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BLUFF COUNTRY GATHERING
May 16-19, 2024


2024 Staff  (with corrections!)

Eric and Suzy Thompson have devoted their lives to the pursuit of weird and obscure old-time American music--warped fiddle tunes in odd tunings, cinematic ballads, country blues songs that contain mysterious metaphors, and more. Using fiddle, guitars and mandolin, they bring these early 20th century sounds right into the present day. Eric's flatpicking is exceptional for its purity of tone, speed and soulfulness, playing often with notable musicians like Ramblin' Jack Elliott and David Nelson. Suzy is a powerful singer, a strong blues guitarist and an award-winning fiddler who works with performers like Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldauer, Del Ray and Ann Savoy. The Thompsons were founding members of many influential roots music groups including the Black Mountain Boys, Any Old Time Stringband and the California Cajun Orchestra. They are making their fourth appearance at the Bluff Country Gathering.
www.ericandsuzy.com  Suzy Thompson will be coming alone,; Eric has health issues.

 

 

 

Martha Burns sings old-time American songs the old-time way: heart songs, cowboy songs, tragic ballads and comic ditties, songs from the mountains and songs from the range. Her haunting voice is perfectly suited to her old-time repertoire and she’s an accomplished guitarist whose accompaniments bring out the pith in a song or provide the solid backup fiddlers crave. Martha played for several years with the late Allan Block, a legendary East Coast fiddler. She has lived all around the country, but currently resides in Washington, DC.
http://marthaburns.net/home.php

 

 

 

 

Paul Brown can’t get enough of down home old time and bluegrass music. And he loves to share it.  He started singing the songs his mom knew from central Virginia when he was a little kid.  He picked up the banjo at age ten and the fiddle and guitar as a young man. He steeped himself in the music of his elders the best way possible: by playing with them at home and on the road for decades.  You’ll love his authentic, solid sound as a singer, guitarist and prize-winning banjo picker and fiddler. Paul is a retired NPR radio journalist, long a familiar voice on NPR’s world newscasts, who started his radio career at the renowned old-time and bluegrass station WPAQ in Mount Airy, NC.  He’s a veteran of the Toast String Stretchers, the Surry County Boys with Robert Sykes, and the Smokey Valley Boys with Benton Flippen. He studied banjo intensively with Round Peak legend Tommy Jarrell, and he’s recorded and produced numerous iconic old-time music albums.
   Terri McMurray has great chops on 5-string banjo, banjo uke, and guitar.  She looked and listened hard during her years around some of the great master traditional musicians in North Carolina and southern Virginia, and it shows in her playing. Terri played for more than 20 years with the Toast String Stretchers, the most active band in the well-known metropolis of Toast, NC, between Round Peak and Mount Airy. She was a founding member of the Old Hollow String Band with Kirk Sutphin and Riley Baugus.

Trevor McKenzie is the Director at the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist playing fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar, and is a fine traditional singer to boot. He grew up on a cattle farm outside of Rural Retreat, VA and his first exposures to music came through church and his father's record collection, started attending fiddlers' conventions as a youngster and getting more involve with the traditional music of the Southwest Virginia area. Since 2010 he has been a member of the Elkville String Band and often performs with Paul Brown and Terri McMurray. Trevor says "I consider myself a historian who uses music as a conveyance to share stories. I really enjoy delving into old songs and tunes that bridge the past and the present of communities around this part of the world".
Trevor McKenzie – Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (blueridgeheritage.com)

 

 

The Ozark Highballers began playing as a band in May of 2014 while busking at the Fayetteville, Arkansas farmer's market. Since then they have played at the Brooklyn Folk Festival, the Ozark Folk Center, the St. Louis Folk and Roots festival, and the Stephen Foster Old Time Weekend in Florida. 
  
Roy Pilgrim is a Fayetteville native who began playing music with neighbors at the age of eight. An avid student of early American fiddle music, he is also a horse logger. He and Aviva live and garden on their farm just south of Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has recently recorded 10 segments of “Fine Fiddlers of the Ozarks" which is broadcast on Ozark Highlands Radio and focuses on popular and less known musicians and fiddle tunes from the Ozark Mountains.
  
Aviva Pilgrim was born in Washington State and lived several years in Virginia before moving to Arkansas in 2014. She plays guitar, cello, sings and sometimes fiddles in the band, and is also a print-maker, gardener, and builder of early 1900s-style parlor guitars.
  
Clarke Buehling is a well-respected and renowned banjo player. His forte is classic banjo and he has file cabinets full of sheet music from the late 1800s to prove it. His previous band, the Skirtlifters, has been a staple of Ozark string band music since the 1980s. Clarke's expertise extends to include the earliest stroke and finger-style minstrel banjo playing.
  
Seth Shumate is a versatile harmonica player who applies techniques of the pre-WWII harmonica masters to complement, often note for note, the melody of the fiddle as well as performing a well-developed rhythmic style of backup playing drawing on the old-time expertise of players like Dave Rice and Mark Graham. Seth's grandfather and great-grandmother both played harmonica in the Arkansas Ozarks of Stone County.

 

    One of the most respected players in old time music today, Beverly Smith is in demand as a singer, fiddler and dance caller, as well as a banjo, mandolin and guitar player. Besides her fine recordings of early country duets with Carl Jones, Alice Gerrard and John Grimm, her guitar playing has been featured on recordings of fiddlers like Bruce Molsky and Rafe Stefanini. Beverly has played with The Heartbeats, Big Hoedown and The Rockinghams, performed across the U.S., Canada, the UK and Europe. She is known as a thorough, humorous, kind and patient teacher and has taught fiddle, guitar, singing and dance at numerous camps and festivals. Beverly is happy to call Marshall, NC home.

For over half a century Skip Gorman has enjoyed singing, playing and performing an impressive and varied palette of traditional, acoustic American and Celtic folk music. As an accomplished singer, guitarist, fiddler and mandolinist, Gorman has completed over fifteen recordings of fiddle, mandolin, bluegrass and cowboy songs on the Rounder, Folk Legacy and his own Old West labels.

 

 

 

 

 

2024 Workshop Schedule
 

FRIDAY

9:00-10:15

10:30-11:45

1:45-2:45

3:00-400

4:15-5:00

Sons of Norway Hall

 Carter Family Guitar


MARTHA

Fingerstyle Banjo-Basic

CLARKE

Fiddle

ROY

Shape Note Sing
STACEY BERKHEIMER, MARTHA

Open Jam

SKIP, SETH, BEVERLY

Community Ctr. Council Chambers

Mandolin-Playing Fiddle Tunes
SKIP

Fiddle-Marcus Martin Tunes

SUZY

Harmonica-Fiddle Tunes

SETH

Fingerstyle Banjo 2

CLARKE

Fiddle

ROY

Community Ctr. Kitchen Area

Harmonica 101

SETH

Turn on Your Ears

PAUL & TERRI

Guitar-Fiddle Backup

MARTHA

Songs of the Mississippi Sheiks

SUZY

 

Community Ctr. Gym

Fiddle

BEVERLY
Beg.-Int.

Old Time Guitar Basics

AVIVA

Clawhammer Banjo

TREVOR
Beg.-Int.

Calling square Dances

BEVERLY

SOUND CHECKS

 

SATURDAY

9:00-10:15

10:30-11:45

1:45-2:45

3:00-4:00

4:15-5:00

Sons of Norway Hall

Singing with Guitar

AVIVA

Uke Can Do It

TERRI & PAUL

Blue Ridge Ballads

TREVOR

Fiddle Showcase
SUZY, TREVOR, ROY, BEVERLY, PAUL

Fiddle

ROY

Community Ctr. Council Chambers

Banjo Tunes

CLARKE

Fiddle

ROY

Two-Finger Banjo Tunes, Songs, Tunings
PAUL & TERRI

Harmonica-Got Rhythm?

SETH

Open Jam

TREVOR, MARTHA, CLARKE

Community Ctr. Kitchen Area

Fiddle Tunes of Dennis McGee

SUZY

Mandolin Rags

SKIP

Old Time Guitar Runs

SKIP

Mandolin Waltzes

SKIP

 

Community Ctr. Gym

Harmonica History

SETH

Sing with the Carter Family

MARTHA

Square Dance Calling

BEVERLY

 

 

 

 

About the Bluff Country Gathering

The Bluff Country Gathering is a four-day event presenting traditional American music, dance and singing styles. Workshops, conducted by a staff of nationally acclaimed musicians, singers, dancers and folklorists, are designed to pass along the traditions of old-time music to participants at all levels of experience. If you want to take workshops, you must register for the whole weekend. Cost is $250 and includes workshops, concert, dance. The registration form is at the bottom of this page. A limited number of scholarships are available. Application deadline March 1. Application information is below.

PUBLIC EVENTS: A concert on Friday night features all the staff musicians. The Barn Dance on Saturday night includes live music by staff musicians and caller. No experience or partner required for this dance.

CONCERT: Friday May17 at 8:00 PM at the Lanesboro Community Center. Tickets available at the door only. $15.00

BARN DANCE: Saturday, May 18 at 8:00 PM at the Lanesboro Community Center. Tickets available at the door only. $10.00

REGISTRATION: $250 for all events. If you plan to take workshops, full registration is required. No refunds after May 1. Registration accepted beginning January 5, 2024.


Please fill out the entire registration form. Registrations not accepted until January 5, 2024. PDF Form

Name: __________________________________________________________________________________

Address: ________________________________________________________________________________

Phone: __________________________________________________________________________________

Email: __________________________________________________________________________________

Name/address on the roster? Yes _____ No _____ (The roster will be available to all students.)

Any student age 16 or under must be accompanied by a fully registered parent or guardian.

Meals: Please select only one Veggie___ Meat___   
If you have food allergies or special needs, you must notify us before May 1st.

Interested in volunteering? Most of our registered students help out doing small jobs at the weekend, like setting up tables and chairs for meals and concerts, helping in the kitchen, sitting at the sales table during the public concert or dance, to name a few. Even the smallest help is greatly appreciated. If you check yes, someone will contact you about matching you to an agreeable task.

Yes, I'd like to help. _____ No, not this time. _____

Make checks payable to Bluff Country Gathering and mail to 18287 Gap Drive, Spring Grove, MN 55974.

Or pay online and be sure to submit your registration information.
 

                       $250.00                       To donate to Scholarships    
 

 


Housing is not provided by the Gathering. Lanesboro has many B&Bs, boarding houses, motels and campgrounds in town and nearby. For a listing of these go to www.lanesboro.com or call the tourist office at 800-944-2670.

Thursday Night Potluck dinner starting at 6 pm at the Sons of Norway Hall. Bring a dish to share. Plates/cups/napkins/silverware will be provided. The kitchen will not be available for cooking/ cleaning up/storing leftovers.

Friday and Saturday Lunch will be at 12:00 PM in the Community Center.

Sunday Potluck will be at 9:30 AM in the Community Center.

What else to bring? Recording devices are suggested, since most of the workshops will be taught aurally.

 

E-mail:  bluffcountrygathering@gmail.com

Bluff Country Gathering
18287 Gap Dr.
Spring Grove, MN 55974        (507) 498-5452

 

The Bluff Country Gathering is a 501(c) non-profit organization. Any donations are tax deductible.                                                 

                                                          

 

Scholarships

The Bluff Country Gathering strives to offer a limited number of scholarships each year. Scholarships cover admission to all workshops, the Friday night concert, Saturday night dance, Thursday night potluck, Friday and Saturday lunches, and Sunday potluck brunch.

Scholarship applications must be received by 11:59pm CST on March 1, 2024. The number of scholarships the Gathering can award varies year to year based on the number of requests and funds available.  Applicants will be notified whether or not the Gathering is able to award their scholarship by March 30, 2024.  

Please note: As the Gathering does not provide housing, scholarship recipients will still need to cover their own housing and transportation costs, along with the cost of any meals not listed above.

SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS CAN BE FOUND HERE: https://forms.gle/FUHKm1moi15haQvt8

If you would like to request a hard copy of the application, please contact bluffcountrygathering@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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