Some of the brightest stars in the American roots music scene.
Luke Price is a multi-instrumentalist known for his balance of taste, rhythm, and technical ability. At the age of 7, Luke began competing in fiddle contests, winning the National Title at ages 12 and 17. Since then, he’s won numerous awards, including Fiddlers Frolics and the Grand Masters. In 2014, he became the National Old-Time Fiddling Grand Champion, duplicating this fete in 2015 and again in 2017!. After completing his B.A. in Professional Music at Berklee College of Music, Luke moved to Portland, OR where he records and performs with his band, Dean, and collaborates with a host of other musicians. In addition to being an Instructor of Fiddle and Jazz Violin at Portland’s Lewis and Clark College, Luke gives private lessons from his home studio, and via Skype.
Luke instructed at JFFC 2015, 2017 and 2018 and left such a lasting impression that we brought him on in 2019 as our Program Coordinator, and he returns in 2020 to continue influencing the development and atmosphere of the camp, and help assure that things run smoothly.
Camp Founder, Producer & Director
Avery Ellisman is the Producer and Director of the Julian Family Fiddle Camp. He was born and raised in Ventura, CA and at 12 was the concert master of a youth orchestra. At thirteen he taught himself guitar and, like many of his generation, got lost in the rock ‘n roll. Avery came to earn a degree in philosophy from UC Santa Barbara, and a graduate degree in Social Work from San Diego State.
His “day-jobs” included the founding of a counseling center in Escondido, CA, managing R&D projects for General Motors in Israel, directing the North American resource development activities for a foreign university, with his avocation of music leading him to play, perform and record with bands locally and abroad. Avery knows first-hand how the ability to play an instrument enables one to gain entré to many different cultures and societies, and develop lasting friendships with people of all stations and walks of life. His passion for music and recognition of its unique and important role in his life and that of many others spirited him to produce the Julian Family Fiddle Camp.
Carolyn has been fiddling her way across the United States one tune at a time. Carolyn grew up in Northern California in a family of Texan musicians, who knew from the start she’d be a musical trouble maker. From her early days of Suzuki violin, to marching band, and then to bluegrass and Billie Holiday, Carolyn makes herself musically at home wherever there’s a groove, especially in the world of New Acoustic Music.
Now a graduate of Berklee College of Music, and an active part of Berklee’s American Roots program, she is a recipient of the Fletcher Bright Scholarship Award, a 2015 Freshgrass Fiddle Competition finalist, and two-time participant in the Acoustic Music Seminar at the Savannah Music Festival. Most recently, her project The Page Turners has been given the 2016 Freshgrass Best Duo Award. She has performed widely at festivals across the United States such as Grey Fox, the Three Sisters Festival, Berkeley Bluegrass Festival and Newport Folk Festival, as well as endeavors abroad with the Nairobi Symphony. Carolyn has performed with many beloved artists, such as Bruce Molsky, Aoife O’Donovan, Joe Walsh, and Darol Anger. When not touring with The Page Turners, she teaches privately and at fiddle camps across the United States.
Jennifer Albrent began playing the violin at age 5 and a few years later, began competing in fiddle competitions throughout Southern California. As her love for string instruments began to expand, she took up playing the viola at age 12 and has continued to play both instruments since. Jennifer received her BFA in performance from Boston University. Two years later, she received her MBA in performance from the California Institute of Arts.
Jennifer has toured and performed throughout the United States and Europe with a wide variety of musicians. She has been on the road playing Bluegrass, Classical, Pop, Jazz, Rock, and North Indian music, residing now in Cardiff, CA, and in addition to providing private violin and viola lessons in her home studio, leads the viola section of N. Coast Strings in Carlsbad, CA. Jennifer co-led the beginner to intermediate section of JFFC 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019, and we’re lucky to have her back again for 2020.
Appalachian Old-time Fiddle
Rhys Jones has been playing traditional Appalachian, French-Canadian and Irish fiddle music for 30 years. Born in Chicago, he began his fiddling at age 7 in the fertile environment of the Chicago Barn Dance Company. Soon after, his family moved to southern West Virginia where he learned from the older generation of fiddlers, including Ernie Carpenter, Melvin Wine, Glen Smith and Wilson Douglas. Rhys continued his musical education while living in Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, and has now played for concerts, dances, workshops and festivals across the United States and Europe. He has won both fiddle and band contests at The Appalachian String Band Festival (Clifftop), and is regarded as “one of the bright lights of the current generation of traditional performers.”
Rhys has three albums with the Vigortone label, appears on numerous compilations and recordings, and can be seen in the award-winning concert documentary Absolutely Irish. Rhys is also known as an accomplished banjo and guitar player, and is always in demand as an accompanist to both Irish and American musicians. JFFC 2020 will be Rhys’ first year with us!
Tonya Rast Hopkins grew up in Idaho and started fiddling at the age of 8 under the instruction of Denzil Marker. Mr. Marker was a very generous man who wanted to keep the old-time fiddling tradition alive by introducing young people to the instrument and the sub-culture of contest fiddling. He took Tonya to her first Idaho State Contest in Lewiston, Idaho, and she was hooked! She spent her teenage years obsessed with many Texas fiddle players, and spent countless hours trying to learn their renditions of great tunes.
Tonya has won many fiddle competitions, including being the first woman to win the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association State Contest. She taught private fiddle lessons for many years, and now teaches English in the public school system in Texas. Tonya is one of the finest examples of tasteful, innovative Texas-style fiddling, and will help intermediate to advanced fiddle students learn new repertoire and renditions of Texas-style standards, as well as learn some fun esoteric tunes. 2020 is Tonya’s first year instructing at the Julian Family Fiddle Camp, and we’re proud to have her on board.
Colorado native Dominick Leslie has been around live music all his life, having attended his first bluegrass festival when he was just five months old. Growing up he was surrounded by music, listening to and jamming with his dad’s bluegrass band, and thanks to his Dad’s influence, he has been playing instruments since he was old enough to hold one. At the age of four, Dominick acquired a ukulele tuned like the bottom four strings of a guitar, igniting a deep passion for music that still burns brightly. Dominick’s abilities progressed rapidly on guitar, fiddle and mandolin, but eventually the mandolin became his obsession and demanded his total focus.
Over the years, he’s had the unique opportunity to study with mandolin virtuosos David Grisman, Mike Marshall, Chris Thile, Don Stiernberg, Andy Statman, Mike Compton, and Hamilton de Holanda at the Mandolin Symposium. Since then, his bluegrass roots have evolved into interests in Jazz, Classical and other World music. These musical directions led him to enroll in the Berklee College of Music in 2008.
Dominick has been involved with many projects, including The Deadly Gentlemen, The Grant Gordy Quartet, The Brotet, Missy Raines and the New Hip, The Bee Eaters, Noam Pikelny & Friends and several other spontaneous acoustic groups. Currently he can be seen performing with Hawktail, Sam Reiderand the Human Hands, and Phoebe Hunt and the Gatherers. 2020 marks the first year for JFFC instruction and performance by Dominick, and we’re extremely glad to have him aboard.
Monroe Style Mandolin, Bluegrass Jamming Etiquette
Nina Weisman is a fixture in the Central and Northern California bluegrass scene. She’s mentored many young mandolin players over the years, and is a natural-born teacher. She’s won several regional picking contests, and boasts a long list of performance credits with many California-based bluegrass bands. When not picking on her mandolin, you can find Nina sporting a ranger’s hat and leading a group or two around one of our beautiful National Parks. Nina was a great addition to the 2013, 2017 2018, & 2019 Camps, and is remarkably patient with—and encouraging of—all students of the mandolin. JFFC is proud to have her back again in 2020 showcasing her skills as the Bluegrass Style Mandolin instructor.
Appalachian Style Old-time Banjo
John Herrmann learned the Round Peak style of clawhammer banjo from its original masters, i.e., Fred Cockerham, Kyle Creed and Tommy Jarrell. His other early influences were David Winston, Al Tharpe, Blanton Owen, and Steve Slottow. In the mid ‘70s, John was part of the Upstate New York old-time music revival and is responsible for inspiring and popularizing many wide-spread rhythmic innovations. John’s specialty is playing with the fiddle – which he’s done all over the world.
He has performed and recorded with most prominent contemporary old-time fiddle players, including Dirk Powell, Tom Sauber, Rayna Gellert, Rhys Jones, Rafe Stefanini,and Tim O’Brien, and toured widely with traditional fiddlers Ralph Blizard and Art Stamper. John loves to introduce people to tunes they don’t as yet know, and has honed his a broad repertoire of effective teaching techniques by instructing and performing at most major festivals and music camps across the US. 2020 will be John’s third year at JFFC, and we’re proud to have him as part of our stellar group of instructors.
Born in 1974, Adam Larrabee grew up in Woodbury, Connecticut, and in a town called Windsor, near Hartford. Between his folk-guitarist father’s jam sessions and his electric-bassist stepfather’s rock band, he grew up surrounded by music-making. Although early piano and violin lessons left little impression on him, it seemed natural for Adam to take up guitar and bass around age 13.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in Jazz Guitar Performance from Oberlin in 1996, and then a master’s in Composition from Virginia Commonwealth University, Adam moved to Boston to take a job on the faculty at the New England Conservatory. While there he found himself drawn to Boston’s bluegrass community and took up banjo, picking with thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers like a guitar player.
He is now a seasoned banjoist, jazz guitarist, and composer who has appeared as a sideman on Bruce Hornsby’s recording “Spirit Trail” and who taught at New England Conservatory while performing in the Boston area for nearly 10 years, alongside many other musical accomplishments. JFFC is excited to welcome him to his first year teaching at our camp in 2020!
Resophonic (Dobro) Guitar
As the son of founding Seldom Scene member John Starling, Jay Starling had music in his bones from the start. From classical piano (he began at age seven) to delta blues and electric guitar, he was fascinated. By high school, he was reaching further, experimenting with drums, keyboards and electric bass. Nurturing a love for funk and fusion. After earning a degree in Psychology from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, Jay took off north to study drums at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.
A few years later, Starling returned home, B.A. of Professional Music in hand. He began playing electric guitar with regional band Mclaws Drive and keyboards with rock steady band The Transmitters. ” I really feel those bands helped me learn how to play with other musicians,” he says. “They were also ridiculously fun!”
One day after giving a guitar lesson at a local music shop, Starling was told he had a dobro student in 30 minutes. “Well, thats great,” he said, “but I don’t play the dobro!” To this, the manager replied, “You can figure something out.” After stumbling over a few licks, he fell in love with the instrument and the genre he had previously avoided. Five months later, he was playing the national bluegrass circuit with singer/songwriter Adrienne Young. Four months after that, Starling was invited to play dobro with tie-dye circuit staple, Keller Williams.
Intermediate-Advanced Bluegrass Guitar
Born into a bluegrass family in Maryland, Jordan Tice started early, playing bluegrass and fiddle tunes with some of the best players in the fertile mid-atlantic bluegrass scene. Today, Jordan is singular voice on the American roots music scene. Over the last ten years, he has developed a reputation as a unique and versatile guitarist and prolific composer of some of the most thoughtful and well-crafted tunes of his generation. Jordan has a voice and sonic aesthetic that is all his own with which he filters the sounds and conventions of American Music into something unique. On his latest release, “Horse County,” he also demonstrates a unique voice as a songwriter and singer in addition to his known guitar and tune-crafting skills.
We’re happy to welcome Jordan back for his second year teaching at JFFC in 2020!
Jesse Harper, founding member and lead singer of Acoustic Disc Recording Artists Old School Freight Train. He has toured and performed with many of his musical heroes including David Grisman, Madeleine Peyroux, Josh Ritter, Ricky Skaggs, Jason Mraz, kd lang, Bruce Hornsby, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Phil Wiggins, Michael McDonald, Sara Bareilles, Colbie Callait, Christina Perri, Josh Groban and many others. Jesse has released 2 records of his original songs: JH and His Best Intentions and One True Thing.
Jesse studied classical guitar at Virginia Commonwealth University and the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Jesse currently and plays in Charlottesville’s 80’s bluegrass super-group “Love Canon”. Their most recent release “Cover Story” debuted at no. 1 on billboard’s bluegrass charts. Jesse is currently a professor at Washington and Lee University and resides in Charlottesville Va.
JFFC is excited to have him on board for his first year teaching with us in Julian!
Intermediate-advanced Folk Cello
As a cellist Daniel Plane is regarded as a pioneer and skillful improviser. Classically trained at Interlochen Arts Academy and The Longy School of Music, he also attended the Berklee School of music where exposure to Bluegrass, Klezmer, and Jazz fanned his passion for roots music. Since graduating from Longy his principal focus has been the study and performance of folk and fiddle music traditions across various stringed instruments and styles.
His abilities as a multi-instrumentalist have helped him develop new approaches and concepts on the cello similar to colleagues such as Haas, Block, Clarridge, and Eggleston. He performs his own arrangements of American folk music and blues as well as with his wife Tatiana in their folk duo Viatsa. Daniel is a former member of Taarka, and has performed and recorded with artists such as Elephant Revival, The Sun Parade, Maeve Gilchrist, Darol Anger, Bill Nershi, and Jeff Austin.
We’re extremely excited to have Daniel on board as an instructor for the 2020 JFFC.
Cameron Ralston is one of central Virginia’s most in-demand bass players, and is one of the founders of Spacebomb Records. Cameron’s first experiences playing bass were on a guitar with the top 2 strings missing when he was in middle school, jamming on Nirvana songs with friends. In high school he encountered classic jazz recordings from the 50’s and 60’s by the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, among others, and was compelled at that point to take up the upright bass. Cameron went on to study jazz and classical bass with Pete Spaar at the University of Virginia, and he studied jazz improvisation with legendary Charlottesville-based trumpet player, John D’earth. After graduating, he continued his studies at VCU in Richmond with Victor Dvoskin and Richmond Symphony bass chair, Paul Bedell. He’s also studied with masters Mark Dresser, Anders Jormin and the legendary Barre Phillips. Cameron has toured internationally playing electric and upright bass with various musical acts, playing in some of the world’s most prestigious venues including the Sydney Opera House, The Barbican in London, The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
Cameron’s passion for playing the bass is infectious, and he’s respected not only as a great player, but as a great teacher. We’re honored to have Cameron on board as JFFC’s 2020 upright bass instructor.
Vocals & Vocal Harmony
Rachael grew up in a musical environment in Portland, OR. At an early age Rachael began taking voice lessons and singing in local choirs and discovered that she wanted to sing professionally. She attended Berklee College of Music on scholarship as a vocalist. Rachael graduated with a degree in Professional Music with an emphasis in Songwriting from Berklee in 2010. She and her husband, Luke Price, are currently working on their second studio album of soul – pop music in Portland, Oregon. Rachael frequently performs her own music as well as being a background vocalist for other bands.
At JFFC 2019, Rachael introduced all to the joy of singing together, and brings her special brand of enthusiasm and knowledge to JFFC again in 2020. She clearly loves working with students of all ages and levels, and enjoys showing students techniques that allow them to sing more freely!
© 2020, Julian Family Fiddle Camp