Chris Quinn – Bluegrass Banjo
Chris began playing banjo in 1978. His dad, Murray Quinn, who has remained a lifelong supporter of Chris’ music, got him his first banjo for Christmas. Murray did his best to take Chris out to see live music and meet musicians. “Dad snuck me into a bar once when I was 12 so that I could see a live bluegrass band.”
A high school friend named Jimmy Kyle showed Chris a few picking patterns on the banjo and Chris took to it instantly. Spending every spare moment, Chris taught himself to pick.In 1988, Chris moved to his current home in Toronto, and quickly found himself on the music scene. Since then, Chris has forged enduring friendships and musical partnerships with: Chris Coole, Dan Whiteley, Jenny Whiteley, Andrew Collins, Max Heineman, John Showman, Joey Wright, The Backstabbers, Kristine Schmitt, Tony Allen, Marc Roy, Sam Petite, Ivan Rosenberg, and many others.
Since 2000, Chris has been the award winning banjo player for The Foggy Hogtown Boys.
With more than 30 years of experience, he is also a highly acclaimed instructor who is equally comfortable working one on one or with larger groups; Chris has even conducted a banjo workshop in a bomb shelter in the middle east once!
During his career, Chris has performed with Bob Fuller, Ray Condo and His Hard-Rock Goners, One Horse Town, Heartbreak Hill, Jughead, Rick Fielding, The Backstabbers, The Hamstrung Stringband, The Wild Irish Rogues, Stringalong, Luther Wright and the Wrongs, John McEuen, Vassar Clements, Kenny Baker and Josh Graves Jr., and Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys.
Chris Coole – Clawhammer Banjo
Since 2001, Chris has played guitar, sang and written songs for critically acclaimed bluegrass band The Foggy Hogtown Boys. His love for the golden era of bluegrass music is apparent to anyone who hears his singing and songwriting. From 2000-2007 Chris collaborated with old time fiddler Erynn Marshall. In 2005 he co-produced her critically acclaimed CD ‘Calico’. In 2006 the duo recorded ‘Meet Me in the Music’ which has been nominated for best traditional album at the 2007 Canadian Folk Music awards.
Chris is a acknowledged as a skilled teacher of both banjo and guitar. he has taught many workshops across Canada and the U.S.
John Showman – Fiddle
John Showman plays fiddle and sings lead and harmony. Classically trained in violin since childhood, Showman has folded the sheet music, and emerged as one of the most dynamic, original, and exciting fiddlers in bluegrass music today. John also has the rare ability to understand the subtleties of old-time fiddle as well: which is why he won 1st place in the 2011 Fiddle Contest in Clifftop, West Virginia.
Mike Mezzatesta – Mandolin
Mike has always been a fan of homemade string music. It wasn’t until rifling through an old friends cassettes in high school that the first sounds of bluegrass and old-time music hit his ears, and his musical interests began to focus intently on bluegrass and the mandolin.
In the years that followed, Mike began to play locally, study and practice with tenacity, and sought out some of the finest mentors in the country including mandolinists Andrew Collins and Dan Whiteley.
Since 2013 Mike has been a member of the eclectic Andrew Collins Trio, and the adventurous bluegrass band Unseen Strangers.
Mike has taught at many camps and festivals throughout the years across Canada and the U.S.
Max Heineman – Bass
By the age of twelve he was performing as a singer and bassist with his family band on a weekly gig in Toronto’s Cabbagetown. He got his first upright bass in high school and played gigs in his dad’s jazz trio throughout his teens. He later moved to NYC with his brother to facilitate songwriting, recording and gigging with his cousins, Caleb and Josh Heineman. In 1998 he discovered Bluegrass and Old Time on a local college radio show and, drawn to the rich soulful harmonies and the depth of the tradition, he’s been hooked ever since.
Max is highly respected as an intuitive and seasoned bass player; he also plays both clawhammer and Scruggs style banjo and rhythm guitar, which inform his overall understanding of the unique rhythms of Bluegrass, Old Time and Country music. He is renowned as vocalist – his powerful voice and ability to sing with an emotional commitment to the song leave the listener feeling truly connected. The rich soulful environment of a Bluegrass vocal ensemble is a home away from home for him.
Since 2006 Max has been playing with the Foggy Hogtown Boys and touring the U.S., Canada, Israel, Ireland, England and most recently Germany’s Bluegrass Jamboree. In 2009 he founded The Lonesome Ace Stringband with fellow Foggy Hogtown Boys John Showman and Chris Coole, and in 2012 began recording and touring with Canadian artist Annie Lou.
Joey Wright– Guitar
Growing up in Toronto, Joey began his musical journey by sneaking in to iconic clubs like Chicago’s and Grossman’s Tavern, underage, to see guitar luminaries like Jeff Healey, Madagascar Slim and David Wilcox. Joey recounts: “When I first saw those great players in bars in Toronto it shocked me. Music had always seemed like magic to me and that everything I’d heard to that point was played by a type of super hero. When I saw that people could make similar sounds to the ones I was hearing on record I was changed forever and knew then what I wanted to do.”
Inspired by all of his musical discoveries, Joey became an integral part of the burgeoning bluegrass, old time and traditional country scene in Toronto in the late 90’s. This artistic explosion spawned many talented and eager players: Heartbreak Hill, Chris Coole, High Lonesome Wednesdays, Dan Whiteley, Chris Quinn, John Showman, Marc Roy and heaps of others were all intermingling to create the scene that has become one of the richest in the land.
In 2015, Joey’s music was chosen to score the multi award-winning film The Anniversary. In June, 2015 Joey collaborated with Jill Barber and Matthew Barber on their recording Family Album which received a 2017 Juno nomination. Joey has three solo records to his credit: Camp (2003), Jalopy (2007 Black Hen Music) and Hatch (2010 Black Hen Music). He is also the co-creator and leader of the acclaimed instrumental band TUXEDO! along with Christine Bougie.
Joey has appeared on many highly acclaimed Canadian recordings. He has recorded with Sarah Harmer, John Southworth, Amy Millan, Doug Paisley, Jenny Whiteley, Jill & Matt Barber, Ron Hynes, Oh Suzanna and The Banjo Special to name a few. As well as performing his own shows, he has also toured with David Corley, The Evening Hymns, Justin Rutledge, Sarah Harmer and many others.
Kristine Schmitt – Vocals
New this year! Although Kristine has been at Old School Bluegrass Camp for the last two years, she is now officially part of our instructing team! We couldn’t be happier to have her! We recognize that some people just want to sing, so now is your chance to study bluegrass vocals with one of the best!
Kristine Schmitt is a Toronto-based singer-songwriter, specializing in material both drawn from and influenced by music from the early part of the twentieth century. Whether it’s a fifties country ballad, an old mountain tune, a salty twenties blues number, a swinging thirties jazz tune, or belting out one of her own, you’d better hang on tight!
Ivan Rosenberg – Facilitator and Slow Jam Master
Ivan will be at camp leading the evening slow jams, coaching a student band, playing in the instructor concerts, and facilitating other camp activities. There is no dedicated Dobro class this year, but students signed up for other instruments or vocals can opt for their private lesson to be with Ivan on Dobro. There will also be a Dobro-themed ‘festival-style’ workshop one afternoon and, if several Dobro players attend camp, one 45-minute hands-on Dobro workshop, which would be scheduled during private-lesson/free time.