Jontavious Willis is a 24-year-old GRAMMY-nominated multi-instrumentalist from Greenville, Georgia. Many fans of Willis regard him as an old soul. His style of playing the instruments and his voice touch the very roots of country blues. He brings back the true soul of the music. A newspaper headline once called him a “70-year-old bluesman in a 20-year-old body.” He grew up singing Gospel music at the Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church with his grandfather. In 2015, an invitation to join Taj Mahal on stage resulted in a roaring response from the audience and led Willis to bigger stages and broader opportunities, including an opening slot at shows along the TajMo tour with his musical mentors Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’. His 2020 GRAMMY nominated album, Spectacular Class, features original lyrics, timeless dynamic vocals, and all types of blues: Delta, Piedmont, Texas, and Gospel. If you’ve ever wanted to learn these powerful traditional fingerpicking, flat-picking styles. This is your chance!
Courtney Hartman is an acclaimed guitarist, singer and writer from the foothills of Colorado. Acoustic Guitar Magazine recognizes her as a “distinctive guitar stylist… and a songwriter that delights and disturbs” while PopMatters hailed her most recent release as “a delicate light glistening softly in the darkness.” In 2014 she received a GRAMMY nomination for her work with folk quintet, Della Mae, and in 2017 Americana Music Association nominated her for Instrumentalist of the Year. Bill Frisell, Mike Campbell and Buffy St. Marie are a few of the artists Courtney has created with as she continues to collaborate across cultures and disciplines, always seeking to bring voice to the hushed and inexpressible.
Pamela Means is a Easthampton MA-based Out(spoken), Biracial, independent artist whose “kamikaze guitar style” and punchy provocative songs have worn a hole in two of her acoustic guitars. Armed with the razor wit of a stand-up comic, engaging presence, elegant poetry, and irresistible charm, Pamela Means’s “stark, defiant songs” (New York Times) set the status quo and the stage afire. Pamela’s commitment to interrogating social ills was fostered by her unique childhood. “As the adopted daughter of a white mother and black father, I learned about dismantling systems of oppression from the inside out.” Pamela received her first guitar at the age of fourteen, just after her mother died of cancer, and it soon became Pamela’s primary vehicle for expression. It would also serve as a passport out of a life that consisted of poverty, foster homes, and the inner city life of hyper-segregated Milwaukee WI. As described by Ani DiFranco, “you’ve got such a deep, deep groove, I can’t get out. And, I wouldn’t want to.”
Born in Paris and raised in Fontainebleau, the home of Impressionism and Django, Wrembel has been based in the New York City region for the past 20 years and since his studies at Berklee. He has toured around the world, and is very active on the musical scene in many countries including USA, Canada, France, Israel and India. Recently, Stephane has performed as a headliner at the legendary Carnegie Hall and at The Town Hall in New York as well as at the Festival Django Reinhardt in France. Wrembel has also headlined at Lincoln Center, played major Festivals, recorded with mandolin legend David Grisman, toured with master violinist Mark O’Connor and shared stages with al long list of world renowned musicians.
Stephane Wrembel is quite simply one of the finest guitar players in the world. The breadth and range of his playing and compositions are unmatched. To say that Wrembel— who learned his craft among the Gypsies at campsites in the French countryside— has already had a remarkable career would be an under-statement. This prolific, virtuoso guitarist has been releasing a steady stream of music since 2006 and has truly made his mark as one of the most original guitar voices in contemporary music. Stephane Wrembel is widely known for “Bistro Fada”, the theme song from the 2011 Woody Allen Oscar winning film and Grammy Award winning soundtrack, Midnight In Paris.
Storey Littleton is a musician and songwriter from Woodstock, NY. She grew up on the road with her musical family, performing music for children and recording GRAMMY-nominated albums for Smithsonian Folkways. Storey was a student, teacher and director at the Rock Academy in Saugerties, NY, and also a guitar teacher and band coach at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls in Brooklyn. A lifelong, devoted fan of Joni Mitchell, Storey is excited to share her knowledge of this beautiful music with fellow Joni lovers.
Cyd Smith is a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter and a bit of a musical chameleon. She studied classical guitar in her early teens and majored in music at Stanford University. While living in the Bay Area, she was introduced to the rich treasury of American folk music, especially bluegrass and vintage country music. From there it was a deep dive into the guitarists, vocalists, and songwriters of the swing era. Over the years she has performed with Mary Flower, Laurie Lewis, Russ Barenberg, and Rebecca Kilgore. She has been a cornerstone of many Northwest bands in a wide range of styles from Swing to Americana to Classic Rock. A passion for passing on the swing torch has made Cyd a favorite teacher at music camps throughout the US. The long list of camps she has taught at include Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, California Coast Music Camp, SummerSongs West, Acoustic Alaska Guitar Camp, and Augusta Blues & Swing Week.
JEFFREY PEPPER RODGERS
Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers is a grand prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine. He plays kinetic folk rock with “wickedly good, subtle, understated guitar playing” (Minor 7th), and has been a Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist and finalist (with Pepper and Sassafras) for Best Duo at FreshGrass.
A “renowned guitar teacher” (Boston Globe), Rodgers is author of The Complete Singer-Songwriter, the Homespun video series Learn Grateful Dead Classics for Acoustic Guitar, and the new book/video Beyond Strumming, which Chris Eldridge of Punch Brothers calls “a great resource for people looking to play songs in new ways.” Rodgers has led guitar and songwriting workshops at venues and events including Passim School of Music, Berklee College of Music, Lamb’s Retreat for Songwriters, and the Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase, and he teaches courses on songwriting and creative nonfiction writing in the Honors program at Syracuse University.
Molly Mason learned her first guitar chords from Public Television, while growing up in Battle Ground, WA in the 1960s. She soon used those skills to back up the fiddling and singing of her uncle Reynald and brother James. Molly quickly mastered the passing chords and moving bass lines of Texas contest style guitar backup and was in demand as a go-to accompanist. In 1976 she got an upright bass and was soon the bassist with a series of bands and fiddlers including the great Benny Thomason and in Garrison Keillor’s Powder Milk Biscuit Band on his weekly show “A Prairie Home Companion.” In 1980, the lure of the fiddle brought her to upstate New York, to join Fiddle Fever, Jay Ungar’s new triple fiddle band. A lover of all styles of fiddle music, she has since become adept at accompanying everything from old time, to swing, to Celtic, Cajun, Klezmer and more. Today Molly serves as Vice President of the Ashokan Center and teaches at several Ashokan camps. She and Jay continue to record and perform together. Their weekly Quiet Room concerts on Facebook Live are heard by thousands of people round the world.