As noted in Mandolin for Dummies, Jim Richter has increasingly been recognized over the last dozen years as one to watch for a more modern application of blues and blues-based rock to the mandolin. With 30 years of stage and teaching experience on mandolin, guitar, and banjo, Jim has performed with, opened for, or recorded with Anson Funderburgh, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Andra Faye, Rich DelGrosso, Don Julin, Will Patton, and Mike Compton. Equally as fresh as his mandolin style, Jim’s instruction draws deeply from his experience as a licensed therapist. For 5 years Jim’s own mandolin camp focused on helping adult learners to overcome being “stuck” in one’s playing. Jim also has a mandolin book entitled “Richter Mandolin” that studies blues and rock using this adult learner approach. Jim regularly gigs with Gordon Bonham, Indiana blues-artist who formerly toured with Yank Rachel.
Growing up in the Southwest, Marshall Racowsky was exposed to country music at an early age. He started playing the guitar while in high school and focused primarily on country and western styles as well as fiddle accompaniment. He became a member of the Arizona Fiddler’s Association and started competing in the accompaniment division at fiddle contests throughout the state. In the early ’80’s, Marshall backed up Junior Daugherty on foreign tours sponsored by the US State Dept. By the time Marshall moved to New England in 1997 he had won the Arizona Accompanist Championship 8 times. He also became very interested in Mexican mariachi and frequently sat in with several groups at performances. He taught classes in Texas style accompaniment in Arizona and after he moved to New England.
Sharon Gilchrist has long made her home in the American acoustic music scene. Whether you have seen her playing mandolin, thumpin’ the upright bass, singing a traditional ballad or performing one of her original pieces, you’ve heard an artist steeped in traditional Appalachian music delivering these sounds with a distinctly spacious, graceful and fiery nuance. Sharon has performed with Darol Anger, the Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet, Scott Nygaard and John Reishmann, Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, Uncle Earl, the Ger Mandolin Orchestra, Scott Law, the Kathy Kallick Band, Bill Evans, and Donald Rubinstein.
Michael Daves is a Georgia-bred, Brooklyn-based bluegrass guitarist and singer who has made a name for himself as a performer through his work with Chris Thile, Tony Trischka, Bryan Sutton, Steve Martin, Rosanne Cash and others. He shares a Grammy nomination with Thile for their 2011 Nonesuch Records release Sleep With One Eye Open and in 2016 released the critically acclaimed bluegrass/electric double album Orchids and Violence, also on Nonesuch. Daves is also devoted teacher with over twenty years of experience whose instructional style is aimed at helping students develop and refine their own natural musical sensibilities while exploring a wealth of American roots traditions, particularly bluegrass. In 2016 he launched an online school in bluegrass vocals on ArtistWorks.com where he helps students around the world learn the intricacies bluegrass singing style as well as harmony singing and ear training.
Richard (Richie) Brown has been a part-time bluegrass musician in the Boston area since the mid sixties. Richie has played with several prominent New England bands and has occasionally filled in with nationally known bluegrass artists, as well. He has done mandolin workshops with Ron Thomason, Dave McLaughlin, and Lou Martin at the Joe Val Memorial festival and other events for the Boston Bluegrass Union, and with Mike Holmes at the New England Festival. He’s an “original” MCN faculty member dating from 2005-2015. In addition, he and Mike Compton supervised and taught in the Monroe Style Mandolin Camp in Owensboro, KY, from 2008-2013. Richie also was a faculty member at Mike Compton’s Monroe Style Mandolin Camp in Nashville, TN in 2016. Bill Monroe’s style and “old style” mandolin players heavily influence his playing. Richie currently plays mandolin and sings in the Boston–based Reunion Band.
Grammy nominated acoustic guitarist Russ Barenberg is known for his melodic playing, beautiful tone and memorable instrumental compositions. Long at the creative forefront of the acoustic music scene, Russ has collaborated with many of its finest artists, including Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Alison Krauss, Tony Trischka, Mark O’Connor, Jesse Winchester, Maura O’Connell and legendary jazz bassist, Charlie Haden. His playing has graced numerous films, most notably Ken Burns’documentary, The Civil War. For many years Russ has been part of the house band as well as a featured performer on the acclaimed BBC music programs, The Transatlantic Sessions. His most recent album, When at Last, adds to an “exquisitely original” body of work with more vibrant new melodies and rich ensemble interplay. The CD earned Russ a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance and was nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association Instrumental Album of the Year.
Now in his fifth decade as a working musician, Don Stiernberg has been involved in performing, writing, recording, producing, and teaching, but is best known for his mandolin playing. Born in Chicago, the mandolin found Don as he grew up “out in the woods” of Wauconda, IL. A desire to make music with his banjo and guitar playing brother led Don to take up the mandolin. Things came into focus when Don went to study with Jethro Burns, famous comedian (Homer and Jethro) and greatest mandolinist of his time. Don’s earliest professional experience was in a bluegrass band with his brother (The Morgan Bros.) and a bit later in The Jethro Burns Quartet. Currently Don is regarded as leading exponent of jazz mandolin style, and respected teacher. Recent releases include “Good Numbers” and four online video instructional courses for Soundslice.com. Don also conveys his love of the mandolin and music at camps across the U.S. and across the pond.
Frank Solivan is a monster mandolinist who is making big waves nationally these days. After six years performing with the United States Navy’s elite Country Current, the former Alaskan formed Dirty Kitchen, a tight-knit group of some of the best players on the scene today. His original music has climbed to the tops of radio charts, and his band is featured at major music festivals across the country. A gourmet cook and one of the top bluegrass musicians in the world? All in a day’s work for Frank.
Mike Compton has been called “a certified mandolin icon” by Mandolin magazine and “a new bluegrass instrumental hero” by the New York Times. This Grammy-winning instrumentalist, perhaps best known as the featured mandolin player for the film O Brother, Where Art Thou, is one of the modern masters of bluegrass mandolin. Sam Bush says “nobody plays Monroe better than Compton.” Mike Compton is one of the most recognizable and respected mandolin voices in the world today and as passionate an advocate for the mandolin as you’re ever likely to find.
Widely acclaimed as one of New England’s premiere instrumentalists, David Surette is highly regarded for his work on the guitar, mandolin, and cittern. His diverse repertoire includes Celtic and New England tunes, original compositions, blues and ragtime, traditional American roots music, and folk music from a variety of traditions. Surette is a gifted teacher, having taught at workshops and camps throughout the US, and in the UK. He is folk music coordinator at the Concord (NH) Community Music School, and artistic director of their March Mandolin Festival. His latest CD, Waiting For The Sun, a duo recording with Susie Burke, has been gathering widespread praise.