February 18, 2011

The First Word

Avery Ellisman here, the guy behind (or in front of) the first Julian Family Fiddle Camp.   Thought it wise to create a place where all who are interested can provide and/or share information about themselves as it relates to our upcoming  experience at camp. As the camp producer, I’m naturally interested to learn more about those who are coming, and am hoping you will take the opportunity to let others know a bit about yourselves as well (e.g., where you’ll be travelling from, what you play, how many years on the instrument, type of music you like and what you hope to get from the camp experience).   Blogs are a mixed bag, and while I don’t expect to be “heavy handed”, please know I plan on keeping a close eye on entries, and will try to make sure all posts are relevant, informative and encourage the playing of music together.

To start this out, I’ll note that I’m 59, a rather advanced fiddler and mandolin player, and a father of 3 kids, Shira – 10, Ada – 8, and Ezra – 5.  All of my kids play the fiddle to some degree or another (yes, they’ll be at the camp), and their and my experiences at other fiddle camps over the years has been the impetus for creating the Julian Family Fiddle Camp.   I’ll likely expand on this as time unfolds, but, as is said – “enough about me…”.

 Okay, with that aside, I’m truly pleased to note that, as of today, there are nearly 50 signed up to attend the camp, and believe me, this is doggone phenomenal given that its year one of what I fully expect to be an annual event.  You all know who you are, so if you’re courageous enough to post a note and let others know a bit about yourselves, then by all means, GO FOR IT!

BTW:  To add a comment, double click on  “comments” above and, after filling in the required information, type what you want to say then click on “submit comment”.

Look forward to learning more about you, and of course, meeting you all this April.



1. Avery | February 20, 2011 at 12:00 PM EST

While April in Julian is usually great, today its snowing up there – a promise for an even better Spring.


2. Carol Arndt | February 20, 2011 at 03:21 PM EST

Hi all! my husband and I will be attending this Fiddle Camp and cannot wait!

I’m new on the fiddle, but loving it and am really looking forward to learning more. I’m looking forward to learning the dances too! It will be a great time to meet new fiddle and mandolin players and share in all the fun!

3. Nancy | February 20, 2011 at 03:51 PM EST

A Big Thank You to Avery- what an enormous job putting this together. I went to the Montana Fiddle Camp after getting great encouragement from Avery. I am an advanced beginner- with the emphasis on the beginner end. I have been playing for less than 3 years. I took up the fiddle after losing my husband. The music has been a great healer. I am new to learning to play by ear- but love the tips that help. Looking forward to a camp that is close to home but with so many talented musicians. So Excited !!

4. Steve Mayer | February 21, 2011 at 12:44 AM EST

My name is Steve Mayer, and I’ll be attending the camp with my 12 year old son, Boone. We live in Encinitas, CA, a coastal town just north of San Diego. Boone has been playing the fiddle for a couple of years, and he also plays with a classical strings group run by our county school district (so far prefers fiddle tunes to the classical music). Lately, he has been learning Irish and Scottish fiddle tunes from an Irish compilation book and various downloaded sheet music. I have been playing mandolin for about 10 years, guitar and piano for many more. I enjoy playing with my son, and working on a wide variety of music, including Irish, Bluegrass, classical and my own \”stuff\”. From camp, I hope to get some insights into my problem areas (especially picking, which I started later in life), discover new music, play with others & learn mandolin-specific approaches to improvisation.

5. Calvin Vollrath | February 21, 2011 at 07:14 PM EST

Let me say that I’m looking forward to coming down your way, all the way from the cold north of Alberta Canada to instruct at the fiddle camp.

Feel free to check out my website to see who I am and what I do.

Thanks to Avery for organizing the camp. See you there.

6. Sue Gilbreth | February 23, 2011 at 12:34 AM EST

Hello all,

My husband, Bill, and I will be attending the camp with our 10-year-old son, Conway, who is a beginning mandolin player. I play fiddle with a few oldtime jam groups in the Santa Barbara/Los Angeles area (have played fiddle for about 4 years, but was a classical viola player many years ago, but didn’t play at all for a very long stretch). I am hoping Conway will meet others around his age and enjoy playing tunes and learning with them, and I am looking forward to learning new tunes and meeting others who like playing the music as much as I do!

7. Maril Parker | February 23, 2011 at 12:43 PM EST

Hi everyone,

My name is Maril (like Meryl), and I will be attending with my sister-in-law, Marie. I’m really looking forward to this event and we, the Parker Girls are both fiddlers. We are both beginners and I have been taking lessons for a year now. I am a local Julian folk and I started playing the day after my 45th birthday. My hopes are to learn everything I possibly can about fiddling, from history to techinque to great tunes and their variations. I love old timey and classic fiddle tunes, as well as blue grass. I’m open to just about anything! Thank you Avery for putting this together!!!

8. Julie | February 23, 2011 at 10:15 PM EST

Hi Everyone! We’re attending with three of our children, all fiddlers. We’re members of the California State Old Time Fiddler’s Association and frequently hang out with them at Sunday jams. We also occasionally get to a blue grass jam or hang out with our good friends, Carol McCollum and Roger Hale. The kids have participated in some fiddle contests, the one in Tehachapi has been an annual event for us and we’ve made good friends there. Looking forward to it, thank you Avery for putting this together!

9. Shira Ellisman | February 24, 2011 at 09:35 PM EST

I am sooooooooo excited to be in Calvins’ class!!!!!!!!

10. Katie Harvey | February 25, 2011 at 01:59 AM EST

Thanks Avery for inviting me to be an instructor at the first annual Julian Family Fiddle Camp. I am really looking forward to being at Julian, meeting all the students and teaching them some of my favorite tunes. It will be a great honor to teach alongside Calvin and the other instructors. The campers are going to hear some awesome music, and learn some great tunes. Camp is going to be a blast!

11. Boone Mayer | February 27, 2011 at 06:25 PM EST

I am the son of Steve, (see #4, but ignore anything that suggests that I in any way dislike classical music, especially if you are a classical musician)who is a incredible pianist, (I think he’s been playing for 40 yrs.)a fantastic guitarist, and a great mando player.

I am a fiddler, or violinist, if you prefer, and I’ve been playing for 3? or 4 yrs. I want to get better at improv., which I can only do on a pentatonic scale, rythm, which I’m not so good at, and posture with my manos, like just moving my wrist and not my entire arm. I look forward to meeting new peeps, getting better at the fiddle, and the activities and such.

Sorry for this tremendously long blather, which is probably causing you to spend an extra second in a half as you try to scroll down to a more exciting blogs or links down below,


12. Mary Jane Cupp | March 04, 2011 at 05:09 PM EST

I have been taking mandolin lessons for a little over a year and a half. I am semi-retired and am glad that I have some free time to practice playing. I love Bluegrass, and have enjoyed going to the San Diego Bluegrass Society’s Slow Jams. I also enjoy going to the House of Ireland in Balboa Park and playing Irish music. I’m really looking forward to improving so I do better at the jams.

13. Lynn Stokes | March 10, 2011 at 11:36 AM EST

Hi there everyone. I have been playing the fiddle for about a year and half now. I really enjoy it. I am retired and have been attending Celtic and Old Time sessions in the Los Angeles area. I am looking forward to learning more tunes, and doing a lot of playing as I really like playing with other people.

14. Michelle McQuillen | March 13, 2011 at 05:21 PM EDT

Katie Harvey is an AMAZING TEACHER! My daughter Kaitlyn (14) began fiddle lessons with Kaitie about 6 months go. Katie is FUN! She is full of smiles and big on positive re-enforcement. All in her class will be sooo glad they came to camp! We’re Looking forward to new friends and good music…Michelle and Kaitlyn

15. Scott Gates | March 14, 2011 at 08:31 AM EDT

Greetings, comrades!

I’ll be teaching ‘beginnermediate’ mandolin, going over basics, with the focus being on developing each student into better musicians all-around. It will be a lot of fun and a privilege to play and work alongside everyone involved. I have a feeling we’ll all become like THIS:

*crosses fingers*

See you there!


16. Evan Marshall | March 16, 2011 at 03:39 PM EDT

Hey, y’all… I will be teaching mandolin along with Scott G… Topics?

– – Good picking motion…

– – Making the most of practice time…

– – Increasing facility, or having left & right hand stay

coordinated at faster & faster tempos 🙂

– – Working on improv & jamming on a chord progression…

– – and more!

See you soon… Evan

17. Martha Wild | April 02, 2011 at 04:39 PM EDT

Hi, All! I’m looking forward to meeting friends and new people at the camp, and getting people dancing to the great music that is going to be all around us there. I’ll be looking to do dances that are fun for all that get up to join in, so be ready to seize the day and get your toes tapping if you aren’t already doing that in the band.

In addition, I’m going to bring some dulcimers to give one or two dulcimer workshops during the days. Dulcimer is an easily learned instrument – it can be played at a beginning level and sound lovely, or at an advanced level and sound even better. It’s the instrument for those who have always thought they couldn’t play an instrument. I’ll be teaching a couple of really easy tunes that will probably be played in the evening at the dances, and you could learn them and possibly even play along!

I have 6 dulcimers – one for me and five additional for others to work on. If you or your friends have an extra dulcimer that you would be willing to bring to the camp to let additional people have a chance to learn, that would be awesome! I’ll bring some extra strings in case the old ones haven’t been replaced recently – just tell me early in the camp so I have time to string them up if they aren’t in shape.

See you there!


18. Dennis | April 13, 2011 at 06:47 PM EDT

Hi All, I am an older (71 years old) beginning fiddler player and have been playing for about two years now. I am self taught, via children’s beginner books like Brian Wicklund, and Carol Ann Wheeleer, the internet and a LOT! of determination. During the past five months I have had the benefit of a violin teacher to help me. I am looking forward to this event as it is the first I have ever attended of this kind. I will be driving down from Carpinteria California and camping out in my VW Westfalia camper.

19. Tex Ash | July 18, 2011 at 06:41 PM EDT

I wish that I could have made it to Julian from Red Bluff this year but it was not to be.

What might the dates for 2012 be?

Also, is there any RV/trailer camping available?

I enjoy jamming with the Dist 7 fiddlers.

It will be hard to beat Calvin and Evan for instructors.

Great video, thanks

Tex Ash

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