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Thread: Augusta heritage swing week

  1. #1
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    It's a month since Augusta, but I have to relate a bit of what I experienced there July 13-18. I stayed in a dorm room for a week and found that challenging as well as the steep hills of the Davis&Elkins College campus. But it was an incredibly valuable week. Mandolin instruction every morning for a few hours w/ Roger Bellow, a fine mandolin player and multi-instrumentalist. We worked on about a dozen tunes, and each one taught some little chord progression, fingering, or other detail that, when taken together, made me a better player. There were 4 in our class, and Roger spent plenty of time giving individual help. We did some interesting tunes like That's A Plenty, Mood Indigo, and a bunch more. We also formed bands and I was lucky enough to be in a sort of Django band, consisting of mando, 2 archtops, fiddle, and trombone (honest!), and Roger on bass. We worked all week on one tune (Golden Earrings) and presented it on Friday at a student concert. Professional sound, etc. Every day there was a workshop, mini-concert, guest artist (e.g., Johnny Gimble) or presentation of some sort after lunch. Every evening there was a dance w/ live musicians (the staff). And jamming w/ the instructors after band practice and in the evenings. Awesome program. Expensive but worth every cent. Highly highly recommended to anyone on any instrument (including uke). The program director is Wendi Bourne; she can be contacted through the Augusta Heritage Center website. SWING WEEK!!!
    ~~Joe Hannabach

  2. #2

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    I am close to Elkins, Are there classes for beginners? i'd like to go for blues week!
    "Hey man, can you play B.B. King?"

    "Yeah man, put some strings on him, tune him up, and give me a fiddle bow and I'll play the hell outta him" - Howard Armstrong

  3. #3
    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    The blues mandolin instructors are Andra Faye and Rich Delgrosso. They cover all levels in their classes, although it would be a good idea to have familiarity with basic chords at least.

    Looks like swing and blues will be different weeks next year - too bad, I'll miss the swing musicians.

    D.H.

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    Hi JFly,
    Yes, you'd have plenty of instruction even at a basic level.
    My big regret is that I didn't get recordings of the morning mando classes. Roger Bellow took great pains to make sure everyone in the class was learning. I knew after the first day that I'd be taking back home a lot of new moves and new tunes. Take a recorder w/ you if you go.
    Dave, thanks for cluing us in on Blues Week and Swing Week being separate next year. Wonder why? Didn't seem to clash.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Augusta heritage swing week

    I'm glad you had a good time with my buddy Roger Bellow. When Swing week first started 20 years ago it was paired with Bluegrass week, which worked pretty well since it allowed bluegrass mando, guitar, fiddle and bass players that wanted to take swing classes but still get the opportunity to hang in the bluegrass jam scene to do both. As the 90s swing dance revival pushed swing week more toward dance and horn oriented music, the blues week connection made some sense. However, now there is more interest in string swing and swing week is returning back to it's original place.

    All the great stuff that gonzograss described will still be there and the spontaneous hillbilly jazz jam sessions should be awesome.

    --seth

    PS: Hi Dave Hicks, how are you?

  6. #6
    Registered User Dan Johnson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Augusta heritage swing week

    Sounds awesome! I went to Ashokan with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, The Red Stick Ramblers, Swingology, and others... Not a lot of mandolin playing... but what a great way to get in...

    I think what I really enjoyed was what you wrote about: the arranging and the band dynamic...

  7. #7
    Registered User Dave Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Augusta heritage swing week

    Quote Originally Posted by Seth Rosen View Post
    I'm glad you had a good time with my buddy Roger Bellow. When Swing week first started 20 years ago it was paired with Bluegrass week, which worked pretty well since it allowed bluegrass mando, guitar, fiddle and bass players that wanted to take swing classes but still get the opportunity to hang in the bluegrass jam scene to do both. As the 90s swing dance revival pushed swing week more toward dance and horn oriented music, the blues week connection made some sense. However, now there is more interest in string swing and swing week is returning back to it's original place.

    All the great stuff that gonzograss described will still be there and the spontaneous hillbilly jazz jam sessions should be awesome.

    --seth

    PS: Hi Dave Hicks, how are you?
    Hi there, Seth - good to hear from you! I've missed you at Blues/Swing week the past few years.

    I guess I'm about so-so, to quote Skip James. I've picked up the mando some, even doing a few small gigs with it. I did Rich Delgrosso's mando class at Augusta the past couple of years. On the other hand, at Augusta this year I stumbled, jammed my finger on my case, and popped a tendon. The doctors say the tendon will eventually heal, but I've been in a splint since July 16, and probably have another month or more to go. Now I'm really looking forward to playing mando again.

    D.H.

  8. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Augusta heritage swing week

    I was at Augusta probably 4 or five times way back in the 1980s. One week (heaven) with Jethro Burns -- the only time he ever taught there. Then i took a 3 week guitar-building class with Wayne Henderson and was there for evening concerts and jams during a number of weeks including Blues Week and Bluegrass Week. And I was there another time and just took a crafts class but hung out and played some as well.

    It is a great place, esp to dig in deep and learn since one class can run all day.
    Jim

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