(bios and schedule below)
As a founding member of Punch Brothers, guitarist Chris “Critter” Eldridge has been at the vanguard of acoustic music for much of the past decade. Although initially drawn to the electric guitar, Chris developed a deep love for acoustic music in his teens, thanks in part to his father, a banjo player and founding member of the seminal bluegrass group The Seldom Scene. Eldridge later gained in-depth exposure to a variety of different musical styles while at Oberlin Conservatory, during which time he studied with legendary guitarist Tony Rice. After graduating he joined the Seldom Scene, with whom he received a Grammy nomination in 2007. In 2005 he founded the critically acclaimed bluegrass band The Infamous Stringdusters, and in 2007 they won IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year for their debut album, Fork in the Road. Meanwhile, in 2005 he had caught the attention of mandolinist Chris Thile, who enlisted him, along with banjoist Noam Pikelny, violinist Gabe Witcher, and bassist Greg Garrison to start working on an ambitious side project. Soon after they decided to focus all of their collective energies into a band and Punch Brothers was born. The band has since released six critically acclaimed albums, received six Grammy nominations, and toured around the world. Eldridge also plays in a duo with guitarist Julian Lage, with whom he has released two full-length records and an EP; their most recent, Mount Royal, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Album. Chris was also the house guitarist on the public radio show, Live From Here, formerly known as A Prairie Home Companion. He has worked with a diverse cast of musical luminaries including Paul Simon, John Paul Jones, Marcus Mumford, Justin Timberlake, T-Bone Burnett, Fiona Apple, Elvis Costello, Jerry Douglas, Sara Watkins, Del McCoury, and many others.
Born of fiddle playing parents in Spokane, WA, Kimber Ludiker is a fifth-generation fiddle player who started learning on the lap of her grandfather at age three. With eleven combined family National Fiddle Championships, Kimber holds three herself. In 2009, Kimber founded the all-female bluegrass/Americana string band Della Mae. They were IBMA’s Emerging Artists of the Year in 2013, GRAMMY Nominees in 2014 for their debut album on Rounder Records, named by Rolling Stone as one of ten bands to watch for in 2015, and have traveled with the U.S. Department of State to fifteen countries spreading peace and understanding through music. Kimber is a talented and in-demand teacher who has taught for many years, including at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV.
Bill Evans is an internationally recognized five-string banjo life force. As a performer, teacher, writer, and composer, he brings a deep knowledge, intense virtuosity, and contagious passion to all things banjo, with thousands of music fans and banjo students all over the world, the product of a music career that spans more than 35 years. Bill has performed with David Bromberg, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, J. D. Crowe, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, James Nash, Tony Trischka, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Mike Seeger, Jim Hurst, Laurie Lewis, Kathy Kallick, and Molly Tuttle, among many others. Bill is the author of Banjo for Dummies, the most popular banjo book in the world. He has produced six critically acclaimed instructional DVDs for AcuTab Publications, Homespun Tapes, and the Murphy Method; and is the co-author of Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook: Banjo Edition from MelBay. Bill has been a mainstay at many of the most important banjo and bluegrass music camps around the world for the last decade and hosts his own annual California Banjo Extravaganza and the NashCamp Sonny Osborne Banjo Camp. Bill is equally adept at teaching experienced players and new learners who just want to have fun.
Since first hitting the scene in the early 1980s, Alan has made a name for himself as one of the most creative and technically gifted mandolinists in bluegrass and acoustic music. He was a founding member of groundbreaking bands The New Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out, BlueRidge, and for the last eight years, Alan Bibey & Grasstowne. Alan has won the SPBGMA Mandolin Performer Of The Year award six times including the last three years in a row, and he is also the reigning IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year. He also won the IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year in 2001, and Album of the Year in 2006. His solo project “In The Blue Room” was voted Top Instrumental Album by County Record Sales, and he was included in the Mel Bay book “Greatest Mandolin Players of the Twentieth Century.” In early 2004, the Gibson Company started manufacturing the Alan Bibey Signature line of mandolins, reaffirming his status as one of the most influential mandolin players in bluegrass and acoustic music history.
Stephen Mougin is one of the most respected Jack-of-All-Trades in bluegrass and acoustic music: a compassionate teacher, compelling touring guitarist, natural songwriter, sought-after band coach, and gifted producer and engineer. Mougin is most naturally a vocal teacher, having earned a degree in music education with a vocal focus from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. “[Bluegrass voice teaching is] about knowing which rules you can break or bend to make it sound authentic,” he says. Mougin’s proven method starts with the fundamentals, and then he works with students on developing their own style. “Of all the things I am, the thing I do best is teach. The results are tangible, and it’s where I have the most confidence,” Mougin says. In 2005, he launched Dark Shadow Recording, a record label with a world-class studio that Mougin heads up. In addition to multiple IBMA awards, Dark Shadow Recording has released instructional CDs on baritone and tenor harmony vocals with help from Russell Moore and Ronnie Bowman. In 2006, Stephen joined Sam Bush band as the guitar player, and he has also worked as a vocal coach in the studio with the band. Stephen also teaches bluegrass guitar on TrueFire.com which Guitar Player Magazine calls “the planet’s largest and most comprehensive selection of online guitar lessons.” Over one million guitar players, from virtually every country in the world, “learn, practice, and play” with TrueFire’s interactive video courses and patented learning systems for personalized and private online instruction.
Known around the world for his clawhammer banjo playing, Joe Newberry is also a powerful guitarist, singer, and songwriter. The Gibson Brothers’ version of his song “Singing As We Rise” won the 2012 IBMA Gospel Recorded Performance Award. With Eric Gibson, he shared the 2013 IBMA Song of the Year Award for “They Called It Music.” A longtime and frequent guest on A Prairie Home Companion, he was a featured singer on the Transatlantic Sessions in the U.K., and at the Session’s debut at Merlefest. He plays in a duo with mandolin icon Mike Compton, and also performs with dynamic fiddler and step-dancer April Verch. Newberry has taught banjo, guitar, singing, and songwriting at numerous camps and festivals, including Ashokan, the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Targhee Music Camp, the Australia National Folk Festival, and Vocal, Bluegrass and Old-Time Weeks at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV.
Zak McLamb is the two-time reigning SPBGMA Bass Performer of the Year, an award he won in 2019 and 2020. Zak started playing music at the age of 7, when his father, a banjo player, bought a bass for his mother. Soon Zak fell in love with the bass and his father taught him a few notes and encouraged him to play. Zak studied under a classical bassist once a week for three years and learned the fundamentals of playing, then took the formal knowledge that he gained and applied it to his true musical love, bluegrass. Zak started playing music with his parents in a local group, The Tony McLamb Band, in 1988 and continues to play with them today. He joined the Raleigh-based New Vintage Bluegrass Band in 1992 and played with them for two of his high school years. It was during this time that New Vintage won both the SPBGMA International Band Championship and the Pizza Hut International Bluegrass Showdown. In 2004, Zak joined the Kenny and Amanda Smith Band and toured with them widely for seven years. Zak has recorded with many different artists in recent years and is considered one of the top bass players in the industry.
Camp Coordinator & Jamming Instructor
Award-winning flatpicking guitarist and mandolinist Tony Watt has performed throughout the United States and Europe, on the Grand Ole Opry, and beyond. He has been featured in Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Today, and Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, but is perhaps best known for his version of Cherokee Shuffle with Noam Pikelny and Andy Falco, which has been viewed about 200,000 times on YouTube. Tony has toured with Rounder Recording artist Alecia Nugent, with Leigh Gibson, guitarist for The Gibson Brothers, with Jenni Lyn Gardner, mandolinist for Della Mae, and currently performs with Alan Bibey & Grasstowne. He is the Vice President and Education Co-Director of the Boston Bluegrass Union (BBU) which puts on the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival. Tony has taught bluegrass for over 20 years and is a visiting artist at the Berklee College of Music’s prestigious American Roots Music Program. Tony is also the director of The Bluegrass University, which presents JamVember, a weekend-long bluegrass jamming “non-festival” held the weekend before Thanksgiving at the Sheraton in Framingham, MA. Tony currently teaches lessons, classes, workshops, and jam sessions throughout the Boston area and anywhere in the world online (visit tonywattbluegrass.com for details).