Ben Winship is a self-made musician who has carved out a niche for himself under the radar of commercial music. His routine is a constantly shifting mix of performing, recording, engineering and teaching. Mandolin is Ben’s primary axe, but he is also a superb songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. Ben can most often be found on stage with Brother Mule (the acoustic power trio with Brian Wicklund and Eric Thorin) and the Growling Old Men (duo with John Lowell). Over the past 25 years, gigs have taken him everywhere from Hawaii to Shetland, Anchorage to the Equator, with appearances along the way at places like the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Strawberry Music Festival, A Prairie Home Companion and the Vancouver Folk Festival.
Brian Wicklund has been an integral part of the acoustic music scene for decades. As a teenager, he won dozens of fiddle contests and had toured internationally with bands Stoney Lonesome, Judith Edelman Band, Kathy Kallick Band, Chris Stuart Band, and with Brother Mule. He is a busy studio musician and producer with dozens of projects to his credit. He keeps a very busy schedule with his super group The Barley Jacks www.barleyjacks.com.
Brian wrote the best-selling, American Fiddle Method published by Mel Bay and is in constant demand as a teacher worldwide. He hosts his popular American Fiddle Camps in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts.
California-born Brittany Haas is widely regarded as one of the most influential fiddlers of her generation. A prodigious youth, she began touring with Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings at the age of 14. She simultaneously studied baboons in the evolutionary biology department of Princeton University and joined seminal chamber-grass band Crooked Still. She played fiddle on Steve Martin’s Grammy Award-winning CD, “The Crow,” and performed in his band on Letterman and SNL. Brittany released her debut self-titled solo album at 17, produced by Darol Anger and featuring Bruce Molsky, Mike Marshall, Alison Brown and others. Currently residing in Nashville, she is the co-leader of the Brittany Haas/Dan Trueman Band who released their debut record “CrissCross” in 2011.
Grammy-nominated fiddler Casey Driessen and his 5-string sidekick have spent more than the last decade in studios, on stage, and crammed into various forms of transportation, crisscrossing the North American continent and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans – not only as a collaborator with artists such as Bela Fleck, Bassekou Kouyate, The Sparrow Quartet, Tim O’Brien, Darrell Scott, Steve Earle, and Frank Vignola, but also as a solo artist with his drums/bass/fiddle power trio, The Colorfools – fighting evil music, toppling language barriers, and sharing his view of the world through a camera lens.
Violinist, fiddler, composer, producer and educator, Darol Anger has helped drive the evolution of the contemporary string band through his involvement with several path-breaking ensembles. With the jazz-oriented Turtle Island String Quartet, Anger developed and popularized new techniques for playing contemporary music styles on stringed instruments. The virtuosic “Chambergrass” groups, Darol Anger’s Republic Of Strings, Psychograss and the long-lived Anger-Marshall Duo, feature his compositions and arrangements. Additionally, his Grammy-nominated folk-jazz group Montreux was the original musical model for the New Adult Contemporary radio format. The renown David Grisman Quintet forged a new genre of acoustic string band music with Darol’s “fertile inventiveness, surprising touches and technical mastery” (Boston Herald) often in the forefront.
Acoustic guitarist Flynn Cohen has performed all over the world with notable musicians in traditional and contemporary acoustic music. In addition to performing with Annalivia, he can be seen on concert and festival stages with legendary Irish Accordion player John Whelan, modern bluegrass band Tony Watt & Southeast Expressway and his own group of acoustic string wizards, The Deadstring Ensemble.
RoyEl is an inventor, scientist, musician, composer, and two-time Grammy Award-winning performer with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones known as “Future Man”. At the heart of their music is RoyEl’s groundbreaking percussive technique performed on his first invention, the Drumitar. His desire to play with the greatest possible emotional sensitivity has led to his new creation, The RoyEl, a piano-shaped instrument on which he is composing music for the new century. This music employs the power and science of Mother Nature to attain the natural ratios of the Golden Means (Phi), with a keyboard that is styled after the Periodic Table.
Greensky Bluegrass is one of the most exciting bands in today’s acoustic music scene. Like a breath of fresh air, this five-piece band uses traditional bluegrass instruments to create original songs and unique soundscapes. As winners of the 2006 Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition, these Kalamazoo natives have toured consistently over the past decade, playing many of the nation’s finest clubs, music halls and festivals.
The Infamous Stringdusters are at the forefront of a new movement in bluegrass music. Their unmatched virtuosity has enabled them to take acoustic music to a completely new level. They wield an expansive repertoire – touching on masters from Jimmy Martin to John Hartford – but their true strength lies in their original compositions. The Infamous Stringdusters also throw their own party at a festival called the Festy Experience.
Jim Van Cleve is a premier fiddle player, songwriter, Grammy-winning session musician, Grammy-nominated solo artist, and producer. He is a founding member of the cutting-edge acoustic band Mountain Heart and has played a major role in the success and popularity of the band, as well as providing the driving force in their creation of complex musical arrangements. Additionally, Jim has become highly regarded and much sought after both as a session musician and as a record producer in the worlds of Country and Americana music.
As a teen, Katie studied Scottish fiddle with Hanneke Cassel, winning several U.S. National Junior titles, and in 2009, the New England Scottish Fiddle Championship. She first appeared at the legendary folk venue, Club Passim at age 13, where in 2011 she debuted her first album, “Flourish,” to a sold-out audience. Katie has been a member of the cross-genre fiddle supergroup Childsplay since 2009 and will be appearing on their upcoming CD and concert video release, “As the Crow Flies,” produced by legendary Irish fiddler, Liz Carroll. She performs regularly as a soloist, as part of a duo with guitarist Eric McDonald, and is a member of the all-woman trad group, Long Time Courting.
Matt Combs is a versatile performer, instrumentalist, writer, producer, and teacher who has been living and working in Nashville, Tennessee, since 1997. Primarily known for his fiddling, Matt has worked with some of the biggest names in country, bluegrass, and old-time music. He has also performed with The Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, The Nashville Bluegrass Band, The Nashville Chamber Orchestra and the Nashville Opera. In addition, he has played on the Grand Ole Opry stage over 200 times, has appeared on Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network, documentaries on PBS, on CMT and GAC, and most recently on The Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV.
Mandolin Magazine calls him a player with “a worldwide reputation as one of the modern masters of bluegrass mandolin…one of the most recognizable and respected mandolin voices anywhere.” He’s Mike Compton–Grammy and IBMA award-winning recording artist; solo, duo and band performer; and as passionate a teacher and advocate for the mandolin as you’re ever likely to find. The New York Times calls Compton, “a new bluegrass instrumental hero.”
Ron Stewart is well on the road to becoming a legend in contemporary bluegrass music. He is already one of the most sought after multi-instrumental session players in the genre’s history, and is in high demand as an engineer and producer. Stewart grew up in rural southern Indiana, an hour and a half from the famous Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom bluegrass festival, surrounded by a family that played bluegrass and old-time country music and a community rich with musicians. In his thirty-three years of playing banjo, fiddle, guitar, bass, and mandolin, Ron has gone from fronting his family band to working with a who’s who of bluegrass, including Lynn Morris, Curly Seckler, a guest appearance at age nine on a live album with Lester Flatt, and most recently a six-year stint as fiddler for JD Crowe and The New South followed by a stint as member of the Dan Tyminski Band. Ron is a member of super-group The Boxcars.
Shad Cobb’s intricate and soulful style of playing has been compiled over the years from many of his early influences. The playing of such legendary fiddlers as Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Art Stamper, Mark O’Connor, Kenny Baker and Byron Berline helped develop his playing throughout the earliest part of his musical career. Shad’s present day virtuosity puts him at the forefront of top fiddlers in the country. Whether on one of his recordings or a live performance, the playing of Shad Cobb is quite an amazing thing to witness.
Heralded by CMT Edge as “one of the most promising bands on the bluegrass scene,” the music of the Nashville-based group The Barefoot Movement is as down to earth as their intention for members of their audience: sit back, relax, take your shoes off, and stay a while. With two full-length albums, several cross-country tours and appearances at some of the top bluegrass festivals in the U.S. already under their belt, the group has enjoyed almost non-stop touring – including a trip to Burkina Faso, Africa, where they were guests of the American Embassy. Debuting in September of 2014, their third release, “The High Road EP” showcases traditional material that has consistently been among the crowd favorites at their live performances.