by intelligent movement. This yoga offers insight into the artful nature of our bodies and how they were designed to move. Taryn Thompson leads this exploration into the ever-changing needs and capacities of the body while focusing on breath and the meditative qualities of the mind. Taught by Taryn Thompson

Vinyasa Flow Yoga - An energizing and fun class for all levels. Hannah teaches with signature bright energy and mindful attention to the creation of rhythm between movement and breath. Whether this is your first yoga class or your 861st class Hannah will help you get warmed up for a weekend of dancing until dawn with this full body sequence. Taught by Hannah Volpi


Marla has had a life long love of music, dance and yoga.  For healing and inspiration, these arts are the most powerful medicine for the spirit.  The antidote to the chaos of living in Babylon. For twenty years she has had the privilege of teaching Hatha Yoga at Wells College in Aurora, NY, and looks forward to sharing Yoga at GrassRoots Culture Camp.  

Hilary Davis has completed teacher training programs in both the Sivananda and Anusara traditions of yoga. She teaches an alignment-based, heart centered practice and will offer classes at Culture Camp suitable for all levels.  

Hannah offers an interdisciplinary power Vinyasa style practice that combines whole body movement and focus on breathe.  Her training includes Power Vinyasa & Self Awakening Yoga, and she enjoys drawing from Kundalini, Dance, Pilates, Ayurveda, and Chinese Medicine, and other disciplines.  The sequences are ever changing, so it’s a new conversation with your body and mind every time you land on the mat.  Her hope is to deliver the same light hearted playfulness and inquiry it brings her.    All levels welcome!  


Taryn has studied yoga for over 12 years, practicing mostly Iyengar, Anusara, Ashtanga, and Bikram. Her approach to movement honors the varying capacities of the human body and offers deep respect for the cycles of life. She is passionate about leading classes that help students develop mindfulness and self-knowledge. Taryn completed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2012 and in 2014. In 2015 she studied prenatal and postpartum yoga with Carla Anselm and completed Judith Lasater’s Relax and Renew training for Restorative Yoga. She is currently enrolled in a 200-hour training with Francois Raoult at Open Sky Yoga in Rochester.







Upstate New York's Bobby Henrie & the Goners' rockabilly riot takes you back to the swinging golden age of early rock 'n' roll. The lean trio plays authentic roots rock in the tradition of Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, with dashes of country, blues and hot jazz mixed into their outstanding originals. This is superb old-school musicianship just made for dancing. The Goners are a legendary institution now celebrating 30 years together and still going strong. Their latest recording, "Movin' To Gonesville", captures the breadth of their talent and musical diversity. An evening spent with Bobby Henrie and the Goners will be long remembered.

Balfa Toujours,  led by Christine Balfa, the legendary Cajun fiddle ambassador Dewey Balfa’s daughter,  has taken generations of inspiration and created a vibrant sound all their own, nurturing new branches on the venerable family tree.
The Balfa name conjures up memories of the famous Balfa Brothers, who took their soulful music from the prairies of Mamou to the far corners of the earth.  In 1964, at the Newport Folk Festival,  Dewey Balfa exposed the world to music that was all but unknown outside of Louisiana.  Balfa Toujours (“Balfa always”) is making sure the name will maintain its place for generations to come.

Since coming together after Dewey’s passing in 1992, they’ve grown from a band known for its youth and passion into pillars of the traditional music community not only in Louisiana but throughout the folk music world. They’ve recorded six CDs, appeared in numerous films and television shows, toured North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, enjoyed front cover features in magazines like Dirty Linen and Offbeat, and taught classes in Cajun culture internationally, in both French and English. Balfa Toujours cross many boundaries and perform in a wide array of styles, from rocking dancehalls to crowded festivals to informative concerts, without ever losing the “joie de vivre” that epitomizes their culture. It is for this ability to unite it all and keep the soul intact that the preeminent expert on Louisiana culture, Barry Ancelet, calls the band “the future of Cajun Music.”

“A culture is like a whole tree: you have to water the roots to keep the tree alive, but at the same time you can’t go cutting off the branches every time it tries to grow.” – Dewey Balfa

“The old songs are the roots of the tree. We look at the branches as all the new songs that have come out. You can’t forget about the roots because that is your support for all the new songs. And without the roots, the whole thing would die.”– Christine Balfa

Los Texmaniacs is a conjunto band created by Max Baca in 1997. Baca wanted to create a band that incorporated elements from genres such as Rock & Roll and Jazz while still honoring the roots of conjunto Tejano. In 2010 Los Texmaniacs won a Grammy Award for Tejano Album of The Year "Borders y Bailes". Members of Los Texmaniacs have changed over the years but current members include Max Baca on bajo sexto, Josh Baca on accordion, Noel Hernandez on electric bass, and Lorenzo Martínez on the drums. Los Texmaniacs have collaborated with various artists from different genres including Rick Trevino (country music), Flaco Jimenez (Tejano), Los Lobos (Latin) and even Hip Hop recording artist/songwriter King Montana. King Montana aka Aztek Astronaut is first cousins with Max Baca.

All the way from Soileau Lousiana, Preston Frank and His Family Zydeco Band will rock the dance tent Wednesday night with their seriously bad ass brand of Zydeco. It will be a night to remember!
The family band is: Keith Frank (guitar, accordion), who in his own right became such a dominant influence on the music scene in Southwest Louisiana that he was given a new nickname in Acadiana. He is Keith Frank, “The Zydeco Boss”,  and leads his own band, Keith Frank and Soileau Zydeco. The family band also includes, Jennifer Frank on Bass, Brad Frank on Drums, Zion Frank on Scrubboard, Lucien on Electric Guitar, and Julie Frank on feet!