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March Mandolin Festival 2014

By Mandolin Cafe
November 18, 2013 - 9:15 pm

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David Surette

David Surette

Concord, N.H. — The 12th Annual March Mandolin Festival will be held March 7-9, 2014, at the Concord Community Music School in Concord, New Hampshire.

This year, the festival features Joe Walsh, Marla Fibish, Eric McDonald, and David Surette, with special guest Susie Burke.

This two-day event offers group lessons and workshops on a variety of topics, jam sessions, and an evening concert. As in past years, the festival will present a March 7, Friday night concert featuring the same performers over on the seacoast; this year the show will be returning to the Stone Church in Newmarket, one of the Seacoast's premier venues for live roots music (this is a separate ticket from the Concord events).

To register for the festival: You may register online at, or you can send a check for $125 made out to:

Concord Community Music School
23 Wall St.
Concord, NH 03301

Please include your phone number and email address with any form of payment!

Lodging is available at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire, with a special festival rate. A limited number of rooms have been set aside, so if you are interested, please contact the hotel directly at (603) 225-0303.

For more information, contact (207) 384-8151, (603) 228-1196 (Music School) or email

Performer bios

Hailed by Nashville's Music Row Magazine for his "lickety-split mandolin work" and by Vintage Guitar Magazine as "brilliant," Portland, Maine-based Joe Walsh is emerging as one of the best mandolinists of his generation. Walsh is known for his exceptional tone and taste, and his collaborations with acoustic music luminaries including legendary fiddler Darol Anger, flatpick guitar hero Scott Nygaard, bluegrass super group the Gibson Brothers, and pop/grass darlings Joy Kills Sorrow have taken him all over the map, both musically and literally. He's played with everyone from John Scofield to Bela Fleck to Emmylou Harris, and performed everywhere from bluegrass festivals to laundromats to Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Walsh has two solo albums to his credit, and when not on the road he works at the Berklee College of Music, as a mandolin instructor, ensemble teacher, and as the associate director of the Berklee American Roots Festival.

A San Francisco native, Marla Fibish is a long-time feature of the Bay Area Irish music scene, and an unapologetic proponent of the mandolin in Irish music. She brings a musicality and excitement to the tradition that is not often heard on the mandolin. Her dynamic playing is featured both on her CD with Three Mile Stone, and on The Morning Star, a duo CD with Jimmy Crowley, an all instrumental project which features Irish music on an array of mandolin-family instruments - mandolin, mandola, mandocello, bouzouki, and dordan. In addition to the mandolin, Marla plays mandola, tenor guitar and button accordion. She sings and writes music, and is known for her musical settings of works from a variety of poets. Her current endeavor - Noctambule - a duo with guitarist Bruce Victor, features her compositions and their joint ones, both songs and tunes, rendered with their characteristic lush and unusual string and vocal arrangements. An experienced and sought-after teacher, Marla teaches private students, and has been a staff instructor at many music camps, including The Mandolin Symposium, The Swannanoa Gathering, California Coast Music Camp, O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat, Lark Camp and Portal Irish Music Week.

Eric McDonald is known throughout New England as a performer and instructor. After attending Berklee College of Music and training with some of the nation's best mandolinists, he began touring with high level folk acts such as The Dave Rowe Trio and Matching Orange. Know for his quick ear and tasteful approach, Eric is well versed in many styles. Because of this, he has been featured on many recordings by artists such as folk/pop sensation Pesky J. Nixon, Scottish fiddle phenom Katie McNally and Cape Breton stalwart Brendan Carey Block among others. In addition to maintaining a home studio, Eric serves as mandolin faculty at the Passim School of Music in Cambridge, MA and teaches at acoustic music camps during the summer. Currently, you can catch him touring with the Scottish power trad band Cantrip and indie folk trio The Knockbox Stringband. He is also an avid collector of ballads, which he performs solo and often with the accompaniment of friends.

David Surette is highly regarded throughout New England and beyond for his work on the mandolin, guitar (both flatpick and fingerstyle), and bouzouki; Sing Out Magazine wrote that "Surette's playing is always inventive, and sets a new standard for traditional instrumentalists." As part of a duo with his wife, singer Susie Burke, they have performed regularly together for 20 years, recording several albums and building a reputation as one of New England's top folk duos. Surette was a founding member of the Airdance band with fiddler Rodney Miller, with whom he recorded four albums and toured nationally. He has also released five critically-acclaimed solo CDs; his most recent solo release, Return to Kemper, is a collection of original and traditional guitar solos spanning the years 1990-2011. He is also an experienced teacher, and coordinates folk music programming and teaches regularly at the Concord Community Music School.

Festival schedule

Friday, March 7

March Mandolin Festival concert
featuring Joe Walsh, Marla Fibish, Eric McDonald, and David Surette, with special guest Susie Burke.
Stone Church Music Club, Zion's Hill, Newmarket, NH 7:00 p.m., (603) 659-7700 or (603) 659-6321 for more info
This is a separate ticket from Saturday and Sunday events at the Concord Community Music School.

Marla Fibish

Marla Fibish

Saturday, March 8

(all Saturday and Sunday events at the Concord Community Music School, Concord NH)

Workshop Room schedule
Community Room - participatory teaching workshops: intermediate level
Recital Hall - participatory sessions: intermediate level
Room 119 - Beginner's session
Studio B - participatory teaching workshops: advanced level

Max and Lauri from Girouard Mandolins will also have a table of instruments in the Community Room, and will be available to assist anyone with care/repair issues on Saturday.

10:00-11:15 class session
Community Room - key bluegrass concepts for soloing - Joe
Recital Hall - Celtic session - Marla
Room 119 - Beginner's class: the basics - David
Studio B (advanced) - Playing fast at slow tempos: developing speed - Eric

11:30-12:45 class session
Community Room - Playing jigs - Marla
Recital Hall - old-time/Americana session - David
Room 119 - Beginner's: right hand pick technique - Eric
Studio B (advanced) - melodic soloing: how to improvise on a melody without destroying it - Joe

12:45-1:45 lunch break
There are a number of quick and easy places to get lunch and/or dinner within walking or driving distance of the school, and parking in Concord NH is not a problem at all. We will assemble a short list of good options, and may try to provide an on-site sandwich purchase option. I am also planning to have coffee/tea and light snacks available for purchase at the school. There are basic kitchen facilities at the school, and you are welcome to bring a cold lunch or even something to heat up in the microwave.

2:00-2:30 Group tunes in the Community Room, led by David, open to all

Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh

This is a chance for as many as are interested to play through a selection of choice mandolin tunes in a large group setting. Led by David.

2:45-4:00 class session
Community Room - blues: repertoire and soloing - David
Recital Hall - fiddle tune session - Eric
Room 119 - Beginner's: moveable chords/Chop rhythm - Joe
Studio B (advanced) - accompanying a song or tune on mandolin and/or mandola - Marla

4:00-5:00 - open jamming/socializing
5:00-7:30 dinner break
See lunch break

7:30-9:30 March Mandolin Festival concert featuring Joe Walsh, Marla Fibish, Eric McDonald, and David Surette, with special guest Susie Burke. Admission included for Festival participants; general admission tickets for others available through the Music School or (603) 228-1196).

Sunday, March 9

10-11:15 class session
Community Room - Eliminating tension, increasing fluency - Eric
Recital Hall -swing/jazz session - Joe
Room 119 - Beginner's: using open chords - Marla
Studio B (advanced) - Rhythmic techniques for developing fiddle tunes - David

Roundtable 11:30-1:00 Focusing on Tone; what is good tone, and how do you produce it?

This is planned as a loose, casual way to consolidate everything that goes on Saturday; a chance to ask questions, fill in last-minute gaps, get a close-up demonstration of that tune from Saturday night's concert that mystified you, compare notes, socialize over coffee, pick a few more tunes,etc. This year, we are adding in a theme to the proceedings. In addition, we will get a second chance to play through the group tunes together.

Hotel info and directions are below. If anyone has any questions or concerns, please email or call. Bring mandos, other instruments for jams, tape/disc recorders, batteries, spare strings, notebooks and pencils, money to buy CDs, and anything else that will make for a fun time.

Lodging is available at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire, with a special festival rate for Saturday night, good for single or double occupancy. A limited number of rooms have been set aside, so if you are interested, please contact the hotel directly at (603) 225-0303.

The Concord Community Music School is located at 23 Wall St. in downtown Concord, New Hampshire, just a few blocks off of Main St. Their telephone number is (603) 228-1196.

Additional information


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