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Bluegrass Camp 2024

Monday, July 29 - Friday, August 2

IBMA Mentor of the Year, Kimber Ludiker hosts this fun and friendly week of bluegrass instruction and jamming for fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, bass, harmony singing, songwriting, and new this year… dobro! Learn from inspirational teachers hand-picked to cultivate a magical learning experience. There’ll be classes, concerts, mini-lessons, band scrambles, open mics and more. All levels and backgrounds are welcome!

This year’s Fabulous Staff has been announced: Michael Daves (guitar), Joe Newberry (guitar), Vickie Vaughn (bass), Mike Compton (mandolin), Celia Woodsmith (vocals, songwriting), BB Bowness (banjo), Austin Scelzo (fiddle), Alex Sens (dobro, beginner lab), and your host Kimber Ludiker (fiddle.)

FOR INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED PLAYERS: Get personalized feedback, improve your instrumental skills, and jam with players of a similar ability.

FOR BEGINNERS: The schedule will include one instrument class per day at a beginner level, plus plenty of time to practice what you learned and opportunities to jam at extra slow tempos with other beginners.

“The teachers one-on-one were AMAZING. The supportive, encouraging and inclusive vibe was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. The encouragement to try a new instrument surprised and delighted me.”

“Loved the facilities, the physical location and place, even the food was great! Loved all of the people (so rare! every single person was amazing!)”

“Plenty of time to jam. Great food. Great vibe. Positive energy.”

“A staff like this makes any place a success!”

 

Can't attend the full camp? Stop by for our Thursday evening Open House!

Bluegrass Open House 2024

August 1, 2024 - August 1, 2024

Enjoy the Bluegrass Camper & Staff Concert, then pick a few tunes at the jam. This is an open community night on the last night of Ashokan's Bluegrass Camp. 6pm dinner (optional), 7:30pm concert

Register

MICHAEL DAVES (GUITAR)

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Michael Daves grew up playing bluegrass in the grand old tradition of staying up late & singing loud. Although he’s since moved north, the Southern roots permeate his music, however traditional or experimental. Heralded as “a leading light of the New York bluegrass scene” by the New York Times, Daves has garnered attention for his work with Chris Thile, Steve Martin, Tony Trischka, and others in addition to his solo performances.
Daves’ most recent project is a two-album set, Orchids and Violence on Nonesuch Records. Both discs are produced by Daves and have identical track listing of mostly traditional bluegrass songs. The first features straightforward interpretations of them and was recorded live to tape in a 19th-century church by Daves and a band of roots-music innovators: bassist Mike Bub, fiddler Brittany Haas, mandolinist Sarah Jarosz, and banjo player Noam Pikelny. The second disc was recorded in Daves' home studio and includes drums and electric instruments, mostly played by Daves, taking a raw, experimental rock approach to the same old-time material. "The identical track listing makes for a good comparison study," says the New York Times music critic Nate Chinen in his review, "and to his credit, it can be hard to pick which version of a tune is best."

Daves previously recorded bluegrass standards on Sleep with One Eye Open, his Nonesuch debut, a duo session with mandolinist Chris Thile (Punch Brothers, Nickel Creek) that earned the pair a 2011 Grammy nomination.
Although he is best known as a roots musician, Daves gravitated toward experimental music and jazz while studying at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Relocating to Brooklyn in 2003, he began to crave the social interaction and musical challenges of bluegrass: "In Western Massachusetts, I was mostly doing jazz. By the time I moved to New York, I was ready to leave that behind, get back to my personal roots in bluegrass music. There were good jam sessions in New York and I was excited to reenter a regular jamming culture in the city. And I was getting back into rock music, too. The Brooklyn scene in 2003 and 2004 was pretty fertile. There was a lot of great, kind of raw, experimental rock music happening at that time, drawing me in, scratching an itch."

Daves is also devoted teacher with over twenty five years of experience whose instructional style is aimed at helping students develop and refine their own natural musical sensibilities while exploring a wealth of American roots traditions, particularly bluegrass. In 2016 he launched an online school in bluegrass vocals on ArtistWorks.com where he helps students around the world learn the intricacies bluegrass singing style as well as harmony singing and ear training.
CELIA WOODSMITH (VOCALS & SONGWRITING)

Celia Woodsmith is a GRAMMY Nominated performer, vocalist, percussionist, and songwriter. With a style that can be described as "one of a kind: gritty, muscular, folksy and intimate sometimes all at once" (Bluegrass Situation) she has been a fixture of the New England Roots Music scene since 2005.

For the last 12 years, Woodsmith has predominantly performed with the Americana string band, Della Mae. In 2014 Della Mae was nominated for a Best Bluegrass Album GRAMMY for their record "This World Oft Can Be". Their 2020 album "Headlight" has been described as "...powerful writing, soaring vocals, and moving musical unity — challenge us, energize us, and touch us as they light the way. This is an album on which you can feel the emotions of the group in each song as they evoke anger, sadness, hopelessness, and joy". (No Depression)

The all-female Della Mae has performed in 20 countries with the US Department of State's cultural diplomacy program "American Music Abroad". Woodsmith spoke about her experiences with travel and music at TEDx Piscataqua River in Portsmouth, NH in a talk called "A Soft Drink and a Song in the Hills of Pakistan".

In 2016 Woodsmith took a hiatus from touring to write, listen, and reflect about her years on the road. During that time she bicycled 2,000 miles from Geneva, Switzerland to Vlorë, Albania. Post hiatus, she released her solo record "Cast Iron Shoes". The all original album combines raw, roots-rock with heart-searing songs like "Sicily" which paint a solemn picture of the global refugee crisis. When not on the road with Della Mae, Woodsmith performs with roots-rock band Say Darling and has released two albums of original music with them.

She currently lives in Kittery, ME with her husband and dog. Amidst touring full-time with Della Mae, she teaches songwriting, singing, stage craft and guitar.
JOE NEWBERRY  (GUITAR)

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,” featuring guest vocalist Ricky Skaggs, 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 2016 tour of the U.K. with fiddler Aly Bain and Dobro master Jerry Douglas, and at the Transatlantic Session's debut at Merlefest in 2017 with fellow singers James Taylor, Sarah Jarosz, Declan O’Rourke, Karen Matheson, and Maura O’Connell. In addition to performing solo, he plays in a duo with mandolin icon Mike Compton, and also performs with the dynamic fiddler and step-dancer April Verch.

Growing up in a family full of singers and dancers, he took up the guitar and banjo as a teenager and learned fiddle tunes from great Missouri fiddlers. Newberry moved to North Carolina as a young man and quickly became an anchor of the incredible music scene in the state.
MIKE COMPTON (MANDOLIN)

Grammy and IBMA award-winning mandolinist, singer, and recording artist Mike Compton has earned "a worldwide reputation as one of the modern masters of bluegrass mandolin...one of the most recognizable and respected mandolin voices anywhere" (Mandolin Magazine). He toured with John Hartford, Nashville Bluegrass Band, and was featured in the soundtracks for, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Cold Mountain".

Wearing his signature pressed blue overalls and rocking and weaving with fluid body motion, Compton stuns not by tricks, but through his singing, his ability to engage a crowd, and through decades of honing his technique into the unique, one-of-a-kind Compton signature mandolin sound.
VICKIE VAUGHN (BASS)

A Western Kentucky native, Vickie Vaughn stomped into Nashville with a fistful of original material and a desire to play bass and sing with the best of them. She is the current IBMA Bass Player of the Year - only the 2nd woman in history to win. In 2015, Vaughn released her debut EP under the production of Bluegrass royalty Ronnie McCoury before heading out on the road singing background vocals with Patty Loveless. She has been sighted sharing the stage of the Bluegrass fan favorite festival, ROMP, singing in a trio with fellow Kentuckians, Ricky Skaggs and Patty Loveless. Three Grand Ole Opry appearances later, Vickie now tours with Grammy-nominated Della Mae, who frequents the stage with comedic greats Steve Martin and Martin Short.
CATHERINE "BB" BOWNESS (BANJO)

Born in the small town of Marton, New Zealand, Catherine “BB” Bowness spent her early years working and living in her family’s Fish-and-Chip shop. Although an unlikely origin for a bluegrass banjo player, New Zealand would offer BB her first introduction to the instrument, sparking a lifelong love and fascination. A world away from the heart of bluegrass, BB spent much of her childhood teaching herself the instrument, and through dedication and tenacity became New Zealand School of Music’s first banjo student. Inspired by her New Zealand predecessors, The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, BB was always drawn to the five-piece full band, and after heading to America in 2012 she co-founded her current group, Mile Twelve. Immersing herself in the traditions of bluegrass and having studied jazz performance at university, BB’s banjo playing is an exciting synthesis of new and old ideas. “She demonstrates a command of the instrument and plays with great rhythmic clarity both in the traditional and progressive realms. J.D. Crowe co-mingles with the future,” says Tony Trischka. Her euphoric energy and love of the genre are readily apparent in any of her live performances.

Currently, BB lives in Cambridge, MA. Mile Twelve has won numerous IBMA awards, including 2020 New Artists of the Year and 2017 Momentum Band of the Year. BB won the 2015 Freshgrass Banjo contest and was a winner of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize in 2020.
AUSTIN SCELZO (FIDDLE)

was introduced to various fiddle traditions at Mark O'Connor's early Berklee String Camps, learning from powerhouse players like Billy Contreras, Jason Anick, Casey Dreissen, Jeremy Kittel, Andy Reiner, Bruce Molsky, Mark O'Connor, and Christian Howes. Austin's Bluegrass journey began with the Western CT based group the "Angry O'Haras", then later "On the Trail", with which he recorded fiddle and vocals. He actively records and performs with the Southern New England based Bluegrass band, the Rock Hearts (615 Hideaway Records)

Austin is also an active bluegrass community advocate, teaching Wernick Method Jam classes, creating and maintaining the performance venue "Bluegrass Coffeehouse" and launching the Connecticut Bluegrass Music Association. He was selected as one of 25 candidates for the International Bluegrass Music Association's "Leadership Bluegrass" after committing his work to performing and serving the bluegrass community. He was nominated for International Bluegrass Music Associations "Mentor of the Year" in 2023. In 2024, the Connecticut State Government also named him 2023 Connecticut Arts Hero, an award that "celebrates the remarkable contributions of Connecticut residents who have made a profound impact in, for, or through the arts"
ALEX SENS (DOBRO/ JAM CLASS)

Alex Sens has been playing and teaching the dobro for 40 years. He is a mainstay of the bluegrass scene in Washington, DC, where he has played and recorded with numerous artists, including Virginia Blue, the Good Deale Bluegrass Band, Randy Barrett and the Barretones, Kevin Church, Terry Pearson and Norman Wright, and Bob Perilla’s Big Hillbilly Bluegrass. He is currently a member of Big Chimney, along with fellow DC area musicians Kimber Ludiker, Avril Smith (of Della Mae), John Seebach, and Neel Brown. Aside from music, Alex has a very very small job as Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the Markos and Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Professor of Hellenic Studies at Georgetown University. Just another Harvard Ph.D.- carrying bluegrass musician!
KIMBER LUDIKER  (FIDDLE/CAMP ORGANIZER)

Born of fiddle playing parents in Spokane, WA, Kimber Ludiker is a 5th generation fiddle player. She started learning on the lap of her grandfather at age 3, and went on to win three National Fiddle Championship titles. She is the founder of Della Mae, a GRAMMY-nominated, service-driven, all-woman string-band that has traveled with the US Department of State to over 20 countries spreading peace and understanding through music.
Kimber received Mentor of the Year at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards in 2022. Kimber has been mentoring kids, artists, and up-and-coming bands for quite some time and is also the Director of CBA’s Youth Academy and IBMA’s Kids on Bluegrass.

During the pandemic, she organized Jam-a-Thon, a 50-hour mega livestream featuring artists from 12 countries (nominated for '21 IBMA Event of the Year), and has raised close to $20,000 to fund bluegrass educational opportunities for kids.

Additional Info:

Payment/Cancellation/Refund Policy

You may pay in full or hold your place with a deposit of 25% per person if registering 4 or more weeks before camp. Full payment is due 4 weeks before camp begins. To cancel your camp registration, email events@ashokancenter.org

• We retain $50 per person for cancellations requested up to 4 weeks before camp begins, and for COVID-related cancellations made at any date.

• We retain your 25% deposit between 4 and 2 weeks before camp.

• We retain the full registration amount within 2 weeks of camp.

Schedule Overview

MONDAY

  • 3pm: CAMPER ARRIVAL.
  • 4:30pm: SITE WALK
  • 5pm: MEET THE TEACHERS
  • 6pm: DINNER
  • 7:30pm: JAMS & ACTIVITIES

TUESDAY-THURSDAY

  • 8:30-9:30am: BREAKFAST
  • 9:30-12:30pm: CLASSES & WORKSHOPS
  • 12:30-2pm: LUNCH
  • 2-5pm: CLASSES & WORKSHOPS
  • 5-6pm: OPEN MIC (Esopus Courtyard)
  • 6-7pm: DINNER
  • 7:30-10pm: CONCERTS & JAMS
  • 10pm: SNACK & INFORMAL JAMMING

FRIDAY

  • 8:30-9:30am: BREAKFAST
  • 10-10:45am: FAREWELL GATHERING
Pricing & What's Included!

You may choose to pay up front or pay a deposit and balance. Balance payment is due 4 weeks before the event.

Registration includes all activities and meals. Lodging is optional and camping is free.

Children under 5 attend for free (under 3 for Family Camp). Campers under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Food & Drink

All meals are included. You may indicate your dietary restrictions when registering. We make every effort to include a range of allergen-free dishes and to inform diners of meal ingredients.

The Ashokan Center is licensed to serve beer and wine in Esopus Lodge (the main building). The bar is generally open from late afternoon to early evening. Sorry, by law, guests are prohibited from bringing their own alcoholic beverages into this licensed building.

Lodging

LONGHOUSE BUNKS: Rooms hold up to 24 people and are designated women, men, or all gender. Place your belongings on a top or bottom bunk after you check in to claim it. Pillows are available, please bring your own blankets, sheets, pillowcases, and towels. There are a small number of light blankets for those bunkhouse residents who are unable to bring one of their own. If you will need us to provide one, please let us know well in advance.

PRIVATE ROOMS: There are a limited number of private rooms that must be reserved in advance at extra charge. Pillows are available, please bring your own sheets, pillowcases, and towelsThere are light quilts in each private room.

CAMPSITES: Camping is available with access to bathrooms and outdoor showers. Please park by your campsite only if you plan to leave your car in place for the duration of the camp.

What To Bring

If you’re lodging with us please remember to bring a blanket and linens (or sleeping bag), towel, toiletries, soap, flashlight, earplugs (for light sleepers). There are light quilts in each private room and we have a small number of light blankets for bunkhouse residents who can’t bring one of their own. Let us know well in advance if you’ll need one.

Flashlight, recording device, camera (or maybe those are all your phone!)

Comfortable informal clothing for wet and dry weather. Some may also bring dressy, wild or fun clothing as well but that is up to you! There’s no laundry on site so bring enough clothes for the camp.

What Not To Bring
Please, no pets or drop-in guests.
Mail/Phone/WiFi

Incoming mail

Your Name c/o Ashokan Music & Dance 477 Beaverkill Rd, Olivebridge, NY 12461

Outgoing mail leaves each weekday at 4pm.

Music & Dance Camp Phone (845) 657-8333 x 3

Cell phone reception is available but spotty. Calls may be dropped but texts are reliably received.

High speed Wi-Fi is available in all buildings.

Directions & Transportation

Physical Address: Ashokan Center, 477 Beaverkill Rd, Olivebridge, NY 12461

DRIVING DIRECTIONS   Take NY State Thruway (1-87) to Kingston exit #19. From traffic circle take Route 28 West (toward Pine Hill). In 12 miles (shortly after Mobil & Citgo) turn left onto Reservoir Rd. Cross the Ashokan Reservoir, turn left at the Tee. Head down the hill, pass the first left (Rt 28A East) and merge onto 28A West. Take next left onto Beaverkill Rd. Follow Beaverkill for about one mile, then turn right into the Ashokan Center driveway and follow the signs.

AIRPORT  Albany, NY (ALB) is the closest major airport (about 1.5 hours away). Public transportation is available from the airport to the Kingston bus station, where you can take a taxi to Ashokan. Or contact us at least one month before your program begins for a list of people driving from the Albany area who may be able to give you a ride.

Covid Safety Policy

We recommend but no longer require everyone test for COVID-19 in the 24 hours before arrival. 

All refund requests due to a positive test, COVID exposure, or COVID-related concerns will be honored (less a $50 administrative fee).

We will provide onsite rapid testing upon request.

Additional FAQ's
CAMP WAITLIST & PRIVATE LODGING WAITLIST (only join if ADD CAMPER button at top of page is disabled or your preferred lodging choice is greyed out in that form.)

If there are no camp spots or private rooms available above, you may add your name to this waitlist. If space opens up we will contact you.

The Ashokan Center builds community through shared experiences in nature, history, music and art. We have hosted traditional Music & Dance Camps at our 385 acre nature preserve for over 40 years. In 2020 we learned how to host them online and in 2021 we began to reimagine how to gather in person once again.

Come join the Ashokan family to celebrate, learn, connect, deepen your music, make new friends, and brighten your day. Our events are open to all folks, all ages and all orientations.

M&D Need-Based “Pay it Forward” SCHOLARSHIPS We are holding 5 deeply discounted spots (includes tuition, meals & bunk) to provide a learning opportunity to gigging musicians and music, vocal, and dance teachers who will be sharing out their newly learned skills with a wider community. We prioritize new applicants each year and notify all applicants within 1 month before camp begins.

NEED HELP?

EMAIL: events@ashokancenter.org
CALL 845-657-8333 x3

Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about camp!

Thank you to the Martin Foundation for supporting Ashokan Music & Dance Camps.