He’s a self-described “street kid” from the Bronx who bailed on college and big city life for a cold-water cabin in Virginia in the 1970s. His mission? To soak up the passion that was dramatically upending his parent’s life plan for him – authentic Appalachian mountain music – at the feet of its legendary pioneers, old masters who are now long gone.
Today, Bruce Molsky is one of the most revered “multi-hyphenated career” ambassadors for America’s old-time mountain music. For decades, he’s been a globetrotting performer and educator, a recording artist with an expansive discography including seven solo albums, well over a dozen collaborations and two Grammy-nominations. He’s also the classic “musician’s musician” – a man who’s received high praise from diverse fans and collaborators like Linda Ronstadt, Mark Knopfler, Celtic giants Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine, jazzer Bill Frisell and dobro master Jerry Douglas, a true country gentleman by way of the Big Apple aptly dubbed “the Rembrandt of Appalachian fiddlers” by virtuoso violinist and sometimes bandmate Darol Anger.
“Bruce Molsky is one of those great players who ‘gets it’: has all the links to the past but is happy not to be chained to it” – Mark Knopfler
Grabbing Tunes From The Air: One of the beautiful things about old time fiddle tradition is how the music is passed around by ear. Come hone your ear-training skills as we work through the phrases and bowing of some good old tunes. (for all skill levels)
Singing With The Fiddle: We’ll explore combining voice and fiddle through some simple exercises and then work up a song with chord and melody/harmony accompaniment. (intermediate/advanced)
Old Time Fiddle Bowing: All the great old time fiddlers like Tommy Jarrell, Luther Strong, Benny Thomasson and so many others had unique and personal bowing styles that really made their playing speak. In this workshop, we’ll work up some tunes with an emphasis on how to move the bow. (advanced)
Old Time Fiddle Repertoire: Bruce will play through some favorites, slow them down for the recorders, and take a few requests (if he knows them!) (beginner/intermediate)
Old-Time Fiddle, the Subtle Stuff: Some of the details of ornamentation come from Scottish and Irish music, some of the tonal and rhythmic feeling from African music. Other elements are distinctly American. All of them come together to make the distinctive sound of old-time music. Come and explore the details, and we’ll plug them into a tune or two and see how they work. (intermediate/advanced)
Clawhammer Banjo: We’ll look at some different right hand techniques like drop-thumb, rolls and cross-overs, and work out some nice versions for a tune or two. (intermediate)
Wade Ward’s Banjo Style: Benjamin Wade Ward, who was recorded by Alan Lomax in the 1930s, was one of most respected of the old style Virginia players. His playing had great rhythm, drive and sheer musical guts. We’ll look at what made it so strong, and learn some of his tunes. (for all skill levels)
Name that Tune!: This course is for everyone who just wants to expand their ears, hear some cool old recordings hand-picked by Bruce, and we’ll discuss styles, history of the tune, etc. (for all skill levels)
Lead Instructor – Fiddle